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Pepperdine University

Alcohol and Drugs Policy


Pepperdine University seeks to foster an alcohol- and drug-free environment in which to work, live, learn, and grow. As a Christian University, we approach alcohol and other drug abuse with a combination of compassion, encouragement, directness, and concerned firmness. An aspect of this caring approach is the consistent enforcement of the regulations regarding alcohol and other drugs contained within this policy. The purpose of this policy is to ensure a safe environment that is consistent with the mission of the University and its goal to foster an alcohol- and drug-free environment. The following information is presented in compliance with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989.

Good Samaritan Policy

The University recognizes that there may be alcohol or other drug-related medical or safety emergencies in which the potential for disciplinary action could be a deterrent to students who want to seek assistance for themselves or others. The Good Samaritan policy is designed to enable dangerously intoxicated or impaired students, or their guests, to receive the professional medical treatment they need. When a student aids an intoxicated or impaired individual by contacting a professional for medical assistance, neither the individual needing assistance nor the individual reporting the emergency will be subject to disciplinary action. Please see the full Good Samaritan policy for additional information.

Prevention and Education

Pepperdine seeks to prevent alcohol and other drug-related problems by educating students about the personal and social consequences associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Educational programs are offered on an ongoing basis and are coordinated through the Counseling Center. Resident advisors in the residence halls receive alcohol and drug awareness training in order to serve the needs of the residential community. Prevention strategies also include efforts to change inappropriate community norms regarding alcohol and other drug use and to alter environmental factors that support inappropriate use. Finally, the University partners with the community and parents/guardians of students to help prevent abuse.

Assistance in Overcoming Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse

For students who seek help for substance abuse problems, complete confidentiality will be observed to the limit of the law. Insofar as federal and state laws and professional ethical standards permit, no staff member at the Pepperdine health and counseling centers will in any way notify the administration of the name of a student who seeks help for a substance abuse problem without prior written permission from that student, and no records will be forwarded to the administration regarding the services or the problem. Confidential counseling and treatment are available to students through the Student Health and Counseling Centers or by referral to appropriate agencies off-campus. Please contact the Counseling Center at 506-4210 for more information.

Regulations and Sanctions Regarding Alcohol and Other Drugs

Students are responsible for adhering to Federal, State, and local law, and to the University's policy on alcohol and other drugs. When violations of law or policy come to the attention of University officials, students may be referred for criminal prosecution and University sanctions may be imposed. Harm to persons or damage to either private or University property arising from the actions of intoxicated individuals on the premises of the University will be the full and sole responsibility of such individuals.

  1. The consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages or possession of empty containers is prohibited on University property or at any University-sponsored event or activity, regardless of the student's age.

  2. On campus, it is a violation to be in the presence of alcohol, alcohol containers, controlled substances, or drug-related paraphernalia.

  3. Off campus, it is a violation to drink underage. It is also a violation to misrepresent one's age for the purposes of purchasing or consuming alcohol. This includes the manufacture, sale, distribution, promotion, possession, or attempt to obtain false identification (on or off campus). Possessing a fake ID may result in University probation on the first offense.

  4. Intoxication, on or off campus, may result, minimally, in University probation on the first offense and suspension on the second offense. Intoxication is defined as a blood alcohol content of .08% or more. Intoxication may also be determined by conduct (e.g., aggressive, disruptive, destructive, hazardous, vulgar), speech (e.g., incoherent, rambling, slurring) and/or coordination (e.g., difficulty maintaining balance, staggering) during or following the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

  5. The refusal by a student to take or fully cooperate with a breathalyzer, field sobriety, or drug test may be considered as an admission of being under the influence.

  6. Operating a motor vehicle, on or off campus, while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is a serious threat to oneself and the community and may result in immediate suspension, expulsion, or dismissal. Anyone who injures another person as a result of driving under the influence may be permanently dismissed.

