Residence Hall Policies
Administration of Policy
The Dean of Students, Director of Residence Life, Assistant and/or Associate Directors of Residence Life and the Resident Assistants are responsible for administering campus student housing policies and procedures. Students are responsible for monitoring their own behavior as well as the behavior of others in their community. RAs are available to assist in documenting behavior that violates College and campus student housing policies.
Personal room air conditioners pose electrical safety concerns and are not permitted in campus student housing without approval. The College recommends that students with respiratory concerns use a HEPA air filtration system in their room to remove airborne particulate matter such as dust and pollen. For more details on the process for documentation, refer to the process for requesting special housing and meal plan consideration.
To comply with fire safety laws and to allow for proper maintenance, use of basement areas in residential houses and apartments (specifically Wilch Apartments, 10th Avenue Apartments, Armstrong House and the Cottage House) is limited to laundry, storage (in designated areas only and only if sufficient space exists) and emergency shelters. Social gathering, sleeping and other such activities are not permitted.
College-owned residence halls, houses and apartments are locked at all times. Propping of doors is not allowed.
All residents of a building will have 24-hour access to that building during times in which residence halls are open to student occupancy (refer to the section called "Dates of Occupancy" on this page for more details). All current students who do not live in that building will have access by planning ahead and contacting a host to be let in. Hosts should escort their guests in and out of the building. Non-residents will not have access during selective break periods, including the time before returning student move-in, winter break, spring break and the time between undergraduate closing and commencement.
Students are able to reserve the lounges and common area spaces in any of our residence halls (refer to the section called "Common Area Usage" on this page for more details). Note that this access does not extend to laundry rooms; only current residential students are permitted to do their laundry in a residence hall.
In the event a student would need emergency access to a residence hall they can contact Campus Safety twenty-four hours a day at x4299. The on-call Resident Assistant in each building can also be reached daily between 7:00pm-7:00am. Their numbers are available on signs posted at the Resident Assistant office and room doors in each building.
Candles, incense and other flame producing accessories pose fire safety concerns are prohibited in campus student housing. Failure to abide by this policy will result in disciplinary action and a fine.
Refer to our information on fall opening for complete details on what to expect during the check-in process.
Refer to our information on spring closing for complete details on what to expect during the check-out process.
Common Area Usage
Special events, activities, programs and gatherings may be held in designated public areas of the residence halls by utilizing Meeting Room Manager. The student making the reservation can contact the Residence Life Office during business hours to receive temporary ID card access to that space. Reservations made after hours should work with Campus Safety to be let into the building. Students may not store personal items in common areas, with the exception of using common area refrigerators (see the section on refrigerators below). Any personal items in common spaces may be removed by student or professional staff members. Students may not sleep overnight in a common area without permission from the Residence Life Office. Review the expectations for reserved spaces for complete details on using common areas.
As a member of the floor community, each person contributes to the growth and development of the floor. With that comes the responsibility to maintain a standard of living, holding everyone responsible for damages and repairs when those individuals who caused the community damage do not come forward.
Computer & Network Use
Students are expected to adhere to the Information Technology ResNET Policy and Network Usage Guidelines. Violations of this policy may result in disciplinary action.
Each residence hall has kitchen facilities with microwave, stove, refrigerator and sink. Some buildings also have microwave nooks located on the residential floors. The kitchens and microwave nooks are the only areas in the residence hall where cooking is allowed.
Damages to Student Rooms
Residents are responsible for the condition of their room. During check-in, each student is asked to complete a Room Inventory Form documenting the condition of the room. The condition of the room at checkout is expected to be the same as at check-in. The room inventory will be reviewed and the Residence Life staff will inspect each room, assessing charges as necessary. As appropriate, charges will be divided among roommates, unless there is documentation indicating specific individuals responsible for the damages. Please refer to a list of common approximate minimum damage charges.
