Alcohol and drug policies

Alcohol laws and Drug free schools and communities act

Students at Olin College must be aware that their behavior with respect to alcohol and other drugs is constrained by three sets of rules: Massachusetts state law, Needham town bylaws, and the College’s own policies which reflect its concern for the health and well-being of its students. Students who violate the college’s policy regarding alcohol or other drugs may be subject to disciplinary action, counseling, probation, suspension, dismissal, and referral to proper law enforcement authorities for prosecution.

Various statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and regulations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission govern the sale, acquisition, possession, transportation and consumption of alcoholic beverages. In general, some of the pertinent statutes provide that:

  • No person or group shall sell, deliver, purchase or otherwise procure alcoholic beverages for consumption by a person who is under 21 years of age. Violators are subject to arrest, criminal charges, fines and imprisonment.
  • No person shall operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages. Violators are subject to arrest, fines, mandatory court education programs, loss of license and/or imprisonment.
  • No person under 21 years of age shall transport, purchase, sell, deliver, possess or receive or otherwise procure alcoholic beverages except in the course of employment. Violators are subject to arrest, criminal charges, fines and imprisonment.
  • No person, group or organization may sell alcoholic beverages except pursuant to license granted by the Commonwealth through the local government’s licensing authority.

The law further states that anyone who wishes to purchase alcohol must show, upon request, a valid Massachusetts driver’s license indicating that they are 21 years of age or older.

The Drug Free Schools and Communities Act also requires that a description of health risks associated with drug use and alcohol abuse be distributed to Olin students.The use of drugs and alcohol has both physical and psychological repercussions. Such substances can interfere with memory, sensation and perception, and impair the brain’s ability to synthesize information. Regular users develop tolerance and physical dependence. Psychological dependence occurs when the substance becomes central to the user’s life and decision making.

Alcohol consumption may cause a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses may significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely. Low to moderate doses of alcohol may increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including physical attacks. Moderate to high doses of alcohol may cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses may cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much lower doses of alcohol may produce the effects just described.

Repeated use of drugs and alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden cessation of substance intake can produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations and convulsions. Substance withdrawal can be life-threatening. Long-term consumption of substances, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs, such as the brain and liver.

Resources are available to assist Olin students in understanding and dealing with drug and alcohol abuse. Students can contact the Director of Wellness in the Office of Student Affairs for referral to appropriate resources.


Medical and recreational marijuana/cannabis policy

Massachusetts legislation under Massachusetts Act (Chapter 369) “An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana” allows for the controlled use of medical marijuana in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thus, Massachusetts citizens may legally obtain a medical marijuana “registration card” from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. However, Olin College students who possess a medical marijuana “registration card “ are not permitted to possess and or use any form of marijuana on Olin college property or at college events on or off campus.

In addition, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through 935 CMR 500.00 has legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes to individuals at least 21 years old. Although Massachusetts law permits the use of medical and recreational marijuana, federal laws outlined by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has classified marijuana as a schedule 1 drug which prohibits the use, possession and/or cultivation of cannabis. Therefore the use, possession, cultivation or sale of marijuana/cannabis in any form violates federal law. Olin College must comply with the Drug-Free Communities and Schools Act (DFSCA) (20 U.S.C.1011i; 34 C.F.R part 86) as well as the Drug Free Workplace Act which requires a drug free campus environment or risk losing federal funding such as financial aid. Any student who violates Olin College policy prohibiting the use and/or possession of illicit drugs (including medical marijuana) on campus may be subject to disciplinary action.

Olin College alcohol policy

Olin College is committed to encouraging and facilitating responsible student decision making. The college recognizes that responsible decision making concerning alcohol use is especially crucial to the health and safety of students, respect for college property and the educational mission of the institution. Alcohol abuse among students has been shown to have serious negative effects on the students’ abilities to reach their educational goals. While students have the primary responsibility for maintaining their academic progress and their overall health, Olin College seeks, in its programs, services and activities, to enforce the responsible use of alcohol on its campus and among its community members. To achieve this goal, and to monitor and regulate alcohol-related behavior, Olin has adopted the following policy and regulations.

  • The college strictly prohibits the possession or consumption of alcohol by individuals under the Massachusetts legal age of 21 years old. Additionally, it is a violation to transport or carry alcohol if the individual is under the legal age of 21 years old.
  • The college strictly prohibits students from providing alcohol to individuals under the Massachusetts legal age of 21 years old. This includes allowing underage students to consume alcohol in a an Olin residence hall. Please see the Guest Policy to understand the college’s expectations for students who host guests in their residence.