  7. The attempt to obtain, use, possess, distribute, or sell, any potentially harmful or illegal drug (e.g., prescription drugs, marijuana, cocaine) or drug-related paraphernalia (including hookahs) is strictly prohibited. Anyone involved in the sale or distribution of drugs on or off campus may be dismissed immediately.

  8. The possession or presence of any amount of a controlled substance, as defined by federal law (which includes marijuana and related products, including CBD), is prohibited on or off campus. This includes but is not limited to the presence of marijuana smoke or odor, small "roaches," or residue found in baggies, pipes, or other paraphernalia. The possession or use of medicinal or recreational marijuana in any form is prohibited on or off campus. The possession or presence of marijuana or other controlled substances may result, minimally, in suspension.

  9. Possession or use of any herb or drug used for hallucination or intoxication.

  10. Promoting the consumption of drugs or alcoholic beverages may not be undertaken within the confines of University properties or through University-sponsored or approved publications or events.

  11. Any student (regardless of age) or student organization found supplying, possessing, or consuming alcohol or other drugs at University-sponsored off-campus events will be subject to disciplinary action.

  12. Any student leader (including, but not limited to, Orientation Leaders, RAs, and Student Service Officers) who promotes or supplies alcohol or other controlled substances may be immediately suspended, expelled, or dismissed from the University. Examples of promoting alcohol/controlled substances include advertising parties either verbally or with flyers and inviting or driving underage students to parties where alcohol is present.

  13. Hosting or in any way assisting or promoting a gathering (on or off campus) that includes drunkenness or drug use or underage drinking, whether intended or not, may result in suspension or dismissal. Those living at the location where the party is held may be held responsible as hosts regardless of who provides the alcohol.

  14. Any student who encourages another to consume alcoholic beverages or any substance as a means to induce that individual to engage in behavior that would otherwise be against that person's will is subject to dismissal.

  15. Any student who sexually assaults or attempts to sexually assault another person who is incapacitated due to alcohol or other drugs is subject to immediate permanent dismissal.

Health Risks

The use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs can cause a number of problematic changes in behavior and physiology. Alcohol, especially in high doses or combined with medications or other drugs, can lead to violent behaviors including acquaintance rape, vandalism, fights, incidents of drinking and driving, injury, and other medical emergencies. If you discover someone who is excessively intoxicated, unconscious or in need of emergency assistance, please dial 506-4441 on-campus, or 911 off-campus. Doing so may save someone's life.

Moderate to high doses of alcohol may cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person's ability to learn and recall information. Research has shown that using alcohol or other drugs negatively affects academic performance.

The risk of having an automobile accident increases after consuming even relatively small quantities of alcohol. Low doses may significantly impair judgment, coordination, abstract mental functioning, and the ability to complete complex tasks.

Repeated use of alcohol and other drugs can lead to physical and/or emotional dependence. Alcohol or substance dependence occurs when a person continues their use despite recurrent social, interpersonal, and/or legal consequences. There is strong evidence based on medical research that alcohol and other drug abuse contributes significantly to heart disease and cancer as well as permanent damage of vital organs such as the brain and liver. There is clear evidence of serious negative effects on babies due to the use of illicit drugs and alcohol by the mother during pregnancy.

The use of Cannabis (Marijuana, Hashish) may impair or reduce short-term memory and comprehension, alter sense of time, and reduce coordination and energy level. Its effect can last more than 4-6 hours after being used. Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is both physically and emotionally addictive.

Hallucinogens (LSD, Ecstasy, and PCP) cause hallucinations. The user may experience panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety, and loss of control. Delayed effects can occur, including ongoing loss of concentration and memory. Frequent use can cause permanent loss of some mental functions.

Cocaine and Crack are highly addictive drugs. The immediate effects of cocaine include dilated pupils, elevated blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature, followed by depression. Crack can cause delirium, hallucinations, blurred vision, severe chest pain, muscle spasms, and even death. These drugs cause a temporary feeling of power, impairing judgment and decision-making.

