Policies on Illegal Drugs, Alcohol and Controlled Substances & Associated Resources

WPI supports, promotes, respects and expects adherence to federal and state laws regarding alcohol and drugs. The entire WPI community (faculty, staff, students and alumni) must assume responsibility for providing a climate that respects personal rights, federal and state laws, promotes safety, and models appropriate and acceptable behavior.

WPI Culture of Care

WPI strongly believes that all community members have a responsibility and obligation to assist their peers, particularly when associated with alcohol or drug use. To help integrate this mindset throughout the entire campus community, the Interfraternity Council has partnered with the Dean of Students Office to create the WPI Culture of Care Program. 

Inherent in this program are the following constructs:

  • The Culture of Care Program emphasizes the creation of a safe and protective campus environment for all community members.
  • Members of the WPI community are called upon to put the safety and welfare of all individuals over their own self-interest, without jeopardizing their own safety.
  • Most members of the WPI community are not trained to make critical health and medical decisions.
  • Students are encouraged to call Campus Police for assistance when they are aware of any situation involving or impacting the health and safety of any individual. 

The purpose of this initiative is to foster an environment of trust, support and action for students who need assistance. For violations of the WPI Code of Conduct that involve alcohol, students who proactively seek assistance for others will generally not be adjudicated through the student conduct process. Any discussions associated with the student who calls for assistance will be educational in nature. 

Policy on Illegal Drugs and Alcohol

WPI enforces the Massachusetts underage drinking laws and state and federal drug laws, including within on-campus and off-campus living residences. The legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. Students found in violation of the Policy on Illegal Drugs and Alcohol or engaging in misconduct related to the abuse of alcohol or drugs, will be subject to disciplinary action. Solely in programs involving off-campus travel (namely project center sites), students may comply with the legal drinking age of the respective country they are located in. However, it is important to note that dangerous, or binge drinking in any location is a violation of the Code of Conduct. 

Specifically, WPI prohibits the unlawful possession, use, and/or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol on its property and/or as part of its activities.

  1. Students under the age of 21 may not possess, consume, transport, or be served alcohol. Students under the age of 21 may not be under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Regardless of age, no individuals may possess open containers on campus.
  2. Kegs, bulk containers, or any other common sources of alcohol are not permitted on WPI-owned, operated, or affiliated property at any time.
  3. Dangerous and/or binge drinking, or exhibiting offensive or disruptive behavior while under the influence of alcohol is prohibited.
  4. Students may not possess, use, or distribute illicit drugs or possess drug-related paraphernalia.
  5. Students may not furnish alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age. Furnish means to knowingly or intentionally supply, give or provide to, or allow a person under 21 years of age to possess alcoholic beverages on premises or property owned or controlled by the person or organization charged. 

Policy on Use of Controlled Substances

WPI prohibits the unlawful use, possession, sale, distribution, or manufacture of controlled substances on WPI property or as part of University activities. WPI also prohibits the use, possession, sale, distribution, or manufacture of other substances, even though they may not be illegal, including, but not limited to, whipp-its, 2-C’s, molly, ecstasy, NBOME, Spice, K-2, and nonprescribed performance enhancing drugs (“prohibited substances”). 

WPI prohibits persons from permitting the use of prohibited substances in a campus residence or associated residence, including in fraternities and sororities. WPI also prohibits the unlawful distribution, possession, social sharing, non-prescribed use, or abuse of prescription drugs. Altering, tampering, or forging a prescription is also prohibited. 

Policy on Recreational Marijuana

Although the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has legalized recreational use of marijuana by people at or over the age of 21, WPI must abide by federal laws, including the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, in order to remain eligible for federal funding, including funding for student financial aid. Therefore, WPI must continue to maintain and enforce its prohibition on the use of marijuana. This means that for all students, regardless of age, WPI prohibits the use, sale, manufacture, distribution, possession, or facilitation of the use of marijuana on campus. WPI also prohibits the unlawful manufacturing, selling, and distribution of marijuana regardless of location or age. 

Student members of the WPI community who are in violation of this policy are subject to local, state, and federal law as well as disciplinary adjudication under the Code of Conduct, and/or WPI Fraternity and Sorority Community Policies. The various sanctions outlined in the Code of Conduct are applicable to students found responsible for violating the Policy on Illegal Drugs and Alcohol. 

Tobacco-Free Campus Policy

WPI is a tobacco-free campus and does not permit the use or sale of any tobacco products (combustible or smokeless), including e-cigarettes. This policy shall apply to all members of the WPI community including visitors to the campus. The WPI campus will be entirely free from tobacco products and e-cigarettes everywhere including all buildings, walkways, patios, playing fields, lawns, parking lots, parking garages and all WPI owned, leased or rented vehicles. 

