5.1 Alcohol and Illegal Drugs Policy

Macalester College is committed to fostering a welcoming campus community and encourages safe, responsible, and lawful actions. The College is also committed to promoting healthy behaviors and empowering students to inform themselves about the impact that alcohol and illegal drug use has on individuals and the community. This policy outlines students’ rights and responsibilities in regard to illegal drugs  and the use of alcohol on campus, off campus, and at college-sponsored events. Community members are responsible for their actions and demonstrating respect for others at all times.

Alcohol Policy

Macalester College prohibits the unlawful possession, use, production and distribution of alcohol. This policy applies to all activities sponsored by the College whether on College-owned property and residences or at other locations. The College expects that students, faculty, staff members and guests of the College community conduct themselves in a responsible manner that demonstrates respect for others and the community at large. As part of the larger community, Macalester College is subject to and abides by federal, state and local laws. The use of alcoholic beverages should not interfere with the academic goals and maintenance of a healthy environment in the campus community.

General Regulations

  1. Possessing, serving, consuming, or being in the presence of alcohol under the age of 21 is strictly prohibited.
  2. Students found with alcohol who are under 21 years of age will be required to pour out the alcohol in the presence of a staff member and may be subject to College disciplinary action.
  3. Students of legal age who use alcohol must do so in a way that does not compromise the rights and safety of others.
  4. Students who are severely intoxicated (regardless of age) are in violation of College policy.
  5. The use of alcohol may not:
    • disrupt the community standards of the residence hall environment
    • create a potentially hazardous environment
    • violate applicable federal and state laws, local ordinances
  6. The possession of open containers of alcohol and the consumption of alcohol are confined to student rooms and suites. Open containers of alcohol are prohibited outdoors and in common areas.
  7. Possession of empty alcohol containers may result in a documented policy violation.
  8. Alcohol cannot be consumed in public spaces without a permit regardless of age.
  9. Kegs of beer, any forms of common source alcohol and alcohol in excess are prohibited in any residence hall space. Possession of a keg of alcohol may result in suspension from residential facilities.
  10. Students of legal drinking age who choose to consume alcohol with or in the presence of underage students assume additional responsibility for the safety and well-being of their guests.
  11. Students may be asked to dispose of alcohol to help calm and disburse disruptive situations regardless of their age.
  12. Violations of College policies regarding the improper use, distribution or possession of alcohol will result in sanctions ranging from warning through temporary or permanent separation from the College and may also include referral to civil authorities for prosecution. Outcomes imposed through the conduct process may include chemical assessment, treatment and/or attendance at health education informational sessions. Students will be responsible for costs associated with such programs.

Community of Care Provision

All members of the campus community are encouraged to seek immediate medical or security assistance for students whose health and well-being may be at risk due to the overconsumption of alcohol and/or drugs. The intent of the community of care provision is to encourage students to request assistance from Macalester staff and/or emergency personnel without fear of disciplinary action being taken against the impaired student or those who seek to help them. For the safety of the student in need, those calling for help should remain with the impaired student until college professional staff arrive.

Neither students who actively seek assistance nor the impaired student(s) will be subject to formal disciplinary action for the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs if all involved students follow the medical, health, and safety recommendations of the responding staff. Failure to do so may result in formal disciplinary action. Educational sanctions may be enacted without formal disciplinary action. These educational sanctions include such things as meeting with a professional staff member, alcohol workshop, assessment, or writing a reflection paper. If students do not comply with the assigned educational sanctions they will be subject to a formal disciplinary process.

The community of care provision only applies to the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs. Individuals may be held responsible for other policy violations such as property damage, hazing, harassment, or physical and sexual assault if applicable. When necessary, the Dean of Students will render the final decision regarding whether the provision can be applied. The College cannot guarantee that criminal charges will not be brought against the student if local law enforcement officials are required for assistance during the incident. The College may be required to notify parents/guardians if a student is transported to the hospital or a detoxification center for a medical emergency. Taking responsibility for helping a student in need will always be viewed positively in any post-incident follow-up.

Illegal Drug Policy

  • Macalester College prohibits the unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, cultivation or manufacture of illicit drugs and drug related paraphernalia. This includes but is not limited to water pipes and bongs.
  • The use of any substance which creates an odor that may be confused with illegal substances is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, odors that smell like marijuana.
  • Confiscated items will not be returned to students or their guests if they are found to violate college policy or state/federal law.
  • Violation of College policies regarding the use, distribution or possession of unlawful drugs, and drug related paraphernalia will result in sanctions ranging from warning through temporary or permanent separation from the College and may also include referral to civil authorities for prosecution. The College may require chemical assessment and/or treatment as attendance at health education informational sessions as part of outcomes imposed through the conduct process. Students will be responsible for costs associated with such programs.
  • Students seeking information or help with a drug related problem are encouraged to consult with the Health and Wellness Center, Residential Life or the Office of Student Affairs.