  • The college reserves the right to immediately and permanently confiscate all drinking paraphernalia. Drinking paraphernalia constitutes items that are being used, or could be used in connection with any drinking game or the rapid, mass, or otherwise dangerous consumption of alcohol of any type. This includes, but is not limited to, items such as funnels and table tops used in conjunction with drinking games.

  • Alcohol may not be possessed or consumed in outdoor areas of the college. Additionally, open containers of alcohol may not be possessed or consumed in residence hall hallways. On occasion, special authorization for specific locations may be obtained for outdoor or indoor consumption through the Student Affairs office.

  • Under regular circumstances the college prohibits the possession of quantities of alcohol that are larger than what is reasonable for personal consumption. The total amount of alcohol in a residence hall room or suite may not exceed the total amount permitted for the residents of the room or suite, age 21 or older. The college reserves the right, in its sole discretion, and given the specific circumstances of a given incident, to determine the volume of alcohol which constitutes a violation of this policy. Students who are hosting approved social events should request approval for alcohol quantities for the event through the event registration process.

  • The college prohibits the possession, use, and/or distribution of any central source of alcohol unless it has been previously approved by Student Affairs. A central source may include (but is not limited to) such items as a keg, pony keg, beer ball, or punch bowl. The college reserves the right, in its sole discretion, and given the specific circumstances of a given incident, to determine the volume of alcohol which constitutes a central source. Factors including, but not limited to, an excessive number of students in a given area using the same source of alcohol and/or the intent to consume and/or distribute alcohol for the purposes of mass and/or rapid consumption.

  • The commercial delivery of alcohol to Olin College, to individual students, or student groups is prohibited. This includes but is not limited to college residence halls and/ other college buildings.

    Exceptions to this policy may only be made for events that have been approved for the delivery of alcohol by Student Affairs. These approved and college-sanctioned events must take place in approved college venues.

  • The college recognizes certain venues where organized social events may occur. In review of each proposed event, the college takes into consideration such elements as the timing, location, number of participants, and quantity of alcohol. The applicable regulations are determined by the venue to which the event is assigned. If the requirements of the event registration process are not met, the student and/ or organization will be considered in violation of this policy.


Medical amnesty

The Olin community values the health and safety of its members and guests and supports an environment that encourages students to help others who are in need of assistance. This policy has been established to encourage students to take responsible action when another student or guest is at risk due to the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs.

Students for whom medical or staff assistance is necessary due to being dangerously intoxicated and/or under the influence of drugs will be granted amnesty from the college disciplinary process in accordance with the terms of this policy. The Olin student/guest who calls the Department of Public Safety on behalf of a student/guest in need will like-wise be granted amnesty provided:

  • The caller is an Olin student/guest, and
  • The caller remains with the Olin student/guest in need until a Public Safety Officer and/or campus official arrives.

Olin recognizes the caller(s) and student(s) in need may involve more than one person.

Consistent with putting the student’s health and safety first, the college will approach repeated incidents as a serious health risk. While amnesty from the disciplinary process may be applied, a meeting with the Dean of Student Affairs or their designee may result. In extreme situations notification of parents or guardians, in consultation with the student, may also result. Students involved in an alcohol and/or drug-related emergency for which amnesty is granted may be required to participate in educational or developmental interventions. An Olin student/guest who summons assistance for a person in need will receive amnesty on an ongoing basis consistent with the terms of this policy. The college’s response to these incidents is independent of any action taken by local law enforcement.

Medical amnesty applies only to alcohol or other drug-related medical emergencies. Medical amnesty does not apply to other conduct violations such as, but not limited to: assault, sexual assault, harassment, hazing, vandalism, operating under the influence, property damage, or distribution of illicit substances.

Amnesty for Students Reporting Sexual Misconduct

Olin encourages reporting under Olin’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and seeks to remove barriers to reporting. Students may be hesitant to report sexual misconduct out of a concern that they, or witnesses, might be charged with violations of Olin’s Alcohol and Drugs policies prohibiting the use of drugs or alcohol. While Olin does not condone such behavior, Olin places a priority on the need to address sexual misconduct. Olin, generally, will not hold a student who in good faith reports or is a witness during an investigation responsible under the Alcohol and Drugs Policies.