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Policy: Use of Alcoholic Beverages and Prohibition of Other Drugs 

Date: 06/01/05 Policy ID: STU-001 Status: Final

Policy Type: University
Contact Office: Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer (Office of the)
Oversight Executive: Institutional Compliance Officer
Applies To: 

All University of Virginia academic division employees and students.

Table of Contents: Policy Statement
  1. Alcohol
  2. Areas of Emphasis
  3. Drugs
    1. Federal and State Penalties
    2. Intercollegiate Athletics Drug/Alcohol Policy
    3. Drug-free Workplace Policy
  4. Health and Behavioral Risks
  5. Substance Abuse Resources
    1. Educational Programming
    2. Consultation and Treatment


Reason for Policy: 

The purpose of this policy is to regulate the sale and service of alcoholic beverages on University property and to inform the University community of state and federal laws and penalties concerning unlawful substance use and abuse; health and behavioral risks of alcohol abuse and drug use; and resources for treatment and educational programming in accordance with federal law. [Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Regulations; 20 U.S.C. 1011i and 34 C.F.R. Section 86.100 (a) (1).]

Policy Summary: 
Definition of Terms in Statement: 

University Function: Any activity that is conducted by a University office or department or by University personnel, and which is done on behalf of the University, whether the activity is conducted on or off Grounds.

University Office or Department: Any office or department whose reporting line culminates with the Board of Visitors. A student organization with a Contracted Independent Organization Agreement or a Fraternal Organization Agreement, or a University foundation is not considered a University office or department.

University Personnel: University employees who have a direct reporting relationship that culminates with the Board of Visitors or who are appointed through University Human Resources and paid through University payroll to perform services that are subject to the will and control of the University.

University Property: Land or buildings that the University owns or leases and that is under the direct control of the Board of Visitors. University property also includes premises the University uses for activities of its offices, departments, personnel or students.

Policy Statement: 

The University of Virginia prohibits the illegal or otherwise irresponsible use of alcohol and other drugs. It is the responsibility of every member of the University community to know the risks associated with substance use and abuse. This responsibility obligates students and employees to know relevant University policies and federal, state and local laws, and to conduct themselves in accordance with these laws and policies. To these ends, the University publishes the following information regarding University policies and sanctions, laws and penalties concerning substance use and abuse, health and behavioral risks of drug use, and resources for treatment and educational programming. BACK TO TOP

1. Alcohol
Virginia laws concerning the purchase, possession, consumption, sale and storage of alcoholic beverages include the following:

  1. Any sale of an alcoholic beverage requires a license from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board;
  2. Alcoholic beverages are not to be given, sold or served to persons under 21 years of age;
  3. Alcoholic beverages are not to be given, sold or served to persons who are intoxicated;
  4. Virginia law prohibits: drinking in unlicensed public places; possession, consumption or purchase of an alcoholic beverage by a person under 21 years of age; falsely representing one’s age for the purpose of procuring alcohol; purchasing, giving, providing, or assisting in providing an alcoholic beverage for a person who is under 21 years of age; public intoxication; and providing alcohol to an intoxicated person.

The University of Virginia assumes no responsibility for any liability incurred at any event not sponsored by the University where alcohol is served and/or sold. Students and members of Contracted Independent Organizations or of organizations with a Fraternal Organization Agreement are obliged to conduct themselves in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and assume full responsibility for their activities and events.

