The responsible administrator for this section is the Office of Community Standards. The Office of Student Affairs has approval authority.

4.0. Introduction

Given the academic, and social pressures inherent in college life, some students seek relief from stress through use of alcohol or other drugs (AOD). The misuse of AOD undermines the academic mission of the College, and it is often illegal. The use of illegal drugs and alcohol misuse correlates with a host of problems on campus, such as lowered academic accomplishment, sexual violence, and vandalism. The College considers the misuse of AOD a public health problem and works to reduce AOD misuse among students. The College further recognizes that alcoholism and drug addiction are illnesses that are not easily resolvable by personal effort and may require professional assistance and/or treatment.

Amherst College provides education and counseling programs to improve students’ understanding of the risks associated with substance use. Those students concerned about their own substance use or who are worried about a friend can seek assistance with complete confidentiality at Health Services, the Center for Counseling & Mental Health, Religious and Spiritual Life, the Confidential Resource Provider, or Health Education.

The College understands that students make their own choices about AOD. However, the College will not ignore violations of state or federal law or the Amherst College regulations elaborated in this policy. When a student violates the policy on AOD or the law, a member of Student Affairs meets with the student to discuss the situation, College policies, and how to collaboratively move forward. Student Affairs may communicate with other College officials as appropriate regarding a student’s violation.

Students are reminded that Massachusetts law prohibits the purchase or consumption of alcoholic beverages by those under the age of 21. The purchase, sale, or consumption of many drugs is also prohibited by law, and violations can result in prison sentences.

Any student under the influence of intoxicants or drugs is fully responsible for their acts. All provisions of the Student Code of Conduct, including the full range of possible sanctions, will be applicable in these cases. A plea of mitigating circumstances due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs will not be accepted in disciplinary hearings.

The following policy outlines AOD violations of Massachusetts law and Amherst College policy and summarizes the range of possible sanctions for such violations. Violations of the AOD policy result in sanctions such as exclusion from higher-risk activities involving alcohol and parental notification, and may include denial of campus residence or a Housing Selection Process consequence. In some instances, violations may result in temporary suspension or referral to the Community Standards Review Board for adjudication.

4.1. AOD Under Massachusetts Law

4.1.1. A person must be at least 21 years of age to legally purchase alcoholic beverages in Massachusetts.

4.1.2. Purchase of an alcoholic beverage by an underage person or any arrangement with another person to procure such drinks is a crime punishable by a mandatory $300 fine.

4.1.3. Willful misrepresentation of one’s age or the age of another person in order to purchase or receive alcoholic beverages (i.e., the use of a fake ID) is a crime punishable by a fine of up to $300 or by imprisonment of up to three months or both. The Amherst College Police Department is required to report violations of this law to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in the state in which the student’s vehicle is registered.

4.1.4. Any person who purchases for or furnishes a drink to someone underage commits a crime punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 or by imprisonment of up to one year or both.

4.1.5. No person may serve an alcoholic beverage to anyone who is obviously inebriated.

4.1.6. For operating a motor vehicle under the influence of AOD, the state of Massachusetts has set the legal limit for alcohol concentration in the blood at below .02% for anyone under 21 and .08% for anyone 21 and over.

4.1.7. Federal, state, and local sanctions for unlawful possession or distribution of illicit drugs range from probation and forfeiture of property to fines and imprisonment.

4.2. AOD Under the Town of Amherst Bylaw

General Bylaws of the Town of Amherst are found at:

4.2.1. Open Containers of Alcohol: 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 (Special Town Meeting—February 26, 1986 – Art. 51).

4.3. AOD Under the Amherst College Student Code of Conduct

4.3.1. If the Dean of Students, the Director of Community Standards, or designee learns that a student has been convicted of driving while intoxicated at any time between first enrollment at Amherst and graduation, whether in the vicinity of campus or anywhere else, that student will be denied parking privileges, and thus the capacity to keep a car on campus, for the remainder of their stay at Amherst, in addition to other possible sanctions.

4.3.2. Kegs are not prohibited on-campus except during College-organized or College-sponsored events.

4.3.3. Hard Alcohol: Hard alcohol (30% ethanol or greater) may only be possessed, stored, or used in bedrooms assigned to persons who are 21 or more years of age. Consequently, hard alcohol is not permitted for possession, storage, or use in lounges, hallways, or other parts of residence halls or other buildings on campus except when the College has expressly authorized it. Examples of exceptions include College-organized tent parties and other College-sponsored events.

4.3.4. Possession of drug paraphernalia (pipes, bongs, hookahs, etc.) is prohibited. Alcohol paraphernalia associated with rapid, high-risk consumption (funnels, beer pong tables, etc.) is prohibited.

4.3.5. All prohibited substances and paraphernalia may be confiscated and destroyed by campus authorities.

4.3.6. Smoking cannabis, tobacco, vaping devices, or other related devices that create smoke or vapor in campus buildings is prohibited. Cannabis in any form is not permitted on-campus.

4.3.7. It is the responsibility of individuals and student groups to ensure that legally possessed alcohol is not stored in an unsupervised manner in which someone underage may access it.

4.3.8. No College funds may be used to purchase alcohol or to support fundraisers to raise money to purchase alcohol. Funds may be used to pay for TIPS-certified student staff required for beverage service.

4.3.9. Students are expected to follow all posted signs and instructions of the Amherst College Police Department and the Amherst College Athletics Department.

4.3.10. Events with alcohol must follow College guidelines published by Student Affairs: Student-Hosted Event Policy (

4.3.11. If registering a tent for an event on campus where alcohol will be served, the registrant must obtain liability insurance that includes liquor liability. For more information, visit the tent policy and registration form on the Environmental Health and Safety webpage (

4.3.12. No person is permitted to use alcohol or other drugs where there is increased safety risk, including but not limited to porches, balconies, stairwells, or roofs.

4.4. AOD Medical Amnesty Statement

Amherst College is concerned about the use and misuse of alcohol and other drugs in our community. Substance misuse affects the entire College community. The College’s primary concern with AOD use is the safety and wellbeing 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, contact the Amherst College Dispatch Center (ACPD) at (413) 542-2111. The appropriate first responder will respond and evaluate the student. In most instances, Amherst College Emergency Medical Services (ACEMS) will respond with at least two fully certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). The Community Safety Assistant (CSA) team will also respond to collect basic information, and help when necessary, but will otherwise maintain a respectful distance. In the case of the patient needing higher evaluation and transport to the hospital, ACEMS will dispatch Amherst Fire Department (AFD), who will provide an ambulance staffed with paramedics. ACPD will respond in cases where AFD has been dispatched, a crime has been committed, or at the request of ACEMS. As long as the patient is physically and mentally capable of doing so, they can always refuse further care.  If further medical assistance is deemed necessary, the College encourages 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 covering alcohol and other substances – including, but not limited to, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. 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, 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 may apply.

This policy does not protect students who repeatedly violate College policies. 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.