Alcohol Statement of Policy

In order to comply with federal, state, and city laws, and to promote the health and well-being of its community, Columbia has enacted the following policy on alcohol service at events.

Reason(s) for the Policy
  • Responsible service of alcohol.
  • Legal requirements around service of alcohol.

Columbia University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment that is free of alcohol abuse. The University complies with New York State law and other applicable regulations governing alcoholic beverages for those on the University's premises or participating in its activities. The University strongly supports education and treatment programs as the most effective means to help prevent and reduce alcohol abuse.

In addition, Columbia University is committed to providing an academic and social environment that supports individual freedom while promoting individual responsibility, health and safety, and community welfare. To that end:

  1. Columbia expects that those who wish to include alcohol as part of their activities will do so responsibly and lawfully. Responsible drinking includes making sound judgments about whether, when, and how much to drink, understanding the health issues related to the consumption of alcohol, and avoiding excessive or "binge" drinking or any other abuse of alcohol that negatively affects one's academic, work, social, athletic, or personal activities, and health.
  2. Persons planning events on campus should be mindful of the complexities introduced into planning an event with alcohol. Event manage­ment issues-the presentation of entertainment, provision of refreshments, management of the participants or audience, security, and other factors-require serious attention for any event, and all the more for an event at which alcohol is served. Event organizers must fully understand the University alcohol policy and applicable laws and manage their events accordingly. They also are expected to keep the safety and well-being of participants at the forefront of their planning and management of events. Staff members who advise students are expected to assist them in making responsible decisions about their events and to facilitate the enforcement of the Univer­sity's alcohol policy.
  3. Organizations may not plan events that promote or encourage the consumption of alcohol, nor may event planning be based upon the assumption of abusive or illegal alcohol consumption. Persons planning events should rem­ember that the vast majority of events at Colum­bia take place without alcohol, that most members of the undergraduate community are not of legal drinking age, and that among those who are, many do not drink alcoholic beverages at all. Campus organizations that choose to plan events with alcoholic beverages are expected to maintain a reasonable balance in their programming between events with and those without the serving of alcoholic beverages.

New York State law provides that:

  1. Alcoholic beverages shall not be provided under any circumstances by any licensed server to any person under the age of 21 or to anyone who is disorderly, visibly intoxicated, or known to be a habitual drunkard.
  2. No person under 21 years of age may misrepresent her/his age for the purpose of obtaining alcoholic beverages, nor may a person assist another in such a misrepresentation.
  3. Proof of age must include presentation of a valid American or Canadian driver's license or nondriver identification card, a valid passport, or a valid identification card issued by the United States Armed Forces. No person under 21 years of age shall provide false or written evidence of age for the purpose of attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages.
  4. No person under the age of 21 may possess any alcoholic beverage with the intent to consume it.
  5. Actions or situations that involve forced consumption of liquor or drugs for the purpose of initiation into or affiliation with any organization are prohibited.
  6. Alcoholic beverages may not be served where money changes hands (sale of drinks, admission charged, donations solicited, etc.) without the appropriate license or permit.
  7. Events that involve money changing hands require a Temporary Beer and Wine Permit issued by the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Hard liquor is not permitted at these events.
  8. In premises that hold a New York State Liquor License (Faculty House or Club, designated areas at Barnard, etc.), all individuals and groups must adhere to the provisions of the license. No unauthorized alcohol may be brought into such areas.
  9. In unlicensed premises, beer or wine may be sold or dispensed if a Temporary Beer and Wine Permit issued by the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is obtained. Hard liquor is not permitted at these events.
  10. Appropriate posted warnings about the effects of alcohol during pregnancy must appear at all events where alcohol is served.

Violation of these laws may subject the violator to legal penalties that range from confiscation of the beverage by a police officer to suspension of one's driver's license to fine or imprisonment. Moreover, within the University the illegal or wrongful possession, provision, or consumption of alcohol will lead to proceedings in accordance with the procedures of the respective school or administrative unit, which can include the requirement for the student to receive psychological or medical assessment and/or counseling and appropriate treatment. Disciplinary action may result in suspension or expulsion or the referral of violators for criminal prosecution. Employees should also note that they may not report to work or be at work while under the influence of alcohol.

