The University Alcohol and Drug Policy

I.  Introduction

The University Alcohol and Drug Policy, like other standards of conduct applicable to the University community, is intended to further the educational mission of the University of Pennsylvania. The University is committed to fostering an environment that promotes the acquisition of knowledge and nurtures the growth of the individual. Each member of our intellectual community is responsible for his or her own actions and is expected to contribute to the Penn community and to respect the rights of others to participate in the academic and social life of the University. The following alcohol and drug policy, with its emphasis on individual and shared responsibility, healthy and informed decision-making, maintaining a caring environment, and the promotion of genuine dialogue, is adopted in this spirit.

This 1999 University Alcohol and Drug Policy supercedes and replaces both the previous Alcohol and Drug policy and the Greek Alcohol Management policy.

Students, staff and faculty may be subject to additional requirements and procedures set forth by their respective schools or departments, and which may be stated in handbooks generated by those entities.

II. Standards of Conduct

Drugs [See Summary of Controlled Substance Statutes in Appendix]

The University of Pennsylvania prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, sale, possession or use of any drug by any of its students, employees in its workplace, on its premises or as part of any of its activities. This policy is intended to supplement and not limit the provisions of the University's Drug-Free Workplace policy.

Alcohol [See Summary of Alcohol Statutes in Appendix]

A.  General Rules Governing the Use of Alcohol

The University of Pennsylvania seeks to encourage and sustain an academic environment that respects individual freedom and promotes the health, safety and welfare of all members of its community. In keeping with these objectives, the University has established the following policy governing the possession, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages by members of the University community, and conforming to the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Penn's alcohol policy and programs are intended to encourage its members to make responsible decisions about the use of alcoholic beverages, and to promote safe, legal, and healthy patterns of social interaction.

      1. The University of Pennsylvania prohibits:

  • The possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons under the age of twenty-one on property owned or controlled by the University or as part of any University activity.
  • The intentional and knowing selling, or intentional and knowing furnishing (as defined by Pennsylvania law) of alcoholic beverages to person under the age of twenty-one or to persons obviously inebriated on property owned or controlled by the University or as part of any University activity.  Pennsylvania law currently defines "furnish" as "to supply, give, or provide to, or allow a minor to possess on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged."
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages by all University students and employees so as to adversely affect academic or job performance and/or endanger the physical well-being of other persons and/or oneself, and/or which leads to damage of property.
  • The possession, sale, distribution, promotion, or consumption of an alcoholic beverage in a manner that constitutes a violation of federal, state or local law, including the sale, directly or indirectly, of any alcoholic beverages at a premise or by an entity not licensed for such sales on property owned or controlled by the University or as part of any University activity. 

2.  The University of Pennsylvania permits the lawful keeping and consumption, in moderation, of alcoholic beverages on its property or property under its control by persons of legal drinking age (21 years or older).

3.  In cases of intoxication and/or alcohol poisoning, the primary concern is the health and safety of the individual(s) involved. Individuals are strongly encouraged to call for medical assistance for themselves or for a friend/acquaintance who is dangerously intoxicated. No student seeking medical treatment for an alcohol or other drug-related overdose will be subject to University discipline for the sole violation of using or possessing alcohol or drugs. This policy shall extend to another student seeking help for the intoxicated student.

4.  Vice Provosts, Vice Presidents, Deans, and heads of administrative and residential units have the authority and responsibility to govern the use of alcohol in areas they control, both indoors and out, and to approve or disapprove of plans designed to ensure that (at events where alcohol will be served in such areas) only legal age individuals will have access to such alcohol. Further, those hosting such events must take reasonable steps to ensure that the acquisition, distribution and consumption of alcohol otherwise complies with applicable law and University policy.

5.  At any event at which alcohol will be served, sufficient quantities of non-alcoholic beverages and food must also be available to guests without cost.

