Alcohol Service & Sales

We are hosting a university event on campus. Can we serve alcohol?

Yes, provided an alcohol service permit has been obtained. These permits generally may be issued by an “Authorized University Official,” defined to be the chancellor, vice chancellors, academic deans and deans of the graduate school and libraries (for events within their respective jurisdictions), and the directors of the Wisconsin Union, Arboretum, University Housing and Intercollegiate Athletics (for facilities under their respective jurisdictions). If a sale of alcohol is anticipated, the Vice Chancellor for Administration has to issue the permit. Also, with respect to the University Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (UWHC), please see UWHC Policy no. 1.23 Alcoholic Beverage Possession or Consumption at UWHC. This policy follows the UW–Madison policy and designates the Chief Executive officer and the Senior Vice President of Professional and Support Services as their authorized officials.

Our university event will be hosted off-campus. Do we still need a university alcohol service permit?

A university permit is not required when the event will be held at a hotel, restaurant or other venue that has a state liquor license.

What type of alcohol service permit do I need for my event?

To determine whether/what type of permit is required, please see the following resources:

How do I apply for a permit?

Below are applications for a sales permit and a service permit.

Am I personally liable if any issues arise from our event?

Occasionally, concerns are expressed about potential liability related to alcohol service at university events. Without trying to hypothesize every possible factual situation, in general, if the required permit has been secured and the “responsible employee” listed is meeting the obligations set forth in the permit, university employees performing their obligations under the permit would be within the scope of their employment and would be defended and indemnified by the university in any subsequent, related legal action. In addition, factors beyond those enumerated in the permit (e.g., serving an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages, not serving underage or intoxicated individuals) can help manage any risk. Practices that might mitigate potential liabilities include serving food, suspending alcohol service at some point prior to the end of the event and continuing to offer coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages, and utilizing a trained bartender who can watch for over consumption and/or inebriation and can cut off service.