In addition to the provisions of New York State law as outlined above, the University requires adherence to the following policies at events where alcohol is served:

  1. Alcohol may not be consumed outdoors on University property except at a registered and approved event.
  2. Alcohol that is not specifically manufactured for human consumption may not be offered, served, or consumed in any form (e.g., diluted or undiluted, or as an ingredient in punches or other admixtures) under any circumstances.
  3. The theme of all events where alcohol is served must be primarily social, cultural, or educational, and not the availability of alcohol. Language stating that double proof of age is required for consumption of alcoholic beverages must appear in all promotional material. No other mention or depiction of alcohol is permitted.
  4. Ample quantities of food and appealing nonalcoholic beverages must be continuously provided and visibly displayed during the event.
  5. There may be no games of chance, drinking games, contests, "happy hours," or other activities that induce, encourage, or result in the consumption of alcohol.
  6. Games of chance are not permitted at events where alcohol is served.
  7. Only one drink at a time may be dispensed to each person. Only one drink per hour may be consumed at undergraduate student events.
  8. Kegs or other bulk containers of alcoholic beverages are permitted only in connection with registered and approved events, and all such containers must be closed or untapped at the conclusion of the event and removed from the premises as soon as is practicable. The possession, use, or storage of such containers is otherwise prohibited.
  9. Those who serve alcohol and those who check proof of age for any event may not consume alcohol during that event. Prior to the event, the sponsoring organization must designate an additional non-drinking individual who will be present during the event to assist in its management.
  10. Those who serve alcohol at any University event must be at least 21 years of age.
  11. Application for approval of events where alcohol is served must be made by an appropriately authorized representative of the sponsoring organization or group. This person must be at least 21 years of age.
  12. All student events where alcohol is served require written approval by student organization advisers, student activities officers, or other recognizing body. The approving officer must meet with the organizer(s) of the event prior to approving same and discuss in detail the applicable provisions of this policy including: proctoring, health issues related to alcohol consumption, availability of food and alternative nonalcoholic beverages, event management, and any additional requirements relative to the location of the event or the policies and procedures of the recognizing office. Signature of approval will constitute an assertion of compliance with this provision.
  13. The following types of student events where alcohol is served must be registered with the appropriate school's dean's office or student activities office at least two weeks prior to the event. Applications for such events must be approved by that office, which will also assist in the application for a Temporary Wine and Beer Permit when necessary:
    a. events that occur outdoors on University property; or
    b. events that are open to the University community; or
    c. events that are funded with University funds, or use University resources, irrespective of whether the attendees are affiliates or nonaffiliates; or
    d. events where attendance is expected to exceed 50 invited guests; or
    e. events where money changes hands
  14. Student events where alcohol will be served may not be publicized until the event is approved by the appropriate recognized adviser of the organization.
  15. Proctors are not required for events where attendance is restricted to those over 21, except at the discretion of the appropriate dean or student activities officer. Such events will be governed only by the preceding legal and University requirements.
  16. Where there is reason to believe that attendees may include persons under 21, individuals must present double proof of age before being served alcoholic beverages. A valid Columbia ID card may constitute the second proof of identification. Such events require proctors as directed by the University.
  17. Officers of student organizations are responsible for the implementation and enforcement of these policies. Officers are also responsible for educating their membership, guests, alumni, and incoming officers about these policies. Violations will result in disciplinary action against the responsible individuals and organization, up to and including loss of University recognition and loss of housing status.
  18. Consumption of alcohol in residence halls is additionally limited by these requirements:
    a. No registered student events involving alcohol can be permitted in the common areas of any residence hall.
    b. Alcohol may not be consumed by any person in any part of a residence hall except in a contractually assigned private residence hall room, in the common area(s) within a contractually assigned suite or at a registered and approved event.
    c. While the individual student or host has primary responsibility for abiding by this policy and New York State law, members of the Residence Life staff will address individual consumption or possession violations in the residence halls.
    d.  Additional limitations for undergraduate Columbia College/Columbia Engineering students living in residence are outlined in the Guide to Living.
  19. Consumption of alcohol at events sponsored by a Greek-letter organization is governed additionally by these specific provisions, as well as by any additional requirements as directed by the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life:
    a. Alcohol is not permitted at any rush event.
    b. Pledge fees may not be used to purchase alcoholic beverages.

All University-sponsored events involving alcohol that take place either on or off campus must be authorized by their individual school. Application forms for such events must be submitted, including appropriate adviser approvals, to the appropriate deans or student activities officers. Those registering events with alcohol must be at least 21 years of age.

The deans and student activities officers of each school work with student leaders and their advisers to promote student responsibility and compliance with all University regulations and New York State and federal laws. Individual schools may also set more stringent restrictions on events involving alcohol, but all events must, at a minimum, comply with the policies outlined above.

The deans and student activities officers of Columbia's graduate and professional schools have responsibility for enforcing and implementing the University's alcohol policy within each school. Undergraduate student organizations are expected to work with their designated adviser to comply with the University's alcohol policy. Where appropriate, organization representatives must complete a formal training session for programming with alcohol.

Students may direct their questions about programming with alcohol to the dean of their school or the alcohol programming liaison for their school coordinator.

Outdoor Events With Alcohol

In accordance with New York State law, the consumption of alcohol in an outdoor space without appropriate authorization is prohibited. All outdoor events are subject to this policy and its attendant procedures. Outdoor space reservation authorization is also required for these events.