Stanford prohibits hard alcohol at undergraduate parties

University bans high-volume liquor containers for consumption in student housing

Stanford University has banned hard alcohol at undergraduate parties and limited the size of liquor containers students are allowed to have in campus housing, university officials announced Monday.

Only beer and wine will be allowed at undergraduate university parties.

Hard alcohol will still be allowed for parties attended solely by graduate students, university officials said.

Bottles of 750 milliliters (the standard size of a wine bottle) or larger are also banned in student housing. Students will only be allowed to buy bottles of liquor that are a pint or smaller.

University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said that the new policy will be "enforced in the same manner as our existing alcohol policies." Residential assistants (RAs) will also be asked to help enforce the ban.

The penalty for violating the bans will be administrative action meted out by the university's residence deans and OAPE, according to an FAQ from the university.

"Continued or concerning behavior may result in removal from university housing or referral to the Office of Community Standards," the FAQ states.

In an explanation posted Monday, university officials said the new rules will effectively limit the availability of alcohol for student consumption as fewer stores stock the smaller bottles than the larger ones.

"Our focus is on the high risk of the rapid consumption of hard alcohol," university officials wrote. "Our intention is not a total prohibition of a substance but rather a targeted approach that limits high-risk behavior and has the backing of empirical studies on restricting the availability of and access to alcohol."

Stanford has been under scrutiny for its campus drinking culture and its relationship to sexual assault in recent months after a student, 20-year-old Brock Turner, was convicted in March of sexually assaulting a woman outside a fraternity party last year.

The role of alcohol in the sexual assault drew scrutiny, particularly because Turner's defense cited his impairment because of heavy drinking the night of the assault.

"Being drunk I just couldn't make the best decisions and neither could she. I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong," Turner said, according to court documents.

Even prior to Turner's verdict, Stanford was looking into changing its alcohol policy. In a March 9 letter to students, posted three weeks before Turner was found guilty, university President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy wrote that they were meeting to make new restrictions because of problems on campus stemming from heavy drinking.

"Alcohol, and particularly hard alcohol, is implicated in a variety of problems that continue to be present in the Stanford community," they wrote. "These include alcohol poisoning, sexual assault and relationship violence, organizational conduct problems, and academic problems."

The revised policy also includes a section advising of the particular dangers for women titled "Female Bodies and Alcohol," advising that "a woman will get drunk faster than a man consuming the same amount of alcohol."

That page also apparently included a quickly deleted section titled "alcohol affects both sexual intent and aggression" that advised women they were statistically more likely to experience sexual aggression while drinking.

Screenshots of the deleted language have drawn more criticism for the university, accusing it of blaming alcohol rather than aggressors for incidents of sexual assault. University officials did not immediately return requests for clarification of why it deleted that section of its policy.

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1 person likes this
Posted by Good intentions
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:14 pm

While this policy is good intentioned I cannot imagine how they can reasonably enforce it.

Also does anyone familiar with Stanford know if the fraternities are considered part of university housing?

15 people like this
Posted by Giovanni
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2016 at 11:08 pm

I read the police report for the Turner sexual assault. The victim (Doe) admitted to drinking four shots of whisky at her home shortly before arriving at the Kapa Alpha party. Students who attended the party, questioned by police, also admitted to drinking before arriving at the party - - it seems to be the thing to arrive at parties already buzzed. If this new rule is actually enforced, party goers will drink the hard alcohol before the party and then drink wine and beer at the party. They'll still drink too much and do stupid things.

How will Stanford enforce this new rule? Will there be surprise dorm checks? Will chaperones be present at the parties, enforcing the hard alcohol ban?

What Stanford is proposing will do absolutely zilch to curb the drinking problem.

8 people like this
Posted by Cecily
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Good intentions: Frats are the biggest abusers and they are on campus so they are probably included.

This is PR. It will be too difficult to enforce unless they have undercover cops.

6 people like this
Posted by Cecily
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2016 at 11:18 pm

Giovanni: Good point that they arrive drunk. However, do you have a solution? No entrance unless they pass a breathalyzer for soberness? Sure, if everyone starts drinking off campus, then Stanford is not liable, although I could imagine some lawyer can twist a DUI death into blaming Stanford that the drunk had to drive to the party instead of walking on campus.

