Alcohol & Other Drugs

All members of the University community are responsible for being familiar and complying with the requirements of federal and Illinois statutes and Chicago ordinances regarding the consumption, possession, and sale of alcohol and other drugs. The University expects each member of the community to be responsible for their own conduct and the consequences of that conduct.

Various federal and state laws prohibit the possession, distribution, and use of controlled substances, unless in compliance with licensing requirements or a doctor's prescription. Although recreational marijuana use for adults ages 21 and over is legal in Illinois, federal law prohibits its possession, distribution and use in any form on the University’s campus. Moreover, Illinois law prohibits the consumption and possession of alcohol by persons under the age of twenty-one and the supplying of alcohol to any person under the age of twenty-one with only few very narrow exceptions. Additionally, Illinois law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages except by those licensed to sell such beverages. Illinois law and city ordinances also prohibit public intoxication, operation of a vehicle or bicycle under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants, and consumption of alcohol in a public place. Violation of these or other laws relating to drugs and alcohol may result in probation, fines, imprisonment, and a permanent criminal record. Violation of drug laws may also result in civil seizure or forfeiture of property used in connection with the offense. Additionally, a violation may result in University disciplinary action. For more detailed information about the University’s drug and alcohol policies, federal and state statutes with respect to illicit drug trafficking and possession, and state statutes regarding marijuana use and alcohol use by minors, please consult the University’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

The University recognizes both alcohol and drug abuse as potential health, safety, and security problems. The University expects faculty, students and staff to assist in maintaining a University environment free from the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs.

The University prohibits all students and employees from the unlawful manufacture, possession, use, distribution, sale, or purchase of alcohol and other drugs on University premises or as part of any University activity, and from working under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs. The only exception to this provision applies to moderate consumption and/or possession of alcohol on University premises at approved functions (e.g., receptions and religious services and ceremonies) by those legally permitted to consume or distribute alcohol. Such functions must comply with all applicable University guidelines.

In addition, all student employees are required to be able to perform their jobs. If an employee may be impaired by medication taken according to a doctor's prescription or the medication's directions, the employee is expected to discuss it with their supervisor.

Besides the legal restrictions, the following University guidelines govern events on campus at which alcoholic beverages are served:

(a) Alcoholic beverages may not be served at any event at which undergraduates are present unless prior written approval has been obtained at least two weeks in advance from the Center for Leadership and Involvement or the appropriate area Dean of Students. To obtain a copy of the guidelines and request form, contact the Center for Leadership and Involvement (RC 001, 773-702-8787) or visit their website.

(b) Religious services or ceremonies held on-campus may incorporate the use of alcohol in ritual practices under the supervision of an authorized religious leader or religious adviser. In all instances, religious leaders and advisers will be held to the same responsibility as designated faculty and staff to ensure the safety of all participants, including minors, by carefully monitoring the amount of alcohol consumed.  Religious leaders or religious advisers must obtain written approval from the Dean of Rockefeller Chapel (or their designee) in advance of the service or ceremony where alcohol is to be served. To obtain a copy of the guidelines and request form for use of alcohol in religious services and ceremonies, contact the Dean of Rockefeller Chapel (773-702-8282,

(c) All areas of the University that wish to serve alcohol in a University public area (common rooms, lounges, quads, etc.) at an event at which graduate or professional students are likely to be in attendance must, at least one week in advance of the event, consult with the appropriate area Dean of Students and the unit responsible for the particular space allocation, and must designate a faculty or staff member to be present and responsible for the event. Recognized graduate and professional student organizations must obtain written authorization to hold such events through the Center for Leadership and Involvement or their area Dean of Students.

(d) All areas of the University which will serve alcoholic beverages at a function when students will be present must have the servers or a responsible event representative of the function successfully complete alcohol risk management training (UCARE) offered by UChicago Student Wellness and be present the entire length of the function.

(e) Sufficient amounts of non-alcoholic beverages must be available at all University functions where alcohol is available. Further, appropriate quantities of non-salty food must be served at all such events. In any notices or advertisements regarding the event, references to the availability of alcohol must equally reference the availability of non-alcoholic beverages, and the availability of alcohol may not be emphasized (e.g., by means of larger or bold fonts).