Medical Marijuana

The Minnesota Medical Cannabis Law and program allows seriously ill Minnesotans who are registered users to use medical marijuana to treat certain conditions. However, the possession and use of marijuana remains illegal under the federal law to which the college is subject, including the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and the Campus Security Act. Therefore, the use, possession, production, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana - medical or otherwise - continues to be prohibited while a student is on college owned or controlled property or at any function authorized or controlled by the college continues to be prohibited.

Federal Student Aid Penalties for Drug Convictions

The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 include a new student eligibility provision. It provides that a student is ineligible for federal student aid if convicted, under federal or state law, of any offense involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance while enrolled and receiving federal financial aid. Federal aid can be grants, student loans and/or college student employment. The period of ineligibility begins on the date of conviction and lasts until the end of a statutorily specified period. A student may regain eligibility early by completing a drug rehabilitation program or if the conviction is overturned.

The chart below illustrates the period of ineligibility for financial aid, depending on whether the conviction was for sale or possession and whether the student had previous offenses.

  Possession of Illegal Drugs Sale of Illegal Drugs
1st Offense 1 yr. from date of conviction 2 yrs. from date of conviction
2nd Offense 2 yrs. from date of conviction Indefinite Period
3rd Offense Indefinite Period  

If convicted of both possessing and selling illegal drugs, the student will be ineligible for the longer period of conviction.

For information on how a drug conviction impacts financial aid, refer to the frequently asked question section of the FAFSA website. To report a drug conviction contact the Financial Aid Office.

Policies for Hosting Events with Alcohol

(Students who reside on campus also see residence hall policies - Hosting Guests with Alcohol in Rooms)

  • Any event with alcohol present requires a completed Alcohol Approval Request Form submitted to the Reservations Office for approval no later than 3 weeks prior to the event. This policy includes the service wine and/or beer at a reception or dinner. Event planners should consult with the Reservations Office to determine the need for a Certificate of Insurance indemnifying Macalester College or to get referrals for 3rd party vendors. Student sponsored events must be approved first by the Campus Activities and Operations Office before submission to the Reservations Office.
  • State law prohibits open containers on public rights-of-ways (i.e., streets, sidewalks, public areas in buildings, etc.). Alcohol must be contained in a designated serving and consumption area. The Campus Center Atrium, Art Gallery Hallways, Olin-Rice Smail Gallery, Leonard Center Atrium, IGC Atrium or any other publicly used space are not permissible locations for the service of alcohol unless the entire building/space is reserved for the event or alcohol is only served and consumed in a controlled area not accessible to the public or those under 21. Bon Appetite may serve wine and/or beer at a function in these spaces. For outdoor events, the serving area must be contained within a fenced-in and controlled area. 
  • Events which require a license for the sale of alcohol or any event with an estimated attendance of 100 or more people will require additional planning and appropriate forms must be submitted nine (9) weeks prior to the event.  
  • Only beer and/or wine may be served on campus. 
  • Student Activity Fee money may not be used to purchase alcohol. 
  • Individuals are not allowed to bring alcohol to an event. 
  • Only official College sponsored events designated by Campus Activities and Operations, the Office of Student Affairs or Special Events may advertise the presence of alcohol.
  • Attendance at campus events where alcohol is being served is limited to Macalester community members and their invited guests.
  • Alcoholic beverages cannot be sold without a license issued by the St. Paul Office of License, Inspection and Environmental Protection. Application forms are available from the Reservations Office and must be approved first by the Director of Campus Activities and Operations. Staff events must be approved first by the Director of Campus Activities and Operations. Indirect distribution of alcohol through the sale of admission tickets, donations, etc. are considered methods of selling alcohol and require a license from the City of St. Paul. 
  • Event sponsors must provide snacks and equal amounts of non-alcoholic beverages when alcohol is being served.
  • The college does not accept sponsorship of campus events by the alcohol beverage industry.
  • Events may require security officers at the determination of the Director of Campus Activities and Operations. Cost for the officers is the responsibility of the sponsoring Macalester department or recognized student organization. 
  • At least one faculty or staff person is required to attend an event where alcohol is being served. 
  • The distribution of alcohol will cease no later than 45 minutes prior to event's end time or before 12:30 a.m.

Education, Counseling, and Treatment Resources

Most adults who drink alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, or liquor) consume safe and healthy amounts. For others, unsafe drinking patterns increase their risk for injury, illness or future alcohol problems. Alcohol or other drug problems come in many forms. You may find yourself wondering or worrying about your own personal use or that of a family member or friend.

Macalester's Health and Wellness Center (HWC) provides professional education, assistance, and referral for students concerned about their own or others’ alcohol or other drug use. HWC staff offer information, education, and training about alcohol/tobacco use and other drug abuse; students who are questioning their own patterns of alcohol or other drug use are encouraged to seek assistance from HWC staff. In addition, staff can help students who are concerned about another’s substance use patterns.



Macalester expects all students and student groups to comply with all local, state and federal laws. It is the responsibility of each individual to be aware of, and abide by, all federal, state and local ordinances. Current laws provide for severe penalties for violations which may result in criminal records.

Local Laws
The City of St. Paul and the City of Minneapolis have an ordinance prohibiting the consumption of, or possession of an open container containing, an alcoholic beverage in any public place or on private property without the owner's permission.

