Amherst College Party Policy

Amherst College Party Policy

Proposed party registration dates are only considered while classes are in session and not during breaks, holidays, Reading Period, finals as referenced by the Academic Calendar.

 Amherst College’s Party Policy is designed to help students host safe, successful, and respectful parties. The policy encourages forethought and responsible party management on the part of student Party Sponsors, provides sufficient coordination time for necessary facilities, support services, and security, adheres to the Student Code of Conduct, town bylaws, and Massachusetts laws.

Since most party spaces are located in common spaces within residence halls, the spirit and procedures of registration reflect the important balance that must be struck between campus-wide demand for parties, the College’s ability to effectively support logistics and safety, and the quality of life of local residents and staff.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to register parties in my private space (e.g. room or suite)?

No. However, residents are expected to follow all community standards found in the Student Code of Conduct and to make a responsible effort to maintain safety for guests at private parties, including managing safe attendance levels and addressing unsafe intoxication of guests. All residents who hold private parties (including all members of a suite) are held to the same expectations as registered Party Sponsors.

What types of parties can be registered?

There are two party options from which to choose.

  • Basic: Smaller Party | Occupancy Determined by Venue | 1. Bring Your Own Beverage (BYOB) for those 21+ or 2. Alcohol-Free |

           ◦           These registrations are overseen and approved by the Office of Student Affairs.

  • Community: Larger Party | Potential for more than 100+ guests in Appropriate Venues | 1. Alcohol-Free or 2. with Amherst College-Approved Beer/Wine Servers |

           ◦           These registrations are overseen and approved by the Office of Student Activities in conjunction with the sponsors and the Office of Residential Life (if taking place in a residence hall)

Parties with more than 99 guests trigger the requirements of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Crowd Manager Law which requires the presence of a certified Crowd Manager.  This requirement can be facilitated through the Office of Student Activities.

How do I register a party?

Registering parties is now easier than ever on the campus’ Virtual EMS page. There are two templates you may choose from in the Reservations tab of the site:

  • Party Registration - Basic

           ◦           This is the more common party registration; the basic parameters are:

                      ▪           A Party Sponsor must submit for review at least 72 hours (3 business days) in advance, but no more than 2 months in advance, of the proposed party date a Virtual EMS request

                      ▪           No more than one party per reservable room will be approved on the same date

                      ▪           Attendance at the party cannot exceed the posted occupancy (considering furniture setup) for the venue.  Exceeded occupancy may result in the termination of the party.

                      ▪           No guest is allowed to serve alcohol to another guest and each guest (only those who are 21+) is responsible for bringing their own alcohol for personal consumption

                      ▪           Alcohol is limited to six units for personal consumption

                                 ▪           One unit consists of 12 oz of beer/cider or 5 oz of wine.

                      ▪          Hard alcohol is never permitted at a registered party.

                      ▪           No drinking games are allowed

                      ▪           No guest is allowed to leave the party in the possession of open containers alcohol

                      ▪           No guest is allowed to consume alcohol in public areas or areas where there are increased safety risks, including but not limited to porches, balconies, stairwells, or roofs

  • Party Registration - Community

           ◦           Can be planned for venues that can accommodate 100+ attendees under these basic parameters:

                      ▪           A Party Sponsor must submit for review at least ten days in advance of the party date a Virtual EMS request

                      ▪           Before the party is authorized, the Party Sponsor is required to meet with the Office of Student Activities

                      ▪           The party may accommodate over 100 guests

                      ▪           If alcohol is a proposed element of the party, beer and/or wine service must be facilitated by TIPS servers through a third party vendor approved and funded by the Office of Student Activities

                      ▪           The party requires a crowd manager , non-alcoholic drinks, and food. All items are coordinated through, and funded by, the Office of Student Activities

What does Amherst expect from Party Sponsors?

