Student Organization Alcohol Guidelines

Guidelines Governing Alcohol Service at Events Sponsored by Student Organizations at the Washington University School of Medicine

I. General Principle on Alcohol Service at Events Sponsored by Graduate and Professional Students and Organizations at Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) has adopted a Drug and Alcohol Policy reinforcing our commitment to an education, work, living and patient care environment that is free of alcohol and drug abuse. Given our mission to support personal and public health, students of the School of Medicine (WUSM) have a particular responsibility to recognize alcohol impairment and the potentially dire social, physiological and psychological consequences of substance use and abuse. For information regarding the effects of alcohol and drug use and abuse and to learn about available counseling services, please consult the School of Medicine’s Student and Occupational Health Services

As adults, students are expected to know and abide by all applicable state and federal laws and university policies and procedures. State law makes it illegal for a person under the age of 21 years old to purchase, attempt to purchase, or possess any intoxicating liquor. Violation can subject an individual to a fine between $50 and $1,000 and/or imprisonment for a maximum term of one year. County and municipality ordinances contain similar prohibitions and sanctions.

WashU expects its students and community members to exercise responsible decision making if they choose to include alcohol as part of their activities, including making sound judgments about whether, when, and how much to drink. Individual students are responsible for their own behavior and will be held to university and school policies should their behavior not conform to standards of conduct. Individuals may also be referred for criminal prosecution.

If a student organization provides alcohol as part of an event, student organizers share in the responsibility of providing a safe environment for all attendees and must prioritize the safety, health, and well-being of participants when planning and hosting an event. Student organizations may also be held accountable for the actions of their members through university and school policies.  

Student organizations are expected to follow the guidelines below when hosting events with alcohol. Individual schools and certain venues retain the discretion to impose additional guidelines on student organizations and events. For more information, contact the Office of Medical Student Affairs or the student services office of the applicable WUSM program.

II. Event Protocols

A. Registration

  1. Any on- or off-campus event sponsored by a recognized student organization of the school or the university as a whole must comply with the Drug and Alcohol Policy of Washington University in St. Louis, the procedures set forth in these guidelines, and all other applicable university policies.
  2. Any on-campus event involving alcohol funded in part by the Office of Medical Student Affairs or by the applicable WUSM student services office and not sponsored by the school itself must be sponsored by a recognized student organization.
  3. All events with alcohol need to be registered with and approved by the Office of Medical Student Affairs or the student services office of the applicable WUSM program. Depending on the nature and location of the event, approval from multiple departments within the university or school may be required. Approval for the event should be obtained no less than one week before the event is scheduled to take place. Failure to obtain approval for an event with alcohol during this time frame will likely lead to the event being rescheduled or cancelled. An event may not be publicized until it is approved by the Office of Medical Student Affairs or the student services office of the applicable WUSM program and any other applicable department (e.g., Protective Services).
  4. To register an event, an event registration form must be submitted to the Office of Medical Student Affairs or the student services office of the applicable WUSM program no less than two weeks before the proposed event.

B. Marketing

  1. Organizations may not plan events that promote or encourage the consumption of alcohol as the main focus of the event. The theme of all events at which alcohol is served must be primarily social, cultural or educational. Alcohol may be implied in campus advertising of the event to graduate and professional students using conventional phrases such as "happy hour" or "cocktail reception."
  2. Student organization events marketed and open to the general public or to undergraduate students are not permitted to include alcohol.
  3. Persons planning events should remember that the vast majority of events at WashU take place without alcohol, that most members of the undergraduate community are not of legal drinking age, and that many members of our community do not drink alcohol beverages at all. 
  4. The following are examples of prohibited depictions of excessive alcohol consumption in the advertisement or promotion of events:
  • Excessive or underage consumption or use of alcoholic beverages
  • All-you-can-drink activities
  • Drinking games
  • Price specials on alcohol
  • Promotions or prizes featuring alcohol

C. Event Location

  1. Student organizations should check in advance with the Office of Medical Student Affairs or the student services office of the applicable WUSM program, the WUSM Operations & Facilities Management Department, Danforth Event Management, or the appropriate WashU office for the reservation of specific event locations and any separate guidelines (including reservation deadlines) applicable to that space. Where separate guidelines are applicable and may conflict with the guidelines herein, the more restrictive guidelines should be followed.
  2. When alcohol is permitted, the space must be secured (or, for outdoor locations, roped off as necessary) to ensure that proper admittance and alcohol distribution can be regulated easily and effectively.