6.  Consistent with Pennsylvania law, advertisements of social events shall not promote nor describe the availability of alcoholic beverages nor promote the consumption of alcohol by minors.

7.  Ordinarily, consumption of alcoholic beverages in outdoor public areas such as walkways, building steps and porches, unenclosed patios, green spaces, and the like is not permitted regardless of the age of the drinker. However, appropriate administrators may grant exceptions to this guideline on an event-by-event basis. Exceptions will be granted only for those events where an overwhelming majority of those reasonably expected to attend an event are of legal drinking age. Events for which exceptions have been granted must be limited to areas that are clearly demarcated and in which it is possible to exercise adequate control of access to and consumption of alcohol.

8.  Kegs of any amount of beer are not allowed in any University-managed undergraduate residence.

B.  Rules Governing Alcohol Use at Registered Undergraduate Social Events

In order to minimize the risk of alcohol abuse, promote compliance with the law, and encourage students to make responsible decisions about the use of alcohol, the following rules are designed to control the volume and nature of alcohol products available and, ultimately, reduce the risk of alcohol-related incidents that pose a threat to the health and welfare of students and colleagues.

1.  Undergraduate student organizations1, which intend to sponsor either on-campus or Third Party Vendor events at which it is anticipated alcohol will be served and consumed, must register the event with the Vice Provost for University Life at least one week in advance of the event. Failure to register an on-campus (.pdf form) or Third Party Vendor event at which alcohol is served does not exempt student organizations from the applicability of these rules.

2.  Undergraduate student organizations that are hosting Third Party Vendor events must register the event with VPUL and strictly comply with the Third Party Vendor checklist.2

3.  UPPD approval must be obtained for any parties, including alcohol free parties, that will have:

  • More then 400 guests,
  • Outside area/yard, and/or
  • Live band

The party organizers must email UPPD for approval before they submit the registration form to the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Policy Initiatives.  An email link to the appropriate people at UPPD can be found on the website with the party registration form, hosting_form.php.

4.  The organizers of events must have adequate means for identifying of-age drinkers (e.g. picture identification plus hand-stamps/wrist bracelets, etc.)

5.  Hard alcohol is prohibited at all registered on-campus undergraduate events. Hard alcohol is permitted only at Third Party Vendor events where conditions specified on the Third Party Vendor checklist are met.

6.  Service of alcohol at all on-campus registered events must end no later than 1 a.m.; events may continue until 2 a.m.

7.  Undergraduate student organizations hosting on-campus events at which alcohol is served are responsible for assuring that alcohol is served and consumed lawfully and safely.* To comply with this expectation undergraduate student organizations must adhere to the following conditions:

  • No oversized or common sourse containers of any sort [including but not limited to kegs, punchbowls, beer balls, party balls] are premitted at any on-campus party;
  • Only individuals with valid proof of legal drinking age may be served alcohol; alcohol may nor be served to any visibly intoxicated person, regardless of age;
  • Alcohol may be served only from a controlled, designated area by sober, trained, of-age bartenders who are unaffiliated with the host organization.  For the duration of registered events, individual members of host organizations may not entertain guests in private areas, including private bedrooms.  Party attendance is restricted to the public area designated for the party.  This means that individual members of a host organization may not serve alcohol in their private rooms for the duration of registered events, even if those in the room are of legal drinking age;
  • No undergraduate organization, student activity, or student government funds may be used to purchase alcohol for any party;
  • Drinking contests or games of any sort are expressly prohibited

* The amount of alcohol available at an event should not exceed a ratio of more than four (4) alcoholic drinks (premium beer, table wine, or wine coolers) per of-age person attending the event.

One drink = 12oz. of premium beer (alcohol content of less than 6% by volume) or 4-5oz. of (unfortified) table wine or a standard serving size wine cooler (usually 10oz.)

8.  All registered events, either on-campus or at Third Party Vendors, must have appropriately trained bartenders who are unaffiliated with the host organization and who are at least 21 years of age.

