Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy
Students are responsible for knowing the following:
Occidental College's Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy complies with the requirements set forth by the Drug-Free Schools and Community Act Amendments of 1989. This act requires the College to certify that it is in compliance with the regulations and that it has implemented a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by all students and employees both on school premises and as part of any of its activities.
The Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy describes the standards of conduct regarding the possession, use or distribution of alcohol, controlled substances and marijuana; sanctions enforced under College policy, and local, state, and federal law; and information regarding health risks and treatment services for substance abuse. This policy was revised during the academic year of 2014-2015 and becomes effective on August 1, 2015.
The health and well-being of every Occidental student is the responsibility of the entire Occidental community. Occidental College is committed to providing a safe campus environment that encourages intellectual, cultural and social learning and personal development. Each member must make informed decisions regarding personal use of alcohol and other drugs that reflect a respect for themselves, others and the community at large.
The Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy applies to all students and student groups associated with the Occidental College community (including applicants while visiting campus). Members of the Occidental community are considered adults and are thus expected to abide by California State Law regarding the possession, consumption, and distribution of drugs and alcohol. Relevant sections of these statutes are summarized below.
Occidental College takes an educational approach when working with students involved in alcohol and other drug policy violations. Every effort is made to connect students with appropriate resources on campus including, but not limited to, counseling, medical, and mental health services. A list of campus resources and possible sanctions for violations of this policy is outlined below.
The College’s Alcohol and Other Drug Committee reviews this policy every two years.
II. Alcohol Policy
Section A: Occidental Expectations of Behavior
Occidental respects the rights of community members to exercise their legal options regarding alcohol consumption and recognizes that responsible alcohol use can be compatible with healthy adult behavior and successful social events. As such, Occidental College has identified expectations of behavior that support the safe and legal consumption of alcohol. Any student who consumes alcohol remains responsible for any violation of the College’s Code of Student Conduct. The Dean of Students Office is responsible for interpreting and implementing this Policy.
- Under-Age Students: Students under the age of 21 may not possess or consume alcohol. A state of intoxication implies consumption. Possession of open containers, including empty bottles used as decoration, by anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited.
- Behavior: Students in lawful possession of alcohol shall not disrupt the community in the residence halls, on campus, or in the surrounding environment. Students who use alcohol shall do so in a way that does not compromise, or infringe on, the rights and safety of others.
- Dry Residence Halls: Alcohol shall not be possessed or consumed, regardless of a student’s age, at any time in the following buildings - Newcomb Hall, Pauley Hall, Stewart-Cleland (Stewie) Hall, Braun Hall, and Chilcott Hall.
- Possession or Presence of Alcohol: Alcohol is not permitted in any common area of the residence halls. Students of age who are not living in dry residence halls may possess and consume alcohol in their residence hall room. Open containers of alcohol are prohibited on campus grounds unless approved by the College for special events.
- Irresponsible Use of Alcohol: Organized drinking games or items used for the purpose of quick or mass consumption of alcohol are prohibited. Public intoxication and events where there is pressure or an expectation to consume excessive amounts of alcohol are prohibited. The College strongly discourages “pre-gaming” and “doing shots” of hard alcohol because these behaviors maximize the dangers associated with intoxication and the risk of alcohol poisoning. “Pre-gaming” is the consumption of large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time prior to attending a social event. Virtually all of the alcohol poisoning cases on campus involve hard alcohol consumption and usually occur from “pre-gaming.”
- Providing of Alcohol: Providing alcohol to underage individuals is prohibited. Hosts are responsible for their guests’ alcohol consumption and the behavior of their guests. Guests include individuals invited or signed in for by the student or the passive acceptance of an individual’s known presence. Guests also include individuals who are not personally invited, but who attend in response to a general invitation.
- Serving Alcohol: Any student-sponsored event where alcohol is served must follow Office of Student Life protocol (see Campus Events Coordinated by Students Policy). Serving alcohol to intoxicated persons or underage students is prohibited. Bulk containers, kegs, or any alcohol dispensing-device requiring a tap are not permitted on campus with the exception of a registered event with a licensed bartender present.
- Sale of Alcoholic Beverages: The unlicensed sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. This includes the selling of tickets to events where alcoholic beverages are provided, charging admission or accepting donations for any activity involving alcohol. Also, a student organization may not use College funds to purchase or provide alcohol at its social events, either on or off campus.