Damages to Common Areas
Residents of a floor, suite, apartment or building are responsible for damage done to the common areas of their building. A common area is one generally used by, or available to, all residents or a group of residents. These areas include, but are not necessarily limited to, kitchens, lounge areas, bathrooms, hallways, laundry rooms and stairways. If damage occurs to property located on a floor or in a common area, the Residence Life staff will attempt to determine who is responsible for the damage. In the event that the individual(s) responsible cannot be identified, costs of the repair/replacement will be assessed on a prorated basis to residents of the floor, suite, apartment or building involved. Residence hall damages are billed to student accounts after blocks 2, 4, 6 and 8. A student who is studying off campus for Cornell College credit may be eligible to have common area damage charges waived if those damages occurred while the student was studying off campus. In those cases, the student should follow the appeals process that will be outlined in the itemized statement that will be sent to the student's Cornell e-mail address.
Dates of Occupancy
Refer to our Important Dates page for a list of opening and closing dates. Also note the following:
- Thanksgiving Break: All campus student housing will remain open during Thanksgiving break. Refer to information on Thanksgiving Break for more details.
- Winter Break: All campus student housing is closed during winter break; students may not stay in the buildings during this time. The buildings close at 11:00 a.m. the day after 4th block finals in December and reopen at 9:00 a.m. one day prior to the start of 5th block in January. Students are not required to move personal belongings out of their rooms during the winter break if they plan to return for second semester, however students are asked to prepare their rooms for the break. Refer to information on winter break for more details.
- Spring Break: All campus student housing will remain open during spring break. Refer to information on spring break for more details.
- Spring Closing: Campus student housing closes at 11:00 a.m. the Thursday after 8th block finals in May for non-graduating students and 6:00 p.m. the day of Commencement for students participating in Commencement. All student belongings must be removed from campus during the summer. Refer to information on spring closing for more details.
- For spring break and holidays when the halls remain open for occupancy, the College reserves the right to require any students who stay in the halls during that period to register for break housing, though no additional charge will be assessed to the student.
Decorating Rooms and Hallways
Students are encouraged to personalize the interior of their assigned rooms. The following guidelines have been established for safety and to help students avoid year-end damage charges:
- Items should be attached to walls with poster putty or similar products approved for painted surfaces. 3M strips are not recommended because they are difficult to remove and damage painted surfaces. Double-sided tape and duct tape should not be used.
- Painting room walls or furniture is not permitted.
- Students are not permitted to run electrical cords through doorways to light hallways and door frames, as this is a fire hazard.
- Personal decorations will be limited to within 2 feet surrounding a person's door.
- Decorations in the hallways should not block the hallway, nor should decorations hang from the ceiling or across the hallways.
- "Chalking" or otherwise defacing walls in the hallways is strictly prohibited.
- Floor decorations are at the discretion of the RA and Residence Life staff.
- Students posting decorations in public areas, or areas in their room visible to the public, are encouraged to be mindful of the impact of their decorations on the community. Decorations, images and messages will be representing the floor to others. Students are encouraged to make responsible and well-reasoned decisions about content before decorating.
- The Residence Life staff reserve the final judgment of objectionable decorations in public areas or areas visible to the public.
The use of electrical appliances that have high surface temperatures or that in any other way may create a fire or shock hazard is not permitted in student rooms. The following electrical appliances are not permitted in residence hall rooms: microwave ovens, hot plates, coil heaters, cookers, electric woks, fry pans, irons, toasters, indoor grills or Pizazz Pizza makers. These types of appliances may be used in a designated kitchen or utility room area where there is a minimum of hazard. Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action and a $50.00 fine.
Explosives and Weapons
Fireworks, firearms, ammunition, BB guns, paint guns, stun guns, air compressed guns, knives with blades exceeding five inches or with locking blades, projectile and other dangerous weapons or explosives are prohibited on College property. Replicas and facsimiles are similarly prohibited. Laboratory chemicals are not permitted in the residence halls or the Thomas Commons. Swords and martial arts weapons are permitted on campus for demonstration use only and are not permitted in the residence halls for any reason. These items must be registered with the Director of Student Activities and stored in the Thomas Commons. Any student found in violation of the above may be fined and subject to additional disciplinary action.
The College reserves the right to further determine the definition of a "weapon" and may prohibit other devices on an individual basis, such as unusual walking canes that may be more of a club, flashlights that may be used as a club, air horns, fluid discharge devices, etc.
The College expects all students to respect the fire safety systems that are in place. Students must exit the building immediately when a fire alarm sounds. Students in violation of this policy are subject to disciplinary action and a $50.00 fine. Activating a false fire alarm will result in suspension and possible legal action.
