VI. Harvard Law School Drug and Alcohol Policy


Harvard University promotes the health and well-being of its students and employees through its Health Services and other agencies. The unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees on Harvard property or as a part of any Harvard activities is a violation of University rules, as well as the law. Possession, use, or distribution of certain nonprescription drugs, including marijuana, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine, and nonprescription synthetics; procurement or distribution of alcohol if one is under 21 years of age; and provision of alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age are violations of law and of Harvard policy. The University holds its students and employees responsible for the consequences of their decisions to use or distribute illicit drugs, or to serve or consume alcohol. Further, it expects students and employees to create and maintain an environment for learning and work that is safe and healthy and encourages responsible conduct.

The use of illicit drugs and the misuse of alcohol are potentially harmful to health. In particular, synthetically produced drugs, which are readily available in the Boston metropolitan area, often have unpredictable emotional and physical side effects, which constitute an extreme health hazard. In addition, students are encouraged to weigh the seriousness of potential loss of function that may come from ingesting illicit drugs or too much alcohol. Because of the considerable health hazards involved in drug and alcohol use, administrative, medical, and psychiatric help for students having drug problems or difficulties controlling their use of alcohol are available on a confidential basis from the Law School Health Services and at the University Health Services at Holyoke Center, and any member of the University may make use of the Health Services on an emergency basis, day or night.

Attention is directed to the fact that the University is not, and cannot be considered as, a protector or sanctuary from the existing laws of the city, state, or federal government. Students are reminded that there are heavy penalties, including imprisonment, for possession or distribution of illicit drugs and for selling or delivering alcohol to, or procuring alcohol for, someone under the age of 21. There are also serious penalties for anyone under the age of 21 who purchases, attempts to purchase, or arranges to procure alcoholic beverages or to misrepresent his or her age or falsify his or her identification with the intent of purchasing alcohol; anyone, regardless of age, caught falsifying a driver’s license, or selling or distributing false I.D.s; and anyone, regardless of age, who operates a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or with an open container of alcohol. In addition, the city of Cambridge prohibits consumption of alcohol on public property or on property open to the public. All students should become familiar with the pamphlet on drug and alcohol law prepared by the General Counsel to the University, distributed at registration each year, and available in the Dean of Students Office.

The Law School will take appropriate action when cases of this type come to its attention, consistent with the legal sanctions for the inappropriate use of drugs and alcohol.

The Law School will respond to:

  • The use of illicit drugs;
  • Underage possession or consumption of alcohol;
  • Serving alcohol to underage individuals;
  • Possession in quantity or the sale or distribution of drugs; or
  • Drug or alcohol use which involve danger to the Harvard community.

Sanctions may include warning by administrative officers and referral to health or counseling services or action by the Administrative Board, including warning, reprimand, suspension, or expulsion (the last three sanctions are reported to bar authorities), and referral for prosecution.

Provisions Regarding Alcohol Service and Use at Harvard Law School

Students can serve beer and wine at Law School events. All alcohol must be purchased through Restaurant Associates (the Law School’s onsite catering service). Please contact Restaurant Associates at or by calling 617-495-5538.

Drinking Age

The minimum drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. To be served or provided an alcoholic beverage, an individual must show proof of minimum drinking age by presenting a government issued photo identification.


Restaurant Associates bartenders must be present to serve the alcohol at student events. The number of bartenders will be determined by Restaurant Associates and the Dean of Students Office.

Police Presence

Harvard University Police (HUPD) must be present for student-sponsored events whenever alcohol is served and the number in attendance exceeds 100 or for any event where HUPD presence is determined to be necessary by the Dean of Students Office. A police detail can be arranged by visiting the HUPD website. The appropriate number of police officers will be determined by the HUPD and the Dean of Students Office.

Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages

A proportional amount of food and nonalcoholic beverages must be available at any event where alcohol is served. Please contact Restaurant Associates or the Dean of Students Office to determine the appropriate amount.

Off-campus events – Private residence or event space
The HLS guidelines relating to alcohol purchase and the requirement of a bartender are enforced for all off-campus events at which HLS funds are used.
Off-campus events – Bars and Restaurants
If the bar/restaurant serves alcohol under its own license, the guidelines relating to alcohol purchase and the requirement of a bartender do not apply (since that is covered by the establishment). However, students may receive a maximum of 2 drink tickets for such events. 

Liquor Licenses

A special one-day liquor license must be obtained from the Cambridge License Commission (Cambridge City Hall) for all events where alcohol is sold. Procedures for obtaining the license are available from the Event Scheduling and Support Office, Holmes Hall 1. A license is not necessary for some events taking place in Harkness Commons, because the HLS license covers the Law School’s sale of beer and wine in Harkness. Student organizations must check with the Dean of Students Office before selling any alcoholic beverages.

Violations of the Law School’s alcohol policy will be referred to the Administrative Board for possible disciplinary action.

Please contact the Dean of Students Office with questions regarding the Alcohol Policy, 617-495-1880 or

Last modified: September 16, 2014

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