- Driving under the influence: Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol is prohibited. “Vehicle” is defined as anything used for transporting people or goods, especially on land, such as a car, truck, bicycle or cart.
- Prospective Students: The entire Occidental College community is responsible for the well-being of prospective students visiting the campus. Giving or offering alcohol to a prospective student is strictly prohibited. Information gathered about the use of alcohol by prospective students during their visit will be shared with Admissions to add to the file of the prospective student. This could hinder the ability of the prospective student to be admitted to the College.
- Off-Campus: Students associated with Occidental College who violate any College policy, city laws or ordinances, or state or federal laws off-campus are subject to disciplinary action from the College and arrest by law enforcement.
Section B: California State Alcoholic Beverage Laws and Penalties
All colleges must abide by federal, state and local laws and all campus policies incorporate such laws into college life. The laws of the State of California specify that people under the age of 21 may not consume, possess or distribute alcohol. In addition, it is unlawful for any person to sell, furnish or give any alcoholic beverage to anyone under the age of 21. Minors who use false identification in order to obtain alcoholic beverages are guilty of a misdemeanor. In compliance with state and local laws, Occidental prohibits the illegal use of alcohol on College property and as part of any College-sponsored activity (on- or off-campus).
Occidental does not shield its students from the law or from the consequences of their own behavior. Violations of federal, state or local law, even within regularly scheduled College facilities, occur at the risk of the individuals and are not the responsibility of the College. The College shall not serve as a haven from law enforcement agencies.
California laws regarding the use of alcoholic beverages are highlighted here. The laws are abbreviated for general use and may not cover all situations. It is the responsibility of the server or consumer of alcoholic beverages to be aware of, and abide by, all federal, state and local laws and ordinances.
Examples of common offenses and penalties include:
- Open Container Age 21: Possession of an open container of alcohol on public streets, sidewalks, highways, parking lots or alleys can result in a $108 fine (California Business And Professions Code section 25620 (a)).
- Minor in Possession (MIP): Any person under the age of 21 years who has any alcoholic beverage in their possession on any street or highway or in any public place or in any place open to the public is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of $250 or the person shall be required to perform not less than 24 hours or more than 32 hours of community service hours (California Business and Professions Code section 25662 (a)).
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or higher or driving under the influence of a drug or combination of both is a misdemeanor with possible fines of upwards of $7,000, county prison sentence, and driver's license suspension (California Vehicle Code sections 23152 (a) & (b)).
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) While Under Age 21: Drivers under 21 with a BAC of .01 or higher can have their vehicles towed and driver's license suspended, and be sentenced to not less than 96 hours in jail nor more than six months, and completion of an alcohol program and three years probation (California Vehicle Code sections 23136 and 23140).
- Cycling Under the influence (CUI): Bicycling under the influence (.08 BAC or higher) can result in jail sentencing and a base fine of $250. Riders under 21 may also lose their driver's license for one year (California Vehicle Code section 21200.5).
- Providing False Identification: Attempting to purchase alcohol using false identification can result in jail time and a minimum fine of $200 (California Business and Professions Code section 25661).
- Under 21 Purchase of Alcohol: Any person under the age of 21 years who purchases any alcoholic beverage or any person under the age of 21 years who consumes any alcoholic beverage in any on-sale premises (e.g., bar or licensed club or restaurant) is guilty of a misdemeanor (California Business and Professions Code section 25658(b)).
- Selling Alcohol without a License: is a misdemeanor (California Business and Professions Code section 23301).
- Drunk in Public (DIP): Public intoxication is considered disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor offense and can result in jail time and a fine (California Penal Code section 647(f)).
- Furnishing Alcohol to a Person Under 21 or an Intoxicated Person: Selling or furnishing alcohol to a person under 21 or to an obviously intoxicated person is a misdemeanor (California Business and Professions Code section 25658).
III. Drug Policy
Students have the right to live and work in an environment free from the effects of drugs and drug abuse. Occidental College students are expected to comply with federal, state, and local laws, to follow the requirements of the College’s drug policy and to respect the right to a drug free environment shared by all members of the campus community. Federal and state laws subject persons involved in the use, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs* to criminal action, including arrest, fine, and imprisonment. Occidental fully supports these laws by prohibiting the possession, use, sale, and/or distribution of illegal drugs on campus. Any violation of this Policy shall result in disciplinary action.