D. Alcohol Types

  1. Only beer and wine are permitted. 
  2. Hard liquor — including (but not limited to) grain alcohol, punches and mixed drinks — is not permitted at events.
  3. Glass bottles are not permitted on campus and are discouraged at off-campus venues.
  4. Kegs or other bulk containers of alcoholic beverages are not permitted.

E. Food and Alternative Beverages

  1. Food must be provided at all events where alcohol is served. The food options must include plentiful and appetizing nonsalty foods that are readily available, free, and displayed in an attractive manner.
  2. Nonalcoholic beverages, including water, should also be readily available and free.
  3. The food and nonalcoholic beverages should be replenished several times throughout the event so that they are continuously available.

F. Distribution of Alcohol

  1. In compliance with Missouri law and university policy, alcohol must be served in a controlled manner and may not be freely accessible. A central point of distribution must be designated to allow for proper identification.  
  2. Alcohol must not leave the confines of the event. The “responsible contacts” and security staff are responsible for ensuring that alcohol does not leave the event.
  3. Under the law, no one who is under the age of 21 years or who is disorderly, disruptive, visibly intoxicated, or known to be a “habitual drunkard” may be served.
  4. Regardless of who is managing distribution, the age of all attendees must be verified. Acceptable forms of identification are limited to the following: (1) a current driver’s license from any U.S. state; (2) a U.S. military identification card; (3) a state of Missouri special identification card; or (4) a passport.  Please note that a foreign driver’s license and a special identification card from a state other than Missouri are not acceptable forms of identification.
  5. If the server is not checking identification before serving each drink and if persons under 21 years old are permitted at the event, those guests who are 21 years old or older must be designated with a wristband or otherwise in a clear manner that is not easily replicated. For example, it is not permissible to mark hands with a marker or pen.
  6. Those who serve alcohol and those who check proof of age and identification for any event may not consume or be under the influence of alcohol during the event.
  7. Only one drink at a time may be served to each person. Each drink is not to exceed 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine. Guests are limited to a total maximum of one drink for each hour of the event (e.g., if the event lasts three hours, a guest may be served three drinks over the entirety of the event).   
  8. Alcohol distribution must conclude 30 minutes before the event ends.
  9. Options for distribution must be discussed with and approved by the Office of Medical Student Affairs or the student services office of the applicable WUSM program. Depending on the nature and location of the event, options may include the following:
    1. Student organization servers: Student organization members may order, set up, and control distribution of the alcohol at the event independently in compliance with these guidelines if attendance is less than 40 guests, including members of the sponsoring organization(s). Prior to the event, the student organization must designate which member(s) will act as server(s). Servers must always be present at the location where the alcohol is provided in order to monitor guests’ consumption and to ensure that no persons under the age of 21 years receive alcohol. The practice of “self-serve,” in which individual guests serve themselves from a common container or source, is prohibited.
    2. Third-party bartenders: Student organization members may purchase alcohol, and a third-party bartending company with the requisite liquor license or permit may set up and control distribution of the alcohol at the event. Bartenders will be responsible for checking the identification of the guests.
    3. Third-party caterers: Student organizations may contract with a third-party vendor with the requisite insurance and liquor license or permit (e.g., Bon Appetit, Aramark) to acquire, set up, and control distribution of the alcohol at the event, including checking the identification of the guests.
  • Some university event spaces require a third-party caterer to be used for the service of alcohol or food. Student organizers must check policies and guidelines in advance with the Office of Medical Student Affairs or the student services office of the applicable WUSM program, WUSM Facilities, Danforth Event Management, or the appropriate WashU office.
  • If there is any possibility that event attendees may be less than 21 years old, student organizers must use option b or c to distribute alcohol.
  • If alcohol is offered for sale (e.g., cash bar), if admission is charged, if donations are solicited to attend the event, or if money is otherwise changing hands between the guests and the organization for the event (e.g., charge for cups or glasses, charge for tickets), then the distribution of alcohol may only be provided through option c. 
  1. Off-campus events: If an event is held at an off-campus venue and alcohol is being provided by the student organization, the student organization must use option c, unless such service is provided by the venue. The owner of the event space must assume liability for the event, and the owner or caterer must have the requisite liquor permit and acceptable liability insurance. Organizations should check with the Office of Medical Student Affairs or the student services office of the applicable WUSM program to ensure that all requirements are understood.
  2. The selling of alcohol may not be used as a fundraiser for the sponsoring organization.

G. Drinking Games and Other Games of Chance

  1. There may be no games of chance, drinking games, contests, or other similar activities that induce, encourage, or result in the consumption of alcohol. Examples include but are not limited to beer pong, flip cup, kings, caps, Jenga, quarters, or other games in which binge drinking is encouraged.

