Alcohol and Other Drugs Policies
The overarching priority of the College with respect to alcohol and other drugs is to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of Swarthmore students and comply with all applicable laws. The College is committed to providing guidance so that students can learn to develop a responsible approach to social challenges, including those pertaining to alcohol and other drugs. Additionally, the College is especially committed to supporting students’ decision making around whether to consume alcohol, how to do so in moderation, and how to adhere with local, state, and federal laws governing alcohol consumption.
The unlawful possession, use, purchase, or distribution of alcohol on College property or as part of any College activity is prohibited. The unlawful possession, use, purchase, or distribution of illicit drugs, controlled substances (including stimulants, depressants, narcotics, or hallucinogenic drugs), or paraphernalia—or the misuse of prescription drugs, including sharing, procuring, buying, or using in a manner different from the prescribed use, or by someone other than the person for whom it was prescribed—is prohibited on College property or as part of any College activity.
*Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic and in the interest of the health and safety of the greater Swarthmore community, the College will continue to limit the amount of alcohol permitted on campus. Students 21 and older are permitted to be in personal possession of a maximum of 72 ounces of beer or 750 milliliters of wine.
Liquor or distilled spirits, in any form, continue to be prohibited during the 2021 fall semester.
The College believes that everyone has the right to work and study in an environment free from the effects of substance misuse and that those individuals who develop problematic levels of using may be a danger to themselves and others.
The objectives of these policies reflect the College’s desire to create an intentional community based on principles of respect for oneself and others.
- to promote the safety and wellbeing of the Swarthmore community and its members;
- to maintain a safe campus, where students can enjoy their social lives amid a comfortable and coercion-free atmosphere;
- to provide information about alcohol and other drugs so that students can make responsible, healthy choices;
- to provide confidential support for community members seeking treatment for alcohol- and/or drug-related problems; and
- to be in compliance with federal statutes, Pennsylvania laws, and borough ordinances that regulate the consumption of alcohol.
Alcohol and Other Drug Amnesty (AOD Amnesty)
Swarthmore College recognizes that there may be situations in which students would be in need of swift medical assistance for themselves or others, as a result of alcohol and/or drug use. The College expects each student to share information for the safety and wellbeing of their fellow students and to seek assistance from College officials (Public Safety, Resident Advisors, Student Affairs staff) and/or medical emergency services through 911, without fear of College disciplinary action for the consumption of alcohol and/or use of controlled substances.
Under the College’s Alcohol and Other Drug Amnesty policy, typically neither the student in need nor the student or student organization requesting assistance will be subject to disciplinary action as a result of a violation of the Alcohol and/or Drug Policy.
Additionally, the College seeks to remove any barriers to reporting incidents of sexual assault and/or harassment, hazing, and for providing assistance to students in need of medical attention. The College will generally offer any student, complainant, third party, and/or witness who reports sexual misconduct limited immunity from being charged for violations related to the College’s alcohol or other drugs policy, provided that any such violations did not and do not place the health and safety of any person at risk. The College may choose, however, to recommend educational or therapeutic remedies in certain situations.
Though a student or student organization participating in the College’s AOD Amnesty policy will not normally be subject to disciplinary action, they will be required to meet with a College official to discuss the incident and/or participate in a College educational program. In order to avoid a disciplinary consequence, the student(s) involved in the AOD Amnesty policy will meet with the College’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Counselor and Educator and adhere to the agreed upon recommendations. Information discussed in any session with the Alcohol and Other Drugs Counselor and Educator is considered confidential. Failure to meet with the College’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Counselor and Educator and to adhere to the agreed upon recommendations may result in the reinstatement of the College disciplinary process for this incident and/or further sanctions from the College.
Although a student involved in the AOD Amnesty program may not be subject to disciplinary action from the College for the referred incident, that AOD Amnesty referral could be taken into consideration in determining sanctions, should they be found responsible for any student conduct incident(s) in the future.
The AOD Amnesty policy only applies to violations of the College’s Alcohol and/or Other Drug policy and does not apply to other violations of the Student Code of Conduct. In incidents where, other violations of the Student Code of Conduct have occurred (e.g., assault, harassment, vandalism), one’s decision to call for assistance for an individual in need of medical attention may be considered a mitigating factor in any disciplinary process. Similarly, one’s failure to request medical assistance for someone in need may be considered an aggravating factor in any disciplinary process.
Students who participate in the College’s AOD Amnesty policy are not immune from any legal or other law enforcement actions that may result from any given incident.