* "Illegal Drugs" refers to "Controlled Substances" as defined in Schedules I through V, section 22 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. Section 812) and also found in the Health and Safety Code Section 11054-11058.
Section A: General Guidelines
- As a general rule, law enforcement agencies permit an educational institution to address the illegal use of drugs by students in accordance with its disciplinary policies and procedures. However, the College cannot deny the Los Angeles Police Department or federal or state narcotics officers the right of access to the campus or entry to College buildings for the purpose of investigating the illegal use or sale of drugs.
- Students who use illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia shall be subject to disciplinary action.
- In addition, the College reserves the right to request outside assistance in connection with the possession, use, sale or distribution of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Section B: Occidental Expectations of Behavior
- Substance Use: The use, abuse, sale, manufacturing, possession and/or distribution of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia is prohibited. A student is deemed to have distributed illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia if they sell, exchange, share, jointly purchase, or otherwise make available any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia to another.
- Pharmaceuticals and other Substances: The abuse, sale, and/or distribution of over-the-counter or prescription drugs (pharmaceuticals), or other substances is prohibited. This includes the use of the pharmaceutical/substance for anything aside from its intended purpose, by someone other than the intended recipient, and in a dosage other than what is prescribed. Any student who sells, provides, shares or otherwise makes available a pharmaceutical/substance to another person may be found responsible for violating the Occidental drug policy. A student is deemed to have distributed a pharmaceutical or substance if they sell, exchange, share, jointly purchase, or otherwise make available any pharmaceutical or substance to another.
- In presence of illegal drugs: Students who are in the presence of such activities/items as outlined above shall also be subject to disciplinary action.
- Medical marijuana: The College does not allow any exceptions to this Policy including the possession or use of marijuana for medical purposes, even if such possession or use otherwise meets the qualifications of the California Compassionate Use Act. Occidental does not recognize documented compassionate use on campus after a student's use and/or possession is discovered. Students who believe they may be adversely affected by this Policy should contact the Dean of Students Office for more information.
- Prospective Students: The entire Occidental College community is responsible for the well-being of prospective students visiting the campus. Giving or offering illegal drugs, pharmaceuticals or other substances to a prospective student is strictly prohibited. Information gathered about the use of illegal drugs, pharmaceuticals, or other substances by prospective students during their visit will be shared with Admissions to add to the file of the prospective student. This could hinder the ability of the prospective student to be admitted to the College.
Section C: Drug Offenses and Penalties
The Federal Controlled Substances Act provides penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment and fines up to $25,000 for unlawful distribution or possession with intent to distribute illegal drugs. For the unlawful possession of a illegal drugs, a person is subject to up to one year of imprisonment and fines up to $5,000. Any person who unlawfully distributes an illegal drug to a person under twenty-one years of age may be punished by up to twice the term of imprisonment and fined otherwise authorized by law.
The unlawful use, possession, distribution, manufacturing, or dispensing of illegal drugs is prohibited by Occidental College. Criminal Sanctions under California Law for the unlawful possession or distribution of illegal drugs and alcohol include the following:
- Possession of Controlled Substances: Imprisonment in State prison for possession of specified controlled substances, including opium derivatives and cocaine (Health and Safety Code Section 11350).
- Selling of Controlled Substances: Imprisonment in State prison for two to four years for possession or sale of specified controlled substances including opium derivatives and cocaine (Health and Safety Code Section 11351).
- Possession of Marijuana: A person in possession of less than 25.8 grams of marijuana is subject to a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $100 (Health and Safety Code Section 11357 (b)); Possession of more than 25.8 grams shall be punished by imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of not more than $500, or imprisonment in State prison for possession of concentrated cannabis (Health and Safety Code Section 11357 (a)).
- Possession with Intent to Sell Marijuana: shall be punished by imprisonment in the State prison (Health and Safety Code Section 11359).
- Distribution of Prescription Drugs: it is unlawful for any person who is not a pharmacist to manufacture, compound, furnish, sell, or dispense any dangerous drug or dangerous device, or to dispense or compound any prescription (Business and Professions Code Section 4051 (a)).
- Under the Influence of Controlled Substance: No person shall use or be under the influence of any controlled substance. Any person convicted of violating this is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be sentenced to serve a term of not less than 90 days or more than one year in a county jail. (Health and Safety Code Section 11550 (a)).
