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All About Alcohol

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Brief Introduction to the University Alcohol Policy

The University has established standards of student conduct related to its educational mission. Penn State is dedicated to maintaining a scholarly community that promotes a shared set of values. These values include having concern for oneself, for others and the need for conditions that support a campus climate where students can work, grow and succeed. Grounded in this value is the act of establishing and maintaining a healthy community. To this end, the University has the responsibility to respect and promote the physical and emotional wellness of students.

Illegal alcohol use or alcohol abuse on or off the premises of the University negatively affects the University community and places students at personal and academic risk. While responding to misconduct, the University strives to provide a healthy and safe experience for students. University rules and procedures regarding student alcohol violations are specifically established to provide: (a) therapeutic or medical support interventions for students, (b) community expectations for student conduct behaviors, and (c) an orderly and safe environment for community members.

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Off-Campus Alcohol Consumption

The Off-Campus Misconduct Policy allows alcohol related activity that occurs off campus to come under the jurisdiction of the Office of student conduct. Use, possession, service, or consumption of alcoholic beverages off the premises of the University campus may all be considered violations of the Student Code of Conduct. Additionally, the following behaviors constitute Code violations:

  1. Excessive consumption of alcohol: When a student is unconscious, experiences a loss of control, has a high Blood Alcohol Concentration, and/or needs medical attention, a charge of Excessive Consumption of Alcohol may be assigned. This may be true even in cases where students were not charged with public drunkenness or disorderly conduct.
  2. Furnishing alcohol to minors: A Code of Conduct violation occurs when a student serves alcohol to or purchases alcohol for those under the age of 21.
  3. Driving under the influence: A Code of Conduct violation occurs when a student is found to be operating a motor vehicle while legally intoxicated.

Additionally, alcoholic beverages may not be served to individuals under the age of 21 at University-sponsored functions. A "University-sponsored function" is any event at any location that is sponsored by an officer, employee, or agent of the University in his or her capacity as a representative of the University. This category does not include functions organized by students or registered student organizations.

Note: Although beverage alcohol is permitted in the area adjacent to the football stadium, kegs are prohibited.

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On-Campus Alcohol Consumption

Students must comply with the laws of the Commonweath of Pennsylvania and University policies and rules regarding the use, possession, or distribution of alcoholic beverages. Violation of the following regulations constitutes misconduct and may result in disciplinary action and penalties, up to and including separation from the University:

  1. The purchase, consumption, possession, or transportation, or the attempt to purchase, consume, possess, or transport, any beverage containing alcohol by persons under 21 years of age, anywhere on the premises of the University, specifically including their rooms in University residential units, is prohibited.
  2. The possession or use of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in all Penn State on-campus undergraduate residence hall buildings, including Nittany Apartments and Eastview Terrace, regardless of the age of the individual;
  3. It is against residence hall policy for there to be any tailgating activities in the residential quad areas or residence hall parking lots where alcoholic beverages are being served on any football game/event weekend including all home football games, Football Eve, Fourth Fest, and the Spring Blue and White Weekend. Students tailgating with alcoholic beverages in these defined areas will be confronted and will likely be charged with “open containers in an unauthorized area” ;
  4. The selling, furnishing, or giving of any beverage containing alcohol to any person under 21 years of age is prohibited;
  5. The purchase, consumption, possession, or transportation of beverages containing alcohol in open containers is prohibited except by: (a) individuals who are 21 years of age or older, at facilities licensed by the state; (b) adult graduate students and graduate-registered student organizations may serve beverages containing alcohol to adults in facilities owned by the University which are available for such use if, but only if, no monetary charge is made for admission to the function and the function is not open to the public. Adult graduate students and graduate-registered student organizations that serve alcoholic beverages in University facilities must adopt procedures to prevent the service of alcoholic beverages to minors; and (c) by individuals who are 21 years of age or older on University-owned or controlled property when the sponsor has acquired permission under Administrative Policy AD-18.
  6. The purchase, service, use, or possession of alcoholic beverages by undergraduate-registered student organizations at any function that occurs on the premises of the University is prohibited.
  7. The use of University student activity funds by undergraduate registered student organizations for the purchase of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, whether such beverages are to be possessed or consumed on or off University premises.

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Mandatory Alcohol Educational Program: BASICS

All students found responsible for behavior on or off campus involving Prohibited Underage Possession or Use of Alcoholic Beverages, Excessive Consumption of Alcohol, or Driving Under the Influence will be required to complete a University alcohol education/intervention program. At University Park, the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program is administered by University Health Services and constitutes the mandatory sanction for first-time alcohol violations in these categories. Students transported to Mount Nittany Medical Center because of alcohol consumption, whether or not they face a conduct process, are also mandated to complete BASICS. BASICS is a non-adversarial intervention that focuses on harm-reduction. Students mandated to BASICS are responsible for the $250 fee for the program. For more information about BASICS, please see http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health/basics/.

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Parental Notification Policy as it Relates to Alcohol/Drugs

Please note that this paragraph describes parental notification only as it pertains to alcohol and drug violations. Parental notification is also practiced for some other offenses. Parental notification occurs when the student accepts responsibility, or is found responsible, for any offenses in the Alcohol/Drugs category of the Student Code of Conduct. A student is exempted from parental notification if s/he:

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Turning 21: What now?

Although students who are over 21 year of age can legally consume and possess alcohol in most circumstances, they still have a responsibility to concern themselves with the well-being and safety of the community and to uphold the values of Penn State. Students over 21, like all students, are obligated to abide by the Student Code of Conduct, as well as state and federal laws, and are held accountable for violations that occur regarding use of alcohol. The most common alcohol violations for students over the age of 21 include:

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Responsible Action Protocol

Penn State has established a Responsible Action Protocol in response to the University Park Undergraduate Association’s campaign for a medical amnesty policy, whereby students who seek medical assistance for peers suffering from alcohol poisoning or related problems would not be charged through the campus student conduct system for their own alcohol violations. Under the protocol, students who act responsibly by notifying the appropriate authorities (e.g., calling 911, alerting a resident assistant, contacting police) typically will not face University disciplinary action for their own alcohol violations, unless they are responsible for other violations (e.g., vandalism, assault) as well. However, these students will be required to attend BASICS; the fee will be waived.

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