Amphetamines (Crystal, Speed, Crank, and Meth) are highly addictive stimulants, which can cause one to "rush" around and appear stimulated. Amphetamines can cause rapid or irregular heartbeat, loss of coordination, collapse, and even death. Continued stimulant abuse can lead to mood swings, irritability, depression, sleeplessness, and even altered personality and paranoia.

Heroin causes the body to have diminished pain reactions and is highly addictive both physically and emotionally. It can cause disinterest in relationships, personal productivity, and workplace safety. The use of heroin can result in coma and death. Commonly used intravenously, heroin use is associated with a wide range of physical health problems (i.e., AIDS, hepatitis).

Prescription drugs (i.e. antidepressants, pain suppressants, stimulants, and tranquilizers) are safe only if taken as prescribed under the supervision of a licensed physician. If abused, they can lead to sluggishness or hyperactivity, impaired reflexes, liver and kidney damage, addiction, and nervous system damage.

Parental Notification

Pepperdine University has long recognized its special relationship with the parents and families of its students. Even after students leave home for college, parents often play a central role in their character development, so Pepperdine works in partnership with parents in helping students make the transition to responsible adulthood.

The University also recognizes that students have specific privacy rights. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, is a Federal law that controls the confidentiality of, and access to, student education records. The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 permit educational institutions to notify parents if a student, under the age of 21 at the time of notification, commits a disciplinary violation involving alcohol or a controlled substance. See Pepperdine's Student Records Policy for additional information about FERPA and educational records. A full copy may be obtained by contacting the Registrar's Office.

The purpose of Pepperdine's parental notification policy is to promote the holistic development of students and to foster an alcohol- and drug-free campus community. Among several interventions that may be used to further this purpose, parents or guardians of students under the age of 21 may be notified in the case of a violation of University alcohol or other drug policies. Notification begins with:

  1.  The first time a student is charged with violating the University policy under one of the following circumstances:
    • Caused serious harm to oneself or another while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or was transported to a medical facility and treated because of alcohol or other drug use.
    • Caused significant damage or disruption while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
    • Operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
    • Was arrested or taken into custody by law enforcement officers while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or is charged with violating a federal, state, or local law related to alcohol or other drug use.
    • Because of previous violations (not related to alcohol or other drugs), the current alcohol or other drug violation might result in the student being placed on suspension or a more severe sanction.
    • Hosted or in any way assisted or promoted a gathering that included underage drinking or drunkenness.
  2. The first time a student is charged with violating the University policy regarding the attempt to obtain or the use, possession, sale, or distribution of any narcotic or other controlled substance not lawfully prescribed by a health care provider.
  3. The second time a student is charged with violating the University policy regarding:
    • The consumption, possession, sale, or distribution of alcoholic beverages.
    • Being in the presence of alcohol, alcohol containers, controlled substances, or drug-related paraphernalia on University property.

Normally, a parent or guardian will be notified in writing by the associate dean of student affairs for community standards before the disciplinary hearing. Before notifying the parents or guardians, every effort will be made to inform the student and attempt to have the student make the first contact. This is consistent with the general philosophy that supports students developing independence and personal accountability. However, in some situations consultation with the student or first contact by the student may not be possible or appropriate and in such cases the University is not required to alert the student when it has notified his/her parent or legal guardian. In other situations, after consulting with the student, the associate dean may determine that notifying the parents/guardians may be harmful to the student and in such cases the University is not obligated to make notification.

This policy does not preclude the University's contacting parents or guardians for other policy violations that may endanger the health and well being of a student or other individuals in the community. Also, the University may release information related to student educational records to parents who claim the student as a dependent for tax purposes.

Review of University Program and Policy

Biennially, the University will review its alcohol and other drugs prevention program and this policy to determine the program's and policy's effectiveness, to implement changes if needed, and to ensure that the University's disciplinary sanctions are consistently enforced.

Last Updated: August 16, 2019
Policy Contact: Community Standards