Social Event Policy for Residential Areas


  • The purpose of the Social Event Policy is to assist students at Washington and Lee University with the planning and execution of their on-campus social events. This policy is educational in nature and outlines expectations to ensure safe events are being facilitated by students. Complying with the social event policy, university policies, and local/state laws will reduce the risk incurred on any member of the Washington and Lee community.


  • Standard Social Events
    • A standard social event is an organized social event(s) with any of the following elements: hard liquor, kegs, beer/wine, live band and/or entertainment, "themed" parties, or events requiring a noise permit (see amplified noise permit details below).
    • All social events must be registered and approved by Student Affairs. Social Events will only be approved if they meet the expectations outlined in this policy.
  • Special Events/Annual Events
    • Special Events/Annual events meets the criteria of a standard social event AND requires/utilizes more than the designated event space (e.g. using tents, outdoor spaces, porches/decks, etc.), has an increased attendance, and/or utilize external vendors, will require additional approvals and more advance planning.
    • You must contact Dean McCoil ( at least three weeks prior to the date of the Special Event/Annual Event. Any events that are not communicated and/or planned in advance will not be approved.
      • If you believe your social event might fall under this category you're encouraged to reach out as far in advance of the event as possible.
  • Tent Requirements
    • If using a third-party vendor:
      • For approval, organizations are responsible for emailing Michael Jennings, Director of Environmental Health and Safety ( with the following information: Tent size, location for set-up, tent vendor's name, tent vendor's phone number.
      • Organizations are responsible for ensuring that any tent(s) being set up by a third party/external vendor follows the local fire and safety ordinances (e.g., Tents must be set up at lease 12 feet from any building.)
    • If using a tent from W&L:
      • A work order must be submitted to facilities to notify the Health and Safety Office for the event two weeks in advance.
      • The following information will need to be shared in your work order: the tent's location, dimensions of the tent, and if the tent will have sides or heaters must be provided.


    • Residential Areas: 
      • Social events are only permitted to occur in the designated event space of the following residential areas: Fraternity/Sorority Housing and Themed Housing.
      • Social events must be confined to the designated area within the given residential area (e.g. Basement, dedicated room(s), etc.). Social events are not permitted in individual rooms or sleeping areas/levels.
      • Additional information about each dedicated event space can be found in the "Dedicated Event Spaces for Residential Areas".
    • Non-Residential Areas: 
      • Social events are only permitted to occur at the following non-residential areas: The Dell and the Pavilion.
      • Social events in non-residential spaces are expected to follow the guidelines outlined in this policy and meet the same risk management requirements.


    • All Social Events:
      • No organization/group will be permitted to register more than one on-campus social event per day.
      • No social event may be scheduled at a time that conflicts with an all-campus event and/or runs during academic hours.
      • Social events may not be scheduled within one academic week of examination periods during fall and winter terms. During Spring Term, the last day of social events will be the Monday prior to the last day of classes.
    • Wednesday and Friday Events (Monday Events during Spring Term only
      • Social Events on Wednesdays and Fridays (and Mondays during Spring Term only) are limited to a maximum of 5hrs and should reflect an end time no later than 1:30 AM in order to be approved. This end time reflects the duration through which Traveller runs and students should consider how much time it will take to organize their methods of getting home.
      • All forms of alcohol must stop being served at 1:00 AM.
    • Saturday Events:
      • Daytime events (i.e. events that begin between 12-5PM) will be limited to a maximum of 5hrs and may not begin prior to 12:00 PM (Noon).
      • Nighttime events (i.e. events that begin after 6PM) will also be limited to 5hrs with the latest end time possible being 1:30 AM.
    • Alcohol Service: 
      • The service of alcohol during social events is confined to indoors within the designated event space. The service of alcohol outdoors is prohibited for all Standard Social Events.
      • Special Events/Annual Events may request approval for outdoor service. Approval is not guaranteed and requests must be made at least three weeks prior to the special event/annual event.
      • All alcohol service must end by 1:00 AM (hard alcohol/alcohol ends at 11:00 pm)
      • Hard alcohol (liquor) is only permitted if the following rules are followed:
        • A certified third-party bartender must pour and distribute the drinks.
        • Hard alcohol service ends at 11:00 PM.
      • Alcohol not permitted at Social Events:
        • Grain alcohol, Punches, Pre-mixed cocktails, etc. 
    • Decorations, Party Props, Etc.
      • The use of the following in or around a fraternity/sorority house, theme house, or townhome/apartment is not allowed:
        • The use of straw, bamboo, hay, sawdust, sand, leaves, liquids (including large amounts of water and/or inflatables), fog or artificial smoke machines, or any organic materials on the floors or walls as a covering or party decorations.
        • The use of pyrotechnics or cold spark machines.
        • The use of "popcorn packing" or "packing peanuts."
      • Plastic tarps used for registered social events must be fire-rated (i.e., fire-resistance) and purchased through Public Safety.


