13.18 Alcohol and Drugs


The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) adheres to the laws of the state of Iowa, and strives to create an environment that supports healthy decisions and lifestyles. While the use of illegal drugs is prohibited, the University acknowledges and respects the rights of individuals to use alcohol in a legal and responsible manner, just as it acknowledges and respects the rights of individuals who choose not to use alcohol. Although the moderate consumption of alcohol may be an acceptable part of certain social activities, alcohol and drug abuse interferes with the ability of the University to achieve its mission and can adversely affect individuals, the university, and the larger community. 

This policy is intended to help maintain the health and safety of the University’s faculty, staff, students, and visitors, and to ensure that alcohol and drug use do not interfere with the effective functioning of the University.  It further delineates the parameters relative to the use of alcoholic beverages on University property, at University-sponsored events, or in conjunction with University activities. 


“University-sponsored events” are those activities that are organized and/or sponsored by a unit of the University (but not events sponsored by student organizations or by individuals associated with UNI but acting in their private capacities).  Examples include receptions, performances, athletic competitions, gallery openings, meetings, and conferences organized by departments, colleges, divisions, programs and facilities.

“University activities” are those activities sponsored by entities other than the University, but where the University (under the auspices of a unit of the University) is a participant.  Examples would include participation in an athletic competition hosted by another university, a conference hosted by a professional association, a field trip associated with a class, and a volunteer service project hosted by a community agency.

Policy Statement

Because alcohol and drug abuse poses a threat to the health and safety of University faculty, staff, students, and visitors and interferes with the ability of the University to achieve its mission, it is the policy of UNI to provide a drug-free workplace and learning environment and, more specifically, to:

  1. Prohibit the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of a controlled substance by employees and students on property owned or leased by the University, at University-sponsored events, or in conjunction with University activities.
  2. Comply with the provisions of the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989.
  3. Maintain alcohol and drug prevention programs including policy enforcement, education programs, and treatment services.
  4. Only permit the sale and/or use of alcoholic beverages on University property, at University-sponsored events, or in conjunction with University activities in a manner that reasonably ensures the health and safety of participants, complies with applicable law, and meets the requirements of this policy.

I.  Employees 

An employee, for purposes of this policy, includes any individual providing a service to the University and receiving compensation directly from the University for that service. This includes, but is not limited to, faculty, staff, administrators, graduate assistants, and student employees. 

Employees are expected and required to report to work in an appropriate condition to carry out their responsibilities.

  1. Employees are prohibited from using, being under the influence of, possessing, or distributing any illegal drug (including the possession of drug paraphernalia) while operating any university vehicle or equipment, while conducting university business, or while on university property. Any illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia found on university property will be turned over to UNI Police and may result in criminal prosecution.
  2. Employees are prohibited from being impaired or under the influence of legal drugs and/or alcohol, including prescription medication, at work if such impairment or influence adversely affects the employee's work performance, and/or the safety of the employee or others or creates an unnecessary risk for the University. If taking prescribed medication could compromise workplace safety or affect work performance, the employee is responsible for communicating with their supervisor or Human Resource Services (HRS) to evaluate temporary job modification/re-assignment during the course of the treatment.
  3. Employees must report any conviction under a criminal drug statute for a violation occurring while conducting official business on or off university premises, within 5 days of the conviction to the department head, director, or dean. Upon receiving such a report, the department head, director, or dean must notify the Director of HRS.

Employees who violate this policy may be referred to an educational/treatment program and may be subject to disciplinary action including a formal reprimand, being placed on leave, suspension, or termination of employment. Employee violations of this policy shall be addressed by the supervisor, in conjunction with the Director of HRS and/or the Associate Provost for Faculty or their designees. Employees who violate this policy may also be subject to criminal penalties under applicable local, state or federal law.

Refer to University Policy and Procedure 4.13 “Employee Drug and Alcohol Testing” for information related to drug and alcohol testing standards and procedures.

II. Students

All community members, including students, are responsible for following state laws and University policies and rules. This policy applies to student conduct that occurs on University property, at University-sponsored events, or in conjunction with University activities and to student conduct off-campus that adversely affects the University community and/or the pursuit of its objectives.