For safety reasons, students are not permitted on exterior fire escapes except in the event of an emergency. Students found misusing exterior fire escapes will be subject to disciplinary action and a $100 minimal fine.
Flyers can be an effective means of advertising campus events. Individuals and groups posting signs are encouraged to be mindful of the implication of posting flyers in public places. Flyers will be representing to others the individual who posted them, the group sponsoring them and the College. Persons posting flyers are encouraged to make responsible and well-reasoned decisions about the flyer's content before posting.
The following guidelines have been established to ensure that flyers are posted in a consistent manner in all residential areas:
- Student organizations may post flyers only on designated bulletin boards near the entryways to the residence halls or on designated posting posts (posting posts are in the lobby of Merner Hall and in the main entryway to Pauley-Rorem Hall). On occasion, Residence Life may post flyers about important floor or building events in other key locations (such as general health information, notices of floor meetings, closing procedures, etc.).
- Each event has a limit of one flyer per posting location.
- All flyers will remain posted for one week or up to one day after the event occurs. Organizations or individuals responsible for posting the flyers are required to remove ALL flyers before the expiration time.
- No flyer will advertise or imply improper use of alcohol or drugs, or other inappropriate or illegal activities.
- All flyers must clearly display the name and contact information for the sponsoring department or student organization. Off-campus businesses or organizations must receive both the sponsorship of a Cornell student organization and approval from the Residence Life Office prior to posting flyers in the Residence Halls.
- Individuals and groups posting signs are encouraged to be mindful of the implication of posting flyers in public places. Flyers will be representing to others the individual who posted them, the group sponsoring them and the College. Persons posting flyers are encouraged to make responsible and well-reasoned decisions about the flyer's content before posting.
- The Residence Life staff reserve the final judgment of objectionable flyers, advertisements and decorations.
Students should also refer to our information on political activism to see some additional context for political flyers.
Furniture from lounges, landings and public areas are for use by all students and cannot be moved to student rooms or exchanged with room furniture. Students who move common area furniture to their room are subject to disciplinary action and a $40.00 fine per piece per notice until the furniture is returned. College furniture in student rooms must remain in the room at all times and cannot be removed or stored.
- All roommates have agreed upon the appropriate hours of guest visitation.
- All roommates agree who is visiting and the length of the visit.
- At no time may a roommate deny other roommates access to the room.
- At no time may a roommate force other roommates to share the room with a visitor.
- Overnight guests are not permitted to stay in their host's room longer than a three-day period.
- All roommates involved make reasonable accommodations.
- Any student approved as an "early arrival" (meaning approved to live in the residence halls before the official opening of the halls, as detailed in the Dates of Occupancy section above), as a "late stay" (meaning approved to live in the residence halls between the 1st closing and Commencement, also as detailed in the Dates of Occupancy section above), or as a "summer resident" (meaning approved to live in the residence halls during the summer housing period, as detailed in the Dates of Occupancy section above) are not permitted to have any Cornell College student as a guest between. Those individuals are permitted to have non-Cornell students in accordance with established guest policies listed here.
Although Cornell allows for visitation of students to other rooms, the College also expects that each student lives in their assigned spaces on campus. Only Cornell students and staff are permitted to live on campus. A guest is any person who is not assigned to the room in which they are staying.
Hallways and Stairwells
Hallways and stairwells must be kept clear at all times for fire safety reasons. Students are not permitted to leave or store items in the hallways or stairwells. The custodial staff will dispose of shoes and other personal items left in these spaces.
The use of halogen lighting is prohibited.
Keys and ID Cards
Students are issued an ID card and key to their room (and, if applicable, a key to their suite, apartment or building). Students are responsible for their keys and ID card and should carry them with at all times. Keys and ID cards are not to be loaned to others. The Residence Life Office should be notified immediately if a student loses a key or ID card. Students will be charged a minimum $100.00 for a lost key and $10.00 for a lost ID card. Keys that open multiple doors, including residential keys for apartments, houses and suites, will result in all impacted locks needing to be changed. Students who are locked out of their building or room should contact an RA or Campus Safety. A lockout fee may be charged. Please refer to ID cards page and the key and electronic card access policy for a complete list of expectations.
