Alcohol and Drugs

Williams prohibits the abuse of alcohol and expects members of the College community to abide by federal, state, and local regulations concerning the possession and use, purchase, and distribution of alcohol. The College prohibits the unlawful manufacture, sale, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of illegal drugs, or the unauthorized use of prescription drugs.

For help with alcohol and/or other drug problems, call the Health Education Office (x3165). Information on Narcotic’s Anonymous is available from the Berkshire Council on Alcohol and Addictions.

Legal Sanctions Concerning Alcohol and Drugs

Federal, state, and local laws make illegal use of alcohol and drugs serious crimes. Convictions can lead to imprisonment, fines, and/or required community service. Courts do not lift prison sentences to allow convicted persons to attend college or continue their jobs. A felony conviction for such an offense can prevent you from entering many fields of employment or professions.

Controlled Substances: Illegal drugs are not allowed on campus. Whenever evidence of drugs of any quantity or related drug paraphernalia are discovered on campus, the College will report that discovery to the police department.

Common examples of controlled substances, as defined by law, are cocaine, marijuana, heroin, amphetamines, LSD, and other hallucinogens. Federal law makes the distribution of drugs to persons under age 21 punishable by twice the normal penalty with a mandatory one year in prison. If death or serious injury results from use of the substance, the prison sentence could be lengthened.

Possession of drugs without valid authorization is illegal. While penalties for possession are generally not as great as for manufacture and distribution, the possession of relatively large quantities may be considered as intent to distribute. Under both federal and state laws, penalties for possession, manufacture, and distribution are greater for second and subsequent convictions.

Persons convicted of drug possession under state or federal laws are ineligible for federal student grants and loans for five years following the first conviction, ten years after the second, and permanently after the third conviction.

Massachusetts has criminal penalties for use of controlled substances or drugs, varying with the type of drug. In general narcotic, addictive, and drugs with greater potential for abuse carry higher penalties.

Massachusetts also makes it illegal to be in a place where heroin is kept and to be “in the company” of a person known to possess heroin. Anyone in the presence of heroin at a private party risks a serious drug conviction. In addition, the sale or possession of drug paraphernalia is illegal in Massachusetts.

Possession of drugs with the intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of school or daycare property is a very serious crime in Massachusetts and carries a mandatory minimum two year sentence in prison if convicted. Be advised, almost the entire Williams College campus fall into the legal definition of a school zone.

Marijuana is still illegal in Massachusetts and is a violation of Williams College policy. Amounts less than an ounce have been decriminalized and are illegal. These violations carry a $100 civil fine.

Impact of Drug Conviction on Federal Financial Aid Eligibility

Under the Higher Education Act, a student may become ineligible for federal student aid upon a conviction of any offense involving the possession or sale of illegal drugs under any federal or state law while receiving Title IV federal financial aid. Federal aid includes: Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal ACG Grants, Federal SMART Grants, Federal Direct Stafford Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans, Federal Direct GradPLUS Loans, Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Work Study.

The chart below illustrates the period of ineligibility for FSA funds, depending on whether the conviction was for sale or possession and whether the student had previous offenses. (A conviction for sale of drugs includes convictions for conspiring to sell drugs.)

Possession of illegal drugs Sale of illegal drugs
1st offense 1 year from date of conviction 2 years from date of conviction
2nd offense 2 years from date of conviction Indefinite period
3rd offense Indefinite period Indefinite period

If the student was convicted of both possessing and selling illegal drugs, and the periods of ineligibility are different, the student will be ineligible for the longer period.

A student regains eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when the student successfully completes a qualified drug rehabilitation program. The student will lose eligibility again upon a subsequent drug conviction.

For complete information, please see the FAFSA web page at: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/faq003.htm  or contact the Federal Student Information Center at 1–800–4–FED–AID.

Convictions During Enrollment

According to the United States Department of Education, if a student is convicted of a drug offense after receiving Federal aid, he or she must notify the Williams College Office of Financial Aid immediately. The student may be ineligible for further aid in that academic year and required to pay back all federal aid received after the date of the conviction. The Office of Financial Aid will work with the student regarding all of the available options.

HEALTH AND BEHAVIORAL RISKS CONCERNING ALCOHOL AND OTHER SUBSTANCES

Williams prohibits the abuse of alcohol and expects members of the College community to abide by federal, state, and local regulations concerning the possession, use, purchase, and distribution of alcohol. The College prohibits the unlawful manufacture, sale, distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs, or the unauthorized use of prescription drugs.

The negative physical and mental effects of the use of alcohol or other substances are well documented. Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the likelihood that the driver will be involved in an accident. Low to moderate doses of alcohol also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including sexual assault. Moderate to high doses of alcohol can cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much lower doses of alcohol will produce the effects just described.

Repeated use of alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden cessation of alcohol is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions. Alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening. Long–term consumption of large amounts of alcohol, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver.

For help with alcohol or other substance problems, call the Health Education Office at x3013. Additional information is available from the Brien Center (Northern Berkshire Counseling Center), 25 Marshall Street, North Adams, 664.4541.