A. General policy

  1. Sale and use of illegal drugs is a violation of the Student Conduct Code and violators are subject to discipline as prescribed by the Student Conduct Code.
  2. Alcoholic beverages shall not be possessed, dispensed, distributed, or consumed by students on campus except as allowed by applicable law and university policy.
  3. Alleged violations of this policy will be referred to the student conduct process (3.02 “Student Conduct Code”). Students found responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions as prescribed by the Student Conduct Code.
  4. Students are required to provide proof of age to University Police or other University officials acting in performance of their duties.
  5. Good Samaritan Provision: Amnesty is available for individuals who seek medical or other professional assistance for themselves or another person who is intoxicated due to alcohol and/or drugs. (See Student Conduct Code, Article X, Good Samaritan Provision, for further details.)
  6. All alcoholic beverage use by sorority and fraternity members, in the context of chapter activity, is additionally subject to policies as promulgated by their respective governing bodies.
  7. Student athletes are subject to additional policies as promulgated by the UNI Athletics in the Athletics Code of Conduct.

B. UNI Events

Students who are of legal drinking age may possess or consume alcohol at UNI events in accordance with the provisions outlined in Section III of this policy.

C. Living spaces on University property

Students who are of the legal drinking age and who live on University property, including residence halls, on-campus apartments, and other university rental properties, may possess or consume alcohol in their living space. If none of the students assigned to a living space is of the legal drinking age, alcohol is not permitted in the living space. This includes empty alcohol containers. Students living in residence halls or on-campus apartments are also subject to further guidelines as defined in the UNI Housing & Dining A-Z Guide and the Terms and Conditions of the On-Campus Community Standards and Housing and Dining Contract.

Students assigned to a living space who are of the legal drinking age may possess or consume alcohol according to the following guidelines:

  1. Students living in the residence halls may only consume alcohol in their rooms with the room door closed.
  2. Students living in on-campus apartments may only consume alcohol inside the apartment.
  3. Students living in other University rental properties may consume alcohol in their house or yard.
  4. Alcoholic beverages must be limited to a maximum container size of one gallon. All common sources of alcohol, including but not limited to kegs, punch bowls, beer balls, beer bongs, beer taps, and plastic bats, are prohibited.  Excessive amounts of alcohol in bottles or cases are prohibited.
  5. Students living on campus are responsible for any guests present in their living spaces. Guests may only consume or possess alcohol in accordance with the law and this policy.  Guests who do not comply with this policy may be required to leave the campus and may be subject to arrest and criminal prosecution.

D. Student travel 

While traveling in or operating a University vehicle, students are prohibited from using, being under the influence of, possessing, buying, selling, or dispensing alcohol or an illegal drug, and possessing drug paraphernalia.  Additionally, students must not be impaired by alcohol or illegal drugs during any University-sponsored event or in conjunction with University activities in which they are participating.  All use of alcoholic beverages during personal time must be in compliance with laws of the applicable city, state, province, or country.

E. Policy violations

Students alleged to have violated the Student Conduct Code or any university policy including this policy, may be referred to the student conduct process for disciplinary action in accordance with the policies and procedures outlined. Students found responsible for violating these policies may be referred for an educational/treatment program and given sanctions including, but not limited to, warning, probation, suspension, expulsion, and educational sanctions. Students who violate this policy may also be subject to criminal penalties under applicable federal, state or local laws.

III. Sale, service, and consumption of alcoholic beverages at UNI events

The University has the authority to determine the time, place, quantities and conditions under which alcoholic beverages are consumed on University property, including the right to refuse to serve alcohol at any event or to any person.  The service and sale of alcoholic beverages on University property and at University-sponsored events off campus must comply with Iowa law and the requirements of this policy.

A. General policy:

    1. Any service or sale of alcoholic beverages on campus must be provided by UNI Catering or UNI Athletics and is subject to their operational policies. 
    2. Any service or sale of alcoholic beverages, whether an activity is open to the public or is private, must comply with the provisions of this policy.
    3. Aside from licensed alcoholic beverage sale activity, state funds cannot be used for the purchase of alcoholic beverages (University Policy and Procedure 13.07   “Entertainment of University Guests”).
    4. Alcoholic beverages are permitted to be served at an event on University property only if management of the facility where the event will be held has approved the service.  Regardless of this policy, individual facilities’ management may disallow alcoholic beverage service via a pertinent facility policy.
    5. No alcoholic beverages will be served at an event where the majority of those expected to attend will be under the legal drinking age. 
    6. No dimension of any service of alcoholic beverages will encourage or facilitate unsafe or excessive consumption of alcohol.  The provision of alcoholic beverages must appropriately serve or complement the purpose of an event, and the sale of such beverages will be confined to this purpose. 
    7. When a University event is off-campus, the sponsoring unit assumes responsibility for the event and must ensure that the service of alcoholic beverages is legal and complies with applicable portions of this policy.
    8. No open containers of alcoholic beverages are permitted on University property for non-University sponsored activities (such as for personal use or for informal social gatherings held by departments, employees, or student groups), except as allowable for Tailgating (Section IV) and residential spaces (Section II. B). 

