Carnegie Mellon University

The Word

Student Handbook

Alcohol and Drug Policy

Policy Statement Regarding Alcohol

Possession and use of illicit drugs and the unlawful possession and use of alcohol are wrong and harmful. Unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs or alcohol by students or employees on Carnegie Mellon University property or as part of any of its activities is prohibited. Compliance with the following policy is mandatory and violation of the policy will be cause for disciplinary action.

The university is committed to complying with applicable laws relating to unlawful possession, use or distribution of alcohol or illicit drugs (referenced below) and reflects that compliance in its policies and procedures.

Carnegie Mellon faculty, administrators, staff and students recognize the responsibility and potential harm inherent in the use of alcoholic beverages. The following policy governs all university social activities on and off campus at which alcoholic beverages will be served. For purposes of this policy, university social activities are any social activities on university property or for which university funds or other resources are used. All members of the university community have an individual and collective responsibility to adhere to the following policy:

  1. In all circumstances, the university expects its faculty, administrators, staff, students, alumni and their respective guests to conduct themselves, both individually and collectively, in a responsible manner. Illegal, abusive or excessive consumption of alcohol resulting in interference with the rights of other persons, personal injury or damage to property will result in severe disciplinary action, beginning with monetary sanctions, up to and including suspension or expulsion.
  2. In residential areas such as private residence hall rooms, campus apartments, fraternities or sororities, there exists an expectation of privacy; however, in these areas members of the university and their guests are still governed by federal, state and local laws (or applicable laws for other jurisdictions where Carnegie Mellon operates) and will be responsible for their own behavior. In addition, any actions which violate the law and/or the rights of others, or in some way damage personal or public property, will result in the loss of the above-mentioned privacy rights and will be cause for university intervention and enforcement.
  3. Permission to serve alcoholic beverages at a social activity where students will or may be in attendance can only be obtained through the dean of Student Affairs. Before permission is given, a dean, department head, faculty member or staff member who is on the exempt payroll must take personal responsibility for ensuring that alcoholic beverages are served only to those persons who are of legal age. Such responsibility may be assumed only after completing the Social Host Responsibility session offered through the Campus Police. This session will be offered periodically throughout the year. Please contact the Campus Police at 412-268-2323 for details.

 In addition, the following guidelines must be observed for all events:

  • Social activities at which alcoholic beverages are served must take place in an area that is private or semi-private. Privacy is determined by the ability to control access to the area of the social activity and limit attendance to invited guests only. Alcoholic beverages are not to be consumed anywhere outdoors on the grounds of Carnegie Mellon. Therefore, alcoholic beverages are prohibited at social activities on the Cut, on the Mall, on the fraternity area grounds, on housing grounds, on the athletic field or on any other similar outdoor area either owned or used by the university.
  • A fee must never be charged for the service of alcohol where prohibited by applicable law or without obtaining the appropriate license or meeting the appropriate legal requirements to do so.
  • Public advertising of events at which alcohol is to be served must not include any reference to alcohol, nor may such events be publicly posted outside of the university community. 

Policy Statement Regarding Illegal Drugs

The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession or use of illicit drugs is prohibited at Carnegie Mellon University.

Carnegie Mellon Student Policy on Illegal Drugs

The university cannot deny access to its property to properly constituted law enforcement agents. Therefore, activity involving the unlawful use or sale of drugs by one student may also, by bringing law enforcement agents to the campus, risk compromising the privacy of the academic community. With the legal and medical welfare of the student in mind, the university cannot approve the medically unsupervised use, possession or distribution of drugs. When such medically unsupervised use, possession or distribution of drugs comes to the attention of the university, the student will be subject to disciplinary action which could include suspension or expulsion.

In any instance where a violation of the laws concerning drugs occurs on the Carnegie Mellon campus or in connection with the activities of Carnegie Mellon’s students, the disciplinary policy of the university will permit taking action beyond or separate from any which may be taken by other authorities.

Campus police officers at Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus must follow Pennsylvania rules of Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence when discovering illegal drugs on campus, and then take appropriate legal action.

The medically unsupervised possession, use or distribution of potentially harmful drugs such as marijuana, hallucinogens, amphetamines, barbiturates and opiates is illegal and subject to very harsh penalties. Although the university does not assume the responsibility of acting as an arm of the law, members of the academic community have no immunity from enforcement of the law. Use of many of these drugs may threaten the physical and mental health of the user. Use by one student may also threaten the welfare of other students. Distribution by any student clearly threatens the welfare of the academic community.

Note Regarding Medical Marijuana

In April 2016, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed the Medical Marijuana Act of 2016, legalizing certain forms of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. However, Carnegie Mellon remains bound by various federal narcotics laws that prohibit the distribution, use and possession of marijuana. In particular, Carnegie Mellon complies with the federal Drug Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989. As such, in accordance with federal law all forms of marijuana, including prescription medical marijuana, are prohibited on university property and in university programs.

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