Community Standards

Social Events with Alcohol


(Updated August 20th, 2019)

Union College recognizes that a vibrant, diverse social life is an important feature of campus life and encourages students to plan events within a framework that promotes safe, legal, and responsible fun. When alcohol will be available at social events, it is the responsibility of the Event Sponsor and the Responsible Persons to comply with all requirements of New York State Law (as set forth above) and Union College Policy. Event Sponsors are required to schedule a meeting with the Dean of Students (or designee) to review Union College’s policies and procedures which the Host Organization will follow. These regulations apply to all College events where alcoholic beverages will be served.


  • Campus Facilities

    The Campus Facilities include: Old Chapel, the Rathskeller, Dining Halls, Minerva Houses, Greek Houses, Theme Houses, and any other areas approved by the Dean of Students (or designee).

  • College Event

    An event sponsored by an individual or entity on behalf of the College or an event that takes place on College controlled property.

  • Common Source

    Common source is defined as but not limited to the following examples:

    • kegs,
    • pony kegs,
    • punch bowls,
    • commercial dispensers,
    • 30 rack of beer,
    • or the amount of alcohol equivalent to a common source alcohol beverage container, whether empty or full.
  • Event Sponsor

    A Host Organization planning an event with responsibility for adherence to this Policy and New York State laws which prohibit dispensing of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, or to any visibly intoxicated person, during all stages of the event.

  • Group Residences

    Residential spaces designated by the Dean of Students (or designee) where Closed Social Events are permitted.

  • Host Organization

    A student club or organization recognized by the College or the Student Forum.

  • Registered Social Event

    A function attended by invitation only that is registered with the Dean of Students (or designee) and takes place at a designated Campus Facility including designated Group Residences.

    The number of attendees at any given time at a Registered Social Event shall not exceed the number permitted by Building and Fire Code limitations established by officials for the designated Campus Facility or designated Group Residence.

  • Residential Spaces

    All College-owned facilities where students reside.

  • Responsible Persons

    Full members of the sponsoring organization designated by the event sponsor at the time of registration for an event involving alcoholic beverages shall be the “Responsible Persons.”

    The Responsible Persons assume the responsibility for managing the event in accordance with the requirements of this policy, and must remain sober throughout the duration of the event.

    The names of the Responsible Persons shall be provided at the time of registration.

  • Sale of Alcoholic Beverages

    The act of dispensing alcohol through direct sale or at a function where alcohol is dispensed and any of the following occur:

    • An admission is charged or tickets are sold;

    • Donations are collected;

    • Items or services are bartered or traded in exchange for alcoholic beverages or admission to the function;

    • Food is sold (even if alcohol is free).

  • Server

    A person qualified to serve alcohol at an event because they are at least 21 years of age and has had adequate and approved training in the dispensing of alcoholic beverages.

  • Social Event

    Any function in an area where alcohol is present. Categories of social events include:

    Academic/Social Event

    An Event held at a group residence involving fewer than 40 participants and normally involving faculty and students with explicit approval of the Dean of Students or their designee, subject to the conditions imposed by the Dean of Students or their designee.

    Registered Social Event

    A function attended by invitation only that is registered with the Dean of Students (or designee) and takes place at a designated Campus Facility including designated Group Residences. The number of attendees at any given time at a Registered Social Event shall not exceed the number permitted by Building and Fire Code limitations established by officials for the designated Campus Facility or designated Group Residence.

    Special Event

    A Registered Social Event held on any day Sunday through Thursday where an individual or organization is serving alcohol. Size is limited to 40 people, or the number of active members of a recognized organization. To qualify, the registrant must justify the event as an occurrence of special importance and receive the explicit approval of the Dean of Students or his/her designee and be subject to the conditions imposed by the Dean of Student or his/her designee.

    BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage) Event

    A BYOB function is defined as a social gathering or event on or in college owned residential space, where the following criteria are met: the presence of non-residents; the presence of alcohol; no common source of alcohol. A BYOB Event is a Registered Social Event.

  • Underage

    Under 21 years of age.