B. Service Guidelines:

    1. Alcohol consumption is limited to the immediate premises where alcohol is approved to be served.
    2. Individuals or organizations hosting or sponsoring an event must provide adequate supervision at the event and implement precautionary measures to ensure that alcoholic beverages are not accessible or served to persons under the legal drinking age or to persons who appear intoxicated.  The University caterer may require security staff be provided for the event at a cost to the event host.
    3. All events at which alcoholic beverages are served must also have food available.  The menu and manner of the service of food must be approved by the University caterer serving the alcohol. 
    4. Non-alcoholic beverages must be available for guests at all times during the event.
    5. The on-site catering manager and event hosts have the authority to limit or discontinue alcohol service at their discretion.
    6. Only by obtaining a Charity Beer and Wine Auction Permit (from the State of Iowa, Alcoholic Beverages Division) may beer or wine, donated by individuals or purchased from a retailer, be auctioned as part of a fundraising event.  Rebates, free goods, or quantity discounts on products from retailers may not be accepted (per Iowa Code).
    7. Gambling is not legal at an event where alcoholic beverages are available unless the establishment holds a social gambling license (per Iowa Code).
    8. Private alcoholic beverage use off-campus associated with meals, meetings and informal social gatherings conducted by University officials on behalf of the University and intended to accomplish University business are not considered “events” within the meaning of this policy. 

C. Exceptions (that do not constitute violations of law) may be granted by the Vice President for Student Affairs in consultation with department heads of directly-affected units.

IV. Tailgating

Tailgating is defined as an on-campus public outdoor social event that involves the consumption of food and/or alcoholic beverages.  Individuals, groups, and organizations participating in tailgate activities are responsible for their own conduct and expected to respect the rights of others.  Any purchase, possession, or consumption of alcoholic beverages in conjunction with tailgating is subject to Iowa law and the previously-stated provisions of this policy.

  1. Tailgating is allowed only in conjunction with UNI home football games and is subject to the management and oversight of UNI Athletics.  UNI Athletics shall be responsible, in consultation with Public Safety, Student Affairs, and the UNI Risk Manager, to develop and implement rules regarding all aspects of tailgating activity, including but not limited to:
      1. Designate approved locations and allocate their usage.
      2. Determine starting and ending times.
      3. Manage parking and post-event cleanup.
      4. Provide signage and other means to clearly communicate rules to participants.
      5. Ensure appropriate and adequate placement of security and other event personnel.
      6. Provide adequate supply of portable restrooms, trash and recycling containers, and other equipment as needed.
      7. Restrict loud music, public address system use, and other disruptive activities.
      8. Determine all other rules necessary to reasonably manage tailgating activity.
  2. UNI Athletics shall ensure that current tailgating rules are available to the public via its website.  Current event and participant guidelines are available here.  

V. Marketing activity related to alcoholic beverages

Any marketing activity that promotes unsafe or excessive consumption of alcohol or encourages underage drinking is prohibited on University property or at University-sponsored events.  

  1. Alcohol-related  advertising or other marketing for any activity on University property or in any University publication (including, but not limited to, paid advertising, printed materials, permanent and temporary signage, and promotional activities) must: 
      1. Not encourage any form of alcohol abuse nor place emphasis on quantity and frequency of use.
      2. Avoid demeaning, sexual or discriminatory portrayals of individuals.
      3. Not portray drinking alcohol as a solution to personal or academic problems or as necessary to social, sexual, academic or career success.
      4. Use only the name or logo of a particular company or product; no pictures or renditions of beverage containers are permitted.  In cases of a sponsored event, the name or logo must be clearly subordinate to the name or title of the sponsored event.
      5. Not promote drink specials, price or price advantage.
      6. Not incorporate University students or employees as participants in the alcohol advertising.
  2. Alcoholic beverages may not be used as an enticement to participate in a University activity nor be provided as a prize or award to individual students, campus organizations, or other members of the campus community.
  3. Advertisement must carry a statement encouraging responsibility where drinking occurs. 
  4. Broadcasters under contract with the University or its agents are encouraged to follow the above provisions when accepting advertising that promotes use of alcoholic beverages.
  5. Student-run media (newspapers, radio, TV, websites, etc.) are encouraged to follow the above provisions for any advertising that promotes sale or use of alcoholic beverages.

VI. Health risks

Substance abuse can have a wide range of negative health effects, many of which are outlined in the chart below. 