H. Responsible Contacts

  1. At least one individual from the student organization per 25 attendees must be designated as a "responsible contact" for the event. More responsible contacts may be required based on the size, type and location of the event. Training for those wanting to serve as responsible contacts is available through the Office of Medical Student Affairs or the student services office of the applicable WUSM program.
  2. Responsible contacts are not to consume or be under the influence of any alcohol prior to or during any portion of the event, including setup and cleanup. The responsible contacts must remain the same individuals throughout the entire event. These individuals are responsible for overseeing and ensuring the safety of the event, the distribution of alcohol, and the implementation of this policy throughout the entire event.
  3. Responsible contacts are required to introduce themselves to the security guards, the venue representatives and WashU Protective Services. One responsible contact should serve as the primary liaison with these individuals/agencies.
  4. Responsible contacts should monitor the consumption of alcohol by guests and take appropriate action by calling the police for emergency medical services if any guest displays signs of intoxication and is in need of medical attention.
  5. The responsible contacts must end an event during which these guidelines are not being followed or other significant problems arise that jeopardize the security of the event or the safety of students. Security staff or Protective Services should be available to assist with closing down an event per the contacts’ request. University staff may close an event at any time if the security of the event is jeopardized or if the safety of students is at risk. A university staff representative may be required to attend large-scale events.

I. Attendance and Proper Identification

  1. Participants who intend to consume alcohol must show proof of minimum drinking age by presenting a government-issued photo identification. Washington University identification, driver’s licenses, and state or federally issued identification cards may be checked for validity at the point of entrance. Fake identification cards will be confiscated; students risk disciplinary action and/or referral to off-campus law enforcement authorities if they present false identification.
  2. A line for admission should be in a well-lit area and well organized. A security guard may be responsible for checking proof of legal age and affixing wristbands.

J. Guest Policy

  1. For events at which guests are permitted, each WashU student is allowed to bring one guest. Students are responsible for the conduct of their guests, and guests must enter with their hosts.
  2. Guest misconduct could lead to disciplinary action for the WashU student, and the guest could be subject to prosecution off campus. Verification of age and identity (i.e., driver’s license or state or federally issued identification card) will be required of all attendees at the entrance to the event.

K. WashU Police Department and WUSM Protective Services

  1. The WashU Police Department (WUPD) or WUSM Protective Services should be notified of all on-campus programs for which alcohol has been requested. Such events may require the presence of officers or security guards or the implementation of other security measures. Costs associated with security will be the responsibility of the sponsoring organization.

L. Security

  1. Private security guards may be required to assist with the safety of participants and the security of the facility when total attendance involves more than 100 attendees, as determined by WUPD or WUSM Protective Services. For all events that require security, student organizations should anticipate that a minimum ratio of three guards plus one additional guard for every 50 attendees may be required. The sponsoring organization is responsible for contacting and arranging for guards or for ensuring that the venue provides appropriate security staff.
  2. WUPD or WUSM Protective Services should be involved in planning for the most effective use of the contract security contingent prior to the event. An example of how guards may be stationed is as follows:
  • At least one guard would be stationed at the main entrance of the event to check for WashU student identification, to monitor the guest policy, and to help determine if anyone who appears to be intoxicated should be refused entry.
  • A second guard would be assigned to the point of alcohol distribution and, depending on the security services provided, could monitor or check identification for proof of legal age and assist with pulling drink tabs from wristbands, if applicable.
  • Other guard(s) would serve as roamer(s) and be responsible for monitoring legal drinking, access to event space, and all entrances.
  • Additional guards may be required based on the nature of the event and the expected attendance. Security costs are the responsibility of the sponsoring organization.
  1. Security staff must come from a licensed and bonded security company. However, some off-campus venues may prefer to have their own staff serve in this capacity. The security guards, bartenders, caterers or designated organization members (depending on the nature of the event) are required to verify the age of each participant with identification that provides the date of birth. If the event is held outdoors or in an unsecured area, distinct identification (e.g., wristband, stamp) is required to identify attendees who are 21 years old and older; this is to ensure that those passing through the event do not receive alcohol.

M. Post-Event Cleanup

  1. For any event on campus at which alcohol is being served, the student organization planning the event must make arrangements for custodial services when the space reservation is made. Service requests should include additional trash cans and recycling bins. Large events must have cleaning staff during the hours of the event to remove trash and clean restroom facilities. All expenses are the responsibility of the sponsoring organization.

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