Housing & Residential Living

Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy

  1. Introduction

    The Carleton College policy on alcohol and other drugs exists within the context of local, state, and federal laws. The regulations contained in this policy are designed to comply with all applicable City of Northfield ordinances and the laws of Minnesota and the United States, including the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989.

    Philosophical Statement

    Carleton College is committed to promoting responsible behavior regarding the use of alcoholic beverages. As an educational institution, the College provides resources through which students are empowered to inform themselves about the physiological, psychological, and sociological effects of alcohol and other drugs upon the individual and the community.

    In a civil, safe, and healthy community, members take responsibility for their own actions, and consider the impact that their choices will have on others. All members have a duty to accept their obligations to the group, and to act for the common good. As members of such a community, Carleton students, faculty, and staff will be held accountable for upholding the standards set forth for appropriate behavior.

    Above all else, in all actions, both on and off campus, members of the Carleton community shall:

    • Demonstrate respect for others in their actions.
    • Acknowledge the impact of alcohol on communal living, and work to limit its negative effects.
    • Retain autonomy, and thereby accountability for their choices and the outcomes of such choices.

    The policies which follow, and the philosophy upon which they are based, are intended to foster the continued growth and development of a respectful and responsible community.

  2. Regulations

    1. Alcohol, other drugs, and paraphernalia on campus: The college prohibits the unlawful possession, use, manufacture and/or distribution of alcohol and illicit drugs by students and employees on College property or as part of any College activities. The provisions of Northfield city ordinances and laws of Minnesota and the United States including the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (Public Law 101-226), shall govern.
      1. No kegs or common containers of alcohol are allowed in private residential spaces (houses, townhouses, residence hall rooms, etc.). The college will confiscate any unlawful or unauthorized items.  This includes, but is not limited to paraphernalia such as bongs, pipes, drugs, kegs, beer bongs, etc.  Once confiscated, the items will not be returned.
      2. Persons under 21 years of age are prohibited from drinking alcoholic beverages.
      3. Persons 21 years of age or older may drink alcoholic beverages only in their private residential rooms or at registered events.
      4. Alcohol is not permitted in any public area without prior registration. Public areas include but are not limited to: Sayles-Hill, Severance Great Hall, dining halls, residence hall and house lounges/living rooms, study rooms and corridors, all academic buildings and athletic areas, and all outdoor areas owned and operated by the College, including outdoor recreational areas.
      5. Possession of open containers of alcohol is prohibited at all times at all campus locations, except at registered event locations or in private residential rooms.
      6. High-risk alcohol-related activities, such as progressives, drinking theme parties, drinking games, beer bongs, and similar behaviors are prohibited.
      7. Students should not engage in the manufacture or production of any alcoholic beverage on the Carleton campus including, but not limited to, cereal malt beverage (beer), wine, moonshine, and liquor.
      8. The college recognizes the particular danger of driving while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Therefore, students are expected never to use substances and drive.
    2. Alcohol at registered events: Some public areas may be registered for an event at which alcohol will be available by submitting the appropriate event registration form to the Student Activities Office. A full description of the regulations and responsibilities to which event sponsors are subject is found on the Student Activities website
      1. Any kegs or common containers (e.g. punch bowls, garbage cans, inflatable pools, etc.) of alcohol may be permitted if the following two criteria are met:
        1. the event is registered in advance through the Social Event Registration process and approved through Student Activities, and
        2. the alcohol is served by a College approved licensed third party vendor.
      2. Hard alcohol is allowed at registered events, but must be approved and served by a college approved licensed third party vendor.  For the purpose of this policy, Carleton defines hard alcohol as anything other than beer, wine, or malt beverage.
      3. All alcohol which is unauthorized will be confiscated along with all other related items (taps, kegs, cups, etc.).  Note: This may result in loss of any purchaser’s deposit(s). The student host or residents of the event will be held responsible and will face disciplinary action.
      4. The college recognizes the disruptive effects that alcohol and other drugs can have on the Carleton community. Therefore, all registered events are subject to (but not limited to) the following regulation principles:
        1. Event sponsors may be held responsible for the actions of both individuals and the group. Behavior that violates the living and study rights of other residents is unacceptable.
        2. Damages: If individuals responsible for the damage cannot be identified, the event sponsors shall be liable for damage and clean-up charges. The event area must be cleaned and returned to its pre-event condition.
      5. Small gatherings in private residential rooms need not be registered with the College. Such gatherings are, however, subject to all other regulations regarding alcohol use described in this policy.
    3.  Social Host Liability: Anyone over 21 who serves alcohol to someone under 21 may be held civilly liable for any damages subsequently caused by the person under 21.
      1. Social Host Ordinance – City of Northfield (enacted May 2011): The purpose of the social host ordinance is to hold individuals responsible for activities that allow people who are under the legal drinking age of 21 to consume alcohol. Students who host parties where underage drinking occurs can be charged under this social host ordinance.  The consequences for violating the Northfield Social Host Ordinance could be up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, and is a misdemeanor. According to the ordinance it is essential to take reasonable steps to curb underage consumption.
      2. Reasonable Steps May Include:
        1. Controlling access to alcohol and alcoholic beverages in such a manner that no underage person has access to the alcohol and alcoholic beverages at the gathering or event; or
        2. Directly supervising the activities of underage persons at the gathering event either in person or through a responsible adult; or
        3. Checking identification of the attendees of the gathering to determine age; or
        4. Other actions made by the person to prevent possession or consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages by the underage person(s) present.
    4. Students on Off Campus Study: Students participating in off-campus study programs are subject to local laws, as applicable. Students who jeopardize their own health, the health and safety of others, or the integrity of the living and learning environment on the program may be required to leave the program. The program director, in consultation with the VP/Dean of Students (or designee), has the authority to remove a student from the program under these circumstances.
  3. Sanctions and Responsive Action

