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Fall alcohol and other drugs policy and accountability plans

In a message to undergraduates, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole, Dean of Students Mona Hicks and Vaden Health Services Executive Director Dr. James Jacobs share an update on the fall alcohol and other drugs policy and accountability plans.

Dear students,

Last May, we shared with you enhanced and clarified information on our approach and policy to build a healthier campus culture around alcohol and other drugs. Today’s update provides you with an overview of the work in progress for autumn quarter to create a safe and engaging social culture while mitigating high-risk behaviors.

We know you are eager to reconnect with one another in the fall, and we encourage you to do so in ways that are fun, memorable, and safe.

Here are some of the highlights in this letter:

  • Get to know the Alcohol and Other Drugs Action Plan
  • Holding one another accountable
  • Expanded alcohol and other drugs resources and programs

Get to know the Alcohol and Other Drugs Action Plan

Your health and well-being are inextricably linked to your academic success. While we want you to flourish during your time with us, it is imperative you consider how you will care for yourself and your mental health when times get tough, as we know that alcohol and other drugs may play a role in how one copes.

The Alcohol Solutions Group: Alcohol and Other Drugs Action Plan

The Alcohol Solutions Group (ASG), which was comprised of students, faculty, and staff, advocated for clearly defined expectations, accountability for all students and student groups, and a culture of care that acknowledges the role of individual and community accountability. The ASG’s report focused on policy, culture, and education to help to clarify these expectations for you. 

Policy & accountability framework

As we shared in our May message, the amended alcohol and other drugs policy will take effect on September 1, 2021. We have been working with student leaders, resident assistants, and resident fellows to ensure transparency about the steps we’ll take to implement the expanded policy

Our approach has two prongs. First, as a means of early intervention for your well-being, we will ask that residential staff, including student staff, report policy violations they observe to professional staff in Residential Education. Second, accountability for reported policy violations will focus first on educational measures as outlined in section D of the policy. Initial incidents of underage alcohol consumption or cannabis consumption will go through an online education program. The goal of our accountability plan is to connect with students early to help them reflect, learn, and get back on track with safe, healthy choices.

The policy also contains a new Good Samaritan clause to encourage students who witness dangerous situations with alcohol and other drugs to seek medical help without fear of disciplinary action. Finally, there are now additional alcohol and other drug resources and support for student well-being that any student or student community may utilize including access to substance use educators, well-being coaches, and specially trained CAPS counselors. Learn more about additional resources under Expanded Alcohol and Other Drug Resources and Programs in this letter.

We want you to ask for help if you have questions about alcohol or other drug use on campus, whether for yourself or someone you know.

Holding one another accountable

Our interpersonal relationships profoundly affect our health and well-being and often choices we make, including alcohol and other drug use. It is through our connection with others that we find a sense of belonging and community and develop our deep connection and care for each other. Out of care, people in our lives also hold us accountable for decisions that we make.

Residential staff support

Residential staff are key members of your “team” while at Stanford. They are trained professionals and student staff who support you. They are tasked with addressing violations of the alcohol and other drugs policy to ensure that you and your surrounding environment is healthy and safe through early intervention and accountability. These staff members care deeply for you, and we ask that you respect their role in helping students hold each other accountable. 

Be an Upstander

While programs and residential staff help to ensure that students make healthy and responsible decisions and hold students accountable, you have the most important role. Learn to trust your instincts when a situation doesn’t feel right for yourself or possibly others, particularly when it involves alcohol or other drugs. Have the courage to speak up and hold your peers accountable. Embrace a sense of responsibility for the well-being of those around you, even if you don’t personally know them. Help prevent situations involving alcohol or other drugs that may be harmful, intervene and offer support to others, and call out others for any actions that may put you or others in compromising situations.

Expanded alcohol and other drugs resources and programs

We want to connect with students early and help them learn and get back on track with healthy, safe choices. Stanford’s care team also includes clinical and additional educational support and opportunities for you to connect with others and be in community with one another. Learn about some of these below:

Counseling and Psychological Services

Vaden Health Services’ Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will be adding two counseling positions with specialization in supporting students who have needs related to substance use, abuse, and addiction. In collaboration with the Office of Substance Use Programs, Education & Resources (SUPER), these therapists will provide additional counseling hours, help facilitate added outreach and education, and will help disseminate Stanford’s best practices more broadly.

Peer support

The Office of Substance Use Programs, Education & Resources (SUPER) is launching several programs to support students and their overall well-being:

Social life

We look forward to continuing to work with students to create opportunities that support Stanford’s vibrant social life on campus and connection with friends. The amended alcohol and other drug use policy will allow students to enjoy time together, with added reinforcement of safety and accountability, and we look forward to reimagining these opportunities with you. Below are a few projects we are working on:

  • The Social Project: We plan to continue many of the traditions that we have been building with the Stanford Social Project, including weekend events and entertainment at the Arbor and Farm Days on the Row. 
  • Class Year Focused Social Life: We’ve heard from many students about the specific needs of each class year as you return to campus. Here you can find some of our plans for helping each class year come together. 
  • Your Neighborhood: We are looking forward to the opportunities neighborhoods will bring for social life on campus. We anticipate an advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to promote opportunities for community and belonging and to support student health and well-being. We can’t wait to hear what ideas you have to shape the life and culture of each new neighborhood!

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress and hope you will join us in this work. We look forward to welcoming you back to campus in a few short weeks!


Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

 Mona Hicks
Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students

 Dr. Jim Jacobs
Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director, Vaden Health Services