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Guidelines given on alcohol at MIT holiday events

As the holidays approach and many departments are planning parties and functions that may involve the use of alcoholic beverages, Vice President for Human Resources Joan Rice reminds everyone of MIT's policies concerning use of alcohol.

These policies are described in section 9.3 of Policies and Procedures. Those specific to events include:

  • In academic and administrative areas, including labs and centers, the appropriate senior officer (a member of the Academic Council) must give written approval for any MIT event (on or off campus) where alcohol is served, based on a determination that the requirements below are understood and will be observed.
  • No alcohol may be served at events where persons under age 21 will be present unless the sponsor has prior approval from the appropriate senior officer, again based on the requirements below.
  • All events where alcohol will be served must be registered with the Office of Conference Services, Rm 7-111, x3-1703.

Under the law, the sponsor or host of an event has the duty to take steps to control the dispensation of alcoholic beverages, and there are issues of legal liability which arise if reasonable care is not exercised in planning and holding social events. For example, the Institute could be held responsible for an injury or death caused by a driver who was served too may drinks at an event sponsored by MIT.

Hosts of MIT events must take the following steps to control the dispensation of alcoholic beverages:

1. Issue written instructions to those dispensing or controlling the alcohol that it must not be served to persons under 21, or to intoxicated persons.

2. Ensure that at events which include underage attendees, anyone being served alcohol must show proof of age, using a driver's license or Massachusetts state liquor ID card.

3. Remain present or designate a responsible individual to be present until the conclusion of the event.

4. Ensure that servers do not serve more than two drinks to any person at one time.

5. Make sure that any area where alcohol is served is attended at all times.

6. Limit the number of hours alcohol is served, and restrict hard liquor to certain hours or eliminate it entirely.

7. Have ample amounts of low-alcohol and nonalcoholic beverages, including coffee, available throughout the function.

8. Serve food whenever alcohol is served.

9. See that safe transportation is provided to any guest who appears to have overindulged in alcohol.

10. Document the measures implemented to conform to these requirements.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 9, 1998.

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