Party Sponsors must make a responsible effort to manage parties safely and show respect for residents, facilities, and staff. At minimum the expectations include:

  1. Be on-site and available to interact and cooperate with professional staff, including ACPD, if necessary. Please note that any complaints will be reported to the party sponsors via their listed phone numbers to avoid unnecessary ACPD visits to the venue. It is important for party sponsors to keep their phone on them and its alerts audible throughout the night and be ready to answer calls from ACPD Dispatch (413-542-2291).
  2. At least 1 Party Sponsor per 20 expected guests will be required for registration approval
  3. Be in attendance for the entire duration of the party
  4. Remain sober
  5. Manage safe attendance levels with assistance from staff
  6. Address unsafe conditions at party, including unsafe intoxication of guests, overcrowding, and any guest behavior that creates a risk for other guests and the facility
  7. Request ACPD assistance to address unsafe conditions that develop outside of your reasonable control
  8. Clean up the registered party space adequately immediately after the approved end time of the event.  Cleanup should be completed within one hour after the approved end time.
    1. Safety is the College’s first priority. Students should call ACEMS and/or ACPD (413-542-2111 Emergency Line) for support whenever the need arises. The College’s primary concern is the safety and well-being of our students and has a Medical Amnesty Policy that allows students to ask for help during difficult Alcohol or Other Drug situations. You can find the Amherst College Alcohol and other Drugs Medical Amnesty Statement below.

What is the Amherst College’s Alcohol and other Drugs (AOD) Medical Amnesty Statement?

Amherst College is concerned about the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs in our community. Alcohol abuse and illegal drug use affect the entire College community. The College’s primary concern with AOD use is the safety and well-being of our students. Students are expected to abide by Massachusetts law and College policies. For students who choose to consume alcohol, the College expects that they do so in moderation to avoid compromising personal safety. 

Amherst acknowledges there may be times when students may face medical emergencies involving AOD use. In these situations, the College expects students to request emergency medical assistance for oneself or someone who may be suffering from a serious medical condition, including alcohol poisoning. 

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning can include: unconsciousness or unresponsiveness, disorientation or confusion, slow breathing, vomiting or choking and cold or pale skin. If the affected student is on campus, Amherst College Emergency Medical Services (ACEMS) must be contacted at (413) 542-2111 and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and First Responder (FR) will respond and evaluate the student. If medical assistance is deemed necessary, the College expects the student to accept transportation to the hospital for medical attention. 

Because the safety and welfare of students is the College’s priority, the College has instituted a medical amnesty policy. This policy is applicable to the following parties: 1) student requesting medical assistance for oneself; 2) student requesting medical assistance for another person; and 3) student for whom medical assistance was provided.

When responding to such AOD violations, the College will consider the student’s decision to request medical assistance, and in most cases, view the act of seeking medical assistance as good judgment, therefore not deserving of the typical range of AOD sanctions. Thus, if it is determined that the medical amnesty policy applies to a situation, the students involved will not be subject to a violation of the AOD policy. Referral for AOD education still applies, and, in some instances, parental notification.

This policy does not protect students who repeatedly violate College policies. Once a student receives medical amnesty, future amnesty is at the discretion of the Office of Student Affairs. The Dean of Students, Director of Community Standards, or designee also have discretion to determine that this policy does not apply in more serious situations, including criminal possession of drugs, property damage, violence, etc. 

What happens if I sponsor a party and fail to meet these expectations?

Given the importance of maintaining community safety and respect, there is a set of tiered consequences for Party Sponsors who fail to make a responsible effort to manage parties safely and show respect for facilities and staff. Please note that the first tier will be utilized when the failed expectation is very minor, typically failing to meet the expectations outlined above will result in a probationary status and/or an educational sanction.

  • Tier One consists of a warning and a meeting with a Community Standards or Residential Life staff member to gain clarity on what occurred and develop a plan to avoid future problems.
  • Tier Two includes residential probation and/or an educational sanction.  Restriction on future registration/sponsorship may be appropriate.
  • Tier Three includes escalated sanctions, including housing relocation or removal from housing.
  • As before, incidents may result in cleanup costs and potential restitution.

