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Student Alcohol Policy

This document clarifies the University's expectations and approach related to the use of alcohol by students. The University's Controlled Substances and Alcohol Policy is also applicable. The full text is contained in the Controlled Substance and Alcohol policy.


The Fundamental Standard has set the standard of conduct for students at Stanford since 1896.  It states: “Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the University such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens.”  Implicit in the Standard is the understanding that students are responsible for making their own decisions and accepting the consequences of those decisions.

The University is committed to the health, safety and well-being of each member of the Stanford community. In order to further student learning, development and success and to promote the University’s academic mission, Stanford fosters an environment of personal and collective responsibility and respectful citizenship. This means that all members of the university community—students, faculty and staff—have a role in safeguarding a healthy learning environment free of the consequences of alcohol misuse. The University also strives to create a culture that supports students who do not use alcohol and students who use alcohol in a safe, legal and responsible fashion.

Legal Background

Members of the Stanford community are expected to abide by all federal, state and local laws, including those governing alcohol consumption and distribution. Under California law, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase alcohol or to possess alcohol in a public space. It is also illegal for anyone to furnish alcohol to an individual under the age of 21. Other state laws governing the use of alcohol are listed below.

While it is not the responsibility of most Stanford officials to enforce state law, it is the responsibility of the University’s Department of Public Safety, and accordingly they enforce all state alcohol laws when they encounter violations. All community members should understand the law and, as individuals, ensure that they themselves do not violate it.

In addition, it is the responsibility of all community members to ensure that the University does not, through their actions, violate the law. Accordingly, official University functions, including events held by registered student groups, are not allowed to provide alcohol to those under 21, and no University funds may be used to purchase alcohol for that purpose. Violations of this requirement can result in both criminal prosecution and University administrative action, including dismissal from the University.

Responsible Alcohol Use

Stanford students are expected to behave responsibly, both in the classroom and outside, both on campus and off. In particular, the University does not tolerate reckless drinking—lawful or unlawful—and its consequent harmful behaviors. The University is especially concerned about the misuse of distilled alcohol products (“hard alcohol”), and the dangers that arise from that misuse.

All students should understand the physical and behavioral effects of alcohol misuse, and should avoid such misuse themselves. In addition, they are expected to do their part to ensure the safety of fellow students whom they perceive to be engaged in reckless drinking behavior or to be suffering from its consequences.

The University provides educational resources to assure that students understand the effects of alcohol misuse and know how to respond when they perceive others to be engaged in dangerous behavior.

Reckless drinking and encouraging reckless drinking are violations of University policy, and may be subject to disciplinary action. Extreme or repeated violations may result in dismissal from the University.

More generally, students are expected to make healthy, responsible choices concerning their personal use of alcohol and the University supports them in this endeavor through education and other resources. The University sponsors activities and programs focused on students who choose not to drink or to drink lightly, as well as resources and services to assist students who need help for themselves or others related to alcohol use.

Authority, Application, and Enforcement

Responsibility for application of the Student Alcohol Policy resides with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. The Office of Alcohol Policy and Education reports to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and is expected to coordinate and implement alcohol programs.(The University's Controlled Substances and Alcohol Policy is also applicable. The full text is contained at the Controlled Substances and Alcohol web site.

The Stanford University Department of Public Safety enforces federal, state and local laws among students, other community members, guests, and visitors.

Alcohol Policy Violations

The Office of Alcohol Policy and Education will work with the following offices to address violations of the University's alcohol policy as determined by the specifics of each situation.

Violations may be referred to the  Office of Community Standards (for individual students) and the Organization Conduct Board (for student groups). The Dean of Students may take action as well in certain circumstances.

Getting Help: Resources Available to Students

Students have access to a variety of University resources.

