Alcohol Policy in Residence Halls

The residence hall community at the University of Maryland is made up of talented, active, and engaged students who have come to the University to pursue their degrees, to benefit from living with fellow scholars, and to enjoy their experiences. The behavior of each individual does not occur in a vacuum, and has an impact on others, for better or worse. The improper and excessive use of alcohol may negatively affect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, and the ability of residents to contribute positively to the community. The University of Maryland, in compliance with state law, prohibits the use and possession of alcoholic beverages by persons under the age of 21 and restricts their use by persons over the age of 21. In our experience at Maryland, we have seen that when students make poor decisions regarding alcohol use, there can be negative results, such as assault, harassment, vandalism, and noisy, disorderly, and/or disruptive behavior affecting others' ability to sleep, study, or be present in one's own room or residence hall. Students have the right to rest and study in their own residence hall rooms, and the responsibility to behave in a manner that respects other student's rightful place in the halls and conduct themselves in accordance with our Community Living Principles and the Residence Hall Rules.


Over the years, national researchers have concluded that about 20% of college students do not drink at all, that close to 40% drink occasionally and moderately, and that more than 40% engage in high-risk (sometimes called "binge") drinking or drinking for the purpose of getting drunk.

A study of University of Maryland students performed in cooperation with the American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment (2012) indicated that 22% of Maryland students do not drink at all, that 11% drink but have not done so in about a month, and that, over the past 30 days, 63% have consumed alcohol on nine or fewer days. Only 16% of students reported using alcohol more than 10 days in a month, and only one-third of Maryland students reported drinking more than five drinks in a sitting within the past two weeks.

The issues associated with alcohol consumption by college-aged people are of utmost importance. Of particular concern are the negative consequences of alcohol misuse or abuse. For example, research summarized by the National Institutes of Health (NIAAA, 2012) suggests that alcohol use by students ages 18 through 24 may be responsible each year for as many as 1,825 deaths, 599,000 injuries, and 97,000 cases of sexual assault and date rape. About 25% of students experience academic problems including missing class, falling behind in coursework, doing poorly on exams and papers, and receiving lower grades.

Alcohol Policy in Residence Halls
  • Possession/use of alcohol by minors is prohibited.
  • Kegs and other common sources of alcohol are prohibited.
  • Parties involving alcohol are prohibited.
  • Sale of alcohol is prohibited.
  • Possession of alcohol in common areas is prohibited for all.

State of Maryland Law
  • It is unlawful for any MINOR* to possess or consume alcoholic beverages.
  • It is unlawful for any MINOR* to knowingly and willfully make any misrepresentation or false statement as to one's age in order to obtain alcoholic beverages.
  • It is unlawful for any person to obtain alcoholic beverages for consumption by an individual who is known to be a MINOR*. * MINOR is defined as any person under the age of 21.

Space Reservation approval will not be granted for group activities that involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Resident Life acknowledges, however, that students of legal drinking age may choose to consume alcohol in their room, apartment, or suite. If found in possession of any open container of alcohol anywhere else in or around the residence halls, ALL students will be instructed to pour it out in the nearest appropriate receptacle. Violations will result in administrative and/or disciplinary sanctions. Serious or repeated violations may result in the responsible residents having their on campus terminated.

Alcohol Poisoning

In the event a student requires transport to a hospital emergency room solely due to excessive alcohol consumption, Resident Life staff may take the following actions:

  • notify the student's parents
  • require an alcohol assessment by the Director of Substance Abuse programs at the University Health Center
  • require a psychological assessment with a mental health professional at the University Health Center

Promoting Responsible Action in Medical Emergencies

The health and safety of University students is of paramount concern. With that priority in mind, students are encouraged to take responsible action in any situation where there is doubt about a person's physical welfare. Students who summon help for themselves or others in a medical emergency will normally be relieved of disciplinary and administrative housing action for possession or use of alcohol and will apply to both the student who summons help and the recipient of assistance. In lieu of disciplinary or administrative charges students will usually be required to complete an evaluation and alcohol intervention program through the University Health Center (at the student's expense). For the full text Promoting Responsible Action in Medical Emergencies policy please visit:

Advice for Students
  1. Be Well Informed About Issues Regarding Alcohol and Other Drugs 
  2. In addition to visiting the websites shown on these pages, seek out other sources of information. Students working as CHOICES Peer Educators in the University Health Center are a great resource.

