Drug-Free Schools and Communities

Every year, we notify all SPU students and employees about our policy restrictions, consequences of policy violations, health risks, legal sanctions, and resources for those seeking treatment for substance abuse problems. It’s all part of the federal Drug-Free Workplace and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Acts.

Our Policy

Seattle Pacific University does not permit faculty, staff, or students to unlawfully possess, use, or distribute illicit drugs or alcohol or to use alcoholic beverages on its property or as part of any of its activities. Such possession, use, or distribution will be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination/expulsion, and referral for prosecution. An employee or student who, while on SPU property or at any University activity, exhibits objective signs of having consumed intoxicating beverages or illicit drugs may be placed on immediate suspension. If the observed behavior is a result of drug abuse or alcohol use, the employee/student will be subject to further disciplinary action.

Any such incident will be documented and reported to the Dean of Students for Community Life in the Office of Student Life (regarding students) or Human Resources (regarding employees) and to the President’s Office. The disciplinary action taken will be reviewed and approved by the president or his designee. For further information regarding drug and alcohol policy violations and disciplinary procedures for undergraduate students, please see the Student Handbook.

Even though Washington State decriminalized marijuana possession under one ounce for adults over age 21, it is still illegal under Federal law to possess, use, or distribute any amount of marijuana. Possession, use, or distribution of any amount of marijuana at any time is also not permitted for students under SPU policy.   


SPU’s Student Counseling Center offers further resources, including Seattle-area resources.

Alcohol/Drug 24-hour Help Line: 206-722-3700 or 1-800-562-1240.

If you have questions about the University’s policy on drugs, alcohol and tobacco, contact Director of Human ResourcesGary Womelsduff at womelg@spu.edu or 206-281-2678.

Health Risks

Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the likelihood that the driver will be involved in an accident. Low to moderate doses of alcohol also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including spouse and child abuse. Moderate to high doses of alcohol cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person's ability to learn and remember information. Very high doses cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, much lower doses of alcohol will produce the effects just described.

Repeated use of alcohol can lead to dependence. Sudden cessation of alcohol intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Long-term consumption of large quantities of alcohol, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver.

Mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants have irreversible physical abnormalities and mental retardation. Research also indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other children of becoming alcoholics.   

For more information:

You’ll also find a more detailed treatment in SPU’s Alcohol and Other Drug Biennial Review.

Legal Sanctions

Washington State prohibits underage drinking.  In Washington, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 years to possess, consume, or otherwise acquire any liquor (e.g., alcohol, spirits, wine, beer).  It is also illegal for a person under age 21 to exhibit the effects in a public place of having consumed liquor (e.g., being intoxicated in public). 

Washington State also prohibits facilitating underage drinking for others.  In Washington, it is illegal for any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to someone under age 21.  It is also illegal for any person to permit someone under age 21 to consume liquor on the person’s premises (e.g., you cannot let someone under age 21 consume alcohol in your house, car, or boat). 

There are limited exceptions to the foregoing prohibitions (e.g., when liquor is provided for medicinal purposes by an authorized person).  However, generally violations can result in fines of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to 12 months. For more information, see RCW 66.44.270 (i.e., the applicable Washington law).

The possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs is prohibited by federal and state law. Strict penalties are provided for drug convictions, including mandatory prison terms for many offenses.  Click on the following link for a Summary of Federal and State Drug Laws.  For more information, you can also review the federal Controlled Substances Act and the state Uniform Controlled Substances Act