    1. Sanctions: A violation of this Policy is a “violation” within the meaning of the Community Standards Policy, III.C.5. All sanctions listed there (restitution, service, counseling, chemical dependency evaluation, revocation of privileges, warning, censure, disciplinary probation, suspension, and expulsion) are applicable. In addition, for violations of this Policy, sanctions may include mandatory education, counseling, fines, community services, and/or evaluation, conducted on or off-campus.
    2. Responsive Actions: The College recognizes that students are expected to obey the law and take personal responsibility for their conduct. The College will respect the privacy of student’s personal lives. The College will hold students accountable if and when:
      1. Students’ use of alcohol or other drugs threatens order, causes public disturbances, poses danger to the students and/or others, or results in property damage;
      2. Illegal use of alcohol and other drugs comes to the attention of College officials. Drunk and disorderly behavior when under the influence of alcohol is a violation of the alcohol policy. Persons under the influence of alcohol will be held responsible for their actions.
      3. Any violations of this policy by students, including violations of the “Social Event Registration Guidelines,” will be brought to the attention of the Dean of Students staff. Violations by faculty or staff will be brought to the attention of the Provost or Vice President of the College, respectively.
      4. Violations will be reviewed and sanctions imposed by the Dean of Students, the Provost, the Vice President of the College, or the Judicial Hearing Board.
  4. Resources

    Alcohol and drug counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation/re-entry programs for students, staff, and faculty are available from a variety of sources. Anyone who recognizes a personal alcohol or drug problem, is concerned about another student or co-worker, or who may wish to know more about alcohol and drug abuse may contact:

    1. Internal Sources: (phone extensions; add area code 507 and 222 prefix if dialing from non-Carleton phone, e.g. 507-222-4248)
      1. Students:
        • Office of the VP/Dean of Students: 4248, 4075
        • Residential Life: 4072
        • Student Health and Counseling: 4080
        • For more information on resources related to recovery, please see the Office of Health Promotion website.
      2. Faculty and Staff:
        • Office of the Provost: 4303
        • Employee Assistance Program: 1-866-326-7194
        • Human Resources: 4830
    2. External Sources: Access support resources within Northfield and the surrounding communities.


    1 Summary of Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (Public Law No. 101-226)

    A. The new Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (Public Law No. 101-226) require colleges and universities to adopt a program to prevent the unlawful use of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees. A College’s failure to comply with the Act can result in the immediate loss of eligibility to receive federal funding and any other form of Federal financial assistance, including federally funded financial aid.

    B. All colleges must give notice to each student and employee that unlawful use of drugs and alcohol is prohibited, describe applicable legal sanctions and health risks, list counseling programs available, advise students and employees that violation of the policy could lead to penalties up to and including expulsion from the College, termination of employment and/or referral to civil authorities for prosecution, and review the policy biennially.

    C. Policy Requirements: A college’s drug prevention program must prohibit, at a minimum, the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by employees and students on college property or as part of its activities.

    Presented to and adopted by the College Council on May 29, 2001. Approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees June 21, 2001.

  5. Information About Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs

    Description of College Student Substance Use

    Health Consequences of Drug Use

    Health Risks of Alcohol and Tobacco Use

    Facts on E-cigarettes

Adopted by College Council on May 29, 2001.

Approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees June 21, 2001.

Note:  Information About Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs policy revised/updated August 2011

For: Students, Staff, Faculty

Last Reviewed: October 3, 2022

Maintained by: Dean of Students Office