  3. Know and Abide by the University's Rules and Regulations
  4. You have accepted a responsibility as a citizen of the University of Maryland community to know and abide by the University's rules and regulations. This concept includes not permitting others to knowingly violate those rules and regulations and watching out for the safety and wellbeing of others. Our expectations with regard to alcohol use relate primarily to your personal safety, and secondarily to enforcement of rules and regulations. Rules and regulations regarding alcohol are summarized in these pages and posted online in the Community Living Handbook

  5. Establish Limits for Yourself…and Keep Within Them
  6. You have choices to make – to choose to drink or to not drink; to choose how much or how little to drink and how often; to choose your own behavior and not have the behavior influenced or belittled by others; and, to choose your activities and companions. Make informed choices, and behave in a safe and responsible manner. Be especially watchful and caring of friends who choose to drink.

  7. Learn Know, Call, Care for Alcohol Poisoning
  8. Know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. It could save someone's life.
    Call for help.
    Care for the person once you have called for help

  9. Seek Help If You Become Concerned About Yourself or a Friend

    The on-campus resources listed on these pages exist to help you navigate your college years in a safe, responsible and personally satisfying manner. Do not hesitate to call on the individuals in these offices. Many options exist for talking about alcohol use and related issues with other students who have special training as peer educators and peer counselors. 

Websites Especially for Students

Know the signs of alcohol poisoning Call for help Care for someone with alcohol poisoning
  • Passed out
  • Unconscious or
  • Cold, clammy skin, or pale bluish colored skin
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Vomiting while passed out and not waking up
  • 911
  • (301) 405-3333
    (University Police Emergency Number)
  • (240) 432-6053
    (Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life Duty Phone)
  • (301) 314-9386
    (University Health Center After Hours Nurse Line)
  • Resident Hall Service Desk Phone Numbers
  • Get your friend to a safe place
  • Monitor breathing
  • Don't leave your friend alone; Stay until help arrives
  • Turn your friend on their side to prevent choking on vomit
  • Find out how much alcohol was consumed, what was consumed, and if any other drugs were taken

Advice for Parents and Other Adults in Our Students' Lives
  1. Educate Yourself 
  2. The websites listed on this page are informative and interesting. They also provide useful tips for discussing college drinking with your student. First-year students are most at risk, the experts say, for developing problems that can arise from social pressure and experimentation with new behaviors.

  3. Talk With Your Student Before Coming to Campus 
  4. Parents have considerable influence on students, and students respect and listen to their parents more often than we give them credit for. Here are some tips for helping to keep your son or daughter safe:

    • Clearly state your expectations, thoughts, and values about alcohol.
    • Expand the conversation to include personal safety, sexual activity, and drugs other than alcohol.
    • Make it your family's goal to talk openly and honestly about these topics.
    • Listen to your student in a non-judgmental manner.
    • Let your student know that at the University of Maryland, most students party responsibly, and 22% of Maryland students don't drink (National College Health Assessment - University of Maryland, College Park).
    • Assert your expectation that your student will follow the University's rules and regulations and utilize its resources to engage in safe practices.
    • Be understanding of the fact that the transition to college can be difficult, and students will be trying to fit in with new friends.
    • Remember that the inappropriate use of alcohol and other drugs often is a sign of deeper issues; don't be afraid to ask your student what might be going on.
    • Stress to your student the importance of also looking out for others and knowing when to get help.
    • Make sure your student is aware of all the legal penalties associated with underage drinking, fake IDs, driving under the influence, and other alcohol-related offenses.
    • Share realistically your own experiences with drinking, both positive and negative and your expectations.
  5. Keep the Conversations Going 
  6. Call, email, or talk with your student frequently, especially during the first six weeks of the semester. Ask about academics, roommates or new friends, and social activities. Join your student on campus for Family Weekend (held each year during the fall semester) and ask to meet his or her friends.

  7. Contact Us If You Need Help Dealing With a Situation 
  8. If you are concerned about your student with regard to alcohol (e.g., academic problems, reluctant to speak with you or return your calls, resists talking about friends and social time), please call on any of the on-campus support resources listed on these pages.

Websites Especially For Parents
Notifications to Parents

Resident Life staff members do not routinely contact a student's parent(s) or legal guardian when an individual, including a student under the age of 18, is involved in an alcohol incident or is subject to disciplinary and/or administrative action that can result in sanctions up to and including dismissal from the residence halls. In most such situations, the student is strongly counseled to inform his/her parent(s) or other responsible adult (e.g., clergy, teacher, adult friend, etc.).

In instances when Resident Life staff members learn that a student under age 18 has been transported to a hospital because of alcohol consumption or that a student, regardless of age, is in serious physical condition following such a transport, parents typically will be contacted by the student himself/herself or by police, hospital personnel or a Resident Life staff member. Whether or not such a contact is made by a Resident Life staff member, within the next business day or so, the student's Community Director will call the parents to inform them of the incident, enlist the family's support, identify campus resources to help the student, and emphasize that a repeat violation of the residence hall rules could result in dismissal from housing.

