Alcohol & Drug Policy

I. Preamble:  Policy Principles

MCLA is a community dedicated to the academic and personal development of its members and is committed to educational and social programs promoting these ends.

The use of illegal drugs and abuse of alcohol at the College workplace, on College property or at College activities both on and off campus impairs the safety and health of community members, inhibits the personal and academic growth of students, and undermines the public's confidence in the College. Only in an environment free of illegal drugs and alcohol abuse can the College fulfill its mission of developing the professional, social, cultural, and intellectual potential of each member of its community. For these reasons, it shall be the policy of MCLA that all College activities, College property, and the College workplace shall be free of the use of illegal drugs and the "abuse" of alcohol. MCLA recognizes the definition below of alcohol and other drug abuse. 

The College considers substance abuse (alcohol and other drugs) to be a maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the repeated use of substances. For example, there may be repeated failures to fulfill major role obligations, repeated use in situations in which it is physically hazardous, multiple legal problems, and recurrent social and interpersonal problems. Typically, these problems occur recurrently during the same 12- month period. In other words, criteria for substance abuse includes the harmful consequences of repeated use (as cited in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition, DSM V, 2013).

Responsible use of alcohol will be allowed at College activities and on College property only under specified conditions.  First, possession and consumption are limited to persons of legal age and are confined to particular locations and/or events.  Second, events where alcohol is served, shall be managed through Campus Dining Services. Third, resident students who are of legal age shall observe the regulations controlling the possession, use or distribution of alcohol within residence areas.  Students should refer to the Resident Student Handbook and Guidelines for Community Living for these regulations.

The College affirms that fundamental responsibility for personal behavior associated with the use of alcohol rests with the individual; however, the College will provide constructive leadership for promoting a positive environment for its members.  In addition, the College will maintain and enforce rules and regulations deemed appropriate and necessary to preserve conditions essential to academic and personal well being.

The principle aims of College policy concerning the use of alcoholic beverages on Campus include:

  • Providing balanced support for activities and programs for those who, by choice or by law, do not use alcoholic beverages.
  • Reducing pressures on those who do not wish to use alcohol in social settings.
  • Formulation and enforcement of regulations for social events and individual conduct encouraging responsible, moderate, and safe use of alcoholic beverages.
  • Providing for discipline of those whose use of alcohol is associated in any way with infringements of the rights of other community members to pursue academic, personal, and social endeavors.
  • Provision for information, educational programs, and counseling services to support community interests and values affected by social and individual use of alcohol, to minimize problems associated with alcohol use, and to assist all students in pursuing their goals for educational and personal development.
  • Provide opportunity for community-wide participation in the formulation, dissemination, and enforcement  regulations.
II. Prohibited Conduct

The students and employees of MCLA shall not unlawfully manufacture, distribute, dispense, possess or use controlled substances or alcohol on College property in conjunction with any College activity or in the College workplace.  No alcohol shall be present at any employee or student meetings or events where College business related efforts are being conducted.   Responsible use of alcohol is allowed in this policy and is limited by the three conditions listed in section 1. Any individual who violates this prohibition will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the College's policies. Further, any employee or student employee must notify the Human Resources Director within five (5) days of being convicted of violating a criminal drug statute in the workplace. The College will notify appropriate authorities as required that an employee or student employee has been convicted of a drug-related offense within ten (10) days.

All resident students living in Berkshire Towers, Hoosac Hall or the Flagg Townhouses should familiarize themselves with the residence area alcohol and drug policies found in the Resident Student Handbook. This document is available to all students through Residential Programs & Services. 

All College guests are expected to adhere to College policies throughout their visit to Campus or attendance at Campus events and programs.

III.  Alcohol and Other Drugs: Effects and Abuse Prevention Resources

Substance abuse programs which apply to the College as both an educational institution and a workplace are designed to:

  • establish and enforce clear policies for students and employees that promote an educational environment free from the abuse of alcohol and the use of illegal drugs
  • educate all members of the Campus community about the health risks associated with the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of alcohol
  • create a campus environment that promotes and reinforces healthy, responsible living and respect for community and Campus standards and regulations
  • provide intervention for alcohol abusers and users of illegal drugs through counseling, treatment, and referral

Counseling Services and Health Services provide education on substance use and abuse.  If students and employees have questions concerning the health risks associated with the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of alcohol, they should contact Counseling Services, Health Services, the Employee Assistance Program or personal health care providers.

IV. Help and Information Concerning the Health Risks Associated with Drug and Alcohol Use

The use of drugs and alcohol, even infrequently, may damage one's health.  A listing of the health risks associated with the use of alcohol and drugs is enumerated under Part 5 of this policy.  Counseling Services, Health Services or one's health care provider can describe the effects specific substances have upon one's health.

