Alcohol and Other Drug Policy

The guidelines and policies for alcohol and drug use are set forth in Essential Policies. For more information regarding the Alcohol Policy/Violations and Drug Policy/Violations in Residence Halls, please visit the Policies on Alcohol and Drugs section.

Students are expected to monitor their own behavior with respect to the law. Being intoxicated and/or under the influence of a controlled substance will not be accepted as an excuse for behavior that violates community standards nor will it lessen a resident’s accountability to the university or residential community.


Alcohol or Other Drug Use Referrals and Treatment

Student success is our number one priority. We recognize that a variety of factors may lead students to make unhealthy choices. Harm reduction informs our follow-up regarding alcohol and other drugs. We strongly encourage students to connect with a member of Columbia Health or a mentor if they or a friend are struggling with use, abuse, or addiction. In addition, Residential Life staff provide information regarding referrals or other support for any student seeking help.

Students with concerns about a friend’s known or suspected alcohol or other drug use or abuse may consult members of Columbia Health or Residential Life to discuss opportunities for follow-up, referral, or structured intervention. Students may also complete and anonymous alcohol use self-assessment online through Columbia Health. Please visit Essential Policies online for more information regarding the University Alcohol and Drug Policy.

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Alcohol in Residence Halls

  • Alcohol may not be possessed, stored, or consumed by any person under the age of 21.
  • A person 21 years of age or older, regardless of the age of his/her roommate or suitemate(s), may possess, store, or consume alcohol in suite style residence halls (47 Claremont, East Campus, Hogan, Ruggles, Watt, and Woodbridge Halls) and in Brownstones, in the following locations only:
    1. In his or her contractually assigned private residence hall room.
    2. In the common area(s) within his/her contractually assigned suite.
    3. In the private residence hall room or common area(s) within the suite of another contractually assigned occupant who is also 21 years of age or older.
  • A person 21 years of age or older, regardless of the age of his/her roommate or suitemate(s), may possess, store, or consume alcohol in corridor-style residence halls (600 West 113th, Broadway, Carlton Arms, Carman, Furnald, Harmony, Hartley, John Jay, McBain, River, Schapiro, SIC House, Wallach, and Wien Halls), in the following locations only:
    1. In his or her contractually assigned private residence hall room.
    2. In the private residence hall room of another contractually assigned occupant who is also 21 years of age or older.
  • Students of legal drinking age who bring alcohol into a residence hall or possess alcohol in a residence hall are responsible for its legal use. This includes taking reasonable precautions to prevent the possession of alcohol by underage students and guests.
  • Alcohol may not be possessed, stored, or consumed in the common lounges, hallways, elevators, or public space of any residence hall.
  • Registered parties may only occur in a Brownstone occupied by a Fraternity.
  • Kegs, bulk containers, and devices designed for rapid consumption of alcohol are prohibited.
  • Games of chance, drinking games, contests, and other activities that induce, encourage, or result in the rapid consumption of alcohol are prohibited.
  • Alcohol that is not specifically manufactured for human consumption is prohibited.

Note: While each student has individual responsibility for abiding by local, state, federal, and University alcohol regulations, a contractually assigned resident may be held accountable for any violation within his or her assigned residence hall room or suite.

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Alcohol Policy Violations

Residential Life staff are trained and required to document community issues and policy violations for follow-up by the appropriate staff members in Residential Life and/or Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS). Columbia Housing, Public Safety, Security Desk personnel or other University staff may document incidents as well. Students may also bring behaviors to the attention of a staff member, who will then document the issue in an Incident Report.

Incident reports are reviewed and may be referred for follow-up. Follow-up regarding community issues and alleged policy violations may include a policy reminder and resource letter, a conduct meeting with a member of the staff within Residential Life and/or a referral to the Dean's Discipline Process, overseen by SCCS. In all cases, staff members are committed to educating students through engaging them in meaningful dialogue, directing them to the appropriate University resources, and holding them accountable for their actions when necessary.

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Drugs in Residence Halls

The possession or use of illicit drugs and related materials is expressly prohibited.  Water pipes, bongs, hookahs, and other paraphernalia commonly associated with drug use are also prohibited in the residence halls.  Further, the possession or use of a legal substance for any purpose other than the legally intended one is prohibited.