Alcohol Equivalents

In general, a 12 oz. can of beer equals a 1 oz. shot of 100 proof liquor, which equals one 5 oz. glass of wine. When mixing drinks these equivalencies do not always hold true. This becomes especially significant when mixing different kinds of alcohol to make punches. A glass of punch may have a much higher alcohol content than a straight shot or a can of beer.

Also be aware that carbonated beverages may increase alcohol absorption, while food will decrease it, especially foods high in protein like cheese and red meat.

Massachusetts State Law Concerning Alcohol

Any person under 21 years of age who purchases alcoholic beverages or who makes arrangements with any other person to purchase, or who misrepresents his or her age in order to purchase alcoholic beverages, is guilty of a violation of the Massachusetts State law and is subject to a fine of $300.00.

Any person to makes a false statement as to the age of another person who is under 21 years of age in order to procure alcoholic beverages is guilty of violating the state law and is subject to a fine of $300.00

Any person who uses a false liquor purchase identification card or alters or defaces a liquor purchase identification card in order to purchase alcoholic beverages is guilty of violating the state law and is subject to a fine of up to $200.00 or imprisonment of up to three months.

Any person under 21 years of age who willfully misrepresents his or her age or in any way alters, defaces or otherwise falsifies his or identification offered as proof of age in order to purchase alcoholic beverages is guilty of violating state law and is subject to a fine of $300.00.

Any person under 21 years of age who transports or carries alcoholic beverages is guilty of violating the state law and is subject to a fine of up to $50.00. A police officer may arrest such a person WITHOUT A WARRANT. If the person was operating a motor vehicle at the time, his or her driver’s license may be suspended for up to three months.

A host of a party may be liable for the injuries suffered by a third person if the host knew or should have known that his or her guest was drunk, and nevertheless gave or permitted the guest to take an alcoholic drink and thereafter, because of his or her intoxication, the guest negligently operated a car, causing injury to the third person. If the guest whose drunk driving causes an accident is a minor, the host who served the alcohol to the minor might be held liable to the injured third person even if the minor was not intoxicated when the host served the minor alcohol.

Massachusetts has a “zero tolerance” law for blood alcohol level in drivers aged 16 to 21. For such drivers, any alcohol level greater than .02 (roughly equivalent to one drink or a beer) will result in one–the–spot revocation of the driving license. For adults over 21, the maximum permitted level in the law is .08. A first conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol carries with it a fine of $1,000.00, one year revocation of your driver’s license, and mandatory alcohol education. It may also include up to two years in prison.

Williamstown Open Container Law

No person shall drink, alcoholic beverages from an open container while on any public way or in a public place. No person shall carry an open container of alcoholic beverage while on any public way or in a public place. Violation of this Williamstown ordinance may result in a fine of not less than $20.00 nor more than $200.00.

The College’s Response to Underage Drinking

The Campus Safety Department has adopted a program to addressing alcohol violations. An educational component, rather than a punitive approach, is the main focus of this program. Campus Safety officers take an active role to assist hosts and servers and identify underage drinkers at registered events and do the same when providing compliance checks at all campus events. The names of student alcohol violators will be submitted to the Director, Associate Director or Campus Safety Supervisor.

For an initial intervention, the underage student will be contacted and will meet with a Campus Safety supervisor. The initial meeting will concentrate on education concerning Massachusetts law; using fake identification and the penalties; host liability and responsibility assumed by hosts and servers; and risk assessment. The goal is to raise awareness concerning compliance with state law and to advise the student about any future violations and subsequent sanctions. Students may also be referred to a Health Educator from the Health Center if it is determined that high–risk alcohol consumption is a contributing factor. Each case will be handled on an individual basis to determine the appropriate follow–up. The Dean’s Office will be notified and will become involved when disciplinary action is necessary.

Referrals from Campus Safety to the Health Center will be made directly to the Director of the Health Center. A refusal by a student to meet with a Health Educator will result in a notification from the Health Center to the Dean’s Office for subsequent follow–up. There are various types of responses:

  • Campus Safety handles the follow–up without referral
  • Campus Safety handles the follow–up, and a referral is made to the Health Center
  • a direct referral to the Health Center
  • a direct referral to the Dean’s Office

If the initial interaction originates at the Health Center, no referrals will be made to the Campus Safety Office.

The College’s Response to Illegal Drugs

The College has a zero tolerance for illegal drugs. Campus Safety and Security will contact local police authorites any time evidence of illegal drugs are discovered on College property. Students will be subject to both Massachusetts State Law and the College sanction process.

Referrals from Campus Safety to the Health Center will be made directly to the Director of the Health Center. A refusal by a student to meet with a Health Educator will result in a notification from the Health Center to the Dean’s Office for subsequent follow–up. There are various types of responses:

  • Campus Safety handles the follow–up without referral
  • Campus Safety handles the follow–up, and a referral is made to the Health Center
  • a direct referral to the Health Center
  • a direct referral to the Dean’s Office