7 people like this
Posted by Giovanni
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2016 at 11:44 pm

Cecily, you asked me for solutions. Here are a few ideas:

Have party goers carded before partaking of alcohol, like they do in bars.

Have chaperones stationed at the doors giving breathalyzer tests to everyone entering/exiting the party. If the blood alcohol content is above a certain level, have them escorted to their campus housing or a drunk tank.

Have security guards heavily patrolling the are around parties, watching for inappropriate behavior.

Provide Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on campus.

11 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2016 at 11:52 pm

I'm sure this is a PR and legal CYA move by Stanford. There's no other way all the local news outlets catch wind of this unless it was in a press release of some type.

Enforcement won't include anything undercover. If Stanford public safety or staff see something, they can enforce the rules by confiscating liquor. Students will just have to be more clandestine or take it off campus.

This rule also protects Stanford better legally. It will be harder for victims to make the case that Stanford has an environment that encourages drunkenness. If the problems now move off campus, it's even better. Crimes no longer occur on Stanford property, which means they can't be held liable.

6 people like this
Posted by Ash
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:14 am

Hello Apple,

It was not fed to the news media by Stanford. Michele Dauber tweeted it and her reporter at Guardian (Sam Levine) picked it on Saturday. Then all the news media picked it from Guardian. Stanford bashing is the new NEWS for all the media currently and it is fed by one of their own professors.

12 people like this
Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:23 am

There are laws against smoking cigarettes and marijuana on campus as well. But I'm willing to bet that those activities are alive and well on any college campus. The impetus behind this rule is the Stanford swimmer matter. If you really want to clamp down on this alcoholic abuse/ sexual assualts, then enforce a social host rule for any fraternity hosting an event. Alcohol cannot be served 'free'; it can only be served by the host and it must be paid for with minimums - no 5 cent drinks; they have to pay reasonable charges. They must enforce CA state laws regarding serving alcohol to adults only; violations result in suspension of their charter on campus. The host must have minimum $2.0 - 3.0 million in liability insurance (or more) for serving alcohol. If the 'kids' want to behave like adults during their parties, then make them responsible like adults. Why is it that no one has asked the harder question - why wasn't the fraternity responsible for allowing alcohol being served to people who were already drunk? The answer is that as social hosts, they're responsible for the damages that were inflicted by serving them more alcohol.

3 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:29 am

Banning alcohol at underage events is the right thing to do. However, they need to pair that healthy alternatives and education. Don't just tell the kids what not to do.

7 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:40 am

So basically blaming rape on alcohol???

Awesome job Stanford. What a joke.

9 people like this
Posted by Caitlin
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:44 am

Instead of dancing around the elephant in the room, how about Stanford BANS RAPE? and turns in their precious predator boys who indulge in it. Alcohol doesn't cause or invite rape... rapists just use it as an excuse and an opportunity.
"Banning alcohol" is a boys club illusionary solution for a bigger problem... the misogynistic hostility endemic on their campuses.
I do wish the bastion of "higher learning" were as enlightened as the claim to be.

8 people like this
Posted by justsomeone
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:59 am

What is rape? If a girl gets drunk, black out, invites a boy for sex and participates in sex, will that still be a rape? (Black out means the person has a temporary memory loss - he/she can do every normal activity without having any memory about it.) Read the following story.
Web Link

5 people like this
Posted by justsomeone
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:02 am

Read the how alochol affects college life (rape story) on Washington Post dated July 14 by T. Rees Shapiro

"He said it was consensual. She said she blacked out. U-Va. had to decide: Was it assault?"

14 people like this
Posted by From Mtn View
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:06 am

From Mtn View is a registered user.

The fact is that nearly 100% of these campus assault cases are the result of both parties being inebriated which has a bad ending for everyone involved. I am not blaming the victim, just stating the obvious.

And as far as controlling alcohol on a college campus, well, good luck with that Stanford, only solution is to convert the entire campus to LDS, works for BYU.

4 people like this
Posted by hello
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:36 am

Grumpy Old Guy - I agree with you 100%! I hope that Stanford pays attention to this.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:46 am

The problem with alcohol and college students is much bigger than sexual assault alone. The Ryan Lochte affair in Rio proves that in a situation free from parental and societal constraints, drunk people behave very badly. A college campus has freedoms that students have never before experienced as well as a lifestyle that is unique in its design of having large numbers of young people free to live without the normal mix of ages and stages that other communities contain.