Students found in violation of this Policy shall be referred to the Office of Student Conduct, where they shall meet with a conduct officer to assess responsibility and discuss possible sanctions in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct. A fundamental principle guiding the imposition of sanctions is founded on the College’s mission to balance upholding community standards with the educational development of its students in addressing individual behavior.
Students found responsible for violating this policy face the full range of sanctions (including expulsion) outlined in the Student Handbook. All sanctions are cumulative, and a student’s past conduct history is taken into consideration when issuing a sanction. Sanctions may also be enhanced based on the severity of the behavior and impact on the College community. More than one sanction may be imposed for any single violation.
V. Associated Health Risks and Campus Resources
The risks associated with the use of illegal drugs, pharmaceuticals and other substances and the abuse of alcohol are numerous and include physical and mental impairment, emotional and psychological deterioration, and potentially devastating effects on family and friends. There are obvious risks, such as suffering a hangover, being charged with driving under the influence or while intoxicated, and sustaining or causing personal injury. There are a number of less obvious risks associated with alcohol and other drug abuse that students might not realize, including:
- Poor academic and/or job performance
- Initiating nonconsensual sexual activity, which could lead to expulsion and criminal liability
- Being subjected to nonconsensual sexual activity, which could lead to psychological and physical trauma including sexually transmitted infections
- Jeopardizing future career prospects (e.g., admission to law school or government employment)
In addition, alcohol and other drug abuse puts the user at considerable health risk, which can include, nausea, vomiting, cancer, liver damage, elevated blood pressure, psychotic episodes, hallucinations and, in some cases, death. In addition to the risk to the abuser of illicit drugs and alcohol are the risks to other students and the entire Occidental College community. A chart on the uses and effects of controlled substances can be viewed here. The chart is taken from the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Drugs of Abuse (1997 edition).
Occidental College encourages students to approach any Dean, Resident Advisor, or faculty member with whom they feel comfortable if they suspect that they or one of their fellow students has an alcohol or drug abuse problem. Counselors at Emmons Student Wellness Center can provide consultation and referral to students with problems or concerns related to alcohol and drug use, and have procedures to assure confidentiality.
VI. Medical Amnesty Policy
The welfare of students is of the highest importance to Occidental College. Students that are intoxicated at a level requiring medical attention, and/or the friends of such students, should always seek appropriate assistance from Campus Safety, Residential Education staff, or other local emergency services. The medical amnesty clause is included to promote student safety and to encourage students and third parties to promptly notify the appropriate staff or local emergency services in the event of such need.
Under this policy, when a student experiences a physical and/or psychological crisis while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and the student or one or more friends of the student proactively requests medical assistance, the College will mitigate the resulting disciplinary actions for both the student in crisis and the student(s) calling for help. The students will be referred to an educational or developmental program so that they learn and grow from the situation; and, no or reduced Code of Student Conduct sanctions may be imposed. Students that do not complete the educational or developmental program recommendations may be faced with disciplinary action consistent with College policy.
While the College reserves the right to refuse a grant of amnesty under certain extenuating circumstances, a student or student(s) calling for assistance on behalf of an intoxicated student will generally be granted amnesty. Consistent with putting the student’s health and safety first, the College will approach serious or repeated incidents with a higher degree of concern and a high level of intervention.
This policy does not protect students who are found to be in violation of other Occidental College policies from disciplinary action. Likewise, this policy does not prevent action by police or other law enforcement personnel. The Amnesty Policy does not grant amnesty to possession with intent to distribute drugs.
Application to Student Organizations
In circumstances where an organization is found to be hosting an event where medical assistance is required or sought for a member or guest, the organization (depending upon the circumstances) may be held responsible for violations of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy through the conduct process. However, the organization's willingness to seek medical assistance for a member or guest will be viewed as a mitigating factor in determining a sanction for any violations of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy. For more information on student groups and organizations, please review this section of the Student Code of Conduct.
VII. Parental Notification
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permits Occidental College administrators to notify the parents or guardians of students who violate campus alcohol and drug policies. Parents or guardians may also be contacted to inform them of the events surrounding their student's emergency medical transport for treatment or evaluation due to presumed consumption of alcohol and/or controlled substances. Refer to the "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)" section of the Handbook for more information on this policy.
Last updated June 29, 2015
- Phone: (323) 259-2969