The College’s Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor and Educator provides mandatory training sessions during orientation each year to educate students about the ramifications of drug and alcohol use and to help students identify substance problems in themselves and their friends. Alcohol and other drugs can interfere with academics, friendships, jobs, family, and, most importantly, one’s health, as well as create legal problems including warnings, citations, arrests, and jail.
Students needing help responding to alcohol or drug problems are encouraged to speak with Josh Ellow, Alcohol and Other Drugs Counselor and Educator and/or other Student Health and Wellness Center personnel, Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) counselors, deans, and/or resident assistants (RAs). These professionals can help review the situation and make referrals to outside agencies or internal resources that respond to alcohol and drug abuse.
Drug and alcohol problems are treatable. Most often, an individual responds to tailored treatments that assist in cessation and relapse prevention. Treatments should acknowledge the medical, psychological, social, and societal aspects of an individual and their families. Accordingly, evidence-based treatments have been established since the 1970's and have been infused into the following treatment settings:
- Outpatient Counseling: Typically offer 1-2 hours of support per week through a licensed mental health clinician;
- Intensive Outpatient Counseling: Typically requires 9 hours of support per week over 3 or more days;
- Inpatient Care: Typically, residential treatment offering biomedical, psychiatric, and clinical care along with psycho-educational components;
- Detox Services: Provide medication-based support for physiological dependence (i.e., Benzodiazepines and alcohol withdrawal) and typically require inpatient admission for 4 days;
- Medication Assisted Treatment: May require daily program attendance for medication, or may allow for 1 medication check-up per month. Typically used for detox or maintenance for physiological dependence (e.g. Opioid dependence, Alcohol dependence); and/or
- Peer Support: Typically offer recommendations through group meetings and may provide daily or weekly offerings based on location (e.g. 12-step meetings, SMART recovery, etc.).
All drugs, including alcohol, can cause marked changes in behavior and have side effects. Their influences can affect the safety and wellbeing of the users as well as those around them.
Alcohol, or ethanol, is a central nervous system depressant that is absorbed into the bloodstream and transmitted to all parts of the body. Even low doses can significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the likelihood that a driver will be involved in an accident. Low to moderate doses reduce physical coordination and mental alertness, while increasing the incidence of aggressive or unpredictable behavior. Moderate to high doses of alcohol drastically impair an individual’s ability to function, sometimes rendering them unconscious. Long-term drinking of large quantities of alcohol can increase the risk of developing liver and heart disease, circulatory and stomach problems, various forms of cancer, and may cause irreversible brain damage or ethanol dependence.
Illicit drugs can interfere with important brain activities, including coordination, memory, and learning. They may increase the risk of lung cancer, destroy liver cells, initiate drastic weight changes, and weaken the immune system. Users may also experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and irregular breathing. Convulsions, coma, and death are also possible. Combining drugs can be fatal (i.e., two central nervous systems depressants; alcohol and benzodiazepines, alcohol and opioids, etc).
See Controlled Substances - Uses and Effects for more information.
Please see the following pages with charts outlining the most common street drugs with their slang names and descriptions, a dictionary of street drugs, and the most commonly abused prescription medicines. The links below provide additional guidance as well as source references for the charts. The last pictograph shows what a possible plan for comprehensive treatment looks like.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/cadchart.pdf, for more information on drug abuse and treatment options.
- Sober College School of Addiction Studies page on most addictive pills: sobercollege.com/addiction-blog/most-addictive-prescriptions-drugs/
- Prevention and Treatment Resource Press: ptrpress.com/product/street-smart-dictionary-poster/, for various printable materials covering alcohol and other drug abuse
- Event Medicine Group: eventmedicinegroup.org, for multiple useful resources.
Regulation of Alcohol at Swarthmore
The presence of alcoholic beverages on campus is limited in two ways. First, it is limited by federal, state, and borough laws, including those summarized below. Second, College rules specify the circumstances under which alcohol may legitimately be served on campus.
College Disciplinary Sanctions Regarding Violations of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy
• misuse, possession, and/or illegal distribution of prescription medication prescribed to others;
• drunkenness and disorderly conduct;
Note: Sanctions may be assessed against individuals and/or organizations, including event host(s).
Violations of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy regarding both individual behavior and party guidelines will be referred to the student conduct process for review, adjudication, and referral when appropriate. If a student presents at Student Health and Wellness at the Worth Health Center due to intoxication or drug use, they will be referred to the alcohol and other drugs counselor under the College’s AOD Amnesty policy. Organizations may also be found to be in violation of these policies.
