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Drug and Alcohol Policy

The following appears in the Vassar College Regulations, Part G. College Regulations, III. Policy on Use of Drugs and Alcohol (in Compliance with Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989)

Vassar College aims to create an environment that promotes the highest levels of learning alongside a healthy and vibrant social atmosphere. To this end, the college is constantly reevaluating the quality of life on campus. In order to protect all members of the Vassar community, members should understand that the unlawful possession, use, distribution, or manufacture of illicit drugs by students and/or employees, on college property or as part of any school activity, is strictly prohibited by the college, as well as by New York State law.

Furthermore, members of the community should understand that Vassar College observes all laws and regulations governing the sale, purchase, and serving of alcoholic beverages by all members of its community and expects that these laws, regulations, and procedures will be adhered to at all events associated with the college. This includes activities on Vassar campus, in any work area, and at off-campus functions sponsored and supported by Vassar College. The college will continue to work cooperatively with local police agencies to maintain an environment conducive to the learning and social development of our members. The college cannot and will not protect any member of the Vassar community who has broken federal, state, and/or local law.

A. Risks Associated with Drug and Alcohol Abuse

The college recognizes that alcohol and illicit drug abuse are harmful to relationships and family life, work and creativity, study and research, and the health and safety of our community members. Specifically the college would like to remind the community of the following risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and abuse of alcohol:

  1. Interpersonal Problems: The more a person abuses alcohol or illicit drugs the greater potential for problems within relationships.
  2. Academics: Difficulty meeting academic responsibilities is one of the most common consequences of alcohol and illicit drug use. Academic problems may include earning lower grades, doing poorly on exams or papers, missing classes, and falling behind on assignments.
  3. Accidents: The use of alcohol and drugs can alter a person’s judgment, normal reaction, and perception; impair motor skills; lower inhibitions; and intensify emotions. All of these increase the chances of accidents either to the user or to others.
  4. Illness and Health Problems: The use of alcohol and drugs can impact a person’s health by putting them at greatly increased risk for health and psychiatric problems, as well as increased morbidity and mortality.
    1. Alcohol and illicit drugs can interact negatively with over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Every individual reacts differently to alcohol and drugs, at different times.
    2. Short-term alcohol and drug abuse can lower a person’s immune system, making them more susceptible to colds, illnesses, and injuries.
    3. Long-term alcohol and drug abuse can lead to serious health risks such as addiction, liver disease, heart disease, and certain kinds of cancers.

B. Alcohol and Drug Education Program

Vassar would like to emphasize that its primary goal is to educate students on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. In this effort the college takes several steps. The college provides an alcohol and drug education program for all new students, as well as ongoing programming about alcohol and drug use and abuse for students throughout the academic year.

Additionally the college provides educational workshops for students in violation of campus policy on the use of drugs and alcohol.

Vassar College has a deep-rooted respect for its students and employees, and for this reason seeks to share the responsibility of promoting a healthy, safe environment free of drug and alcohol abuse with all members of the Vassar community.

C. Individual Responsibility

Vassar College emphasizes the responsibility of each community member to be law-abiding, knowledgeable, and thoughtful about any decisions regarding alcohol consumption.

  1. The college provides information about alcohol use and abuse through a number of resources, such as the Office of Health Education, and urges all community members to be informed about the potentially harmful or negative effects of alcohol. The Drug and Alcohol Education Committee (DAEC), composed of students, faculty, and administrators, helps to formulate college policy and programs relating to alcohol and drug use and abuse. Questions or concerns related to the use of alcohol and drugs on our campus should be referred to the DAEC.
  2. Individuals with concerns about their own use or another person’s use of alcohol and/or other drugs are encouraged to seek confidential and private assistance. The college will make every effort to arrange for treatment for those who abuse drugs and/or alcohol. Confidential counseling services and medical services are available. The college also welcomes any information that will help restrict the sale and distribution of illicit drugs on our campus.
  3. The college believes that it is the personal responsibility of each student to call for medical assistance ([845] 437-7333) for themselves or for any other member of the Vassar community in the event of an alcohol- or drug-related overdose or in any instance in which medical attention is needed.
  4. The safety and health of students is the overriding concern of the college. In order to encourage those who may be in danger from alcohol poisoning or alcohol/drug-related injury to get proper assistance, no student seeking medical treatment for her or his alcohol or other drug-related overdose, or assisting another student in obtaining such medical treatment, will be found responsible for the violation of using alcohol or drugs or of providing alcohol or drugs to the student they have assisted in obtaining treatment. Students may, however, be found responsible for violations outside of drug/ alcohol use and/or distribution of drugs/alcohol if they are identified. The following part of the Good Samaritan policy has been created in order to help provide an environment that actively encourages victims of sexual assault to report the incident: no charges related to any involvement of drugs or alcohol will be pursued against the alleged victim of any reported sexual assault.
  5. In accordance with state and federal laws, the college will respect and protect the privacy of students, faculty, and staff who voluntarily seek assistance.

D. Room Entry

  1. The college respects a student’s right to privacy and reserves the right to enter a room only in the circumstances listed below.
  2. Members of the Office of Residential Life will infrequently conduct health and safety inspections in order to ensure that fire safety regulations are not being violated. Announcements will be made in advance to notify students of these inspections.
  3. Members of the Office of Residential Life will enter rooms after closing housing for breaks in order to ensure that students have vacated, doors and windows are closed and locked, the heat is on a medium setting, and there are no obvious safety or security concerns.
  4. Safety and Security officers may enter a room if there is a reason to believe that one or more college regulations are being violated within the room. Examples of such behavior and situations include, but are not limited to, the smell of smoke, yelling, and loud noises. Ordinarily, when students refuse to cooperate in such a scenario, the security officer will:
    1. Identify him/herself and formally state the perceived need to enter and ask for cooperation.
    2. Communicate that if the door is not opened, a master key will be obtained and the room entered; and
    3. Have another security officer or administrator present.
  5. Safety and Security or Residential Life staff may enter a room if there is reason to believe that the occupant’s health or safety is in immediate jeopardy.
  6. Safety and Security officers may enter rooms when residence halls are officially closed if the door to the room is left open or unlocked (after the Office of Residential Life members have closed and locked them all—see #2 above) in order to identify if someone is illegally residing within the room or someone has broken into it.
  7. Members of Buildings and Grounds may enter a room to address physical plant emergencies as well as in response to a work request.

In cases of room entry in the absence of a resident, with the exception of situations described in #1 or #2 (above), a note will be left indicating the time, date, reason, and name of the college person or office responsible. It is important to note that Vassar staff and security are expected to fully and effectively address any situation that suggests the violation of Vassar College regulations. Requests to open refrigerators, closets, or other rooms within a room may be necessary in order to do so.