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Parties at Stanford

Oktoberfest Students

What is a "party" at Stanford?

At Stanford, under these guidelines, a party is an event held primarily for the purposes of student socializing, or any event where the students hosting the event serve alcohol. These two categories can overlap at times. However, the primary function of a "party" is generally not academic, intellectual, cultural, service and/or performative in nature as its primary function.

Some "parties" need to be registered and other "parties" do not. If your party can be safely confined to a private room, as long as its not being held on behalf of a registered student organization, Row house, Greek organization or dorm, you do not need to register it. However, if your private party needs to make use of public space (e.g. the hallway of your dorm, lounge at your Row house, space in Elliot Program Center or in Tresidder, or Lag BBQ Pit), then it needs to be registered on behalf of a registered student organization, Row house, Greek organization or dorm.

Examples of parties that should not be registered:

You and a friend (both of you are 21+) have a beer or a glass of wine in your private room.

You invite a speaker to campus, after the talk you host a reception. You don’t serve alcohol. (This is an event. Events have their own registration process which is overseen by the Office of Student Engagement).

Examples of events that should be registered as parties:

  1. A public event without alcohol service held for the purpose of students socializing. These are parties like Club Caliente and Snowchella. Students dance, eat, drink (EANABs!), and they socialize.
  2. Public events with alcohol service.
    Examples of this kind of party include Grad Halloween Party and EBF Happy Hours.

Why do we ask students to register parties?

  1. To demonstrate that they’ve planned their party thoroughly and in a way that mitigates the risks associated with parties.
  2. To be able to provide a list of parties to University partners in law enforcement and emergency services, should they need to be called on.
  3. To make sure Stanford students are following University policy and .

Social host liability and the law

While the law regarding civil liability is complex, it is important to know that under some circumstances party hosts, sponsors, bartenders or others might be held legally liable for the consequences of serving alcohol to underage drinkers or to obviously intoxicated persons. As a social host or party planner who has served underage drinkers or the obviously intoxicated, you could be sued and potentially found personally liable for damages to the injured party(ies) in three ways:

Specific damages: These are damages that are measurable (for example, when bodily injury results in medical expenses or lost wages).

General damages: These are damages that cannot be specifically measured in terms of dollar amounts (for example, pain and suffering resulting from bodily injury).

Punitive damages: These are damages intended to serve as an ex- ample to others and to discourage behavior that is deemed highly undesirable to society.

Stanford University is not a sanctuary from the enforcement of state and local laws. Students and others on campus who violate the law may be and have been arrested and prosecuted.

Though laws are subject to change, as of September 2021:

  • It is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to possess an alcoholic beverage in any public place or any place open to the public (CA Business and Professions Code 25662)
  • Any person who furnishes, gives, or sells any alcoholic beverage to someone under the age of 21 is guilty of a misdemeanor (CA Business and Professions Code 25658(a))
  • Any person under the age of 21 who attempts to purchase an alcoholic beverage is guilty of an infraction (CA Business and Professions Code 25658.5)
  • Any person under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance in a public place and unable to exercise care for their own safety or that of others is guilty of a misdemeanor (CA Penal Code 647(f))
  • It is illegal for persons to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher (CA Vehicle Code Section 23152). NOTE: A golf cart is a motor vehicle
  • It is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has 0.05 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in their blood to drive a vehicle (CA Vehicle Code Section 23140(a))
  • It is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to drive a vehicle when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or higher (CA Vehicle Code Section 23136)
  • It is a misdemeanor to ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both (CA Vehicle Code Section 21200.5)
  • It is an infraction to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle (CA Vehicle Code Section 23223)
  • It is an infraction for an owner or driver of a motor vehicle to allow an open container of alcohol in any area of the vehicle normally occupied by the driver or passengers  (CA Vehicle Code Section 23225)

A note about this guide

From this point forward, the guide will focus on Stanford’s policies and procedures. There is one huge exception to all these rules. The student affairs professionals that review your parties may ask you to implement plans and procedures other than those in this guide. They may decide that you need extra security, additional sober monitors, or crowd control barriers. Every rule in this guide can be augmented or altered by their judgment.