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University Policy 38

Illegal Drugs and Illegal Use or Abuse of Alcohol

Formerly Executive Memorandum 88-90
Initially approved: November 1, 1988
Republished: July 16, 2007
Republished: May 25, 2009
Revised: November 13, 2012
Revised: May 4, 2021

Policy Topic: Governance and Administration
Administering Office: Chancellor’s Office


The use of illegal drugs and the illegal use or abuse of alcohol endanger the health and safety of members of the Western Carolina University (the “University”) community. Consistent with the requirements of the Code of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina (the “Code”) and UNC Policy 1300.1, the University Board of Trustees adopts this Policy to address such threats to the integrity of the University community and to comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989. The North Carolina Office of State Human Resources Drug Alcohol Free Workplace Policy’s purpose is to ensure state employees have the right to a workplace that is safe and free of alcohol and controlled substances and to meet the requirements of all applicable laws and regulations.  


This Policy applies to all University students, faculty, and staff.


“Illegal drugs” means (1) any drug or substance whose use, possession, and manufacture are regulated by the Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 90 of the North Carolina General Statutes (the “Controlled Substances Act”); or (2) a drug whose use is strictly controlled by a physician’s prescription or other order.

“Illegal use of alcohol” means (1) persons under twenty-one (21) years of age possessing and consuming malt beverages, unfortified wine, spirituous liquor or mixed beverages; and/or (2) except as otherwise permitted by University Policy 81 or other applicable University policies (e.g., the University policy on tailgating), persons possessing an open container of any alcoholic beverage or consuming alcoholic beverages on University grounds, including vehicular areas, sidewalks, and public right-of-ways.

“Alcoholic Beverage” or “Alcohol” means any beverage containing at least one-half of one percent (0.5%) alcohol by volume, including malt beverages, unfortified wine, fortified wine, spirituous liquor, and mixed beverages.

“Alcohol abuse” means a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or the ability to learn or work. Alcohol abuse manifests in the failure to fulfill major responsibilities at work or school, among other things.


A. The University shall maintain a comprehensive drug and alcohol prevention program (DAPP) available to all members of the University community. The activities of the program shall be the responsibility of the Assistant Director for Health and Wellness Education, who will work cooperatively with the Office of Human Resources with regard to employee education and prevention programs. The University maintains a program available to all members of the University community that:

1. notifies members of the University community about applicable standards of conduct and the health risks associated with illegal drug use and the illegal use or abuse of alcohol; and
2. emphasizes the incompatibility of drug and alcohol abuse and maximum achievement of personal and educational goals, and that the use and possession of illegal drugs or the illegal use or abuse of alcohol may jeopardize an individual’s present accomplishments and future opportunities; and
3. provides descriptions of available treatment programs and encourages members of the University community to make use of available campus and community counseling, medical, and rehabilitation resources in dealing with illegal drug and/or alcohol abuse problems; and
4. informs members of the University community of potential sanctions for violations of this Policy, and that members also may be subject to criminal prosecution for violating state laws relating to the illegal use, possession, delivery, sale, manufacture or creation of controlled substances, or the illegal possession or use of alcohol.

B. The University shall provide information about drug counseling and rehabilitation services to members of the University community through campus-based programs (i.e. Employee Assistance Program for employees and Counseling and Psychological Services for students), as well as community-based organizations. Persons who voluntarily avail themselves of University services shall be assured that applicable professional standards of confidentiality will be observed.


A. The University shall take all actions necessary, consistent with state and federal law and applicable University policy, to eliminate illegal drugs and the illegal use or abuse of alcohol from the University community. The institutional policy on illegal drugs and illegal use of alcohol shall be publicized in catalogues and other materials prepared for all enrolled and prospective students and in materials distributed to faculty and staff.

B. Students, faculty, and staff are responsible for knowing about and complying with: (1) the provisions of this Policy; (2) North Carolina law that makes it a crime to possess, sell, deliver, or manufacture those drugs designated collectively as "controlled substances" in the Controlled Substances Act; and (3) North Carolina General Statutes §18B-102 regarding the possession, distribution, and use of alcoholic beverages in North Carolina. Local laws and ordinances and University policies are preempted by state laws regarding regulation of alcoholic beverages.