Help concerning drug and alcohol-related problems are available from several sources.  Individuals in need of assistance, who know of someone who needs help or have questions concerning alcohol and drug abuse, may contact any of the following:

Counseling Services, MountainOne Student Wellness Center, Ext. 5331

Health Services Office, MountainOne Student Wellness Center, Ext. 5421

Website: My Student Body

MCLA Director of Human Resources, Mark Hopkins Hall, Ext. 5599

Drug and Alcohol Hotline, Substance Abuse Division, Information and Referrals, (800) 327‑5050

Alcoholics Anonymous, For more information on local meetings, call Pittsfield (413) 443-0212, or Berkshire Intergroup (413) 448-2382.  Each Saturday, The Transcript has a complete listing of all AA groups and other 12-step self-help groups. 

Employee Assistance Program, 800-252-4555 or 800-225-2527

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services of the Berkshires, (413) 499-1000

McGee Unit at Hillcrest Hospital, 165 Tor Court, Pittsfield, MA, (413) 443‑4761 or (800) 222‑1664, Ext. 154

Narcotics Anonymous, (413) 443‑4377

V. Health Risks Associated with Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs


  • addiction (particularly for individuals with alcoholism in their families)
  • every drinking episode results in some irreversible damage to brain cells
  • fetal alcohol syndrome (birth defects caused by women drinking during pregnancy)
  • increased risk of cirrhosis, ulcers, heart disease, injury by accident, cancer of mouth, esophagus, liver, and stomach
  • blackouts
  • development of personality disorders
  • increased tendency to abusive behavior
  • impaired judgment may lead to life‑threatening situation (physical alcohol/unwanted pregnancy)
  • loss of inhibitions
  • malnutrition and resultant damage to muscle, bone and other tissues
  • circulatory impairment
  • depression of central nervous system function
  • increased effect of narcotics/tranquilizers when used together
  • alcohol poisoning leading to possible coma and death


  • psychological addiction depending on patterns of use
  • stored in body fat for 4‑6 weeks
  • disruption of brain function is caused by a motivational syndrome (loss of energy and enthusiasm including- short-term memory loss and impaired depth perception and time/space orientation)
  • lung damage due to tar and other chemicals
  • increased heart rate
  • increased appetite which can lead to weight gain
  • idiosyncratic constriction of air passages in lungs of asthmatics
  • disruption of reproductive organ function in men and women

Stimulants (Ephedrine, Crystal Meth, Crack, Cocaine, Ritalin, etc.)

  • extremely addictive
  • development of overwhelming, uncontrollable compulsion to repeat use (with "crack" cocaine)
  • central nervous stimulant
  • increased heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure
  • possible death‑producing fibrillation of the heart
  • possible death‑producing seizures and strokes
  • impairs judgment
  • anxiety, restlessness, apprehension, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, exhaustion, delusional  thinking
  • increased tendency of abusive behavior

Hallucinogens (LSD, PCP, mushrooms, Ecstasy)

  • paranoid thoughts, anxiety, panic, depression
  • delusions, time and visual distortions
  • depersonalization
  • extreme suggestibility while under the influence of the drug
  • intensification of any pre‑existing psychosis
  • ataxia (unsteady gait/balance problem)
  • impaired memory
  • alteration of electrical activity of brain
  • changes in levels of brain chemicals 

Inhalants (Diverse group of chemicals, including solvents, aerosols, gases, and volatile nitrites) depression of the central nervous system, can lead to death from a single use

  • psychologically and physically addictive
  • headache, muscle weakness, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, nosebleeds, tremors
  • heart, lung, kidney, and liver impairment/damage
  • brain and nervous system damage and paralysis


  • prolonged psychological dependence
  • rapid tolerance and physical addiction
  • depression in central nervous system, suppression of pain sensation and relief from anxiety
  • possible collapsed veins and infections such as hepatitis, endocarditis, or HIV/AIDS due to needle infection transmission
  • irregular heartbeat and breathing
  • drowsiness which may progress to coma and death depending on dose
  • possibility of severe health consequences depending on the inert chemicals with which the heroin is combined

The above information on health risks was compiled by the Health Services Office.



VI.  Criminal and Legal Sanctions Associated with Drug and Alcohol Use

The Department of Public Safety maintain a list of the legal sanctions associated with alcohol and drug abuse. In general, severe sanctions may be imposed upon an individual who manufactures, distributes or possesses controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, crack or prescription drugs.  The penalties may be doubled for offenses occurring on or near the College. These penalties include fines and imprisonment.

The illegal purchase of alcohol, the illegal possession of alcohol or providing alcohol to minors carries penalties including fines and imprisonment. Specific references may be obtained from the Department of Public Safety.

Further, the Department of Higher Education's Alcohol Policy (BHE 99-02) incorporated into the guidelines for Campus safety and security and Campus codes of conduct adopted by the Board in May 1997, call on campuses to add to the list of zero tolerance offenses third offense underage possession or consumption of any alcoholic beverage following progressive discipline for the first two offenses.

Additionally, the Resident Student Handbook and this Handbook describe minimum mandatory sanctions that result from responsible findings in alcohol violations.