Social Event Requirements

In any activity or event sponsored or endorsed by a club, organization, or other student group, including those that occur on or off College premises:

  1. The organization, members, and guests must comply with all federal, state, provincial, and local laws. No person under the legal drinking age may possess, consume, provide, sell or be provided alcohol beverages.
  2. Organizations, members, and guests must follow the federal law regarding illegal drugs and controlled substances, No person may possess, consume, provide, distribute, sell, and/or manufacture illegal drugs or other controlled substances while on College premises, or at any activity or event sponsored or endorsed by the organization.
  3. Alcohol beverages must either be:
    1. provided and sold on a per-drink basis by a licensed and insured third-party vendor (e.g., restaurant, bar, caterer, etc.); or
    2. brought by individual members and guests through a “bring your own beverage” (BYOB) system.
    3. The presence of alcohol products above 15% alcohol by volume (“ABV”) is prohibed on any organizational premises or at any event, except when served at an event by a licensed and insured third-party vendor.
  4. Common sources of alcohol, including bulk quantities, which are not being served by a licensed and insured third-party vendor, are prohibited (i.e., amounts of alcohol greater than what a reasonable person should consume over the duration of an event).
  5. Alcoholic beverages must not be purchased with organizational funds or funds pooled by members or guests (e.g., admission fees, cover fees, collecting funds through digital apps, etc.).
  6. An organization must not co-host or co-sponsor, or in any way participate in, an activity or event with another group or entity that purchases or provides alcohol, illegal drugs, or controlled substances.
  7. An organization must not co-host or co-sponsor an event with a bar, event promotor, or alcohol distributor; however, an organization may rent a bar, restaurant, or other licensed and insured third-party vendor to host an event.
  8. Attendance by non-members at any event where alcohol is present must be by invitation only, and the organization must utilize a guest list system. Attendance at events with alcohol is limited to a guest-to-member ratio not to exceed 3:1 and must not exceed local fire or building code capacity of the organizational premises or host venue.
  9. Any event or activity related to the new member joining process (e.g., recruitment, intake, rush, etc.) must be substance free.
    1. No alcohol or drugs may be present if the event or activity is related to new member activities, meetings, or initiation into an organization, including but not limited to “bid night,” “Big/Little” activities or events, “family” events or activities, and any ritual or ceremony.
    2. “Recruitment” is defined as any period of time where potential new members are recruited by the organization, and must be alcohol-free. Alcohol may not be present in any form during recruitment events, even if it is not being served to potential new members. This is in effect for the entire recruitment period.
    3. It is also the expectations that the laws of the State of New York will be followed regarding the legal drinking age at any event outside of recruitment and/or education activities. The New Member Education process at Union College is also 100% dry (alcohol free).
  10. Organizations, members, or guests must not permit, encourage, coerce, glorify, or participate in any activities involving the rapid consumption of alcohol, such as drinking games.

Additional Requirements:

  • The Responsible Person(s) must be present at all times while alcohol is available and/or served and must ensure that no one under the age of 21 possesses or consumes alcohol.
  • Everyone attending an Event where Alcohol is served must carry valid identification that verifies their date of birth. Union College students must also carry College identification.
  • Guests must not have direct access to alcohol; servers (see “Server” in Definitions section) must be used.
  • All alcoholic beverages must remain indoors. It is imperative that the activities of the Event not disturb the surrounding environment.
  • The entrance to the Event must be staffed by individuals from the Event Sponsor or hired staff in proportion to the number of guests and as determined by the Dean of Students (or designee), at the time of registration.
  • Intoxicated persons must not be served. Those arriving in an intoxicated condition, even if 21 or older, MUST be denied entrance.
  • The volume of all music must be lowered at 2:00 AM and should not be audible to the neighbors and surrounding residents.
  • Any band, ensemble, or live musical act shall be promptly dismissed at 2:00 AM.
  • Responsible Persons should refer to the “Social Event Policy Compliance Checklist” for further guidance.
  • Social events with alcohol can only be scheduled for a Friday or Saturday.
  • Social events must be contained to the inside of the event space/house.
  • Wristbands must be used to identify those who are over 21; a wristband must not be placed on those who are under 21.
  • Food must be available and easily accessible.
  • Every social event with alcohol must have, at its start:
    • Five 24-packs of bottled water (16.9 oz)
    • 100 individual chip bags
  • During the event, the host must always have behind the bar/available to guests:
    • Two 24-packs of bottled water (16.9 oz)
    • 25 individual chip bags
    • The host must keep refilling the supply behind the bar. If the event is out of water/chips, you must shutdown the event. If there is not two 24-packs of bottled water and 25 individual chip bags behind the bar and available, the event can be shutdown.
  • If a keg/common source is found in the house or at the event, it is a violation of the social event with alcohol policy and the event will be shut down.
  • The event space and surrounding area must be cleaned by those who hosted by Monday, 7:00 AM following the event, at the latest – If not, the organization will be sanctioned.
  • All Registered Social Events must abide by the Social Event protocols set up by the Dean of Students or their designee.
  • One should call Campus Safety (518) 388-6911 if there are problems.

BYOB Events & Guidelines

A wristband must be used to identify those of legal drinking age. A X on the hand or other hand stamp must be used to identify those of non-legal drinking age.