9.  At all registered events, whether on-campus or at Third Party Vendors, the host organization must identify trained, non-alcohol-consuming host monitors. There shall be at least one such host monitor for each 30 guests. Each academic year, the host monitors must demonstrate to the Director of the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives that they have a clear understanding of the University's alcohol and drug policies and that they have participated in training or taken other steps to develop the ability to, wherever possible (l) handle emergency situations, (2) respond to alcohol-related medical concerns,(3) identify and intervene with overly intoxicated guests, whether or not they require medical treatment,(4) and carry out preventive safety measures regarding the controlled service of alcohol. These host monitors must be identified prior to the event and must be visually identifiable (e.g. armband, t-shirt or other visible designation of host monitor status) during the event to those in attendance.

10.  University trained and appointed monitors will assist in assuring that University policy is followed at all on-campus events.

11.  The organizers of events must properly dispose of partially filled and empty alcohol containers at the conclusion of the event.

12.  The University supports the enforcement of all University, local, state and federal policies and laws by retail and wholesale distributors of alcohol on or near campus.

13.  It is understood that in addition to University policy and state law, many University undergraduate student organizations are subject to policies regarding the possession and consumption of alcohol imposed by a parent organization. If the policies governing an individual organization impose more restrictive regulations regarding alcohol possession and consumption it will be necessary for that organization to follow its parent organization's policies or risk sanctions. If, however, the parent organization permits the possession or consumption of alcohol where otherwise prohibited by University policy, the organization must comply with the University's policy, notwithstanding its parent organization's rules.

  1. Violators of this policy will be subject to University disciplinary procedures.

III.  Penn's Commitment to Health Education and a Supportive Environment

Consistent with its educational mission, the University sponsors programs which help eradicate misperceptions about alcohol use among peers, create opportunities for open, honest dialogue about alcohol use and abuse, and promote awareness of the physical and psychological, social and behavioral effects of alcohol consumption.

      1. The University is committed to providing every Penn undergraduate student and parent or guardian with alcohol education from multiple sources when students are pre-freshman, during New Student Orientation, and during the course of the students' undergraduate education.

      2. The University is committed to supporting continuous and expanded peer education, to creating opportunities for curricular integration of alcohol and drug related issues in each of its undergraduate schools and maintaining an effective, coordinated and responsive alcohol abuse prevention and treatment plan implemented by the University's Director of the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives. In addition, the University's Alcohol Rapid Response Team, comprised primarily of undergraduates along with faculty and staff members, advises the President and the Provost on alcohol policy matters as they arise.

      3. In order to promote responsible group behavior regarding alcohol use, each student organization having more than 10 members and recognized by DRIA, VPUL, OFSA, SAC, OSL, the undergraduate schools, on-campus undergraduate residential facilities and/or the College Houses must must fulfill the following expectations:

        1. Each recognized organization having more than 10 members must have at least one member, in addition to the organization's leader or president, trained to identify high-risk drinking and substance abuse within the membership (both individual and collective) and be able to provide appropriate referrals to education and counseling services.
        2. Each recognized organization that intends to host registered events with alcohol (both on-campus and at third party vendors), must design and implement an individualized plan to demonstrate competency in managing risk related to alcohol consumption. Such a plan would identify the methods through which the organization will control service of alcohol, promote moderate alcohol consumption, and respond to alcohol-related medical concerns. Each organization must specifically identify appropriate strategies for creating an environment in which alcohol use is secondary to the event itself and which emphasizes food and activities not related to alcohol so as to minimize the risk associated with its presence. A competency plan must be submitted to the Director of the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives and the appropriate umbrella organization for approval prior to the registration of the first event of each academic year.

          Failure to meet this requirement could result in the loss of University recognition and/or support.

          Organizations not officially recognized by the University are encouraged to undertake similar efforts to ensure that high-risk drinking and substance abuse are appropriately addressed within the informal group.