2. Areas of Emphasis

  1. Except as expressly permitted in this policy under Item 11 of the “Areas of Emphasis,” any use of alcohol (a) in a public area on University property or (b) at a University function in which University of Virginia students will be present must be approved a minimum of one week in advance in writing by the Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer or his or her designee using the online Approval Request for Use of Alcohol Beverages submission form.
  2. Alcoholic beverages may not be served at any University function or event held on property that will be attended by underage University of Virginia students. Requests for exceptions must be presented to the Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer or his or her designee. If an exception is granted, personnel trained in the University’s Alcohol Risk Management program must be present to supervise the service of alcohol.  The event manager(s) must successfully complete the University’s online Alcohol Risk Management class (see course details and registration).
  3. Alcoholic beverages purchased with University funds may be used only in compliance with  Commonwealth of Virginia (Virginia), federal law and University policy.
  4. Events, whether planned or spontaneous, involving the possession/distribution/consumption of alcoholic beverages are prohibited in and around the first-year residence halls.
  5. Non-alcoholic beverages and food items must be present at University functions where alcoholic beverages are served.
  6. Alcoholic beverages may not be mentioned in the advertising or publicizing of a University function.
  7. Sponsors serving alcohol at University functions shall not permit the entry or exit of persons with beverage containers.
  8. Sponsors must check for proper age identification of individuals attending events when alcohol is served and underage U.Va. students may be present.
  9. A student may not let another person use his or her I.D. for the purpose of obtaining an alcoholic beverage, nor may a student use another person's I.D. to obtain alcoholic beverages.
  10. University Dining Services, the University Programs Council, and Nutrition Services are the only organizations eligible to obtain an ABC license for the purpose of selling alcoholic beverages on University property.
  11. Members of the University community living in University property and their invited guests who are lawfully permitted to purchase, possess and use alcohol may do so in the residence or on any immediately adjacent area devoted to residential use; they should not do so, however, in public places or in any area on University property devoted to common use. The presence of underage family members, employees or guests does not preclude the serving of alcohol in a residence that is University property, provided an appropriate of-age family member and/or host is willing to assume the legal responsibility for ensuring compliance with Virginia and federal law and University policy.
  12. Additional regulations governing the use of alcohol in Newcomb Hall, Runk, and the Forum at O-Hill, may be obtained in Newcomb Hall.
  13. Possession of kegs, pony kegs, or beer balls is prohibited in residence facilities that are University property.
  14. Any organization, as well as its leadership, sponsoring an event on University property will be responsible for following all federal and Virginia laws and University policies that apply to the serving and/or selling of alcoholic beverages.

Any student found in violation of this policy is subject to the entire range of University Judiciary Committee sanctions described in the Statement of Students' Rights and Responsibilities, including suspension and expulsion. University personnel found in violation of this policy are subject to appropriate personnel sanctions.

3. Drugs
Unauthorized manufacture, distribution, use and possession of “controlled substances” (illegal drugs), including prescription drugs, marijuana and cocaine, are prohibited by both Virginia and federal law and are punishable by severe penalties. The University does not tolerate or condone such conduct. Students and employees who violate Virginia or federal drug laws may be referred by University authorities for criminal prosecution.

Whether or not criminal charges are brought, all students and employees are subject to University discipline for illegally manufacturing, distributing, possessing or using any controlled substance (i) on University property, (ii) at University functions, or (iii) under other circumstances involving a direct and substantial connection to the University. Any student found to have engaged in such conduct is subject to the entire range of University Judiciary Committee sanctions described in the Statement of Students’ Rights and Responsibilities, including suspension and expulsion. University personnel found in violation of this policy are subject to appropriate personnel sanctions.

A. Federal and Commonwealth of Virginia (Virginia) Penalties. Federal and  Virginia law penalizes the unlawful manufacturing, distribution, use, and possession of controlled substances, including prescription drugs. The penalties vary based on many factors, including the type and amount of the drug involved, and whether there is intent to distribute. Federal law sets penalties for first offenses ranging from less than one year to life imprisonment and/or fines up to $10million. Penalties may include forfeiture of property, including vehicles used to possess, transport or conceal a controlled substance, and the denial of professional licenses or federal benefits, such as student loans. Convictions under Virginia law may be misdemeanor or felony crimes with sanctions ranging from probation to life imprisonment and/or fines of up to $1 million. Virginia law specifically prohibits the sale, gift, distribution, and possession of synthetic cannabinoids, which carry penalties as a Class 6 felony.

Federal law holds that any person who distributes, possesses with intent to distribute, or manufactures a controlled substance on or within one thousand feet of an educational facility is subject to a doubling of the applicable maximum punishments and fines. A similar Virginia law carries sanctions of between one and  five years imprisonment and up to a $100,000 fine for similar violations. BACK TO TOP

B. Intercollegiate Athletics Department’s Drug/Alcohol Policy. The Intercollegiate Athletics Department of the University has additional written policies which are presented to each student-athlete annually prior to participation. These policies encompass mandatory drug testing, sanctions as a result of positive tests, specific programs of education relative to drug and alcohol use and abuse, and counseling and rehabilitation programs.