Additional University Regulations

  • Students living in University residences sign a residence agreement that outlines housing policies and expectations for conduct. Violations of the residence agreement can lead to loss of housing.
  • Hard alcohol and parties—All parties must be registered with the University, and availability of alcohol is regulated by party planning guidelines coordinated by the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education. Distilled liquor/spirits/hard alcohol (alcohol by volume 20 percent and above; 40 proof) is prohibited at all categories of undergraduate student parties.  Beer, wine and packaged pre-mixed alcoholic beverages (e.g. wine coolers, pre-mixed cocktail drinks under 20% alcohol by volume, etc.) are the only alcoholic beverages that can be present at all on-campus undergraduate student parties. Any group or residence that includes undergraduate members is subject to this policy restriction.  Groups and residences that are 100 percent graduate student in membership are exempt and may have hard alcohol in the form of mixed drinks at registered “Members” parties.  Shots of hard alcohol are prohibited at all parties.
  • Distilled/hard alcohol container policy—The following restriction goes beyond state law requirements and for the avoidance of doubt this policy applies to all coterminal and undergraduate students living in undergraduate housing:  Distilled liquor/spirits/hard alcohol (alcohol by volume 20 percent and above; 40 proof) bottles, containers, etc. 750 mL and above are prohibited in undergraduate student residences (rooms, common spaces, etc.) and in the possession of undergraduate students in university public spaces. Failure to comply will result in referral to a Residence Dean and the Office of Alcohol Policy & Education for administrative actions.  Continued or concerning behavior may result in removal from university housing or referral to the Office of Community Standards. Distilled liquor/spirits/hard alcohol in bottles, containers, etc. smaller than 750 mL that are allowed under this policy for people 21 years of age or older, must be contained and stored in the original bottle, container, etc. in which it was purchased from a licensed establishment.
  • Frosh Housing—Alcoholic beverages are prohibited at all-frosh house events in common area spaces.
  • University Funds and the Purchase of Alcohol—No University funds or funds collected by the University may be used in a way that violates the alcohol policy. In undergraduate residences, house funds (funds collected by Student Financial Services or other University offices) may not be used to buy alcohol. Any decision to use student-collected funds to buy alcohol must be made lawfully, thoughtfully, fairly and in a way that respects the views of all students. Students must not be required to contribute to the purchase of alcohol.
  • Dining Halls—Students may not possess or consume alcoholic beverages in Stanford 
Dining Halls during meal times and food service. University Dining staff can deny admission, access or meal service to anyone who is believed to be intoxicated by the Dining Management staff.
  • White Plaza—Alcoholic beverages in White Plaza are prohibited.
  • End of Quarter Period and Finals Week - No registered parties (with or without alcohol) 
can occur during the End of the Quarter Period (dead week) or Finals Week.
  • Athletic Facilities —No alcohol is permitted inside Stanford athletic facilities public spaces 
during athletic events.
  • Stanford Conferences and University Facilities—The University requires that event 
sponsors and student groups wishing to offer alcoholic beverages at their programs and events operate within state and local laws as provided by the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC). Alcohol service is not allowed in classrooms.
  • Admit Weekend—Stanford students are prohibited from providing, serving or in anyway making alcohol available to any prospective frosh (ProFro). All student groups/organizations and residences may host only alcohol-free parties or events during Admit Weekend. This specifically means that no alcohol is to be present, served or consumed at any student group/organization and/or dorm function during Admit Weekend.
  • New Student Orientation (NSO) Period—At no time should any Stanford student provide, serve, or in any way make alcohol available to any new, incoming undergraduate student (frosh or transfer). All undergraduate student groups/organizations and residences may host only alcohol-free parties or events during Orientation. This specifically means that no alcohol is to be present, served, or consumed at any student group/organization and/or dorm function for the duration of NSO programming.

California State Laws

Students should be familiar with California laws governing the consumption of alcohol. The following summarizes those laws most relevant to individuals.

  • It is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to possess an alcoholic beverage in any public place or any place open to the public (CA Business and Professions Code 25662). 

  • Any person who furnishes gives or sells any alcoholic beverage to someone under the age of 21 is guilty of a misdemeanor (CA Business and Professions Code 25658(a)).
  • Any person under the age of 21 who attempts to purchase an alcoholic beverage is guilty of an infraction (CA Business and Professions Code 25658.5).
  • Any person under the influence of alcohol in a public place and unable to exercise care for one’s own safety or that of others is guilty of a misdemeanor (CA Penal Code 647(f)).
  • It is illegal for persons to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants or with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher (CA Vehicle Code Section 23152). Note: A golf cart is a motor vehicle.
  • It is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has 0.05 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle (CA Vehicle Code Section 23140(a)).
  • It is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to drive a vehicle when he or she has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or higher (CA Vehicle Code Section 23136).
  • It is a misdemeanor to ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both (CA Vehicle Code Section 21200.5).
  • It is an infraction to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle (CA Vehicle Code Section 23223).
  • It is an infraction for an owner or driver of a motor vehicle to allow an open container of alcohol in the passenger area (CA Vehicle Code Section 23225).