What is Caltech's policy concerning alcohol on Campus?
Caltech's Substance Abuse Policy, which includes abuse of alcohol, can be found here: http://hr.caltech.edu/documents/49-citpolicy_substance.pdf
Part 1: Context
The Caltech community, guided by the Honor Code and Code of Conduct are founded on trust, respect, and responsibility. These principles apply to all aspects of Caltech life, including alcohol and substance use and abuse. The Institute has a responsibility to follow Institute policy, state laws governing substance use and underage drinking, and the federal mandates set forth in the Drug‐Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989.
The Institute is committed to addressing issues that impact the wellbeing of its students. Alcohol is a persistent and special concern on college campuses, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: "Harmful and underage college drinking are significant public health problems, and they exact an enormous toll on the intellectual and social lives of students on campuses across the United States." https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol‐health/special‐populations‐co‐occurring‐disorders/college‐drinking
All alcohol use carries some risk, and there is no "safe drinking" – but there are ways to lower risks and reduce risk of negative outcomes from drinking for students who choose to drink. Some students have raised concerns about whether enforcing Caltech's Substance Abuse policy will increase risk to students who choose to drink in private rooms. There is no research to support that implementing basic policies that conform to state and federal laws increases the individual or community‐wide negative consequences of alcohol use. Caltech's policy sets reasonable expectations and enables students of legal age to possess and consume alcohol both privately as well as at registered events. Education, intervention and enforcement of a reasonable policy all are found to be essential in minimizing high‐risk drinking and promoting a safe and healthy environment (see http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/ for a discussion of the supporting research).
High‐risk drinking (i.e. heavy episodic/binge drinking) is not typically a solitary activity, but rather one informed by peer groups or social activities. If students are engaging in high‐risk behavior (e.g. taking shots in rapid succession, binge drinking) and require medical attention, peers need to get help right away, as outlined in our Good Samaritan Policy.
Yes. The Institute has a Good Samaritan Policy: (//HonorCode/GoodSamaritanPolicy). It is the immediate obligation of those in the presence of a severely intoxicated person to seek help in the form of medical assistance. Alcohol poisoning and mixing alcohol with other drugs is extremely serious, and can be fatal. No student's life should be in jeopardy because of substance use. Alcohol intoxication requiring medical attention is considered a health issue, therefore, the primary Institute response is focused on preserving health and safety. Disciplinary action ordinarily will occur only if other circumstances indicating a violation of Institute policy exist. In such an instance, failure to call for assistance will be considered an especially serious violation of policy.
Part II: Enforcement
It is against Institute Policy:
- To use, possess, cultivate, manufacture, sell, or transfer illegal drugs (including marijuana), or illegally use other drugs or prescriptions
- For any person under the age of 21 to consume, purchase, or possess alcohol
- To provide any alcohol to a person under the age of 21
- To provide any alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person
- To be under the influence of alcohol in a public place and unable to exercise care for one's own safety or that of others
- To sell alcoholic beverages, except under the authority of a California Alcoholic Beverage Control License.
- To operate equipment or vehicles, or work in experimental labs after consuming alcohol or drugs
- To use or possess a false ID in order to obtain alcohol.
Students living in Caltech housing should remember that it is a violation:
- To participate in drinking games, including "water pong"
- To have an accessible shared supply of alcohol (kegs, punch bowls, etc.), or store alcohol in any common area
- To consume any kind of alcohol in public or common areas, including courtyards, walkways, green spaces, house lounges, and dining halls, regardless of age—unless the event is registered.
Students‐of‐age may not consume alcohol in common areas (anything other than a private bedroom, or the living room of a suite) except during registered events. Spaces such as lounges, courtyards, dining rooms, kitchens, and hallways are all common areas that should be considered public, where alcohol consumption and storage is not permitted, regardless of age.
Students who are 21 and over may store and consume alcohol in their own private bedroom; if they share that space with students who are not yet 21, they may not share the alcohol with them. Security and residential life staff will intervene if they have reason to believe this is occurring. Similarly, students may store and consume alcohol in the living room of a suite (e.g. Bechtel, Marks/Braun) if all occupants of that suite are 21 and over. Students who are under the age of 21 are not permitted to consume alcohol anywhere on campus – per state law and Caltech policy.
Despite recent changes to California law, marijuana still is a controlled substance under federal law, and therefore, the use, manufacture, distribution, cultivation, dispensation, possession, sale, purchase of or offer to sell or purchase marijuana on the Caltech campus or its offsite locations, including JPL, or as any part of its activities, continues to be prohibited. In other words, while recreational cannabis is legal in California for adults over the age of 21, cannabis and all other illicit drug use is prohibited on the Caltech campus. Students may not possess, distribute, or use cannabis or cannabis-infused products (including edibles, vaporized oil, wax, or other products containing THC) on campus. Students are responsible for following the Caltech Substance Abuse Policy (http://hr.caltech.edu/documents/49-citpolicy_substance.pdf). Students violating this policy will be subject to sanctions including educational programs, referral for a substance use assessment with the Alcohol and Drug Education and Intervention Coordinator, and for serious violations, permanent separation from Caltech.
RAs remain part of the support system for students – providing advice, mentoring, and helping students access resources to resolve problems. As part of this role, they have been asked to help students make well‐informed decisions about a range of issues. As directed, they will document violations of all Institute policies, including the Substance Abuse policy. The RAs are not responsible for assigning educational modules or disciplining students following a policy violation – that is the job of the RLCs and Dean's office. However, if students are found to be engaging in risky behavior or are in violation of the policy and the situation cannot be resolved informally, the RAs may call on the RLCs or Security to help out and may refer students to the Dean's office for further action.
