Chapter 9: Alcohol and Controlled Substances
Alcoholic Beverage and Illicit Drugs Policies for All Students and Organizations / Policies for Postbaccalaureate Students and Organizations / Alcoholic Beverage Policies for Undergraduate Students of Legal Drinking Age / Emergency Treatment / Sanctions / Health Risks / Warning Signs of Possible Substance Abuse / Drug Effects Table (PDF Document) / Federal Trafficking Penalty Charts (PDF Document)
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Vanderbilt University is deeply concerned about the health and welfare of its students. University policies and regulations in general-and alcohol and illicit drug policies in particular-reflect that concern. The purpose of the policy, and the purpose of articulating it in great detail, is to enable students to make informed-and it is hoped, intelligent-choices, and to enable them to understand the consequences of making poor choices. In compliance with the federal Drug-Free Schools and Campuses regulations, Vanderbilt has adopted a policy that includes the expectation that students will comply with federal, state, and local laws, including those relating to alcoholic beverages, narcotics, and other drugs.
The University prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of alcohol and illicit drugs by students, faculty, and staff, on its property, or as part of any University-sponsored activity. The prohibition extends to off-campus activities that are officially sponsored by Vanderbilt, its schools, departments, or organizations. In addition, the prohibition extends to off-campus professional or organizational activities, including attendance at conferences, when participation is sponsored by the University, or when the participant student, faculty member, or staff member is representing the University. Finally, the prohibition extends to "private" events off campus where the University may have an interest (e.g., if a student were to provide alcohol to underage students at an off-campus location).
To underscore the seriousness with which it takes the issue of health and welfare of its constituent populations, the University will impose disciplinary sanctions on students, faculty, and staff-up to and including expulsion or termination of employment, and referral for prosecution-for violation of the alcohol and illicit drug policy. Conditions of continued employment or enrollment may include the completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program.
In addition to the standards of conduct prohibited by law and University policy, students, faculty, and staff are subject to the additional requirements, disciplinary standards, and procedures promulgated by their respective schools, departments, and organizations. When students who are tested for drugs as a condition of participation in a University program (such as athletics) test positive, the results will be reported to the Chair of the Conduct Council for appropriate disciplinary actions. Additional standards of conduct, disciplinary standards, and procedures may be found elsewhere in The Student Handbook, in the Faculty Manual, and in the Medical Center Alcohol and Drug Use Policy (Policy No. 30-08), and any applicable union contract. Students, faculty, and staff should refer to appropriate documents for detail.
Graduate and professional students and organizations must register their events with the Office of Schedules and Reservations, and secure authorization through the Events Registration Committee for events at which alcoholic beverages are present. If an undergraduate group cosponsors an event with a postbaccalaureate group, the policies governing undergraduate events must be followed. In addition, postbaccalaureate groups and their officers are subject to disciplinary action if there are violations of the underage drinking law or University policies and regulations at their events. Officers of an organization or a residence hall or individuals hosting an event are responsible for ensuring compliance with University policies and state and local law. Both organizations and individuals are subject to disciplinary action by the University, by the state of Tennessee, and by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville.
Students may not consume alcoholic beverages elsewhere, except in common areas designated by student vote in upperclass residence halls in accordance with residential autonomy procedures, or when an event has been appropriately registered as an event at which alcoholic beverages will be consumed (see also "Scheduling Activities" in Chapter 3).
For special events, a place may be designated as one where the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages by those of legal drinking age is permitted. However, such occasions must be registered, approved, and advertised five days in advance as an event at which alcohol may be consumed (e.g., the event must be authorized for B.Y.O.B., or authorization be granted by the Vice Chancellor for Student Life or his designee to serve undergraduates, and no common containers may be used).
The use of common containers of alcoholic beverages such as kegs, punch bowls, or party balls by undergraduates, the use of pure grain alcohol by individuals or organizations, the use of devices such as funnels and beer bongs designed for the rapid consumption of alcohol, and drinking games are prohibited on campus or at any event sponsored by a student organization off campus.
Undergraduate students who have reached the age designated by the state (twenty-one years of age) for the legal consumption of alcoholic beverages may possess and consume alcoholic beverages at events registered and approved for consumption on a "bring-your-own" basis. (See "Scheduling Activities" in Chapter 3, for registration requirements.).
B.Y.O.B. practices contemplate that an individual student of drinking age may share alcoholic beverages with a date or companions who are also of legal drinking age. However, any subterfuge or device to evade the spirit of the University policy prohibiting the use of common containers or the provision of alcoholic beverages at undergraduate functions will subject students and organizations to disciplinary action.
Any time alcoholic beverages are served or permitted, alternative beverages and food must also be served during the entire period that alcoholic beverages are available. Students organizing a B.Y.O.B. event are responsible for providing nonalcoholic beverages and food.
The sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, unless licensed by state or local authorities and authorized by the University. Prohibition includes the sale of tickets, which can be traded for alcoholic beverages, or the sale of t-shirts required for entry into an event where alcohol is distributed, or any scheme masking the distribution of alcohol.
