Stanford updates its student alcohol policy

In an effort to reduce the availability and accessibility of hard alcohol, Stanford University has updated its student alcohol policy to prohibit high-volume distilled liquor containers for all undergraduate and coterminal students living in undergraduate housing. It also prohibits hard alcohol at all categories of on-campus parties, with the exception of parties hosted by student organizations and residences whose membership is 100 percent graduate students. That exemption applies to alcohol in the form of mixed drinks. Straight shots of hard alcohol are never allowed at any party. Beer and wine are the only alcoholic beverages that can be present at all on-campus undergraduate student parties.

The policy update, which goes beyond state law requirements, prohibits containers 750 mL and larger of distilled liquor, spirits and hard alcohol (alcohol by volume 20 percent and above or 40 proof) in undergraduate student residences, including rooms and common spaces. The beverages that are allowed under this policy for individuals 21 and older must have been purchased from a licensed establishment and must be contained and stored in their original containers.

The policy, which is effective immediately, is an outgrowth of dialogue that has been taking place among students, faculty and staff since March, when President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy wrote to students and called on the community to generate solutions that meaningfully change the campus culture around alcohol.

โ€œWe welcome ideas from students and other members of the campus community for new ways of tackling this pressing challenge,โ€ the president and provost wrote. โ€œThe importance and persistence of this issue have led the two of us to contemplate options that we have not in the past, including broad bans on hard alcohol in undergraduate residences. But we believe a serious campus conversation is what is called for at the moment.โ€

Greg Boardman, vice provost for student affairs, sent a letter about the updated policy on Monday, Aug. 22, to all new and returning undergraduates.

Boardman wrote: โ€œWhen considering a policy, one can look at it through multiple lenses. I challenge you not to focus on the policy as something to be worked around. Instead, I ask you to bring your best selves to this endeavor, to consider the real concerns raised by your fellow students, and those articulated here, and to be a part of solving this problem. We must create a campus community that allows for alcohol to be a part of the social lives of some of our students, but not to define the social and communal lives of all of our students.โ€

Stanford Report spoke with Ralph Castro, director of the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE), about the rationale for the changes.

Read the interview with Castro in Stanford Report.