Drugs are defined as:

  • any stimulant;
  • intoxicant (including alcohol);
  • nervous system depressant;
  • hallucinogen;
  • other chemical substance, compound, or combination when used to induce an altered state; and 
  • any otherwise lawfully available product or substance (such as over the counter or prescription drugs, glue, paint, etc.) used for any purpose other than its intended use.

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Drug Policy Violations

Students who are believed to have violated the drug policy will be immediately referred to Student Conduct and Community Standards for a Dean’s Discipline proceeding.

Residential Life and Student Conduct work closely with Public Safety to ensure appropriate follow-up of campus incidents involving drugs.

The manufacture, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs, any involvement in illegal drug use or traffic, and possession or use of highly addictive drugs are among the drug violations considered to be most serious. Students manufacturing, selling, or distributing illegal drugs should expect a lengthy separation or expulsion from the University. Students possessing, using, selling, or manufacturing illegal substances may also be subject to mandatory penalties prescribed by the state.

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Responsible Community Action Policy


The health, safety, and welfare of Columbia students and our community are of primary concern. Students are encouraged not only to look out for their own health and safety but also for that of their peers. As such, all Columbia students are expected to enlist support from Public Safety/CU-EMS in the event of a medical emergency - specifically those involving the use of alcohol or drugs.  

The student who receives medical assistance, the student who reported the medical emergency, others involved, or the group/organization that actively seeks assistance will not be subject to disciplinary action for use or possession of alcohol or use of drugs. This policy does not preclude disciplinary action for other violations beyond the context of the medical emergency such as causing or threatening physical harm, sexual misconduct, damage to property, harassment, or hazing. Students should also be aware that this policy does not prevent action by local and state authorities. Public Safety or other University staff will record the name of the student receiving medical assistance and may record the name of the student who reported the medical emergency and others involved to enable any educational follow-up that may be deemed necessary to ensure students’ wellbeing.  

In order for this policy to apply, the student(s) receiving medical assistance must agree to timely completion of recommended alcohol or other drug education activities, assessment, and/or treatment depending on the level of concern for student health and safety. Typically, the student who is transported to an emergency room will attend a mandatory meeting with a member of Residential Life. This meeting is not considered part of the disciplinary process, but rather an opportunity to discuss the student’s decisions related to alcohol or other drug use. The student is then required to attend BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students), a program which offers an opportunity for the student to learn about his/her behaviors as they relate to alcohol and other drugs. Please visit BASICS for more information on this program. Additional referrals may be generated by Residential Life on an individual basis according the nature of each incident and the needs of each student. Referrals may include alcohol or other drug assessments, appointments with an appropriate specialist, and/or community service. Serious or repeated incidents will prompt a higher degree of concern and progressive follow-up. Failure to complete recommended follow-up may result in disciplinary action. 

When incidents are reported involving the consumption of alcohol or other drugs at an event held, sponsored, organized or supported by a student group/organization, at minimum, student groups/organizations will have a meeting with the group advisor and a member of Residential Life staff. At this educational meeting, a student group/organization may receive recommendations for more responsible hosting and the group/organization may be asked to participate in additional educational or training efforts. Groups/organizations enlisting medical assistance transport at their event(s) must agree to implement recommended steps to address concerns. Serious or repeated medical emergencies from events hosted by groups/organizations will prompt progressive follow-up. Failure to complete recommendations, education, or training may result in disciplinary action.

Conversely, not seeking assistance for a member of our community in medical need may have serious and lasting consequence. Disciplinary action will be severe for any student or any student group/organization interfering with another’s ability to take responsible community action.

To help a member of our community in need of medical assistance, students should:

Please see the Columbia Health website for information about alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs inclduing important information about alcohol poisoning, drug overdose, and other health and wellness issues.

  • Call Public Safety to enlist CU-EMS. In the residence halls, in addition to calling Public Safety, call or send someone to notify the RA on-duty, but do not leave the person alone.
  • Stay with the person until emergency help arrives. 
  • Turn the person on his/her side to prevent choking in case of vomiting.

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