Maintenance and Housekeeping
Students provide their own housekeeping in their rooms, including removing trash and recycling to the designated trash and recycling collection room. Rooms may be inspected for damage and cleanliness during vacation periods or if health/damage concerns arise. The furnishings of each room are expected to be maintained in good condition.
The College reserves the right to have its authorized representatives enter and inspect any room and its furnishings at any time. All repairs beyond normal wear and tear are the responsibility of the student. A student who has maintenance problems should contact an RA or the Residence Life Office who will report the request. Maintenance work is performed on a weekly basis in each building.
Microwave ovens are not permitted in student rooms. The residence halls have microwaves in the kitchen areas for student use. Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action and a $50.00 fine.
All individuals using injection needles are required to properly dispose of them to prevent students, visitors and custodial staff from accidental needle-sticks and injury. Refer to the Student Health Services website for information on proper needle disposal expectations.
Because a residence hall is home to a number of students, excessive or continual noise coming from any area will not be tolerated. Quiet hours are in effect from 11:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday evenings and 1:00 a.m. until 7:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings. During quiet hours noise from one area should not be audible in other public areas or adjoining rooms. Courtesy hours are in effect twenty-four hours a day. Students are strongly encouraged to talk to peers responsible for excessive noise and those responsible are expected to immediately comply with peer or staff requests to reduce or eliminate the noise. Habitual or serious violations of the noise policy may result in disciplinary action for the individual(s) involved.
There are loading zones, fire lanes and reserved spaces near many residence halls. Refer to Campus Safety's website for information on student parking on campus in order to avoid receiving a parking violation.
With the exception of fish, students may not have or maintain pets in campus residence halls, houses or apartments. This includes student rooms, common areas, or in carriers. Mount Vernon uses chloramines to chlorinate the water. If you have fish you will need to remove the chloramines from the water with a product that you can purchase from a pet supply store. Guests are not permitted to bring pets into the residence halls. Pets or strays will be removed from the buildings and the owner(s) will be subject to disciplinary action and a fine of $40.00 per pet per day. Students are discouraged from feeding stray animals outside of the residence halls. Call Campus Safety to report stray animals. Note that service and assistance animals are not considered pets; learn more about having service and assistance animals on campus.
Each year the Board of Trustees approves the annual rate for a space in a multiple occupancy room. If a student occupies a designated single room or super-single room, a premium rate is charged in addition to the standard room rate.
Students are encouraged to recycle. Recyclables, including boxes, are to be taken to the containers in the trash and recycling rooms designated for each floor or area. Receptacles are not to be removed from the trash and recycling rooms. Recycling containers are not permitted in the hallways. Residents are responsible for removing their own recycling from their room. Recycling areas in the residence halls are not permitted in stairwells or hallways. Recycling areas must be kept clean.
Students are allowed to bring small electrical refrigerator units up to 4.5 cubic feet to campus. Larger units cannot be accommodated. Only one small electrical refrigerator (up to 4.5 cubic feet) is permitted in each single and double occupancy student room. Two small electrical refrigerators (up to 4.5 cubic feet each) are permitted in each triple and quad occupancy student room. Residents living in a campus house, apartment or suite may choose to move the refrigerator from their student room to the common area in their unit.
Most floor or building kitchens have a communal refrigerator. Students may choose to keep their food in these refrigerators at their own risk. All items must be clearly labeled with the student's name and room number. During winter break housekeeping will clear the refrigerator of all items. Periodically each block (and over the summer during summer housing), housekeeping will discard any items that are not properly labeled with a name and date, or items that appear spoiled or expired.
Relocation and Room Changes
The College reserves the right to make changes in room assignments and to assign the student to any room at any time. The College reserves the right to assign new roommates or consolidate partially empty rooms at any time. A student who selected a room and/or roommate through room selection is not permitted to request a room change until the 5th Block. A student assigned a room and/or roommate by the Residence Life Office is not permitted to request a room change until the completion of 1st Block. A student may appeal for an exception to this policy by submitting a request to the Residence Life Office for review. An occupant of a partially-filled room does not have the right to refuse a roommate and in some cases the student living in the room may not be contacted until after the assignment has been made.