When addressing violations of the College’s Alcohol and Other Drugs policy, the health and safety of the College community is the central consideration of this process. The student conduct response to a violation of this policy considers many factors including: the nature of the violation, an individual or organization’s conduct history and/or time between previous AOD violation(s), and/or aggravating or mitigating factors (i.e., other misconduct, deception, completion of AOD treatment program, etc.). Typically, a first violation of the College’s alcohol and other drug policy related to an incident with alcohol or marijuana will result in a warning and referral to the alcohol and other drugs counselor (minimum penalty) and/or a requirement to attend an alcohol education program. A second violation usually results in probation and/or a requirement to attend and/or further contact with the AOD counselor. Subsequent and/or severe violations will typically result in suspension or expulsion.
Student organizations may also be subject to a restriction from hosting registered social events/parties for a period of time, restriction from recruitment of new members, restriction to access of College funds and/or use of facilities, suspended, and/or derecognized by the College.
In all situations, a student or organization may also be subject to penalties and/or fines imposed by outside authorities. College fines may be imposed for any violation to cover expenses related to repair or replacement of damaged items or for cleanup. Sanctions increase in severity with repeated offenses and/or major misconduct (i.e., production and/or distribution of a controlled substance, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, etc.).
Local, State, and Federal Legal Sanctions
A student who violates the College’s Alcohol and Other Drugs policy is subject both to the College’s sanctions and to criminal sanctions provided by federal, state, and local law.
The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.
In 1989, the federal government adopted the Drug- Free Schools and Communities Act. As a condition of receiving federal grants, the College must certify that it is in compliance with this law. This means that underage drinking is not only a violation of state law, but also a violation of College policy and will be sanctioned under the College’s student conduct system.
Alcohol. Under Pennsylvania state law, a person less than 21 years of age may not purchase, consume, possess, or transport alcohol. Anyone 21 years old and older may not purchase or provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. Any person convicted of violating this law will have their driver’s license suspended for ninety (90) days. A second offense will result in a one-year suspension of driving privileges and a fine up to $500. Additionally, any person who intentionally provides alcohol to a person less than 21 years of age is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree, and will be required to pay a $1000.00 fine for the first offense and a $2500.00 fine for each subsequent offense.
Pennsylvania state law allows a driver, 21 years of age or older, to be considered intoxicated and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if the driver has symptoms of intoxication and a blood-alcohol content (BAC) greater than 0.08 percent. A BAC of 0.08 percent can be obtained by consuming a little less than one (1) drink per hour. A driver of legal drinking age will be charged with a DUI if the driver's BAC exceeds 0.08 percent.
Under Pennsylvania state law, if the driver is under 21 years of age, in addition to charges for underage drinking, the driver will be charged with a DUI if the driver’s BAC exceeds 0.02 percent within two hours after the minor has driven, operated or been in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.
Additionally, Pennsylvania state law penalizes public drunkenness and defines it as: “A person is guilty of a summary offense if he/she appears in any public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol to the degree he/she may endanger himself/herself or other persons or property, or annoy persons in his/her vicinity.” It is also a violation of Swarthmore Borough Ordinance 759 to be found in a drunken or intoxicated condition under circumstances tending to disturb the neighborhood or to cause a breach of the public peace. Swarthmore Borough police will enforce these laws on and off campus.
Drugs. Both federal and state laws impose sanctions for the possession, use, and distribution of illegal drugs. The sanctions for any given offense depend on the type and quantity of the drug involved and whether the offense is possession, use, or distribution.
Under federal law, simple possession of a controlled substance carries a penalty of imprisonment for up to one (1) year, plus a minimum fine of $1,000. If the controlled substance contains a cocaine base and the amount exceeds five (5) grams, the first-time offender will be imprisoned for not less than five (5) years and not more than twenty (20) years and fined. Also, under federal law, any person 18 or more years old who distributes drugs to anyone under age 21 will be imprisoned or fined, or both, up to twice what is otherwise provided by law, with a minimum prison sentence of one (1) year. This same penalty applies to any person who distributes or possesses with intent to distribute drugs to anyone within 1,000 feet of a college campus.
Pennsylvania law imposes similarly strict sanctions on the unlawful use, possession, and distribution of drugs. In addition to imposing fines and imprisonment for violation of its drug laws, Pennsylvania can seize all of the violator’s property when certain crimes are committed.
International students. Additional penalties and sanctions may apply for international students who are in the US on a visa. Pursuant to the Foreign Affairs Manual of the US Department of State (9 FAM 403.11-3(A)), a visa can be revoked when the international student “…is subject to a Watchlist Promote Hit for an arrest or conviction of driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, or similar arrests/convictions (DUI) that occurred within the previous five years, pursuant to 9 FAM 403.11-5(B)(c).” DACA and undocumented students may experience dire consequences, such as revocation of DACA status or removal, for a violation of the law.
