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    August 2011

    Student Dance Events

    Student dances can be a healthy way for students to unwind, but without proper attention and planning, these social events can quickly get out of hand. United Educators has received claims related to student dances that included physical and sexual assaults, alcohol and substance abuse, and slips and falls. College policies governing student dances can help to ensure student safety and mitigate risks to the institution.

    In general, college policies should address approval procedures, security requirements, alcohol and drug use, supervision, guests, attendees under the age of 18, advertising, facility requirements, and revenues. Special attention should be paid to alcohol, guests, and attendees under the age of 18—three areas often involved in harmful incidents. UE recommends that the policy address the following:

    • Alcohol. Campus-wide policies regarding student alcohol use should apply to student dances. Colleges can help prevent underage drinking by designating alcohol serving and consumption areas and by requiring two forms of identification, such as a student or state-issued ID. Give wristbands to students who are of legal age. If state law allows alcohol to be consumed in areas where underage students are present, identify these students as well. For example, this can be done by writing “X” on both of their hands with a marker. 
      Security or other campus personnel should be present to remove students who appear intoxicated and help them seek any necessary medical attention. College policies should require that an equal amount of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages be available, as well as food. Consult with legal counsel to ensure that the alcohol policy and procedures comply with state laws.
    • Guests. State clearly how many guests each student is allowed to bring to a dance—and adhere to that policy. Require each guest present a valid photo ID (identifying his or her age) and complete a registration form. Well before the dance, notify students that they are responsible for their guests and for their own actions. Consider possible sanctions for students who fail to oversee and help control their guests’ behavior.
    • Minors. Be clear about circumstances in which students may invite minors (guests under the age of 18) to attend college dances. College policies should outline procedures for obtaining permission for underage guests to attend dances since their presence may affect security, venue options, and advertising guidelines. Many institutions prohibit minors for security reasons and to comply with alcohol laws. Restrictions on minors can be waived in special circumstances, such as for Little Sibling Weekends, but it is best to ban alcohol from such events.

    For examples of policies governing student dances, refer to the following:

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