Alcohol Policy and Guidelines

Mount Holyoke College permits the consumption of alcoholic beverages at social functions only within the stipulations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the town of South Hadley that govern the purchase and selling of alcoholic beverages. Such social functions include all events held on campus and sponsored by any student, alumna, staff, or faculty member of the College, as well as any College-sponsored function held at an off-campus location.

The College expects all faculty, staff, and students to become familiar with the laws and with the College’s policies governing alcohol and to consider the penalties and risks that can result from violations. The Mount Holyoke College policy is guided by three concerns: (1) the health and safety of our students, (2) compliance with state and federal laws regarding the possession, purchase, sale and distribution of alcohol, and (3) our educational mission, which includes informing students so they can make responsible life choices. Consequently our alcohol policy is designed to do the following:

  • observe all state and federal laws
  • stress moderation, safety, and individual accountability of those 21 and over who choose to drink
  • provide a college atmosphere free of coercion for those who choose not to drink
  • maintain a community where the effects of alcohol are minimal and where problem behavior is reduced
  • provide information and education for all students
  • provide confidential and effective guidance and counseling for students with issues related to alcohol use or abuse (Federal Confidentiality Law 42).

Alcohol Policy Enforcement

Students who violate state or federal laws will not be protected by the College. Individual infractions of the state or federal laws regarding alcohol will not be adjudicated under the Mount Holyoke College Honor Code. However, dangerous or disruptive behavior and its consequences will be handled by the usual general judiciary procedure under the Honor Code. The involvement of alcohol with such behavior will be considered an exacerbating factor, not a mitigating one. If an individual does not choose to follow these policies, she may receive sanctions ranging from a written warning to suspension or expulsion, depending on the severity of the offense.

Mount Holyoke College emphasizes the responsibility of each community member to be law-abiding, knowledgeable, and thoughtful about any decisions regarding alcohol consumption. With the help of the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project, residence hall staff, and other educational resources, the College provides information about alcohol use and abuse, and urges all community members to take advantage of the opportunity to become educated and make informed choices about consumption and non-consumption. We encourage those with concerns about their own or others’ difficulties with alcohol and/or other drugs to seek confidential assistance through the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project (x2616).


  • Use or possession of alcoholic beverages by any persons under the age of twenty-one is prohibited by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the College. (See page 134 of the Appendix or see Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 138, Section 6, 34A, available at the Mount Holyoke College Library.)
  • Sale of alcohol to persons under the age of twenty-one is prohibited. (See Massachusetts General Laws.)
  • Deliveries of alcoholic beverages to individuals or groups are prohibited on the Mount Holyoke College campus, except those which have been arranged through the Department of Dining Services/Willits-Hallowell Center for social events that have been registered through the Office of Student Programs.
  • The presence, possession, or use of kegs by individuals or groups other than at a registered, approved event is prohibited on the College campus.
  • Persons twenty-one years old and over may use alcohol in the privacy of their rooms providing all guidelines governing guests, noise, and appropriate behavior are followed. (See Live & Learn, the residential life handbook.) Individuals should be informed that distributing to persons under twenty-one is prohibited by laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the College.
  • Consumption of alcohol in unapproved areas (e.g., residence hall corridors, stairways, elevators, bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, laundry rooms, etc.) can result in disciplinary action. The possession of open containers of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in public/common areas or on the grounds of the College, except at registered events or licensed facilities.
  • The Office of Student Programs must be contacted to approve and register student-sponsored events in campus buildings or at outdoor locations on campus. Procedures outlined in this handbook and host liability guidelines must be followed. (These guidelines can be obtained through the Office of Student Programs.) Alcohol may be ordered and served only by dining services/Willits-Hallowell staff.
  • For small private events held in the residence halls that involve the serving of alcohol, the Hall Committee must be notified and host liability guidelines must be followed.
  • Nonalcoholic beverages and food must be made available free of charge at any event where alcohol is served. Additional food and beverages may be sold at a reasonable rate.
  • Students and guests entering events where alcoholic beverages are served must show proper identification upon request. A Massachusetts driver’s license or two proof-of-age photo-ID cards must be shown to be served alcoholic beverages. Any forms of identification that appear to have been tampered with will not be accepted. Altering any form of identification is a felony. Massachusetts state law prohibits those under twenty-one years of age and those having had too much to drink from being served alcohol.
  • Sponsors of events serving alcohol bear responsibility to ensure that no one is coerced, however subtly, to drink excessively.
  • If a person appears to have had too much to drink prior to entering an event, she or he should not be allowed entrance. Campus Police officers will assist in removing unwanted guests.
  • Alcohol may be served for no more than four hours at any student sponsored event on campus. During late-night events, alcohol service will stop one hour prior to the ending time of the event. All alcohol must be removed fifteen minutes prior to the end of the event. In no case can alcohol be present after 1:45 AM.
  • Sponsoring social events and parties that encourage drinking as themes and advertising such events through words and/or images depicting drinking or drunkenness are prohibited. An event may be canceled if sponsors do not adhere to this guideline.

It is up to the event sponsors to help with the enforcement of all polices and procedures. For additional information regarding the MHC Alcohol Policy and Guidelines, see the relevant section in this handbook, in your MHC Student Handbook.