The Rules: How to stay safe and out of trouble at GW

Depending on the situation, a visit from the University Police Department can be very helpful or land you in a lot of trouble. Knowing the University’s Code of Student Conduct may help you keep that permanent record untarnished.


The University has strict policies barring underage students from possessing or consuming alcohol on campus. Students can face harsh sanctions for these activities, even if they are just returning intoxicated from an off-campus location. First-time violators could receive a $50 fine and alcohol education, and parental notification if they are under 21.

A student’s first trip to the hospital will result in a $100 fine, a mandatory meeting with a professional staff member and, if under 21, parental notification, said Gabriel Slifka, associate director of Student Judicial Services.

Slifka said a second trip to the hospital will likely lead in a year of suspension.

A third alcohol violation, even without hospitalization, could result in expulsion. UPD Chief Dolores Stafford recommended that underage students hoping to avoid these punishments leave functions that are loud, crowded or feature excessive drinking.


Possessing illicit substances and paraphernalia, including unprescribed medication, “a bong, pipe, hookah bowl, spoons, straws, razorblades, rolling papers, scales or baggies in conjunction with drugs or drug residue” is a violation of the University’s drug policy, according to the Office of Student Judicial Services Web site. The amount of drugs and the situation affect the punishment, but UPD or the Metropolitan Police Department can arrest you immediately.

The minimum sanction recommended by the Code of Student Conduct for drug offenses is a $50 fine, a drug education course and loss of housing. Dealers may face suspension or expulsion.


Even if you are drinking legally in your residence hall, you still risk getting a noise violation. If a UPD officer patrolling the area hears excessive noise – or an annoyed neighbor tips them off – the consequences could include an administrative warning or judicial action. If the officer notices illegal activity while investigating the noise, consequences will be more severe.

Fake IDs

Fake identification may be an easy way to get into bars around the District, but getting caught with one could lead to charges from the Metropolitan Police Department as well as judicial action from SJS. The minimum University sanction for a possessing a fake ID is disciplinary probation, but those students making or selling them can be suspended or expelled.

Illegal downloading

The Recording Industry Association of America has in recent months targeted students on college campuses for illegally downloading copyrighted music. This year the RIAA successfully subpoenaed GW for the names of nine student downloaders, most of whom later settled out of court for several thousand dollars. Many of these students were using peer-to-peer programs like Limewire to download music illegally. In addition to the potential lawsuits, the University may also temporarily disconnect your network connection.

Staying safe

There are several precautions you can take to stay safe on campus. Stafford said students should keep the UPD emergency number, 202-994-6111, stored in their phones. 4-RIDE, a free campus escort service, operates between 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and can be reached at 202-994-RIDE. UPD also offers free self-defense classes to female students.

Stafford said the most frequent crime on campus is theft. She advised students to report all suspicious activity to UPD, avoid walking alone at night, lock their doors when they leave the room and keep valuables locked or in sight at all times.

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