Short-term effects

Long-term effects

Overdose effects


possible impaired motor skills, slurred speech, memory loss/blackouts, injuries, violence, alcohol poisoning, impaired judgement which can increase vulnerability and risk-taking behaviors resulting in reproductive health consequences (STDs, unintended pregnancy, miscarriage, FASDS)

chronic diseases; cancer; learning & memory problems; social, family, employment problems; mental health problems, liver inflammation & disease, damage to lining of stomach, alcoholism

alcohol poisoning, which may lead to choking, stop breathing, severe dehydration, seizures, unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, brain damage, death


drowsiness, dizziness, slurred speech, nausea, confusion, memory problems

physical & psychological dependence

shallow respiration, weak & rapid pulse, coma, permanent brain damage, possible death


sensory distortion, changes in sense of time, confusion, hallucinations, nausea, panic, increased heart rate & body temperature

flashbacks, paranoia, memory problems, mood changes

psychosis, seizures, coma, possible death

Marijuana/ Cannabis

drowsiness, increased heart rate & appetite, memory problems, anxiety, impaired judgement, reduced physical coordination, difficulty thinking, possible psychosis & hallucinations

breathing problems, mental health problems, chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections, suppressed immune system, addiction

may lead to psychotic reaction

Narcotics/ Opioids

pain relief, drowsiness, apathy, slowed physical activity, confusion, euphoria, nausea, slowed breathing

increased risk of addiction/overdose

constricted pupils, cold clammy skin, confusion, slowed breathing, convulsions, possible death


increased wakefulness/physical activity, increase blood pressure & heart rate, decreased appetite, paranoia

confusion, insomnia, mood problems, tremors, heart, nerve & stomach problems

high fever, agitation, convulsions, seizures, heart attack, possible death 

VII. Criminal sanctions

In addition to any sanctions provided for by this policy, a student or employee who violates this policy may also be subject to criminal sanctions under federal, state, and local law. Federal and state laws generally prohibit distribution, manufacture of, or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance or a counterfeit controlled substance. See 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. and Iowa Code Chapter 124. Convictions under such laws carry a range of penalties, from fines to imprisonment. In addition, conviction under federal drug laws may result in forfeiture of property, denial of federal benefits, including grants and student loans, and the denial of certain licenses. 

VIII. Resources

Employee Assistance Program (EAP): (Faculty and staff only) The University offers an EAP, designed to assist UNI employees and their families with problems affecting personal relationships, health, and work performance. All services are free and confidential.  https://hrs.uni.edu/mybenefits/eap or 1-855-784-2057 

Student Wellness Services (Students only)
Student Health and Well-being Services
16 Student Health Center, (319) 273-2009
Preventative and supportive services for students concerning alcohol and other drugs.

Student Counseling Center
Student Health and Well-being Services
103 Student Health Center, (319) 273-2676
Individual counseling, consultation, and referrals for substance abuse-related problems.

Student Health Clinic
Student Health and Well-being Services16 Student Health Center, (319) 273-2009
Consultation and referrals for substance abuse-related problems.

UNI Police
30 Gilchrist Hall, (319) 273-2712
UNI Police Department is committed to providing a safe campus environment.

Local Hospitals: All local hospitals provide 24-hour emergency medical services.  

MercyOne Cedar Falls Medical Center
515 College Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50613
(319) 268-3090 

UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital
1825 Logan Avenue
Waterloo, IA 50703
(319) 235-3941

MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center
3421 West 9th Street
Waterloo, IA 50702
(319) 272-7050

Substance Abuse Programs 

Pathways Behavioral Health Services
3362 University Avenue
Waterloo, IA  50701
(319) 235-6571

MercyOne Horizons
3421 West 9th Street
Waterloo, IA  50702
(319) 272-8560

Access Evaluations & Education
1903 West Ridgeway Avenue
Waterloo, IA 50701
(319) 252-4631

Al-Anon Family Groups
(888) 425-2666

Iowa Region of Narcotics Anonymous
(800) 897-6242

IX. Policy Contacts

University contacts for any question regarding this policy are as follows:

  • Students: Student Wellness & Prevention (319) 273-3423.
  • Student Conduct: Dean of Students (319) 273-2332
  • Employees: Employee Leave and Accommodations (HRS) (319) 273-6164
  • Events:  UNI Catering (319) 273-2333 or UNI Athletics (319) 273-6237.
  • Marketing:  University Relations (319) 273-2761.
  • Tailgating:  UNI Athletics (319) 273-2470.
  • Commercial activity at tailgating:  UNI Athletics (319) 273-4502. 


Vice President for Student Affairs, Department of Athletics, and Senior Vice President, Finance & Operations, approved February 17, 2020
University Council, approved March 23, 2020
President and President’s Cabinet, approved April 6, 2020 
[Last reviewed and/or updated 4/2020, 3/2016]