STATE AND FEDERAL SANCTIONS
The following is a summary description of the legal sanctions under state and federal law for the unlawful possession or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol.
1. Drugs—state penalties and sanctions for illegal possession, sale, or delivery of a controlled substance:
a. The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, 35 P.S. § 780-101 et seq. sets up five schedules of controlled substances based on potential for abuse, dangerousness, and medical uses. The act prohibits, among other things, the manufacture, distribution, sale, or acquisition by misrepresentation or forgery of controlled substances except in accordance with the act, as well as the knowing possession of controlled substances unlawfully acquired. Penalties for first-time violators of the act range from thirty (30) days imprisonment, a $500 fine, or both, for possession or distribution of a small amount of marijuana or hashish, but which was not for sale, to fifteen (15) years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both, for the manufacture or delivery of a schedule I or II narcotic.
Fines and terms of imprisonment may be doubled under certain circumstances, including the distribution of a controlled substance to a person under 18 years of age or a conviction for a second or subsequent offense.
b. The Pennsylvania statute 18 Pa. C.S. §§ 6314, 6317 (Crimes and Offenses). A person over 18 years of age who is convicted for violating the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act shall be sentenced to a minimum of at least one (1) year total confinement if the delivery or possession with intent to deliver the controlled substance was to a minor. If the offense is committed within 1,000 feet of the real property on which is located a public, private, or parochial school or a college or university or within 250 feet of the real property on which is located a recreation center or playground or on a school bus (“drug free school zones”), the person shall be sentenced to an additional minimum sentence of at least two (2) years total confinement. Such offenses not involving minors in drug-free school zones are subject to a mandatory minimum of two (2) years of total confinement.
c. The Pharmacy Act of 1961, 63 P.S. § 390-8 prohibits, among other things, procuring or attempting to procure drugs by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge or by forgery or alteration of a prescription. The first offense is a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of one (1) year of imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both. For each subsequent offense, the maximum penalty is three (3) years of imprisonment, a $15,000 fine, or both.
d. The Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 3802 et seq. prohibits driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or both, if the driver is thereby rendered incapable of safely driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle or if the alcohol concentration in the individual’s blood or breath exceeds the stated limits. Penalties for first- time violators of the act range from a mandatory term of six (6) months’ probation, a $300 fine, or both, to a maximum of seventy-two (72) hours’ imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both. Penalties for subsequent violations increase to a maximum of not less than one (1) year imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both. In addition to the above penalties, the court has discretion to order any or all of the following: highway safety training, drug or alcohol treatment, community service, attendance at a victim-impact panel, use of an ignition interlock device, and/or suspension of operating privileges.
2. Drugs—federal penalties and sanctions for illegal possession or trafficking of a controlled substance:
a. 21 U.S.C.S. § 844(a). For the first conviction: up to one (1) year of imprisonment and a fine of at least $1,000, or both. After one (1) prior drug conviction: at least fifteen (15) days’ imprisonment, not to exceed two (2) years, and a fine of at least $2,500. After two (2) or more prior drug convictions: At least ninety (90) days’ imprisonment, not to exceed three (3) years, and a fine of at least $5,000.
The special sentencing provisions for possession of flunitrazepam (the “date rape drug”) include imprisonment not to exceed three (3) years and fine of at least $1,000.
In addition to the above penalties, the court has discretion, upon conviction, to order a fine in the amount of the reasonable costs of the investigation and prosecution of the offense.
b. 21 U.S.C.S. §§ 853(a) and 881(a). This statute allows for the forfeiture of personal and real property used, or intended to be used, to possess or to facilitate possession of a controlled substance if that offense is punishable by more than one (1) year of imprisonment.
Additionally, this allows for the forfeiture of money, controlled substances, drug paraphernalia, firearms, books and records, vehicles, boats, aircraft or any other conveyance used, or intended to be used, to transport or facilitate the transportation, sale, receipt, possession, or concealment of a controlled substance or any raw materials, products, or equipment of any kind which are used, or intended for use, in manufacturing, compounding, processing, delivering, importing, or exporting any controlled substance.
c. 20 U.S.C.S. § 1091(r). A student who has been convicted of any offense under any federal or state law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance for conduct that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving any grant, loan, or work assistance under federal law, shall not be eligible to receive any grant, loan, or work assistance during the period beginning on the date of such conviction and ending after the interval specified as follows. If convicted of an offense involving the possession of a controlled substance: first (1st) offense, the student is ineligible for one (1) year; second (2nd), offense, the student is ineligible for two (2) years; third (3rd) offense, the student is ineligible indefinitely. If convicted of an offense involving the sale of a controlled substance, the penalty for the first (1st) offense is an ineligibility period of two (2) years; the penalty for a second (2nd) offense is ineligibility for an indefinite period.