        3. The University, along with its students, is committed to the creation of multiple recreational opportunities to help promote a wider variety of social experiences for undergraduates.

IV.  Consequences for Policy Violations

      1. All University students are expected to comply with applicable local, state and federal laws regarding the possession, use or sale of alcohol or drugs, whether on or off-campus, and are expected to comply with all University regulations regarding alcohol possession or use.

      2. Any student or employee who violates University policies or applicable law may be subject to disciplinary sanctions and/or referral for prosecution. Disciplinary sanctions for students range from disciplinary warning to expulsion as provided by the Charter of the University's student disciplinary system. The severity of the sanctions will depend, in part, on whether there have been repeated violations and on the seriousness of the misconduct. Employees found to be in violation of this policy or applicable law will be subject to University disciplinary procedures which may impose sanctions up to and including termination from employment and/or referral for prosecution. The University also supports enforcement, by applicable law enforcement agencies, of all local, state and federal laws.

      3. Along with disciplinary consequences, the University is committed to providing treatment and education as appropriate to assist members of the community.

      4. Organizations must comply with these policies and applicable laws. Organizations, as well as individuals involved who violate this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary sanction.

V. Resources in the Penn Community for Information and Counseling Related to Alcohol and Drug Use

The University provides services and resources for community members who experience alcohol and/or drug related difficulties. The following programs are available for students, staff and faculty:

    1. Director of the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives

      The Director of the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives is responsible for ensuring the efficient and productive coordination of all relevant, alcohol-related campus services. Assistance is available by calling (215) 573-3525.                                                                                                              

    2. Employee Assistance Program

Employee Assistance Program is a free, confidential one-on-one counseling service provided by the University for Penn faculty and staff and their family members. This program can offer assistance with serious life issues 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-888-321-4433. Services are available at over 450 locations throughout the Delaware Valley, including an on-campus office at 36th and Market Streets. 

Additional Resources The following offices provide information, education and services related to alcohol and other drug concerns. All services are provided free of charge and are available to students, faculty and staff at the University of Pennsylvania. If you are concerned about your own or someone else's use of substances, please contact one of these offices.

Affirmative Action, Office of (Faculty, Staff & Students)
Suite 228, 3600 Chestnut Street/6106
(215) 898-6993 (Voice), (215) 898-7803 (TDD)

African American Resource Center (Faculty, Staff & Students)
3537 Locust Walk/6225
(215) 898-0104

Counseling and Psychological Services (confidential)
2nd Floor, 133 S. 36th Street/3246 (Students)
(215) 898-7021

Health Education, Office of the Director of the Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives (confidential)
3609-11 Locust Walk/6222
(215) 573-3525

Human Resources, Division of Quality of Worklife
527A 3401 Walnut Street/6228
(215) 898-0380

Penn Women's Center
Locust House, 3643 Locust Walk/6230 (Faculty, Staff & Students)
(215) 898-8611/12

Division of Human Resources, Staff and Labor Relations
527A, 3401 Walnut Street/6228
(215) 898-6093

Student Health Services (confidential)
3535 Market Street, Suite 100 (Students)
(215) 746-3535

Parental Notification Policy Regarding Alcohol and Other Drug Violations


  1. Legal Sanctions

    The following is a brief review of the legal sanctions under local, state, and federal law for the unlawful possession or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol:

