Policy for Alcohol at University Events


Here at Vanderbilt University, it is common for academic departments to host nationally known speakers, debates and seminars. It is also common to have receptions to honor the speaker or to encourage camaraderie. Most such events are low risk when it comes to alcohol management, however, whenever alcohol is present, there is some risk.

When an academic department or organization is planning an event where alcohol will be served, it is recommended that at least 2 organizers attend a party management training session conducted by Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (343-4740). These are free and can usually be arranged to fit your schedule.

If alcohol is present, there must be some method to discern the age of the guest attending. Checking identification (drivers license, state issued identification card, passport, military ID, etc. are all acceptable proof of age. The Vanderbilt ID is not.) is the most common method. If all guests are of legal age to consume, a list of those guests and their birth dates should be kept in an event file for proof that age was checked.

If any underage guests attend, then checking IDs of everyone will save any potential embarrassment. Or, if the department has access to the birth dates of all guests, names tags can be designed to indicate who is of age to drink alcohol and who is not. Again, the method has to be documented and saved in an event file.

As to alcohol control, it is recommended that whenever possible, caterers, who have licensed, trained alcohol servers as part of their staff, be used. If due to very limited resources, a staff member can be assigned responsibility for alcohol control if they have received party management training through Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention or other qualified sources. That individual could be held liable however, if anything happens to a guest or third party due to the guest’s impairment.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages are required at any event where alcohol will be present. These items are to be as attractive and promoted as any alcohol that is available. Limiting the amount of alcoholic beverage per person is also recommended.

At no time should left over alcohol be given to students, of age or not. Alcohol should not leave the event site with any guest. The responsible staff/caterer needs to stay with the alcohol at all times.

Safety is the highest priority when guests are imbibing. Trained servers know how to tactfully cut a guest off if the guest is obviously intoxicated. Organizers of the event need to have a plan to make sure every guest gets home safely, which may include having a cell phone ready with a list of local cab phone numbers.

For educational issues, contact Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (343-4740.)