    In order for a social event to be approved, the following is required: 

    • Guest List
      • The guest list for all social events is the Washington and Lee Directory unless otherwise stipulated.
      • Students who invite outside community members to events should realize that they (and/or their organization) may be held responsible for the action(s) of their guest(s). Some events may be designated as closed to anyone outside the W&L community.
    • Amplified Sound/Noise Permit
      • Once a social event is approved, an amplified sound/noise permit be obtained from the Lexington Police Department (LPD) in City Hall between 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM on Wednesday (and Mondays during Spring Term only). Only approved on-campus social events will be issued an amplified sound permit by the LPD. The amplified sound permit should be posted clearly at the entrance to your event.
      • By obtaining and posting an amplified sound permit, the Lexington police officers will first ask you to be quiet as a warning instead of a summons. Receiving a summons will make it unlikely the City will provide a noise permit to you or your organization for a period of time.
    • Sober Officers (2):
      • Social events are required to have a minimum of two (2) Sober Officers.
      • A sober officer is an individual in attendance throughout the entire social event and is not under the influence of alcohol and/or any other illegal drugs or substances.
        • For fraternity/sorority house events, sober officers must be initiated/active members who have completed the official W&L Risk Management Program.
      • Sober officers should be easily found at all times and be actively monitoring the event to identify, assist, individuals if/when needed.
      • Sober officers should be actively monitoring the event for intoxicated individuals who may need to be removed from the event and (a) remove those people from the house in the calmest possible manner and (b) seek assistance to ensure that the said individual receives appropriate care.
      • The name and contact information for sober officers will be required on the social event registration form.
    • Sober Bartender (1):
      • Beer/Wine Only Events:
        • Sober Bartenders are individuals in attendance throughout the entire social event and is not under the influence of alcohol and/or any other illegal drugs or substances.
        • Sober Bartenders must be the only people behind the bar and the only people distributing alcohol. They should ensure that bottled water and packaged food items are always available and easily accessible. The name and contact information for the sober bartender will be required on the social event registration form.
      • Social Events with Hard Alcohol (Liquor):
        • No student is permitted to serve hard liquor at any time. Registered social events with hard liquor require a licensed, third party bartender. The name and contact information for the third-party bartender will be required on the social event registration form.
    • Clean-Up Coordinator (1):
      • The Clean-Up Coordinator is responsible for ensuring the social event space is cleaned up by the required deadlines. This includes any debris/trash that may be left at nearby Traveller stops, or areas surrounding the events location as a result of the social event.
      • The Clean-Up Coordinator's name and phone number is required on the social event registration form and they will be contacted if there are debris concerns after the event.
    • Food & Water:
      • Food: Clearly available in a visible location near the bar. This must include items that are individually packaged, such as cheese and crackers, chips, pretzels, etc.
      • Water: Clearly available in a visible location near the bar. This must include sealed bottles in plastic tubs of ice. Additional non-alcoholic beverages in sealed containers are encouraged.

    External/Third-Party Event Security

    • The social event policy does not require organizations to hire external/third-party event security. 
    • If an organization decides to hire external/third-party event security, the following will be required:
      • The vendor must be registered with Virginia's Department of Criminal Justice Services as a business to conduct security services as stated in the Code of Virginia § 9.1-138.
      • The vendor must have liability insurance, and a copy will need to be shared with the Director of Public Safety at least 72 hours before the date the event is scheduled.
      • The vendor will need to comply with W&L's no weapons policy.
      • The vendor will need to meet with Public Safety to be briefed on how we handle issues involving our students and the policy for social events.
    • Considering the above requirements, organizations are strongly encouraged to communicate their plans to hire external/third-party security at least three weeks prior to the event.


    • The individual, group, or organization hosting the social event will be responsible for a prompt and thorough clean-up as follows:
      • Wednesday Events: require that the dedicated event space and surrounding areas must be cleaned by 8:00 AM Thursday morning.
      • Friday/Saturday Events: require that the dedicated event space and surrounding areas must be cleaned by 6:00 AM the next Monday morning.
    • Cleaning Supplies: 
      • The University will supply each house with cleaning supplies to ensure the appropriate cleaning supplies are used.
      • When cleaning up, students should not use harsh chemicals on Hardwood Floors (i.e. bleach, ammonia, etc.) as these will cause damage.


    • If violations of this policy occur, the individuals, groups, and/or organizations may be referred to the respective governing body as a conduct issue.
    • Recurring violations, regardless of severity, may result in progressive sanctions including, but not limited to, the inability to host social events for a designated amount of time.


    • Fall and Winter Term:
      • Social Events are only permitted for Wednesday, Friday, and Saturdays during the Fall and Winter Terms.
      • All social events must be registered by 12:00 PM (noon) on Tuesday of the week the event(s) is planned for.
    • Spring Term:
      • Social Events are only permitted for Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturdays during Spring Term.
      • All social events must be registered by 12:00 PM (noon) on Monday of the week the event(s) is planned for.

      • The contact person listed on the registration will receive an email from Student Affairs to confirm approval of the event OR to request additional information about the event or informing the organization/group of what needs to be changed before approval is given. It is your responsibility to ensure the event has been registered and approved.
      • Please note that reservations for Red Square, and Davidson Park must be reserved through 25Live. Preference will be given first to the organizations/themed houses living in the area. Please contact Dean McCoil ( with any questions.