Any member of the University community who violates applicable law(s) may be subject both to criminal prosecution and to disciplinary proceedings by the University. It is not "double jeopardy" for both law enforcement authorities and the University to proceed against and punish a person for the same specified conduct. The University shall initiate its own disciplinary proceeding against a student, faculty member, or staff member when the alleged conduct is deemed to affect the interests of the University. 

C. Penalties shall be imposed by the University in accordance with procedural safeguards applicable to disciplinary actions against students, faculty, and staff: (1) as required by Code Section 502D(3) in connection with student discipline; (2) as required by Code Section 603 in connection with the imposition of faculty serious sanctions; (3) as required by UNC Policies 300.1.1 and 300.2.1 in connection with EHRA employee discipline; and (4) as required by University Policy #78 in connection with SHRA employee discipline.

D. The penalties to be imposed by the University will vary depending upon the nature and seriousness of the offense, and may include a range of disciplinary actions up to and including expulsion from enrollment or termination of employment. The University may also refer matters to law enforcement for prosecution. For second or other subsequent offenses involving illegal drugs and the illegal use or abuse of alcohol, progressively more severe penalties shall be imposed.

A faculty member or staff member found to have violated applicable law(s) or University policies concerning illegal drugs or the illegal use or abuse of alcohol may be required to participate in a drug education and counseling program, consent to regular drug testing, and accept such other conditions and restrictions, including a program of community service, as the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee deems appropriate. Refusal or failure to abide by such conditions and restrictions may result in additional disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion from enrollment or termination from employment.

Any student breach of this policy may be considered a violation of the WCU Code of Student Conduct and may result in a sanction consistent with the WCU Code of Student Conduct.

E. Interim Suspension Pending Final Disposition. When a student, faculty member, or staff member has been charged by the University with a violation of policies concerning illegal drugs or the illegal use or abuse of alcohol, he/she may be interim suspended from enrollment or employment (administrative/investigatory leave with pay) before initiation or completion of regular disciplinary proceedings if, assuming the truth of the charges, the Chancellor or Chancellor’s designee concludes that the person’s continued presence with the University community would constitute a clear and immediate danger to the health or welfare of other members of the University community; provided, that if such an interim suspension is imposed, appropriate notice and hearing of the charges against the suspended person shall be held in accordance with applicable University policies.


The designated coordinator of drug education shall be the Assistant Director for Health and Wellness Education who shall act under the authority of the Chancellor and be responsible for overseeing all action and programs relating to this Policy along with the assistance of other community stakeholders. The Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources (or designee) will coordinate with the EAP provider to conduct programs for employees and provide an annual report to the Assistant Director regarding such programs. The Assistant Director will conduct biennial reviews on the effectiveness of alcohol and other drug programs, and maintain biennial review materials on file in accordance with the Education Department General Administrative Regulations, Part 86.103(a).


As a condition of continuing employment, an employee must abide by the terms of this Policy and must notify his/her immediate supervisor of any criminal drug conviction occurring in the workplace no later than five (5) days after that conviction. The University will notify federal granting or contracting agencies within ten (10) days after receiving notice that an employee directly engaged in a grant or contract has been convicted of a drug offense in the workplace. The University will take appropriate personnel action, which may include the imposition of disciplinary sanctions and/or requiring satisfactory participation in drug abuse or rehabilitation programs, against an employee convicted of a drug related violation in the workplace no later than thirty (30) days after receipt of notice of conviction.


This policy shall be reviewed and revised as necessary every four (4) years.


University Policies

University Policy #78, Disciplinary Policy and Procedures for SPA Employees

University Policy #107, Employee Assistance Program

University Policy #81, Alcoholic Beverages

UNC Policy Manual

UNC Policy on Illegal Drugs, 1300.1

Western Carolina University Code of Student Conduct

University Programs on Alcohol and Other Drug Education

Counseling and Psychological Services

Office of Web Services