Service Distribution Center:

  • There should be one centralized area for the distribution of all alcoholic beverages.
  • Anyone who wishes to acquire an alcohol beverage that they brought to the event must show their wristband and return an empty can if this is not their first request.
  • Only one alcoholic beverage may be served at a time and left over alcohol may be picked up the next day.
  • Hard liquor is prohibited at BYOB events.


  • There must be only one entrance to the event where the guest list and responsible persons will be present.
  • Several exits must be available due to fire codes and laws; however, exits cannot be used as entrances.
  • Party guests must remain in the designated party space and are prohibited from the residential spaces of the building.

Third Party Vendor Requirements

  • Be licensed to sell and serve alcohol in his/her/its state, county, and/or city. The vendor must provide a copy of the liquor license which will be filed with the Student Affairs Office and, in the case of a Registered F&SL Social Event, the Fraternity & Sorority Life Office.
  • Have a minimum of $1,000,000 general liability and host insurance and name “The Trustees of Union College in the Town of Schenectady in the State of New York a/k/a Union College” and, in the case of a Registered Greek Social Event, the Chapter as additional insured(s).
  • Agree to cash or credit per drink sales only to individuals over the legal drinking age (i.e., cash bar).

Campus Security and Dean of Students Office

Responsible Persons may call Union College Campus Safety for assistance with any alcohol violations or difficult situations which may arise during an Event with Alcohol. Campus Safety may check in at approved Events to review whether a system for checking the age of student guests is in place. If a system is not in place, then the Event may be shut down. If Campus Safety and/or the Dean of Students or their designee are notified of a disturbance at an approved Event, they will promptly investigate.

  • While Campus Safety and/or the Dean of Students Office will make every effort to work with Responsible Persons to address and remedy alcohol violations or other problems, Safety Officers and/or the Dean of Students or their designee are authorized to close Events if serious problems are evident. Absent a life safety emergency, the decision to close an event will be made in consultation with the Dean of Students or their designee.
  • All Events must be conducted in a safe and responsible manner that is not disruptive to the surrounding area.
  • Should Campus Safety or an official from the Dean of Students Office come across an unregistered event, such event will be closed immediately.
  • Violations of alcohol regulations discovered by Campus Safety will be reported to the Office of the Dean of Students and appropriate disciplinary action will ensue. Host organizations are responsible and liable for the conduct of their guests at parties. They may face disciplinary action through the College judicial process for Alcohol Policy violations which occur at Events they sponsor and, under certain circumstances, may face criminal or civil proceedings under the jurisdiction of New York State law.


  • Host Organization will be held accountable for violations of all College Alcohol Policies which occur at Events they sponsor and, under certain circumstances, may face criminal or civil proceedings under the jurisdiction of New York State law.
  • Organizations and officers of an Organization responsible for hosting an unregistered event will likewise be held responsible and liable for all alcohol-related violations committed by their guests and face additional sanctions for failing to register the event or for hosting an unregistered event. College policy holds safety to be the top priority, expecting individuals and organizations to contact Campus Safety over any health concern. The Responsible Person Policy (formerly Good Samaritan and Medical Amnesty Policy) encourages individuals to consider safety before any other concerns about violating College rules.
  • Host Organizations and Responsible Persons must comply with these policies and applicable New York State law. Host Organizations and Responsible Persons found to be in violation of the Social Events with Alcohol Policy in a manner that is considered by the Director of Community Standards or their designee to be significant may lose their privilege to register or face other sanctions as deemed appropriate. Violations include but are not limited to conduct involving one or more of the following, as applicable to the type of Event sponsored and the Host Organization:
    • Failure to register the Event;
    • Serving or allowing the consumption of hard liquor at the event;
    • Failure to comply with reasonable requests from of Campus Safety;
    • Failure to card and/or monitor the serving of alcohol to minors;
    • Permitting more alcohol at the Event than was approved.

Violators will be adjudicated and sanctioned accordingly.

Alcoholic Beverages on College Policy

  • Only the Union College Dining Service is authorized to sell alcoholic beverages on College property unless a College-approved third-party vendor is secured by a Host Organization. The sale of alcoholic beverages by any other organization or by individuals, whether directly, or indirectly, through the purchase of a ticket, a cup, a tee shirt, wristband or any other item allowing admission, is prohibited on College property.
  • Because a significant majority of Union students are under the legal age at which alcoholic beverages can be obtained, funds collected by the College for student government distribution to student activities and organizations may not be used to purchase alcoholic beverages.
  • Alcoholic beverages in “open” containers (cans, bottles, or cups) are not permitted outdoors on the campus at any time, unless prior, written approval is obtained directly from the Dean of Students or his or her designee. If approved, the event sponsor must ensure that all those attending the event comply with any specifications as conditions for approving the request to have “open” containers outdoors.
  • No students or student groups are to have alcohol delivered by distributors to campus.