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Federal and Massachusetts law and Harvard University and HLS provide strict and specific regulations for the use of alcohol and prohibition of the use of illicit drugs. Students and members of student organizations should be aware of each of these regulations and are charged with compliance with each of them.

The unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs by students or employees on Harvard property, or by HLS student organizations at any time, is a violation of HLS rules as well as the law. The distribution of alcohol to persons under the age of 21 is also a violation of HLS rules and the law.

Student organizations are responsible for the activity of their members in this regard and for any activity taking place at an event sponsored by the organization. Any officer or member of an organization who participates in, supports or condones the use of drugs or alcohol in violation of the law or HLS rules is potentially subject to disciplinary action by the Administrative Board. The actions of the Board may include reporting confirmed incidents to local law enforcement authorities.

Serving alcohol at a meeting or event sponsored by the organization is permissible within the guidelines of the Alcohol Policy. However, it is the responsibility of the organization to ensure that no alcohol is distributed to persons under the age of 21, including law students. Student organizations should note that they may also be held responsible for serving alcohol to persons who drive while intoxicated.

Both Massachusetts and Cambridge laws prohibit the public consumption of alcohol. The regulations of the Massachusetts District Commission, which has jurisdiction over land along the Charles River, also prohibit public consumption of alcohol. Anyone violating these laws is subject to arrest without a warrant, and penalties include a fine. Members of HLS student organizations violating these laws may be subject to disciplinary proceedings of the Administrative Board or the organization may be subject to administrative sanctions.

If alcohol will be served, it must be served according to the Alcohol Policy.

Alcohol Policy

All members of the HLS community serving alcohol on the Law School campus must comply with Massachusetts State laws, the HLS liquor license, and the policies listed below.

The following guidelines apply to all events, at all times and locations. If an event is held on-campus or if an event is held off-campus using law school funds, these guidelines apply. These guidelines represent minimum standards. For particular events, HLS may require additional precautions.

Who May be Served?

Alcohol will only be served to individuals who are 21 or older with a valid, government issued ID. HLS and Restaurant Associates reserve the right to refuse alcohol to any individual, particularly anyone who is or appears to be intoxicated.

How Can Alcohol be Obtained?

All alcohol must be purchased through Restaurant Associates. No open containers of alcohol may be present on campus at any time unless purchased through Restaurant Associates for an event.

Which Beverages Can be Served?

Beer and wine can be served at Law School events. A range of beers and wines are available through Restaurant Associates. If you are looking for a particular item, please contact Restaurant Associates at or by calling 617-495-5538.

Drinking Age

The minimum drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. To be served or provided an alcoholic beverage, an individual must show proof of minimum drinking age by presenting a government-issued photo identification.


Participation in alcohol drinking games is prohibited. Examples of drinking games include but are not limited to the following: beer pong, flip cup, caps, kings, jenga, quarters, or other games where binge drinking is encouraged.

Liquor Licenses

A special one-day liquor license must be obtained from the Cambridge License Commission (Cambridge City Hall) for all events where alcohol is sold. Procedures for obtaining the license are available from the Events Office, Holmes Hall. A license is not necessary for some events taking place in The Pub, because the Harvard University Dining Services license covers the sale of beer and wine.


For all events where alcohol will be served, Restaurant Associates bartenders must be present to serve the alcohol. The number of bartenders will be determined by Restaurant Associates.

Police Presence

Harvard University Police must be present for events whenever alcohol is served and the number in attendance exceeds 100. A police detail can be arranged by visiting the HUPD website at least one week in advance of your event. The appropriate number of police officers will be determined by the HUPD.

Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages

A substantial amount of food and non-alcoholic beverages must be available at any event where alcohol is served.

Off-Campus Events – Bars, Restaurants and Other Venues

The HLS guidelines are enforced for all off-campus events at which HLS funds are used.

If the bar/restaurant serves alcohol under its own license, the guidelines relating to alcohol purchase and the requirement of a bartender do not apply (since that is covered by the establishment). However, students may receive a maximum of 2 drink tickets per person for such events, which can be used for beer, wine, or soft drinks.

Questions about this policy can be directed to the following individuals:
Students, please contact Sheena Prosper in the Dean of Students Office at 617-495-3694.
Staff and Faculty, please contact Kimberly Harris in Human Resources by email or at 617-495-4611.

Food Policy

Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center & Harkness Commons Food Policy
To ensure that Restaurant Associates complies with all applicable food service regulations, the following food policy is in place. All of the below spaces must be reserved through the Events Office; and any catered food or beverages served in the areas noted above must be provided by Restaurant Associates.

First Floor:

  • Tables in Main Hallway
  • North Terrace Lounge
  • South Terrace Lounge (Pub/Café)
  • Terrace Patio
  • Jarvis Field
  • The Pub
  • Haas Lounge
  • Simpson & Thacher Lounge

Second Floor:

  • Main Dining Room
  • South Dining Room (Hark South)
  • Game Room (TV Lounge)
  • Milstein Function Rooms – West & East
  • Milstein Terrace

Event Planners may use an outside vendor provided that the event complies with the following conditions:

  • The space is one other than those noted above, reserved through the Events Office and the reservation indicates the use of an outside caterer.
  • The food is take-out, dropped off by a delivery person, or purchased from a grocery store. (No outside catering staff may be present to serve the food.)
  • The group ordering the food is responsible for cleaning up the area including disposing of any leftovers at the end of the event.
  • The group is not serving alcohol.
  • The Restaurant Associates kitchens, food preparation areas, and utensils are not to be used by outside vendors.