    1. Drugs
      1. The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, 35 Pa. C.S.A. 780-101 et seq., sets up five schedules of controlled substances based on dangerousness and medical uses. It prohibits the manufacture, distribution, sale or acquisition by misrepresentation or forgery of controlled substances except in accordance with the Act as well as the knowing possession of controlled substances unlawfully acquired. Penalties for first-time violators of the Act range from thirty days imprisonment, $500 fine, or both for possession or distribution of a small amount of marijuana or hashish, not for sale, to fifteen years or $250,000 or both for the manufacture or delivery of a Schedule I or II narcotic. A person over eighteen years of age who is convicted for violating The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, shall be sentenced to a minimum of at least one year total confinement if the delivery or possession with intent to deliver of the controlled substance was to a minor. If the offense is committed within 1,000 feet of the real property on which a university is located, the person shall be sentenced to an additional minimum sentence of at least two years total confinement.
      2. The Pharmacy Act of 1961, 63 Pa. C.S.A. 390-8 makes it unlawful to procure or attempt to procure drugs by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge or by forgery or alteration of a prescription. The first offense is a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of one year's imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both.
      3. The Vehicle Code, 75 PA, C.S.A. 3101 et seq., which was amended effective July 1, 1977, prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or both, if the driver thereby is rendered incapable of safe driving. A police officer is empowered to arrest without a warrant any person whom he or she has probable cause to believe has committed a violation, even though the officer may not have been present when the violation was committed. A person so arrested is deemed to have consented to a test of breath or blood for the purpose of determining alcoholic content, and if a violation is found it carries the penalties of a misdemeanor of the second degree, which includes imprisonment for a maximum of thirty days.
      4. The Federal drug laws, The Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq., are similar to the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act, but contain, for the most part, more severe penalties. Schedules of controlled substance are established, and it is made unlawful knowingly or intentionally to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense a controlled substance. If the quantity of controlled substance is large (e.g. 1,000 kg of a mixture or substance containing marijuana), the maximum penalties are life imprisonment, a $4,000,000 fine, or both. Lesser quantities of controlled substance (e.g. 100 kg of a mixture or substance containing marijuana) result in maximum penalties of life imprisonment, a $2,000,000 fine, or both. The distribution of small amounts of marijuana for no remuneration or simple possession of a controlled substance carries a maximum of one year's imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both, with the penalties for the second offense doubling. Probation without conviction is possible for first offenders. Distribution to persons under the age of twenty-one by persons eighteen or older carries double or triple penalties. Double penalties also apply to the distribution or manufacture of a controlled substance in or on or within 1,000 feet of the property of a school or college.
      5. Students who have been convicted under state or federal law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance, are ineligible for federal student aid for specific periods (ranging from one year to an indefinite period depending on the nature of the offense and whether the student is a repeat offender.)
    2. Alcohol
      1. The Pennsylvania Liquor Code, 47 Pa., C.S.A., 1-101 et seq., controls the possession and sale of alcoholic beverages within the Commonwealth. The Code as well as portions of the Pennsylvania Statutes pertaining to crimes and offenses involving minors, 18 Pa., C.S.A. 6307 et seq., provide the following:
      2. It is a summary offense for a person under the age of twenty-one to attempt to purchase, consume, possess or knowingly and intentionally transport any liquor or malt or brewed beverages. Penalty for a first offense is suspension of driving privileges for 90 days, a fine up to $500 and imprisonment for up to 90 days; for a second offense, suspension of driving privileges for one year, a fine up to $1000, and imprisonment for up to one year; for subsequent offense, suspension of driving privileges for two years, a fine up to $1000 and imprisonment for up to one year. Multiple sentences involving suspension of driving privileges must be served consecutively.
      3. It is a crime intentionally and knowingly to sell or intentionally and knowingly to furnish or to purchase with the intent to sell or furnish, any liquor or malt or brewed beverages to any minor (under the age of twenty-one). "Furnish" means to supply, give or provide to, or allow a minor to possess on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged. Penalty for a first violation is $1,000; $2,500 for each subsequent violation; imprisonment for up to one year for any violation.
      4. It is a crime for any person under twenty-one years of age to possess an identification card falsely identifying that person as being twenty-one years of age or older, or to obtain or attempt to obtain liquor or malt or brewed beverages by using a false identification card. Penalties are stated in (2) above.
      5. It is a crime intentionally, knowingly or recklessly to manufacture, make, alter, sell or attempt to sell an identification card falsely representing the identity, birth date, or age of another. Minimum fine is $1,000 for first violation; $2,500 for subsequent violations; imprisonment for up to one year for any violation.
      6. It is a crime to misrepresent one's age knowingly and falsely to obtain liquor or malt or brewed beverages. Penalties are as stated in (1) above.
      7. It is a crime knowingly, willfully and falsely to represent that another is of legal age to obtain liquor or malt or brewed beverages. Penalty is a minimum fine of $300 and imprisonment for up to one year.
      8. It is a crime to hire, request or induce any minor to purchase liquor or malt or beverages. Penalty is a minimum fine of $300 and imprisonment for up to one year.
      9. Sales without a license or purchases from an unlicensed source of liquor or malt or brewed beverages are prohibited.
      10. It is unlawful to possess or transport liquor or alcohol within the Commonwealth unless it has been purchased from a State Store or in accordance with Liquor Control Board regulations. The University will cooperate with the appropriate law enforcement authorities for violations of any of the above-mentioned laws by an employee in the workplace or student.
      11. The use in any advertisement of alcoholic beverages of any subject matter, language or slogan directed to minors to promote consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
      12. No advertisement of alcoholic beverages shall be permitted, either directly or indirectly, in any booklet, program, book, yearbook, magazine, newspaper, periodical, brochure, circular, or other similar publication, published by, for, or on behalf of any educational institution.