Minnesota State Laws – Note: The is not a complete list

Possession or Consumption by Persons Under the Age of 21
It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years to possess any alcoholic beverage with the intent to consume or actually consume it at any place other than the household of person's parent or guardian and with their supervision.

Underage possession or consumption immunity provided for a person seeking assistance for another
Chapter 112 (HF 946*/SF 744) adds a subdivision to Minn. Stat. § 340A.503, the law pertaining to underage possession and consumption of alcohol. It provides that if a person contacts a 911 operator to report that the person or another person is in need of medical assistance for an immediate health or safety concern, the person is not subject to prosecution under this law. The immunity applies if the person is the first person who initiates contact. The person must also provide a name and contact information, remain on the scene until assistance arrives, and cooperate with the authorities at the scene. The person who receives medical assistance is also immune from prosecution. The law also applies to one or two persons acting in concert with the person initiating contact provided that all the same requirements are met. Effective Aug. 1, 2013.

Consent for Sexual Activity
There can be no consent to sexual activity with someone known to be or should be known to be mentally or physically incapacitated** due to alcohol or other drug use. Incapacitation is defined in 5.38 Sexual Misconduct Policy. Sexual activity is defined as oral, anal, or vaginal penetration, or contact or near contact of breasts or genitals.

Misrepresentation of Age
It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years to claim to be 21 years old or older for the purpose of purchasing alcoholic beverages.

Furnishing Alcohol to Persons Under 21
It is unlawful to sell, barter, furnish or give alcoholic beverages to persons under 21. People who are injured by an underage drinker may sue adults who supplied alcohol to the underage drinker.


Crimes and penalties of both state and federal drug laws can change with each legislative session.  It is the responsibility of individuals to be aware of, and abide by, state and federal laws.
It is a petty misdemeanor for persons under the age of 18 to possess, use or purchase tobacco products.   Purchasing tobacco with fake identification is a crime. 
Minnesota and federal laws prohibit the unauthorized possession, furnishing (distributing or giving away), and trafficking (selling) of scheduled drugs.  Scheduled drugs include, but are not limited to, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, heroin, methamphetamines, and steroids.  Possesion of drugs is merely exercising or maintaining control over a drug.  Possession of drugs can be merely allowing drugs to be stored in your room even if those drugs are owned by someone else.

Students who are convicted of drug possession or sale may lose eligibility for federal financial aid.

Health Risks

Macalester cares about health and wellness of both individuals and our campus community. According to recent surveys conducted at Macalester, the substances of most frequent use and abuse are alcohol and marijuana.

Alcohol is a major concern on a college campus as it can negatively impact both personal and academic goals of students. Higher risk alcohol use has been associated positively with falling behind academically (Porter & Pryor, 2007, NCHA 2013). Alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, coordination and speech. This can lead to dangerous and unsafe behavior resulting in significant negative consequences to individuals or others. This impairment can occur even at low levels of blood alcohol concentration. When alcohol is abused, there is a significantly increased incidence of physical injury, motor vehicle accidents (nearly half of all fatal accidents) and injuries from assaults. Abuse of alcohol within the college environment can be linked to an increased risk of sexual violence.

With regards to marijuana, though it is true that scientists have determined that the cannabis plant has the potential for addressing a range of medical conditions, it is also true that when one is young and the brain is still maturing, marijuana has the potential of creating structural and functional deficits of the brain. In a study published in December 2013, researchers at Northwestern Medicine discovered that the developing teenage brain may be particularly vulnerable to excessive marijuana use. The researchers found that teens who smoked marijuana daily for about three years had abnormal changes in their brain structures related to working memory and performed poorly on memory tasks.  These abnormalities in brain structure and memory problems existed two years after the heavy marijuana users had stopped smoking pot as teenagers.  In addition to the possible effects on the brain, smoking marijuana may also be hazardous to developing lungs. Marijuana smoke contains 50% to 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. A number of studies have also shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. And lastly, research shows that the earlier one starts using marijuana, the more likely one is to become dependent on it or other types of drugs later in life.

For health facts about other substances visit The National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Compliance with the Drug Free Schools/and Campuses Act

Macalester College is committed to complying with the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act. The requirements for compliance with the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989 are addressed in the alcohol policy section of the student, staff, and faculty handbooks. The College conducts biennial reviews of its alcohol and drug program to determine its effectiveness, implement needed changes, and insure that disciplinary sanctions are consistently enforced.

Additional requirements for compliance with the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988 state that employees of the College are required to report to work on time and in appropriate mental and physical condition for work and to remain in that condition during the work shift. Employees must, as a condition of employment, abide by the terms of this policy and report any criminal convictions under a criminal drug statute for violations occurring on or off campus premises while conducting college business. A report of conviction must be made within five days of conviction.

Within thirty days after receiving notification that an employee has been convicted under a criminal drug statute for violation occurring in the workplace, Macalester will either take disciplinary action against the employee (up to and including termination) or will require the employee to satisfactorily participate in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program approved for such purposes by federal, state or local health, law enforcement or appropriate agency.