Individuals who wish to invite guests to a party or gathering in their rooms, apartments, suites, or lodges must have authorization from the assistant director (AD) for the residential complex. For the event to be B.Y.O.B., a majority of the hosts must be of legal age to drink alcoholic beverages.
Undergraduate groups, individuals, students, faculty, and staff may not serve alcoholic beverages to undergraduate students, except by special authorization from the Vice Chancellor for Student Life or his designee. Authorizations are limited to faculty-student mixers or dinners and very special occasions where a reasonable percentage of those attending are of legal drinking age. To seek authorization to serve alcohol for an event, the officers of the student organization should obtain a Special Event Registration Form from the Office of Schedules and Reservations and secure the approval by signature of their faculty adviser. The Special Event Registration Form must then be submitted to the Events Registration Committee. If authorization to serve alcohol is granted, the completed form should then be filed with the Office of Schedules and Reservations no fewer than five days in advance of the event. (See also, "Registration of Meetings, Concerts, Lectures, and Special Events" in Chapter 3.)
Officers of an organization or a residence hall or individuals hosting an event are responsible for ensuring compliance with University policies and state and local law. Both organizations and individuals are subject to disciplinary sanction by the University and prosecution by the state of Tennessee and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville.
It is in the best interest of students' welfare that persons who overdose or become intoxicated be brought to the attention of medical personnel. For that reason, and other University policies notwithstanding, it is University policy that no student seeking medical attention for intoxication or overdose shall be formally disciplined for the simple illegal use or underage possession of alcohol or other drugs, provided that the sole reason the student's intoxication or overdose was discovered by University officials arose from the seeking of medical care (by the affected student or by friends of the affected student).
Immunity from disciplinary action for alcohol violations extends to individuals seeking help for the intoxicated student, but does not relieve a group of responsibility for violation of policy. Affected students immune from disciplinary action will be required to complete a course of evaluation counseling and, where indicated, treatment. Failure to complete the prescribed course can result in disciplinary action.
Vanderbilt University will impose disciplinary sanctions on students, ranging from a warning or reprimand, to disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion and referral for state or federal prosecution, for violation of its alcohol and controlled substances policy. As is the case with violations of other University policies, sanctions imposed will be appropriate to the severity and circumstances of the violation. The student's previous record, attitude, and the seriousness of the offense will be taken into account in the determination of sanction.
The minimum sanction for simple unlawful purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol is a reprimand for the first offense. The completion of an appropriate assessment, education or rehabilitation program may be required. For simple unlawful possession or consumption in a substance-free residential area, the reprimand may be enhanced with sanctions that might include attendance or implementation of educational programs, or service projects. (See below.) In addition, disciplinary action will be taken for misconduct that results from the use of alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Students will also be held responsible for any damages that result from their misconduct. These sanctions will be imposed consistent with disciplinary standards and procedures found in The Student Conduct System.
The minimum penalty for first-offense intoxication is disciplinary probation. Standard indicators for drinking and/or intoxication include lack of balance, loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, odor of intoxicant, admissions to drinking, etc.
Because of the seriousness of unlawful provision, distribution, or sale of alcohol or other drugs by a student (or group or organization), violation of this policy will result in serious disciplinary action, which may include suspension or expulsion for the first offense, and may also result in criminal prosecution. The minimum penalty for a student who illegally distributes alcohol to an underage student will be probation for the first offense, and suspension for the second offense. In addition, the possession of illicit drugs or alcohol in such quantities as to create a presumption of possession with the intent to distribute on or off the campus, is a serious violation that may result in immediate suspension or expulsion.
Student organizations which provide alcohol to those not of legal age, whether through direct purchase or other group activities, may be placed on probation for one calendar year for the first offense, with no parties with alcohol permitted for a period of six months.
Persons who unlawfully furnish alcoholic beverages to students who are not of legal drinking age may also be liable for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by underage, intoxicated students. Student organizations and the officers of such organizations may also have such liabilities.
The purpose of any sanction for a violation of University policy is to get a student's attention, to effect reflection on the part of the student, and, it is hoped, to effect compliance with the policy. Because violations of alcohol and drug policies can be a threat to a student's health, welfare, and even life, enhancements may be added to any official sanction as additional means of helping students understand the potential consequences of policy violations.
4. Service work details linked to behavior associated with use of alcohol. (Such details might include picking up litter from campus lawns, cleaning lobbies, restrooms, and stairwells, of residence halls, etc.)