  2. Health Risks

    Alcohol. Alcohol consumption causes a number of changes in behavior and physiology. Even low doses significantly impair judgment, coordination, and abstract mental functioning. Statistics show that alcohol use is involved in a majority of violent behaviors on college campuses, including acquaintance rape, vandalism, fights, and incidents of drinking and driving. Continued abuse may lead to dependency, which often causes permanent damage to vital organs and deterioration of a healthy lifestyle.

    Amphetamines. Amphetamines can cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat, tremors, loss of coordination, collapse, and death. Heavy users are prone to irrational acts.

    Cannabis (Marijuana, Hashish). The use of marijuana may impair or reduce short- term memory and comprehension, alter sense of time, and reduce coordination and energy level. Frequent users often have a lowered immune system and an increased risk of lung cancer. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is stored in the fatty tissues of the brain and reproductive system for a minimum of 28 to 30 days.

    Cocaine/Crack. The immediate effects of cocaine use include dilated pupils and elevated blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature, followed by depression. Crack, or freebase rock cocaine, is extremely addictive and can cause delirium, hallucinations, blurred vision, severe chest pain, muscle spasms, convulsions, and even death.

    Hallucinogens. Lysergic acid (LSD), mescaline, and psilocybin cause illusions and hallucinations. The user may experience panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety, and loss of control. Delayed effects, or flashbacks, can occur even when use has ceased. Phencyclidine (PCP) affects the section of the brain that controls the intellect and keeps instincts in check. Because the drug blocks pain receptors, violent PCP episodes may result in self-inflicted injuries.

    Heroin. Heroin is an opiate drug that causes the body to have diminished pain reactions. Heroin is physically addictive. This and other opiate drugs are respiratory depressants; their use can be associated with coma and death.

1 A Penn undergraduate student organization is any standing group that:

  • Is affiliated with one of the four undergraduate schools (the College, Engineering and Applied Science, Nursing, and Wharton);
  • Is sponsored by the College Houses or their house councils; the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics; and/or VPUL departments (e.g. the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the Greenfield Intercultural Center, and the Office of Student Life);
  • Is entitled to seek funding and/or recognition through the undergraduate Student Activities Council;
  • Receives financial resources from the University, maintains a University banking account, reserves the use of a University vehicle, and/or uses a University organization telecommunications account;


  • Uses University facilities.

2 Third Party Vendor checklists are available through the Vice Provost for University Life office, 3611 Locust Walk, 898-6081.