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Student Handbook
Public Safety
Remember: All federal, state, and local laws apply at Rensselaer.
Rensselaer and the Law

All federal, state, and local laws apply at Rensselaer. Although the Institute may assist students who are charged with crimes, it will not protect anyone from prosecution. In addition, Rensselaer may impose sanctions of its own.

Alcohol And Other Drugs

It is illegal in New York state for persons under 21 years of age to possess alcoholic beverages with the intent to consume.

Rensselaer’s position on alcohol and illegal drugs is explicitly detailed in the publication Alcohol and Other Drug Policy and the brochure Alcohol and Other Drug Education and Prevention Program. This policy specifically states that “...Rensselaer will not disregard the law and will not shield individuals from the legal consequences of their actions should they violate the law. In addition, individuals who have violated the law are also subject to disciplinary action. Students will be disciplined according to the Student Handbook, faculty according to the Handbook for Academic Staff, and staff according to the Human Resources Policy Manual.” For more information, go to Alcohol and Drug Policy.
The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of alcohol is prohibited on Institute property or as part of any activity sponsored by the Institute. Individuals or organizations who sponsor approved events involving beverage alcohol shall assume full responsiblity and liability for the event.
Consumption of beverage alcohol on campus is permitted only by persons age 21 or older:

  • In the privacy of their rooms.
  • At campus events where an alcohol permit has been obtained.
  • Possession or consumption of alcohol on campus by any person who is a student under age 21 is in violation of the New York State (NYS) law. Any person under age 21 who misrepresents his/her age in order to obtain alcohol has violated the GDA if that person is a student. If that person is an employee, policies of HR have been violated.
  • Any person who supplies or makes alcohol available to someone under age 21 has violated NYS statutes.
  • Campus events that are open to all students, or where 20% or more of the attendees will be under age 21, may not be granted an alcohol permit.
  • The consumption of alcohol or possession of an open container of alcohol is prohibited in all public or common areas on campus.
  • The serving or availability of alcohol at events being held ina predominately frosh residential facility is prohibited.
  • Alcohol will not be permitted at Rensselaer athletic events.
  • Displays of any alcohol related items or materials are not allowed in any residential facility.

Human Resource policies for exempt and non-exempt staff are addressed in Section VI (Employee Conduct) of the Human Resources Policy Manual (Revised 3/85). “Possessing liquor, narcotics, or explosives on the campus, without prior approval of an authorized representative of the Institute,” is a first degree offense.

Sexual Offenses

Sexual activity with a person against his or her wishes is a crime (N.Y.S Penal Law, Article 130). If the victim does not resist or express unwillingness, it could still be a crime.

Sexual activity means sexual contact and is not restricted to intercourse. The crimes specified under Article 130 range from a class A misdemeanor to class B felony. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense for which a sentence of a fine or imprisonment for more than 15 days, but less than one year, could be imposed. A felony is a criminal offense punishable by fine or imprisonment for more than one year.

In addition, Rensselaer may impose punishment ranging from disciplinary warning to expulsion. A complete list of possible sanctions for Sexual Misconduct can be found in the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.


Members of the Rensselaer community who believe they have experienced Sexual Misconduct may choose to report the incident to the Institute, law enforcement, or both, or not to report the incident at all. For more information about reporting, or to file an anonymous complaint, visit

The Department of Public Safety is available 24 hours a day to receive reports of Sexual Misconduct and to respond to emergencies. Public Safety can assist you with: filing an incident report with Rensseleaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); getting help with obtaining medical assistance; contacting the 24 hour Student Counseling Center on-call counselor; contacting local law enforcement to file a criminal complaint; initiating legal proceedings in Family Court; applying for or understanding an Order of Protection; or getting information about other campus or community services.

Please note: filing an incident report with RPI Public Safety does not require the filing of criminal charges AND IT DOES NOT constitute the filing of criminal charges. For more information on the differences between the Student Sexual Misconduct process and the criminal justice process, visit:


For information on evidence collection and more, visit


To speak confidentially with a counselor, you may call:
1) RPI Student Health Center
  • Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m:
    • Medical: (518) 276-6287
    • Counseling: (518) 276-6479
  • After hours, 24/7:
    • Call Public Safety and ask for the counselor on call: (518) 276-6656

2) The Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program, Rensselaer County Sexual Assault 24/7 Hotline: (518) 271-3257.

The outcome of sex offenses at Rensselaer depends on several factors. It is the decision of the victim to choose if and how to press charges. The mechanisms of adjudication are criminal court, civil court, a Rensselaer administrative proceeding, or all these.

Weapons Possession

The Institute Grounds for Disciplinary Action prohibits “use or possession of dangerous weapons, explosive devices or materials, including but not limited to firearms, dangerous knives, BB and pellet guns, air rifles, slingshots, ammunition firecrackers, bombs, whips, and martial arts weapons.” Possession of weapons or firearms of any sort is strictly prohibited on campus. Any weapons found will be confiscated and the owners subject to disciplinary action.

Missing Persons

Public Safety does not allow time to pass when someone is thought to be missing. Public Safety immediately files an incident report and enters into an investigation together with the local police jurisdiction.

Please take the time to communicate any change to arrival and/or travel intentions to friends, roommates and parents. More often then not, the missing person is delayed due to changing circumstances or to a simple change in plans. Please be considerate of persons who care for your safety.

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