Security will uphold the policy and document the facts around violations. The Deans' office and ORE will receive this information and follow up appropriately. Security has discretion in how they do their job and they are also an essential part of keeping the campus safe. Security may confiscate and/or dispose of alcohol or other drugs (including paraphernalia), consistent with policy violations and the law. They will continue to make safety the first priority and act as first responders to medical emergencies.
Security will be walking through campus and the Houses to observe and report behavior, parties, noise, etc. If they see students drinking, you can expect that they will ask to see a Caltech ID card so they can identify people and ages. You should be sure to carry your Caltech ID card at all times. If students are not able to produce identification, Security may need to take pictures to ensure they have identified people properly. Security may photograph alcohol and/or drugs in student rooms for documentation purposes.
Students living in Caltech housing are required to cooperate with Institute administrators and officials, including, but not limited to Campus Security staff, RLCs, RAs, and other Institute staff, who are investigating or responding to a reported disturbance, policy violation, or safety or security concern in Caltech on-campus housing, and must comply with their reasonable instructions. Instructions that must be followed include opening the door to the student's residence and displaying a valid Caltech ID to any of these individuals when requested to do so. Violations of these requirements are subject to the following penalties and may subject the student to disciplinary sanctions.
We will hold you accountable to our policies – but punishing students isn't the goal. The primary objectives are to keep students safe, to educate students about the impact that substance misuse can have on academics, opportunities, and physical and mental health, and to help students make thoughtful and well‐informed choices if they choose to drink.
The framework below illustrates typical responses to first, second, and third violations of the policy. This is a flexible framework; particular incidents and cases may be handled differently, or escalate more quickly, depending on circumstances and other factors involved. This is not a comprehensive list of every possible violation or consequence. Repeated or even a single incident, depending on its severity, may involve substantial consequences, such as parental notification, involuntary leave and/or permanent separation.
Full student event registration procedures can be found on line at: https://spa.caltech.edu/. The Caltech student events and activities handbook is also available from ORE.
Assessment of student substance use behaviors and the impact of the policy and enforcement strategies will be driven by participation in research‐based national surveys and gathering Institute‐specific data. Two of the surveys that will enable comparison of Caltech's efforts against national trends are the National College Health Assessment (given every two years, starting Spring 2017) and the Everfi AlcoholEdu program for incoming first-year students. These surveys not only provide information about alcohol and other drug use, but many other dimensions of health and wellness that can be impacted by high‐risk substance use. Institutional data including referrals to education/intervention, medical transports, number and type of incidents, including sexual assault involving alcohol and other drugs, and disciplinary actions provide additional measures that contribute to an assessment of program effectiveness.
Feedback from all students will be important in this evaluation, not just those who have accessed resources or had interventions, but also those who choose to drink moderately and responsibly, the many students who do not drink, and all who are affected by the minority percentage of community members who engage in high‐risk drinking or other substance abuse behaviors.
You may address questions to the undergraduate deans or a staff member in the Office of Residential Experience.
Caltech is committed to providing students with a safe, healthy, and productive academic and living environment. Caltech's approach to preventing the abuse of alcohol and other drugs includes educating students regarding the medical and psychological hazards of abuse and to increase student sensitivity to the ways in which alcohol and substance abuse interfere with personal development, and with the rights and privileges of others. Students are required to comply with the following policies and guidelines.
- Consistent with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, Caltech maintains an academic and residential environment free from drug and alcohol abuse.
- Individual students are responsible for their own conduct, and for complying with state and federal laws as well as Institute policy and the Honor Code.
- Students may not:
- Use, possess, cultivate, manufacture, sell or transfer illegal drugs (including marijuana), or illegally use other drugs or prescriptions.
- Consume, possess or purchase alcohol if they are under 21.
- Provide alcohol to anyone under 21.
- Provide alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person.
- Operate equipment or vehicles, or work in experimental labs, while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- Participate in drinking games, including "water pong."
- Have an accessible shared supply of alcohol (kegs, etc.) or store alcohol in common areas.
- Consume alcohol in public or common areas, including kitchens, courtyards, walkways, green spaces, house lounges, and dining halls, regardless of age—unless the event is registered.
- Alcohol may be consumed and stored in the private bedrooms of individuals who are over the age of 21, by individuals who are over the age of 21. If that space is shared by someone who is under 21, the owner of the alcohol is responsible for making certain it is not shared with them.
- Alcohol may be consumed in suite living areas (e.g. Bechtel, Marks/Braun) by individuals who are over the age of 21, but NOT stored there, unless all residents are 21.
- Any purchase of alcohol with Institute funds (house dues, etc.) requires prior approval by ORE.
- Sanctions for violations of these policies may include:
- Verbal and written warnings.
- Education, counseling, or community service.
- Removal from leadership positions, or suspension of other social privileges
- Removal from Caltech housing.
- Suspension or permanent separation from Caltech.
Students are responsible for reading and understanding Caltech's alcohol and substance abuse policy, which can be found here: http://hr.caltech.edu/documents/49-citpolicy_substance.pdf
The Resident Guide and Housing Policies has additional information, and can be found here: http://www.housing.caltech.edu/policies
Information about alcohol and undergraduate event registration can be found here: https://spa.caltech.edu/