A college campus - like an Olympic athletic village community - mixed with more money than sense is a recipe for all sorts of irresponsible mischief.

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:48 am

Sorry, my last paragraph should read

A college campus - like an Olympic athletic village community - mixed with alcohol and more money than sense is a recipe for all sorts of irresponsible mischief.

Like this comment
Posted by solon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:06 pm

what in the world is the legal basis for a landlord(stanford) banning SIZE of alcohol bottles? tho it is a good idea ./..

if based om student status, why does not apply to allstudents everywher?

17 people like this
Posted by concerned mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Uh, alcohol is already banned BY LAW for students under 21 years old.
Why doesn't Stanford simply work on enforcing THE LAW on campus?!

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:42 pm

@ From, you are TOTALLY blaming the victim! So if two people are drunk then it's ok to forgo consent? Silly stuff. [Portion removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by Know Weigh
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Know Weigh is a registered user.

This rule s/b extended to grad school! When I was attending back in the late 90s, one professor had a party for the grad students in her class. Her home was on campus, no one had to drive far, BUT someone did ride their bike into a tree, and another had to be taken to the hospital with a nice case of alcohol poisoning.

Unless they have a job to go to in the morning ( most Stanford students do not), even grad students will act irresponsibly with alcohol.

6 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 24, 2016 at 4:53 pm

What a surprise! I thought that Stanford only admit the very best students in US and around the World. So, what happened after the admission??? Some of them change their behavior or show up their real personality...drinking and raping and so on... Sad story! The parents send their "good" kids to Stanford, and get "criminals" out? I am wondering how really good these students are before they were admitted...cheating, money, connection and politics get them in Stanford. While real good hard working students are rejected.

9 people like this
Posted by Know Weigh
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Know Weigh is a registered user.

By the time most future Stanford students submit their college applications, they have been told by teachers and parents, so often, that they can do no wrong, that they truly believe it. The Stanford admission reinforces this. I worked at Stanford for eleven years, and observed this almost daily.

My husband, a CEO, has a policy of not hiring former Stanford athletes. They often have had an incomplete education, in his experience. However, since 2006, only TWO Stanford grads ( with advanced degrees, no less) have been able to pass his company's job interviews. Also, they want top salaries from day one, look down on co-workers, and historically, have had to be let go in under a year.

2 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2016 at 2:08 am


Your timeline is off. Stanford published a press release, masquerading as a news article on the new alcohol policy on August 22.
Web Link

Then Michele Dauber tweeted about it around noon that day.
Web Link

And then The Guardian publishes the article in the late afternoon that day.
Web Link

Stanford's intention must have been to have the policy change picked up by the media. There is no other reason to use the Stanford News site. Stanford knows the emails of all its students. If it just wanted to inform them, they could have just emailed them.

4 people like this
Posted by To those who don't get it
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2016 at 11:14 am

Are you serious?? She drank alcohol so it's okay to rape her? I assume you know a woman since you are alive. Women are allowed to get drunk without having to worry about a man raping her. It's that simple.

2 people like this
Posted by Drinking under 21 is ILLEGAL
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 25, 2016 at 11:44 am

Drinking under 21 is ILLEGAL is a registered user.

As Concerned Mom stated, drinking is illegal if you are under 21 and that includes pretty much all freshman and sophomores, many juniors and even some seniors. Probably 2/3 of undergrads are not old enough to drink. Period. Just enforce the law. And yes, it can be enforced, many schools do periodic dorm room checks for alcohol and other things (such as candles), and confiscate those items.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Yes, drinking under 21 is illegal. It doesn't mean it won't happen.

I wonder if reducing the drinking age would make a difference to wild parties. Many other countries have 18 years for buying alcohol and younger for consumption if with parents and eating a meal.

Part of the reason for these parties is because it is illegal for under age people to drink in bars. If the law allowed 18 year olds to drink in bars with curfews and other types of restraints, the desire to have the wild parties in dorms and frat houses may go away.

It is something to think about, anyway.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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