“Mom, I got in trouble” – Unpacking Alcohol and Marijuana Violations at EWU

Your Guide to Supporting your Student through the Conduct Process

February 9, 2024

Imagine it’s 1:30 AM on a Saturday night, the phone rings, and your student whispers on the other end – “Mom, I got in trouble.” Despite your best efforts to guide your student, sometimes they make poor choices. The goal of this blog is to prepare you with resources and information to take some of the anxiety out of these situations.

What Happens Next?

As you might predict, the severity of the situation will dictate the process and potential consequences/sanctions. All of the rules and restrictions can be found in the EWU Student Code of Conduct and The EWU Housing Living Guide (if your student is living on campus).

About the Law: In the State of Washington – people must be 21 years old to use/possess either alcohol or marijuana. Because EWU receives Federal Funding – are required to follow federal rules and policies – which means that marijuana is never allowed at EWU events or property, even if the student is 21 or older. Alcohol and marijuana are prohibited from the residence halls (even empty bottles).

First Time Alcohol or Marijuana Violation:

As an institution of learning we prefer to start with an educational approach. In fact, our processes and policies are designed in a way to foster a community of care and cultivate student growth and integrity. So, when our office receives a report about an alcohol or marijuana incident, we start with an educational process – called an Alcohol or Drug Educational Meeting.  (If the student has any prior alcohol or drug violations – they will go through the conduct process instead).

About the Alcohol or Drug Educational Meeting

A few days after the incident a dedicated Conduct Review Officer in the Student Rights and Responsibilities Office will send an email and text to the student’s EWU email address through a system called Maxient. The Conduct Review Officer (CRO) will also mail a copy of the letter to their residence. When the student arrives in our office, the CRO will show them their student rights, the incident report, and any exhibits we have. The student then can either accept responsibility or not. (A video explaining the process).

If they take responsibility

  • They will have to do three things: Take a 20-min online assessment, Attend a 60-minute In-Person Basics Alcohol or Cannabis Class, and Submit on-line reflection.) (Here’s a visual flow chart). The AOD incident does not go on their Student Conduct Record.

If the student does not believe they are responsible

  • The CRO will schedule a new meeting for them to come back for a Brief Adjudicate Hearing (BAH) (visual flow chart) where the student will have the opportunity to share new information and any exhibits (photos, statements, etc.)
  • The CRO will take all things into consideration and then decide if the student is Responsible or Not – based on a standard of more likely than not.
  • If they are found not responsible – that’s it.
  • If they are found responsible – they will be given some sanctions, ranging from educational to community service to probation.
  • The incident will go on their Student Conduct Record for 7 years.

What can you do to help?

  1. Remain calm and listen to your student and try to hear their perspective.  Unfortunately, sometimes students don’t provide all the details about incidents to their parents – keep in mind you may be hearing part of the story.
  2. Dispel any myths or fears about them getting arrested, going to jail, or getting kicked out of school. Expulsion is not a possible sanction for initial AOD cases or Brief Hearings, and the Student Rights Office can’t arrest them – that’s a criminal legal process. If it’s their first violation, you can even explain the likely sanctions from the information above.
  3. Your student has the right to not tell you about their incident, and unless they have submitted of Release of Information for you – we are unable to tell you any details. So, if you call our office asking for details, know that we may be able to provide generic process information – but may not be allowed to tell you specific information – as much as we’d like to.
  4. We have a FAQ page on our website for families that may answer additional questions.

We hope this blog helped provided resources and helped to dispel confusion around the conduct process.


Colleen Vandenboom, PhD- Director, Student Rights and Responsibilities