C. Drug-Free Workplace Policy. The use of alcohol or illegal drugs by all employees while on University property, including during meal periods and breaks, is absolutely prohibited. The use of alcohol may be authorized in advance by the University for approved University functions. No employee will report to work while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Violations of these rules by an employee will be reason for evaluation/treatment for a substance use disorder or for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. BACK TO TOP

4. Health and Behavioral Risks
The negative physical and mental effects of the use of alcohol and other drugs are well documented. Use of these drugs may cause: blackouts, poisoning, overdose, and death; physical and psychological dependence; damage to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and liver; inability to learn and remember information; and psychological problems, including depression, psychosis, and severe anxiety. Risks associated with specific drugs are described later in this section.

Impaired judgment and coordination resulting from the use of alcohol and other drugs are associated with acquaintance assault and rape; DUI/DWI arrests; hazing; falls, drowning and other injuries; contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; and unwanted or unplanned sexual experiences and pregnancy.

Substance abuse by family members and friends may also be of concern to individuals. Patterns of risk-taking behavior and dependency not only interfere in the lives of the abusers, but can also have a negative impact on the affected student's academic work, emotional well-being and adjustment to college life.

Individuals concerned about their own health or that of a friend should consult a physician or mental health professional. More information and assistance can be obtained by contacting one of the University’s substance abuse resources listed in the Consultaton and Treatment section of this policy.

Alcohol: Alcohol abuse is a progressive disorder in which physical dependency can develop. Even low doses of alcohol impair brain function, judgment, alertness, coordination and reflexes. Very high doses cause suppression of respiration and death. Chronic alcohol abuse can produce dementia, sexual impotence, cirrhosis of the liver, and heart disease, and sudden withdrawal can produce severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and life-threatening convulsions.

Cocaine: Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system. Immediate physical effects include dilated pupils and increased blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature. Occasional use can cause a stuffy or runny nose, while chronic use may destroy nasal tissues. Following the “high” of extreme happiness and a sense of unending energy is a cocaine “crash,” which includes depression, dullness, intense anger, and paranoia. Injecting cocaine with contaminated equipment can lead to infection with HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases. Tolerance develops rapidly, and psychological and physical dependency can occur.  The use of cocaine can cause kidney damage, heart attacks, seizures, and strokes due to high blood pressure. Death can occur by cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.

Depressants: Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are two of the most commonly used groups of these drugs. Barbiturates include Phenobarbital, Seconal and Amytal; benzodiazepines include Ativan, Dalmane, Librium, Xanax, Valium, Halcyon, and Restoril. These drugs are frequently used for medical purposes to relieve anxiety and to induce sleep. Physical and psychological dependence can occur if the drugs are used for longer periods of time at higher doses. Benzodiazepine use can cause slurred speech, disorientation, and lack of coordination. If taken with alcohol, use can lead to a coma and possible death.

Hallucinogens: This category includes phencyclidine (PCP or “angel dust”) and amphetamine variants, which have mind-altering effects. Perception and cognition are impaired, and muscular coordination decreases. Speech is blocked and incoherent. Chronic users of PCP may have memory problems and speech difficulties lasting six months to a year after prolonged daily use. Depression, anxiety, and violent behavior also occur. High psychological dependence on the drug may result in taking large doses of PCP. Large doses produce convulsions, comas, and heart and lung failure.

Lysergic acid dyethylamine (LSD or “acid”), mescaline and psilocybin (mushrooms) cause illusions, hallucinations and altered perception of time and space. Physical effects include dilated pupils, elevated body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, decreased appetite, insomnia, and tremors. Psychological reactions include panic, confusion, paranoia, anxiety, and loss of control. Flashbacks, or delayed effects, can occur even after use has ceased.

Marijuana (Cannabis): Marijuana has negative physical and mental effects. Physical effects include elevated blood pressure, a dry mouth and throat, bloodshot and swollen eyes, decrease in body temperature, and increased appetite. Frequent and/or longtime users may develop chronic lung disease and damage to the pulmonary system.

Use of marijuana is also associated with impairment of short-term memory and comprehension, an altered sense of time, and a reduction in the ability to perform motor skills such as driving a car. Marijuana abuse can also produce listlessness, inattention, withdrawal, and apathy. Abuse can intensify underlying emotional problems and is associated with chronic anxiety, depression, and paranoia.