As a residential college, Cornell requires students to live in campus housing. Learn more about the residency requirement.
Right of Entry
College representatives may enter Halls and student rooms at any time for the purposes of
- making necessary or agreed-upon repairs;
- supplying necessary or agreed-upon services;
- investigating health or safety concerns;
- ensuring compliance with evacuation procedures during a fire alarm;
- responding to a disruption (e.g. to silence a loud alarm clock or stereo when no one is in the room); or
- enforcing College policy when there is specific reason to suspect a violation.
For safety reasons, students are not permitted on the roof of any campus building. Students found accessing the roof will be subject to disciplinary action and a minimum of a $100 fine.
A single room is defined as a room designated by Residence Life to accommodate one person, a double room accommodates two people, a triple accommodate three people and a quad accommodates four people. When sufficient space exists in the residence halls, Residence Life may offer a "super-single" (a double room in which the occupant pays an additional premium to convert that room to a single room). Residents are not permitted to change designations of rooms (either by adding or removing furniture). Single rooms and super-single rooms are generally not available to new students (except in cases where the student has provided appropriate medical documentation).
Solicitation and Other Door-to-Door Activities
Soliciting, including solicitation by students and student groups, is not permitted in the residence halls without prior written authorization from Residence Life. Recognized student groups that wish to fundraise by going door-to-door in the residence halls should contact the Director of Residence Life with details of the organization, the cause and the scope of the request (general time frame, how many students would be going around, which floor(s) or building(s), etc.). If the request is approved, the student organization will be given certain parameters, most notably the day(s) and time frame in which the door-to-door fundraising is permitted. Students who have difficulty with salespeople should contact an RA or Campus Safety immediately.
Most residential buildings have a limited amount of storage areas for student use. Refer to our information on storage for complete details.
Student Room Responsibility
All students are responsible for their room and the activities that go on in it. Students may be held accountable for policy violations that occur in their room despite the fact the student was not present at the time of the policy violation.
A student may not assign sublet his or her room or any part thereof, or permit the use or occupancy of the premises or any part thereof by anyone other than the student. Short-term guests are permitted in accordance with the guest policies listed above.
The Residence Life Office recommends that students use certified surge protectors in their room. Surge protectors can provide protection for computers and electronic equipment from various power problems. When equipped with a circuit breaker, they provide the added safety of protection from faulty equipment or overload conditions. Facilities Services recommends surge protectors rated for at least 10,000 joules for minimum protection. Students, however, should check with the manufacturer to ensure that their equipment is adequately protected.
Termination of Housing
The College reserves the right to terminate a student's housing without refund because of improper conduct. A student who withdraws or graduates from the College or takes a leave of absence is not permitted to live in College-owned housing. If the student withdraws or graduates from the College, his or her housing assignment will be terminated and eligibility for any refund will be determined by the College refund policy. The student shall vacate the halls by the date and time as agreed upon with or as directed by a College official, generally within 48 hours of separation from the College. A student who graduates during the middle of a semester may seek permission from the Director of Residence Life to remain in housing for the balance of that semester; if permission is granted, full room and board charges would remain in effect. A student who is enrolled but not actively taking a for-credit course (as defined by the Office of the Registrar) during a particular block (or while in summer housing) may be removed from housing without refund because of improper conduct.
Students are encouraged to invest in a trash receptacle for personal use in their own rooms. College trash containers may not be used in student rooms. Trash, including pizza boxes, is to be taken to the trash containers in the trash and recycling rooms designated for each floor or area. Receptacles are not to be removed from the trash and recycling rooms. Trash cans are not permitted in the hallways. Residents are responsible for removing their own trash from their room. Trash rooms must be kept clean.
Vandalism & Destruction of Property
Vandalism and destruction of property are serious offenses against the College community and will not be tolerated. Students found in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, a minimum $25.00 fine, cleanup costs and possible removal from the residence hall(s).
Except as sanctioned by the Residence Life Office during Homecoming and other special events, hanging lights, flags and other decorations or objects in or out windows is not permitted. Students are not permitted to remove window screens, nor are they permitted to throw items from windows. Furthermore, students are not permitted to enter or exit buildings through windows. Students found in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action.