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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Alcoholic Beverages

Policy Number: 9


Use, possession, or distribution of alcoholic beverages on University premises or at events sponsored by the University or The University of Texas System


All members of the University community

Date Reviewed:
February 2019
Responsible Office:
Finance and Business Services
Responsible Executive:
Senior Vice President, Finance and Business Services and Chief Financial Officer


The use, possession or distribution of alcohol on the premises of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("University") and at events (on or off campus) sponsored by the University or The University of Texas System ("UT System") or by a registered employee or student/resident organization is prohibited, unless approved in advance by the Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer ("COO") or designee.  To be approved, the guidelines, responsibilities and procedures set forth in this policy must be followed.

An event is sponsored by the University if a budgeted office, department or division of the University is responsible for organizing the event, inviting attendees, or paying expenses related to the event, including the purchase of food and beverages. An event is considered to be sponsored even if an outside entity pays for the food and beverages at the event. Meetings or events organized and presented by registered employee or student/resident organizations are not events sponsored by UT System or the University but must meet the requirements of this policy.  Refer to HOOP 110, Student Organizations.

University representatives sponsoring such events must comply with relevant University policies and take appropriate measures to protect the welfare of the University, its staff, students and guests. The impairing use of alcohol at an authorized, official University function, in the course of official University business, or at an authorized University site in a manner that may adversely affect job performance or the safety of any other person is prohibited. Refer to HOOP 173, Substance Abuse.


A.    Event Guidelines

1. University departments and employee or student/resident organizations that choose to plan events with alcoholic beverages are expected to maintain a reasonable balance in their programming between events with and those without the serving of alcoholic beverages.

2. The theme of all events where alcohol is served must be primarily social, cultural, or educational, and not the availability of alcohol.

  • Employee or student/resident organizations may not plan events that promote or encourage the consumption of alcohol.
  • Serving and consuming alcohol should always be complementary or secondary to the event, not the primary focus of the event.

3. Publicity or advertising for an event will not advertise the availability of alcoholic beverages.

  • University departments and employee or student/resident organizations are not allowed to: (1) Advertise the serving or consumption of alcohol at their event or (2) Present any pictorial, written or verbal references to alcohol on any student/resident event advertisement or invitation. This includes statements or references such as “Unlimited Spirits”, “Open Bar”, “All You Can Drink", “Beer Hour”, “Beer Fest”, “Beer Garden” or “Cash Bar” and the like.

4. Alcohol may be served and consumed only in a responsible and lawful manner, including the following:

  • Only one drink at a time may be dispensed to each person.
  • Most events will be planned for a maximum of two drinks per person at the event.
  • Most events will be planned with an alcoholic beverage menu limited to beer and wine only.
  • Kegs or other bulk containers of alcoholic beverages are permitted only in connection with approved events, and all such containers must be closed or untapped at the conclusion of the event and removed from the premises as soon as is practicable. Other than for approved events, the possession, use and storage of kegs and other bulk containers of alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
  • Ample quantities of food and nonalcoholic beverages must be continuously provided and visibly displayed during the event. 

5. The promotion of or consumption of alcohol in any irresponsible manner is prohibited, including:

  • No alcohol is to be served to a person who is disorderly or who is or appears to be intoxicated.
  • Individuals are prohibited from bringing their own alcoholic beverages to any function sponsored by a University department or employee or student/resident organization. This does not include the authorized purchase of alcoholic beverages for an approved event.   
  • No alcohol of any type shall be provided as awards or prizes at events (e.g., gift baskets including wine or other forms of alcoholic beverages).
  • There may be no games of chance, drinking games, contests, or other activities that induce, encourage, or result in the consumption of alcohol. 

6. The following requirements shall apply to events where alcohol is served:

  • A University staff or faculty member “Sponsor” must be present who will be responsible for overseeing the event, as well as the distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages. This Sponsor may not consume alcohol during the event.
  • Servers may not consume alcohol during the event.
  • Alcoholic beverages may not be served at any University-sponsored or -affiliated event for more than three hours in the course of any event, nor later than 10 p.m.
  • Alcoholic beverages may not be served at any University-sponsored or -affiliated event during the usual working hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

B.    Responsibilities and Accountability

1. The University expects that those who wish to include alcohol as part of their activities will do so responsibly and lawfully.

  • Responsible drinking includes making sound judgments about whether, when, and how much to drink, understanding the health issues related to the consumption of alcohol, and avoiding excessive or "binge" drinking or any other abuse of alcohol that negatively affects one's academic, work, social, or personal activities or health.
  • Event organizers and sponsors must fully understand the University alcohol policy and applicable laws and manage their events accordingly. They also are expected to keep the safety and well-being of participants at the forefront of their planning and management of events.
  • Faculty and staff members who advise students/residents and who sponsor events are expected to assist them in making responsible decisions about their events and to facilitate the enforcement of the University's alcohol policy.
  • The individual at the highest level of management present at a University event where alcohol is served is expected to model standards of responsibility, safety and well-being and to facilitate the enforcement of this policy.

2. Officers of employee organizations, faculty advisors of student/resident organizations as well as event sponsors are responsible for the implementation and enforcement of these policies.

  • Officers are also responsible for educating their membership, guests, alumni, and incoming officers about these policies.
  • Violations will result in disciplinary action against the responsible individuals and organization, up to and including loss of University recognition.

3. The deans of each school shall work with employee and student/resident organization leaders and their advisers to promote employee and student/resident responsibility and compliance with all university policies.

  • The deans have responsibility for enforcing and implementing the University's alcohol policy within each school.
  • The deans of individual schools may set more stringent restrictions on events related to their school involving alcohol, but all events must, at a minimum, comply with the policies outlined herein.

4. Any member of the University community who violates this policy may be subject to disciplinary action by the University.

C.    Process for Approval

1. Prior to the event:

  • The employee or student/resident organization or department hosting the event must designate a staff or faculty member as a “Sponsor” who will be present during the event to assist in its management. This Sponsor may not consume alcohol during the event.
  • Request for Permission to Serve Alcoholic Beverages form must be submitted by the Sponsor who will be responsible for the event through the appropriate dean or vice president to the COO or designee. 
  • This form must be submitted for each separate occasion upon which the event is held; “blanket” requests intended to include multiple dates for the same type of event will not be approved.
  • Signature of the Sponsor, dean and vice president on the Request form will constitute an assertion of compliance with this policy.
  • The Request form must be completed for any University-sponsored event in which alcoholic beverages will be served regardless of the location of the event, with the exception of small business meals (see Expense Reimbursement Guide).
  • The Request form must be submitted a minimum of ten (10) business days prior to the event.
  • Failure to submit the Request form prior to the event may result in expenses being deemed non-reimbursable and/or jeopardizing future request approvals and/or prompt disciplinary action up to and including termination or dismissal.

2. Exceptions to any of the provisions listed above must be approved in advance by the COO or designee.

3. On receipt of the Request form, the COO or designee will review for approval or disapproval of reimbursement, sign and return it to the Sponsor listed on the form. The approved form must be submitted with request for payment or reimbursement.

4. Expenses incurred for alcoholic beverages may be reimbursed only from designated funds appropriate for such expenditures. Private (or gift) funds may be used only if specifically permitted by the terms of administration of the account.


    • Finance and Business Affairs
    • 713-500-3158
    • Expense Reimbursement Team
    • 713-500-4958