Narcotics: Narcotics include heroin, methadone, morphine, codeine, OxyContin, Vicodin, and opium. After an initial feeling of euphoria, usage causes drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. Effects of overdose include slow and shallow breathing, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possible death. Physical and psychological dependence is high, and severe withdrawal symptoms include watery eyes, runny nose, loss of appetite, irritability, tremors, panic, cramps, nausea, chills, and sweating. Use of contaminated syringes may lead to infection with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases.

Stimulants: Amphetamines and other stimulants include “ecstasy” and “ice” as well as prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin. The physical effects produced are elevated heart and respiratory rates, increased blood pressure, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Sweating, headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, and anxiety may also result from use. High dosage can cause rapid or irregular heartbeat, tremors, loss of motor skills and even physical collapse. Long-term use of higher doses can produce amphetamine psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.

Synthetic marijuana (Spice, K2):. Spice, K2 and other “incense blends” are products that contain dried, shredded plant material along with synthetic forms of THC, the psychoactive component of the Cannabis sativa plant (marijuana). The exact chemical composition of the products is unknown, may vary across brands and batches and there is concern about the presence of harmful heavy metal residues. Synthetic cannabinoids bind to the same brain receptors as natural marijuana, but several strains bind more strongly to the receptors, which could lead to a much more powerful and unpredictable effects.  Short term effects may include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. 

5. Substance Abuse Resources
A. Educational Programming
Gordie Center for Alcohol and Substance Education — The coordinating body for substance abuse prevention and education at the University. (gordiecase@virginia.edu or 924- 5276).

University Police Department — Officers provide information and seminars in the legal aspects of areas related to substance abuse (924-7166).

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) — A peer education group sponsored by Student Health's Gordie Center for Alcohol and Substance Education that promotes awareness, provides educational outreach, and serves as accessible resources for students (adapt-uva@virginia.edu or 924-5276).

Peer Health Educators (PHEs) — A peer education group sponsored by Student Health's Office of Health Promotion that provides informal educational sessions on alcohol, drugs, and other health issues (924-1509).

Student Athlete Mentors (SAMs) — The Gordie Center for Alcohol and Substance Education and the Intercollegiate Athletics Department recruit and train members of each athletic team to coordinate alcohol education programs for their teams and to serve as internal resources on University services (924-5276).

Hoos in Recovery — An association of University undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, and alumni in recovery from alcoholism or addiction. The group meets twice monthly (HoosInRecovery@virginia.edu or 924-5276).

B. Consultation and Treatment
Student Health - Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) — Substanceuse consultations, comprehensive mental health evaluations, including risk assessments for all substance presentations, treatment and/or referral for students and concerned friends or family is available (924-5556).

Faculty and Employee Assistance Program (FEAP) — Freeand confidential, short term assessment and counseling for faculty, staff, and their family members. FEAP staff are licensed mental health professionals, EAP certified, and have expertise in personal, work, family, mental health and substance abuse issues. Consultation is also provided for chairs, faculty administrators and staff supervisors on various management issues. Contact 434-243-2643 for further information or to schedule an appointment.

Center for Addiction Research and Education (CARE) — Aresearch and treatment clinic, with locations at U.Va. and in Richmond, testing innovative treatments for addictive behaviors. (434-243-0549 or 434-243-0541).

The Excelsior ProgramTreatment for addiction (434-243-7381).


Approval to use alcohol at an event on University property or at a University function involving University of Virginia students requires approval a minimum of one week in advance in writing from the Vice President for Student Affairs. Please submit the Approval Request for Use of Alcoholic Beverages form. [Refer to Forms page for additional guidance.]

Related Information: 
Policy Background: 
Major Category: Students and Student Programs
Category Cross Reference: Human Resource Management
Next Scheduled Review: 09/14/13
Approved By, Date: Policy Review Committee, 04/04/05
Revision History: Updated 11/6/12, 9/14/10, 10/8/08, 10/1/07.
Supersedes (previous policy):  Sale of Alcoholic Beverages VII.F.3 and the 2004-05 Drug and Alcohol Policy.