(f) University officials or agents of the University have the authority to prohibit attendees from bringing alcoholic beverages to a function or into a building, including events held in outdoor areas such as the quads. Such beverages may be confiscated by the official or agent. Other drugs will never be permitted at functions.

Besides these general standards of conduct, areas of the University may also have specific drug and alcohol policies relating to their activities and providing additional details (e.g. Housing and Residence Life, Athletics and Recreation, Center for Leadership and Involvement); please consult these offices for details.

The use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs have potential adverse health consequences that may be permanent. These consequences include disorders and dysfunctions that affect the central nervous system, reproductive functioning, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, and endocrine functioning. Specifically, there are both short- and long-term effects on cognition, memory, retention, information processing, coordination, and athletic and academic performance. The use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol also affect emotional equilibrium, mental well-being, and the ability to make critical decisions. Such use also impairs judgment, which in turn increases one's vulnerability and risk-taking behavior, including engaging in unprotected sex, which may lead to exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. The chronic use and abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol have been shown to cause adverse permanent changes in most of the biological systems studied.

These changes can lead to severe impairment, disability, and premature death.

For a further discussion of the health risks of the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs, see the University’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

Besides legal consequences, the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol and any violation of the University alcohol and other drug policy by a student or employee may result in appropriate discipline under the student disciplinary system or the employee corrective action procedure. For students, sanctions include removal from Housing & Residence Life; discharge from student employment; and probation, suspension, or expulsion from the University. For employees, sanctions include suspension, termination of employment, disqualification from future employment and prohibition from accessing University property. The University may refer students or employees for criminal investigation and prosecution. Specific areas of the University (e.g., Housing & Residence Life, Athletics ) may also take action based on a violation of this general University policy and their specific policies.

The University retains full and final discretion on whether, when, and under what conditions a student may be reinstated or an employee may be returned to employment after an instance of alcohol abuse and improper drug use. Student organizations that violate this policy are also subject to sanctions, including probation and removal of recognized student organization status. The particular sanction in a given case will depend on such factors as the nature of the violation, the seriousness of the offense, and the prior record of the individual or organization, and may include the successful completion of an approved rehabilitation or chemical dependency treatment program.

Under federal law, student employees who are convicted under any criminal drug statute (including misdemeanors) for a violation occurring either on University property or during working hours must notify their area Dean of Students within five days of the date of conviction. A conviction includes any plea or finding of guilty, any plea of "nolo contendere" (no contest), and/or any imposition of a fine, jail sentence, or other penalty. Under federal law, if the convicted employee is working on a project funded through a federal grant or contract, the University is required to notify the relevant federal contracting or granting agency within ten days of receiving such notice of conviction.

Students who believe they may have an alcohol or drug problem are strongly encouraged to seek assistance through resources available at the University. Students should seek aid through UChicago Student Wellness (840 E. 59th St., 773-834-WELL), their area Dean of Students, or the Office of Campus and Student Life (5711 S. Woodlawn Ave., 773-702-7770). Such contacts will be kept confidential, except as required by law or to the extent necessary to protect the immediate health, safety, or security of the individual or others. The University has the right to take any necessary action to protect the health, safety, and security of the affected individual and others, including deciding whether, when, and under what conditions a student may be reinstated or an employee may be returned to employment after an instance of alcohol abuse or improper drug use.

UChicago Student Wellness is staffed by professional counselors and physicians who are trained to evaluate, diagnose, treat, and refer individuals who have a problem in avoiding the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol. Individuals requiring inpatient detoxification and/or rehabilitative services are referred to institutions and hospitals in the local community which specialize in these types of services. Initial evaluation, consultation, counseling, and treatment on an outpatient basis are available through UChicago Student Wellness. The costs of such treatment and referrals may be covered in whole or in part by the individual's health insurance. Please note that use of these or other treatment programs does not preclude appropriate disciplinary action and sanctions by the University if the individual violates the University alcohol or other drug policy and any other University policy or rule.

Students with any questions regarding this policy should contact Campus and Student Life or their area Dean of Students.