Social Misconduct

The information on this page represents a section of Williams’ Code of Conduct.

See also Procedures for Adjudicating Violations of Social Misconduct.


The Student Conduct system is educational in nature.  All social misconduct violations are dealt with by the Office of the Dean of the College. Violations of a less serious nature may be dealt with solely by a meeting with a Dean.  These meetings are referred to as “informal,” may result in sanctions but will not result in a permanent disciplinary record for the student involved. More serious violations are dealt with in a “formal” meeting with a dean, who may impose any of a range of possible sanctions.  Formal disciplinary outcomes may result in a permanent disciplinary record for the student, and may be appealed to the Discipline Committee.  The “informal” and “formal” disciplinary procedures are described in more detail in the following sections.

Social misconduct violations refer to violations of the Code of Conduct that do not fall within the scope of either the Honor Code or the Sexual Misconduct policy  (refer to the section below for sexual misconduct policy and procedures).  The Office of the Dean of the College is responsible for enforcing the Code of Conduct and for investigating, and where appropriate sanctioning, social misconduct violations Any member of the Williams community may report an allegation of a social misconduct violation to the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office reviews reports and determines how best to investigate and resolve such reports. After review of the report, the Dean’s Office will decide whether or not the violation will be dealt with through an informal or formal process within the Dean’s Office.  Refer to the sanctions rubic for a guideline on what types of infractions lead to an informal meetings versus formal disciplinary action.

The following list of social misconduct violations is not intended to be exhaustive.  Other violations of individual rights or of the college’s guiding values, even if not specified in the following summary,  may subject a student to a dean meeting or formal disciplinary proceedings.

  • Williams prohibits the abuse of alcohol and other drugs 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. Refer to the College policy on Alcohol and Other Drugs. Violations include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Underage possession or use
    • Possession or creation of false identification documents
    • Selling alcoholic beverages
    • Providing alcoholic beverages to individuals under the age of 21
    • Providing alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated individual
    • Possession/consumption of alcoholic beverages in a public area
    • Social Host violation (if you have a party, you may not provide, give, or allow any of your guests who are under 21 to possess alcohol)
    • Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol
    • Possession of hard alcohol in residence hall common spaces
    • Party registration policy violations
    • Other campus policy violations regarding alcohol during social gatherings (Refer to the Eph’s Guide to Student-Initiated Events and Events Planned by Students: Basic Events)
    • Possession or use of Controlled Substances (substances include, but are not limited to: cocaine; marijuana; heroin; amphetamines; LSD and other hallucinogens; and MDMA)
    • Misuse of prescription drugs, and other harmful/dangerous substances not listed on a legal controlled substance list
    • Possession or use of drug paraphernalia
    • Unlawful manufacture, sale, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of illegal drugs, or the unauthorized use of prescription drugs.

    Medical Amnesty for Alcohol & Drug Violations

  • Students are expected to follow all published College policies, rules, and regulations.

  • The College is obligated to maintain orderly and equitable conduct of its affairs, free of intimidation and harassment. While peaceful and orderly protest and dissent are the right of all members of the College community, any action which obstructs or interferes with the fulfillment of this basic obligation cannot be permitted. Violent acts and the incitement of violence are not permitted. College personnel may require students to leave public events at the College for improper behavior.  Students are expected to comply with the request of public officials acting in performance of their duties; to identify oneself to a College or public official when requested to do so; and to provide truthful information to a College or public official.

    Disruptive behavior includes, but is not limited to:

    • Actions that impair or interfere with the use of facilities, teaching, study, research, college sponsored events, or community members’ sleep
    • Unauthorized use of buildings
    • Use or threat of force against other individuals
    • Violation of noise levels
    • Violation of building occupancy limits
  • Students may not tamper with fire safety equipment or intentionally activate a false fire alarm.  All Williams College buildings and vehicles are smoke-free. Additionally, smoking is not allowed within 25 feet of any building.  This policy includes the smoking of tobacco products and the use of electronic smoking devices. Refer to Fire Safety Policies for a list of violations and associated fines.

  • Williams students may neither join nor participate in fraternities during their time at the College. Policy details here.

  • Any verbal, physical, or written act, directed at an individual, that might reasonably be construed to intimidate, coerce, or create a hostile environment for the individual and, in turn, prevent them from receiving the educational benefits of the college. Rude or impolite behavior or speech—whether inside or outside the classroom—is not necessarily in itself a violation.

  • Hazing is prohibited by the College and is against the law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Hazing is defined as any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, intimidates, demeans, abuses or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.  Hazing also includes soliciting, directing, aiding, or otherwise participating actively or passively in the above acts.  Learn more about Williams' hazing policy and relevant Massachusetts law.

  • Students are expected to follow the policies outlined by the Office for Information Technology (OIT).  This policy includes, but is not limited to, computing ethics, copyright infringement and file sharing.  Refer to OIT policies.

  • Actions that threaten or endanger in any way the personal safety or security of an individual are violations of the Code of Conduct.

  • Theft or damage to the property of individuals or the College subjects students to disciplinary action. Financial responsibility for vandalism to College property will be fixed in the manner described under Damage and Billing Procedures. The residential house (or entry or floor) will be billed if the individuals responsible are not identified.  Students are expected to follow building occupancy rules and not enter areas where they are not authorized to do so (this includes, but is not limited to building rooftops and steam tunnels).

  • Public indecent exposure includes, but is not limited to: public nudity: streaking; urinating or defecating in public.

  • Retaliation is harmful action taken against someone who has filed a complaint, provided testimony, or in some other way participated in a disciplinary investigation or process. It could also include actions taken against someone who has intervened as a bystander to stop or attempt to stop harassment, discrimination, or misconduct.

    It can include intimidating, threatening, coercing, or discriminating against an individual because of their participation in a disciplinary process, or because they opposed behavior that was in violation of the Code of Conduct.

    If the action directed at that individual would deter a reasonable person in the same circumstances from reporting misconduct, participating in a disciplinary process, or opposing behavior in violation of the Code of Conduct, it is deemed retaliatory.

  • The possession or use of firearms, ammunition, air guns, spring guns, slingshots and paintball guns, or hazardous chemicals is forbidden. Possession or use of a knife with a double–edge blade, a spring blade, or a blade over 4 inches in length is prohibited by College policy and is against Massachusetts state law. Possession or use of fireworks in Williamstown is forbidden by College, local, and state law, and violators will be fined.