Tobacco products include, but are not limited to:

  • “e-cigarettes” include any electronic oral device, such as one composed of a heating element, battery, and/or electronic circuit, which provides a vapor of nicotine or any other substances, and the use or inhalation of which simulates smoking. The term shall include any such device, whether manufactured, distributed, marketed, or sold as an e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, or under any other product name or descriptor.
  • “Smoking” means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, or pipe, including a hookah pipe, or any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product, including marijuana, intended for inhalation, in any manner or any form. “Smoking” also includes the use of an e-cigarette, which creates a vapor, in any manner or in any form, or the use of any oral smoking device for the purpose of circumventing the prohibition of smoking in this Policy.
  • “Tobacco product” means any substance containing tobacco leaf, including but limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, bidis, blunts, clove cigarettes, or any other preparation of tobacco; and any product or formulation of matter containing biologically active amounts of nicotine that is manufactured, sold, offered for sale or otherwise distributed with the expectation that the product or matter will be introduced into the human body by inhalation; but does not include any cessation product specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in treating nicotine or tobacco dependence. 

Adherence to and management of this policy requires common sense, courtesy, and support among members of the WPI community. Students with concerns or questions should contact the Dean of Students Office. 

Alcohol and Drug Education

Education and counseling services are available to all members of the WPI community. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to refer persons troubled by alcohol and/or drug use to the WPI Student Development and Counseling Center or to one of the various community support services available in or around Worcester. Campus and community resources are located at https://www.wpi.edu/student-experience/health-counseling/counseling-services      

Campus Support Services

Center for Well-Being
Daniels Hall

Student Development & Counseling Center (SDCC)
16 Einhorn Road
Student Health and Wellness Services
Daniels Hall
Campus Police
Lower Level, Founders Hall

Additional Alcohol and Drug Resources:

AdCare Hospital  
107 Lincoln Street  Worcester, MA 01605
1-800-ALCOHOL or 508-798-9946

Spectrum Health Systems
10 Mechanic St, Suite 302 Worcester, MA 01608

The Effects of Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Alcohol consumption and drug abuse 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 or drugs also increases the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including spouse and child abuse. Moderate to high doses of alcohol or drugs causes marked impairment in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses may cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much lower doses of alcohol or drugs may produce the effects just described. 

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

Mothers who drink alcohol or use drugs during pregnancy may give birth to infants with birth defects. These infants may have irreversible physical abnormalities and mental deficiencies. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic or drug addicted parents are at a greater risk than other youngsters of becoming regular users of these substances. 

Summary of Legal Penalties Covering Drug Abuse 

Massachusetts has criminal penalties for use of controlled substances, or drugs, with penalties varying with the type of drug. In general, narcotic, addictive, and drugs with a high potential for abuse have heavier penalties. 

Possession of drugs is illegal without valid authorization. While penalties for possession are generally not as great as for manufacture and distribution of drugs, possession of a relatively large quantity may be considered distribution. Under both state and federal laws, penalties for possession, manufacture and distribution are much greater for second and subsequent convictions. Many laws dictate mandatory prison terms and the full minimum term must be served. 

Massachusetts 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 or residence risks a serious drug conviction. Sale and possession of drug paraphernalia is illegal in Massachusetts. 

Persons convicted of drug possession under state or federal law are ineligible for federal student grants and loans for up to one year after the first conviction, two years after the second; the penalty for distributing drugs is loss of benefits for two years after the first, indefinitely after the second. 

Under federal law, distribution of drugs to persons under the age of 21 is punishable by twice the normal penalty with a mandatory one to three years in prison depending on the class of drugs; a third conviction is punishable by mandatory life imprisonment. These penalties apply to distribution of drugs within 1,000 feet of a college or school. Federal law sets greatly heightened prison sentences for manufacture and distribution of drugs if death or serious injury results from the use of the substance. 

Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act

Federal law requires that annually, each institution of higher education must certify that it has adopted and implemented a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees. In order to be able to certify its compliance with the regulations, institutions must adopt and implement a drug prevention program to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by all students and employees both on school premises and as part of any of its activities. The Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Guidelines are located at www.wpi.edu/about/policies/alcohol-drug-policy/drug-free-schools-communities-act-amendments-1989. Specific details on the WPI Alcohol and Drug Education Program, based at the Student Development and Counseling Center, are located at https://www.wpi.edu/student-experience/health-counseling/counseling-services/alcohol-drug-education