College Policy on Alcohol and Drugs

STUDENT HANDBOOK: Policies and Procedures

Bennington College students are required to comply with state and federal law and College policies regarding alcohol and other drugs. Any student involved in the illegal use, abuse, possession, sale, or distribution of alcohol, drugs, or drug paraphernalia; or who is cited in a police and/or Campus Safety Report involving such an offense; or whose behavior the College believes indicates alcohol or illegal drug abuse; or who violates any of the College’s alcohol regulations or commits any of the drug or alcohol offenses described below, is in violation of the College Policy on Alcohol and Drugs.

If a student is determined to have violated the College Drug and Alcohol Policy, Campus Safety will issue a written notice of a policy concern and submit a report to Student Life. The student will be subject to the Student Conduct procedures. Alcohol or drug use or abuse is not an excuse for other unacceptable behavior or for acts violating other College policies or regulations. The association of mind- or mood-altering substances with such behavior/acts may be considered an exacerbating factor, not a mitigating one, in the disciplinary process.

If a student is determined to have violated the College Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, the Dean of Students or designee may require a substance abuse assessment (through an outside agency). The student will bear the cost of this assessment. The student may be required to seek treatment as a result of the assessment.

Support and Counsel

Alcohol and drug abuse can present serious legal and medical problems. The College encourages any student with alcohol- or drug-related problems to seek assistance from appropriate College services or private agencies. The educational, counseling, and referral services of the Health and Psychological Services staff are available to those experiencing difficulty with the use/abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. These services are available to the user and to those students whose lives are affected by the use/abuse of others. The use of Health and Psychological Services for alcohol or drug abuse advice or referral is confidential. Confidentiality will be maintained unless otherwise required by law. Health and Counseling Services can provide information about Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al Anon, and Adult Children of Alcoholics groups and can assist students who are interested in attending meetings either on campus or in the local community.


24/7 Access – Dial 767 (SOS) for Emergencies

Campus Safety can activate, depending on the situation, the following on-call resources:

  • On-call Student Life staff member
  • On-call College physician
  • On-call Psychological Services counselor
  • On-call Campus Safety director

Individuals are also encouraged to seek support and advice from the following resources:

  • AA meetings (447-1285)
  • United Counseling Services (442-5491)
  • Southwestern Vermont Medical Center ER (442-6361)
  • Turning Point Club (442-9700)

Alcohol Policy

The College Alcohol Policy is intended to encourage lawful and responsible decision making on the part of all Bennington College students. It is intended to be consistent with state and federal law; to stress moderation, safety, and individual accountability for those who choose to drink lawfully; to prevent alcohol abuse and its effects; to provide information and education for all community members; and to provide confidential advising and counseling for those with concerns related to alcohol use and alcoholism.



It is of paramount importance to the College that all perceived violations of this policy be reported, so that those affected can receive the support and resources needed. Therefore, in order to facilitate reporting, students, acting in good faith, who report violations of this policy will not be subject to disciplinary action for violations of Student Conduct standards related to alcohol use and/or drug use. While no disciplinary action will be taken for alcohol and drug use, Bennington College reserves the right to take steps necessary to address health and safety concerns for the individual and the community.

Alcohol Regulations

  1. Only persons of legal drinking age under Vermont State law (21 years of age) may consume or possess alcohol.
  2. Selling and/or providing alcoholic beverages to an individual who is under the age permitted (21) to consume them by the state of Vermont is prohibited.
  3. Kegs of beer, beer balls, or any container capable of holding more than 144 ounces of alcohol (the equivalent of a traditional 12 pack) are prohibited.
  4. Alcohol games are not permitted. Consumption of alcoholic beverages or possession of an open container of alcohol is prohibited in common areas of student houses, non-residential College buildings, and out of doors except at authorized College events (under the auspices of Dining Services).
  5. Operating a motor vehicle on campus while under the influence of alcohol as determined by Campus Safety is prohibited.
  6. The use of a false ID, the ID of another person, or falsifying one’s ID for the purpose of purchasing alcohol is prohibited.
  7. Publicity and posters for College functions and/or private parties may not mention alcohol, imply that it will be available or have a theme of overconsumption.

Specific alcohol regulations regarding gatherings in student rooms:

  1. Each resident of the room is responsible for events or guests in his or her room and for abiding by Vermont State law and College policies regarding the use of alcohol.
  2. Gatherings in student rooms where there is not at least one resident present may result in Campus Safety clearing the room of all persons and securing the room door.

Alcohol-free rooms (at least one occupant is under the legal drinking age of 21):

  1. Alcohol is prohibited in any student room where one or more of the occupants is under the legal drinking age of 21.
  2. Visitors, including guests, students, family members, or alumni may not bring alcohol into a room occupied by people under the age of 21.

Alcohol-permitted rooms (all occupants are of the legal drinking age of 21):

  1. Alcohol is permitted in student rooms where all occupants and persons present (guests, other students, etc.) are of the legal drinking age of 21.
  2. Underage persons are not allowed to possess alcohol at any time in any location. When violations are observed, regardless of the source of the alcohol, all occupants will be held accountable and subject to disciplinary action for supplying alcohol to minors, and the underage students will also be subject to disciplinary action.

Drug Policy.

The use, sale, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia; the misuse or abuse of prescription drugs; or the attempt to commit any of the previously listed acts, is a violation of College policy. Any student in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action.

The College will cooperate fully with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in the investigation and prosecution of illegal drug use and distribution. Federal regulations require revocation of federal student aid to anyone prosecuted and convicted of a drug offense.

Federal Drug-Free Schools and Campuses (EDGAR Part 86) Annual Notice

The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989 requires that Bennington College annually notify all students, faculty, and staff of the community standards and policies regarding drug and alcohol use. This annual notice also includes the required applicable sanctions under federal, state, and local law for the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illegal drugs and alcohol by faculty, staff, or students.

Bennington College values the health and well-being of our entire community. As such, in the notice you will also find a description of the health risks associated with the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of alcohol and a description of any drug or alcohol counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation that are available to employees or students.