A student whose eligibility has been suspended under the above paragraph may resume eligibility before the end of the ineligibility period if (a) the student satisfactorily completes a drug rehabilitation program that (i) complies with such criteria as prescribed by regulations and (ii) includes two (2) unannounced drug tests; (b) the student successfully passes two (2) unannounced drug tests conducted by a drug rehabilitation program that complies with such criteria as prescribed by regulations; or (c) the conviction is reversed, set aside, or otherwise rendered not valid.
d. 21 U.S.C.S. § 862. The following penalties are for possession of a controlled substance. Penalties are increased for trafficking. Denial of federal benefits, such as grants, contracts, loans, and professional and commercial licenses, up to one (1) year for the first (1st) offense and up to five (5) years for the second (2nd) and subsequent offenses
e. 18 U.S.C.S. § 922(g). Under this statute, one who is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, controlled substances is ineligible to own or possess firearms or ammunition.
f. Miscellaneous statutes. Revocation of certain federal licenses and benefits, e.g., pilot licenses, public housing tenancy, etc., are vested within the authorities of individual federal agencies.
g. See the chart describing Federal Trafficking Penalties for additional information.
3. Alcohol—state penalties and sanctions for illegal possession or other violations:
The Pennsylvania Liquor Code, 47 P.S. § 1-101 et seq., controls the possession and sale of alcoholic beverages within the commonwealth. The code (in conjunction with portions of the Pennsylvania statutes pertaining to crimes and offenses involving minors, 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6307 et seq.) provides as follows:
a. It is a summary offense for a person under the age of 21 to attempt to purchase, consume, possess, or knowingly and intentionally transport any liquor or malt or brewed beverages. The penalty for a first (1st) offense is suspension of driving privileges for ninety (90) days, a fine up to $500, and imprisonment for up to ninety (90) days; for a second (2nd) offense, suspension of driving privileges for one (1) year, a fine up to $1000, and imprisonment for up to one (1) year; and for a subsequent offense, suspension of driving privileges for two (2) years, a fine up to $1000, and imprisonment for up to ninety (90) days. Multiple sentences involving suspension of driving privileges must be served consecutively.
b. It is a crime intentionally and knowingly to sell or intentionally and knowingly to furnish or to purchase with the intent to sell or furnish, any liquor or malt or brewed beverages to any minor (under the age of 21). “Furnish” means to supply, give, or provide to, or allow a minor to possess on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged. The minimum fine for a first (1st) violation is $1,000; $2,500 for each subsequent violation; and imprisonment for up to one (1) year for any violation.
c. It is a crime for any person under 21 years of age to possess an identification card falsely identifying that person as being 21 years of age or older, or to obtain or attempt to obtain liquor or malt or brewed beverages by using a false identification card. The penalty for a first (1st) offense is suspension of driving privileges for ninety (90) days, a fine up to $500, and imprisonment for up to ninety (90) days; for a second (2nd) offense, suspension of driving privileges for one (1) year, a fine up to $500, and imprisonment for up to one (1) year; and for a subsequent offense, suspension of driving privileges for two (2) years, a fine up to $500, and imprisonment for up to one (1) year.
d. It is a crime to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly manufacture, make, alter, sell, or attempt to sell an identification card falsely representing the identity, birth date, or age of another. The fine is a minimum of $1,000 for the first (1st) violation; for subsequent violations, the fine is a minimum of $2,500; and imprisonment for up to two (2) years for any violation.
e. It is a crime knowingly to misrepresent one’s age to obtain liquor. Penalties are as stated in (c) above.
f. It is a crime for any person to appear in any public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol to the degree that she/he may endanger herself/ himself or other persons or property, or annoy persons in her/his vicinity. The fine is up to $500 for the first (1st) violation; for subsequent violations, the fine is up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to ninety (90) days for any violation.
g. It is a crime knowingly, willfully, and falsely to represent that another is of legal age to obtain liquor, malt, or brewed beverages. The penalty is a minimum fine of $300 and imprisonment for up to one (1) year.
h. It is a crime to hire, request, or induce any minor to purchase liquor or malt or brewed beverages. The penalty is a minimum fine of $300 and imprisonment for up to one (1) year.
i. Sales without a license or purchases from an unlicensed source of liquor or malt beverages are prohibited.
j. It is unlawful to possess or transport alcohol within the Commonwealth unless it has been purchased from a Pennsylvania State Liquor Store or in accordance with Liquor Control Board regulations.