Campus Resources List
Consequences of Alcohol Use

There are many ways in which the use, misuse, or abuse of alcohol can result in harm to oneself and/or consequences that affect one's status as a University of Maryland student.

  1. Housing Sanctions
  2. Sanctions for violations of Resident Life alcohol policy are published online at The Office of Rights and Responsibilities website and Community Living Handbook Website . The sanction imposed for violations will depend on the degree of severity and impact (both potential and actual) of the behavior on the residence hall community and may include:

  3. University Sanctions
  4. Sanctions for violations of University alcohol policies can include:

    To learn more about the University of Maryland Code of Student Conduct please click here:

    In addition, students may be accountable to both civil authorities and to the University for acts that constitute violations of law and University policy.

  5. Legal Consequences
  6. Breaking the law in the State of Maryland with regard to alcohol possession/use can also have serious consequences, and significant legal costs for attorneys and court fees.

    If you are under 21

    Driving with a .02 percent or more blood alcohol content (that's less than one drink!)

    $500 fine and potential one year suspension of driver's license and/or up to two years of time in jail

    In possession of alcohol, in a car with alcohol, or where alcohol is served

    $500 fine for first offense plus potential community service hours
    $1000 fine for second offense plus potential community service hours

    Use of a false I.D. to purchase alcohol or gain entry into an establishment where alcohol is served

    $500 fine, mandatory court appearance, potential of two months in jail and 12 points on driver's license

    If you are over 21

    Driving with a .08 percent or more blood alcohol content (not as many drinks as you think- check the chart!)

    $1,000 fine for first offense and up to one year in jail, plus 12 points on driver's license and six months license suspension
    $2,000 fine for second offense and potential of two years in jail with a mandatory minimum of 5 days, plus 12 month license suspension.

    Providing alcohol to minors

    $2,500 fine for first offense
    $5,000 fine for second offense

    Selling, issuing or offering for sale blank or false I.D. cards

    $2,000 fine and up to two years in jail for each card sold

  7. Personal Consequences

    A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences from CollegeDrinkingPrevention.Gov. The consequences of excessive and underage drinking affect virtually all college campuses, college communities, and college students, whether they choose to drink or not.

    • Death:1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes (Hingson et al., 2009).
    • Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol (Hingson et al., 2009).
    • Assault: 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking (Hingson et al., 2009).
    • Sexual Abuse:   97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape (
    • Unsafe Sex: 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex (Hingson et al., 2002).
    • Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall (Engs et al., 1996; Presley et al., 1996a, 1996b; Wechsler et al., 2002).
    • Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem (Hingson et al., 2002), and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use (Presley et al., 1998).
    • Drunk Driving: 3,360,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive under the influence of alcohol (Hingson et al., 2009).
    • Vandalism: About 11 percent of college student drinkers report that they have damaged property while under the influence of alcohol (Wechsler et al., 2002).
    • Property Damage: More than 25 percent of administrators from schools with relatively low drinking levels and over 50 percent from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a "moderate" or "major" problem with alcohol-related property damage (Wechsler et al., 1995).
    • Police Involvement: About 5 percent of 4-year college students are involved with the police or campus security as a result of their drinking (Wechsler et al., 2002), and  110,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are arrested for an alcohol-related violation such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence (Hingson et al., 2002).
    • Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence in the past 12 months, according to questionnaire-based self-reports about their drinking (Knight et al., 2002).
Educational Programming Efforts Regarding Alcohol

In addition to confronting violations of the alcohol policy, Resident Life staff members make it a priority to help educate students to the health risks, legal and personal consequences and other dangers associated with misuse or abuse of alcohol. This is done through:

  • meetings and conversations conducted by Resident Assistants (RAs) and other staff members
  • posters, bulletin boards and other written materials
  • series of programs offered during Alcohol Awareness and Safe Break weeks
  • other educational programs offered by Resident Life staff, often in conjunction with the Health Center staff and University Police
  • referrals to on-campus agencies.
Confronting Alcohol Use/Possession in Residence Halls

Residence hall staff members can be expected to:

  • approach persons seen with alcoholic beverages if there is a question about their age
  • be alert to potential problem situations (e.g., noise that may be from a party involving alcohol)
  • instruct any person seen with alcohol in a common area (hallway, lounge, lobby, elevator, etc.) to pour it out and to expect an administrative sanction,
  • call for Police and medical assistance if the drinking behavior of an individual warrants medical attention, 
  • respond to other alcohol-related incidents and requests for assistance, and
  • document and follow up on all such incidents with formal administrative sanctions.

Students should report suspected violations of the alcohol policy to their RA or the RA on duty. The RA on duty can be reached through a student's 24-hour service desk.


Some of the material used in this document was provided by the University of Maryland's Health Center and information from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) college drinking resources.