Please visit the Office of Student Affairs Community Standards page for information about the Community Standards Adjudication Process.

What happens if there is unattributed damage at the party I sponsor?

If any damage of facilities or equipment occurs during your registered party, those identified as being responsible will be charged for the cost of repair or replacement. If the person(s) responsible for the damage cannot be identified, the Party Sponsors may be charged for all damages and cleaning charges. 

Who can help me plan a successful party?

Students are encouraged to meet with a professional from the Office of Student Affairs to plan the party. Additional advice is available from the Office of Residential Life and Student Activities Office staff. Examples of areas where help and resources can be provided is crowd management compliance, beverage services, and other logistical support. 

What College, town, state, and federal laws and policies exist that govern the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages?

UNDER MASSACHUSETTS STATE LAW

a.)  A person must be at least 21 years of age to purchase/possess or be served alcoholic beverages in Massachusetts.

b.)  Possession of an alcoholic beverage by a person under the legal drinking age or any arrangement with another person to procure such drinks is a crime punishable by a $300 mandatory fine.

c.)  Willful misrepresentation of one's age or the age of another person in order to purchase or receive alcoholic beverages is a crime punishable by a mandatory $300 fine.

d.)  Any person who purchases for or delivers a drink to someone under the legal drinking age commits a crime punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or by imprisonment of up to six months or both.

e.)  No person may serve an alcoholic beverage to an individual who is obviously inebriated.

f.)   No alcohol may be sold after 1:00 am.

h.) A Wine and Malt (Beer) license is mandatory when wine and beer are being served and there is an admission charge, donation to enter or any other attempt to raise money.

UNDER AMHERST TOWN POLICY

a.)  A keg license is required for the possession of a keg containing malt beverage (beer), and for the dispensing of a malt beverage from a keg. Under town policy, failure to secure a keg license is an arrestable offense.

  1. b) No person shall consume any alcoholic beverage nor possess or transport any open can, bottle or other container containing any alcoholic beverage outdoors on any town street, sidewalk, way and public property including, but not limited to, parking lots, parks, school playgrounds, recreation areas or conservation areas.

UNDER COLLEGE POLICY

a.)  College-collected student activities and social fees and other College collected funds may not be allocated for the purchase of alcohol for student organized parties.

b.)  Party Sponsors should employ a method to identify under-age persons and to ensure that alcoholic beverages are not served to such persons.

c.)  All Party Sponsors should provide an appropriate amount of equally accessible, nonalcoholic beverages when alcoholic beverages are available (e.g. water, juice, and soda).

d.)  Advertisements and posters for the party may not mention or imply the availability of alcohol.

e.)  Kegs and alcohol of any type are not permitted in first-year residence halls. Students who are found in violation of this regulation will be referred to the Office of Community Standards and the keg(s) removal. If the keg is unlicensed there is a $100 fine may be assessed by the town of Amherst.

f.)   No hard liquor is permitted at public parties with the rare exception of some senior parties sponsored in association with the Office of Alumni and Parent Programs.  Drinking games, funnels, ice-luges, and similar devices are prohibited

g.) Party Sponsors must follow Party Policy. For Community Parties, a designated crowd manager will monitor the 21+ service area periodically to ensure compliance with Massachusetts State Law. The crowd manager will also ensure that students do not leave the venue with alcohol.

NOTE: If any of the above policies are violated, Amherst College Police Department, other College Official (e.g. Residential Life, Community Standards, Environmental Health & Safety), or Amherst Police may close down the party at their discretion. The Amherst College Police Department may shut down parties which are the cause of noise complaints by local residents after first checking in with party sponsors. Violators of the Town's noise ordinance may receive summonses from the Town Police and may be subject to fines and possible arrest. 

The responsibility for enforcement of these policies rests with the party sponsors but this should not be a deterrent to registration. Party sponsors can report any extenuating circumstances to the Office of Student Affairs for consideration at any time by filing a Community Standards Report at www.amherst.edu/reporting