[This document contains a summary of state and federal sanctions for the unlawful use of illicit drugs and alcohol. Portions of the summary were provided by the federal government, and while the summary is a good faith effort to provide information, Vanderbilt does not guarantee its accuracy.] Under state law, it is unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one (21) to buy, possess, transport (unless in the course of their employment), or consume alcoholic beverages, including wine or beer. It is also unlawful for any adult to buy alcoholic beverages for or furnish them for any purpose to anyone under twenty-one years of age. These offenses are classified Class A Misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment for not more than eleven months and twenty-nine days, or a fine of not more than $2,500, or both. (T.C.A. ß 1-3-113, 39-15-404, 57-5-301.) The offense of public intoxication is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than thirty days or a fine of not more than $50, or both. (T.C.A. ß 39-17-310.) Under Tennessee law, the offense of possession or casual exchange of a controlled substance (such as marijuana) is punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor (eleven months twenty-nine days and/or a fine of $2,500). For the third and subsequent offense of possession of 1/2 oz. or less of marijuana, punishment is one to six years of imprisonment and a $3,000 fine. If there is an exchange from a person over twenty-one years of age to a person under twenty-one, and the older person is at least two years older than the younger, and the older person knows that the younger is under twenty-one years of age, then the offense is classified as a felony. (T.C.A. ß 39-17-417, 21 U.S.C. ß 801, et seq.; T.C.A. ß 39-17-417.) Possession of more than 1/2 oz. of marijuana under circumstances where intent to resell may be implicit is punishable by one to six years of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for the first offense.
State penalties for possession of substantial quantities of a controlled substance or for manufacturing or distribution range up to a maximum of fifteen to sixty years of imprisonment and a $500,000 fine. (Title 39, T.C.A., Chapter 17.) For example, possession of more than twenty-six grams of cocaine is punishable by eight to thirty years of imprisonment and a $200,000 fine for the first offense.
Forfeiture of personal and real property used to possess or to facilitate possession of a controlled substance if that offense is punishable by more than one year imprisonment. (See special sentencing provisions re: crack.)
Forfeiture of vehicles, boats, aircraft, or any other conveyance used to transport or conceal a controlled substance. [An automobile may be impounded in cases involving any controlled substance in any amount.]
Revocation of certain federal licenses and benefits, e.g., pilot licenses, public housing tenancy, are vested within the authorities of individual federal agencies. Violations of federal trafficking laws that involve either (1) distribution or possession of controlled substances at or near a school or university campus, or (2) distribution of controlled substances to persons under twenty-one (21) years of age, incur doubled penalties under federal law. (See chart: Federal Trafficking Penalties.)
As an educational institution, the University is primarily concerned with helping the individual student achieve academic goals. When health problems do arise, the University may assist and guide a student whose mental or physical health is threatened. Because of the health hazards, students who choose to use alcohol should do so in moderation. Should students or their friends have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, there are several places on campus where one can receive assistance:
The following is a summary of known health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol. Part of the summary was provided by the federal government, and Vanderbilt does not guarantee that it is an error-free or exhaustive accounting.
Acute: Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the likelihood that the driver will be involved in an accident. Accidents are the leading cause of death among individuals aged fifteen to twenty-four years. Most are related to drinking and driving. Poor decisions and aggressive acts such as sexual assault are almost always associated with alcohol use. Low to moderate doses of alcohol also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including spouse and child abuse. Moderate to high doses of alcohol cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person's ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much lower doses of alcohol will produce the effects just described.
Chronic: Repeated use of alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden cessation of alcohol intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Long-term consumption of large quantities of alcohol, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver. Some studies suggest that brain cells are actually permanently lost (killed) by high levels of alcohol.
Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants have irreversible physical abnormalities and mental retardation. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other youngsters of becoming alcoholics.
Marijuana: Marijuana and related compounds are usually used for their "relaxation" effects or to produce an altered sense of reality-a "high." Marijuana is usually smoked, and like tobacco, it is very toxic to the lungs. Disorders of memory (loss) and of mood often occur in chronic users.
Cocaine (stimulant). Cocaine, crack, and related forms are usually used for stimulation and to produce a sense of euphoria. All forms of cocaine are highly addictive, producing a habit that is extremely difficult to stop. In some individuals, cocaine may produce fatal cardiac rhythm disturbances.
Amphetamines (stimulants): Amphetamines, and their new derivatives "crystal," "ice," and Ecstasy, are used for stimulation. These compounds are very addictive and may produce psychotic and violent behaviors.
LSD & PCP (hallucinogens): These chemicals are used to produce "altered states" to escape reality. In changing perceptions, these drugs can result in very poor decision making which can lead to accident or death. They can cause psychosis in some individuals.
Valium, Barbiturates, etc. (depressants): These and other prescription drugs of this type are usually used for their sedative or hypnotic effects. Some of these drugs are highly addictive, and others can cause seizures (convulsions) in individuals who take them over long periods of time. These drugs can be fatal if mixed with alcohol or other depressants.
Heroin, Codeine, etc. (narcotics): These are some of the most addictive substances known. They produce a high or euphoria. Withdrawal can produce convulsions or even coma. Overdose is common and can result in death. Needle-drug users are in a high-risk group for infection with human immunodeficiency virus, thought to be the cause of AIDS.
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