For University information on alcohol policies and how they affect students, please visit: http://www.students.wisc.edu/alcoholinfo/
The sale and service of alcoholic beverages on campus is governed by Federal laws, Wisconsin Statutes, University of Wisconsin System Administrative Codes, and UW-Madison regulations. The following is only a general guide for student organizations, not a complete, exhaustive list of laws, rules, and regulations.
When deciding whether or not alcohol should be served an event consider:
How will the consumption of alcohol contribute to the event/activity?
- Alcoholic beverages should never be the purpose or focus of an event/activity
- If there is a significant number of underage students present, it may be inappropriate to permit service and consumption of alcohol at the event
Ways alcohol consumption could detract from the event/activity
- Containing alcohol in an isolated “beer garden” separates “of age” and “underage”
- Counters goals of collaboration and networking
- Removes opportunities to meet new people, share an interest and have fun together
- Could increase the cost of having the event/activity
- If alcohol is served, you must also offer non-alcoholic beverages and food, as required by University regulations
- Security officers may be required
- Funding sources do not include alcohol as an allowable expense, so the cost comes directly from the RSOs budget
Differences between serving alcohol on and off campus
- Alcoholic beverages may not be sold on University property by individuals or RSOs
- Alcoholic beverages may be sold if in compliance with University and State regulations - Note: The following is not an exhaustive list and other resources should be consulted when planning an event where alcohol will be served.
- The Wisconsin Union and University Housing must handle all alcohol sales for student groups
- Sales are defined to include any charge made directly or indirectly for service of alcoholic beverages
- All alcoholic beverages must be served by University personnel (staff of the above listed)
- Selling or serving alcohol outside Memorial Union, Union South or University Housing facilities requires special permission from an appropriate dean
- The University may restrict access to service in many ways (for example, requiring a “beer garden,” which requires extra personnel for checking IDs)
- Service at the Wisconsin Union is available through Union catering, but the Union may refuse the privilege of alcohol service to groups
- If a significant number of students will be under 21, a “beer garden,” or isolated area where only participants 21 or older will be admitted, is required.
- IDs will be checked at the entrance and drinks will not be allowed outside the permitted area
- All charges involved are to be covered by the RSO including ID checkers, wristbands, bartenders, security officers, etc.
- Bar service closes at 12 a.m. or half an hour prior to the event ending or building closing, whichever comes first
- Bars may close early due to unbecoming behavior
To get more information about proper procedures for a specific space contact the Campus Event Services Office, firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-2511
Off-campus sales or service of alcoholic beverages by students or RSOs fall under the jurisdiction of the City of Madison as described by various ordinances, as well as State Statutes. A Special Class B Picnic Beer License from the City of Madison needs to be obtained Contact the City Clerk’s Office at (608)266-4601 or visit their website for application forms and guidelines
Both on and off campus regulations:
RSOs are legally obligated to ensure the folowing:
- A licensed bartender must be on the premises at all times
- Ensure those consuming are of legal age (21)
- Refuse service to those intoxicated to the point of impaired functioning
Violations will result in consequences
- Criminal charges may be filed
- University action through the Committee on Student Organizations
- In cases of injury, damage, or disruption, a student that provides alcohol to an underage student will face probable suspension from the University
Current alcohol policies/laws
RSO Code of Conduct: 10. Student organizations that serve or permit possession of alcoholic beverages and/or other drugs, including controlled substances, at student organization functions, on or off campus, may be disciplined if violations of alcoholic beverage laws or of university regulations occur at student organization functions if the violations involve members and/or guests
City of Madison/State of WI Unlicensed Tavern Law: Money cannot be exchanged for alcohol or any "required" type of service at an event where alcohol is being served i.e. "cup parties," requiring people to use the coat check, etc., unless the establishment has a liquor license.
UW-Madison Facilities Use Policy P-8 II.E: Advertising on campus or advertising using University resources may not include specific reference to alcohol as a part of the event. References to alcohol are prohibited in either printed word or graphic image.
Refer also to University Facility Use Policies, specifically Policies P-7 through P-7.5 and Guideline G-13
Recommendations to Responsibly Manage Parties with Alcohol
Note: some of the following may be required by your governing council (i.e. Interfraternity Council) or departmental sponsor (i.e. School of Pharmacy).
- Always be sure to check with appropriate entities to insure you fully understand policies governing your RSO
- Do not use common containers of beer (i.e. Kegs), unless at a 3rd party vendor. Studies show individual servings slow down consumption. This substitutes the “we have to finish the keg” mentality with the “we can save bottles/cans for next time” mentality
- Do not provide bulk collective homemade drinks (i.e. Wapatui). Participants do not know the alcohol content of their drinks, making responsible drinking nearly impossible
- Provide non-alcoholic options besides water and if at a 3rd party vendor, less expensive but comparable size. This gives options for non-drinkers and designated drivers and allows drinkers to switch from alcohol to non-alcoholic alternatives
- Provide reasonable amounts of food for the size of the group to slow down absorption of alcohol into the blood stream
- Make sure all members can legally attend events at a liquor licensed establishment, by definition a restaurant (less than 50% of sales are from alcohol) or holds a 18+ Center for Visual & Performing Arts license through the City of Madison.
- Do not consume alcohol at general or executive board meetings, unless everyone is 21 or older. If alcohol is consumed, set a specific start and end time to meetings to reduce liability for incidents that occur after the meeting
- Activities where consumption of alcohol is the purpose, consequence, or reward should not occur. Drinking games and using alcohol as a reward leads to overconsumption because people drink when they win/lose not when they want to.
- Alcohol should not be used as an incentive for participating in recruitment or as prizes in contests. Liability increases when alcohol is used as an enticement
- Events during Halloween weekend should only occur at liquor licensed facilities if everyone is 21 or older or the establishment is by definition a restaurant or holds a Center for Visual & Performing Arts license. Events on this weekend not at one of the above named places expose RSOs to greater liability issues because of known dangerous levels of drinking and number of out of town visitors