Policies Governing Residency in the Houses and Dormitories

Disciplinary Actions

Disciplinary actions within the Houses and dormitories under College supervision include admonition, probation, and requirement to leave the premises. In the latter instance, a written warning will describe what the unacceptable behavior is, the fact that the House Master or Dean of Freshmen has the right to require the student to leave, and what steps must be taken by the student in order to remain in residence. Should the student be unable or unwilling to take the steps to improve the situation and should the student continue to behave in a manner that is detrimental to the well-being of the residential community, the House Master or Dean of Freshmen, in consultation with the Dean of the College, may then require the student to leave the premises even though he or she may continue to be enrolled in the College. A student required to leave a House or dormitory for disciplinary reasons will not ordinarily have the opportunity to return to a College residence.

Roommate Rights and Responsibilities

Personal issues, such as academic stress, alcohol abuse, depression, and eating disorders, may strain relationships in a living situation. It is both a student’s right and a student’s responsibility to seek help when such issues become disruptive.

Studies on alcohol abuse at colleges and universities show that there are significant secondary effects for roommates and friends of those who drink excessively. Roommates and friends report that sometimes they cannot study or sleep because they are worried when a friend gets so drunk he or she does not return home until the next morning. Roommates often “baby-sit” for those who cannot make wise choices for themselves or who need actual medical help due to intoxication.

A student’s concern about protecting a roommate’s privacy, in this and other instances, should not keep him or her from getting support personally or for that other person. If a student is worried about a friend, if this concern affects living habits, he or she has the right and responsibility to seek help both personally and for that other person. It may be that the student’s action spares the individual painful consequences now or later. Sources of help:


Every student is responsible for respectful treatment of neighbors, in the community and in the residences. In addition to every student being responsible for the maintenance of good order and reasonable quiet in his or her room, students are also responsible for maintenance of good order and reasonable quiet in the neighborhoods in and around campus. Students shall at all times show proper regard for others. Voices, radios, televisions, stereos, musical instruments, and other audio equipment shall be adjusted so as not to disturb the community.


A person not regularly assigned to a particular dormitory or House may not be lodged in that dormitory or House for more than a brief stay without the permission of the Proctor, Resident Dean, or House Master. The consent of other occupants of the room is also always required. Food may not be shared with or given to those who are not on a board contract or who have not paid for the meal.

The College reserves the right to prohibit overnight guests when issues of security are involved.


Smoking is prohibited in all areas of Houses and dormitories, including but not restricted to all common areas, offices, tutor residences, and student bedrooms and common rooms. Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action and in cancellation of the Undergraduate Housing Contract. Harvard University Health Services provides education and assistance to students who wish to stop smoking. Students may contact Harvard University Health Services, Center for Wellness at 617-495-9629 for further information.

Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls

The placement of an obscene or harassing telephone call is a criminal offense, punishable to the full extent of the law in the courts. It is treated as a serious disciplinary issue within the College.

Information from the Harvard Police is available in the Freshman Dean’s Office and the House Offices for anyone receiving such a call.

Nonpayment of Telephone Bills

For calls other than Centrex and 911, telephone service may be deactivated for accounts that have payments overdue by sixty days or more. It is not possible for the University to deliver messages to students whose service has been disconnected. In response to the concerns of parents who may attempt to call a telephone number that has been temporarily disconnected, the University will inform them that the line has been disconnected for nonpayment and advise them to use an alternate means of communication. Life or death emergencies will be referred to the Harvard Police Department. The University does not allow a student to graduate until all indebtedness is satisfied.

Other Residences

Because College housing is limited, a student may not hold a room in a House or dormitory during term time if it is not his or her main residence for that period.

Care of Residential Property

As part of the care of the buildings under College supervision, students must observe the following specific regulations.

Maintenance and Energy Conservation


Recycling is mandatory in Cambridge. Students must bring all trash and recyclables to the designated recycling area in each House or dormitory, and should do so regularly throughout the term. Materials should be sorted into trash, mixed paper, commingled container, and battery receptacles.

In addition to recycling, students are encouraged to reduce waste by purchasing and printing carefully and reusing paper, mugs, furnishings, and other equipment. Direct benefits of recycling to students include contributing to University financial savings which can be translated into student programs, raising Harvard’s standing in national recycling competitions, forming sound habits for the future, and contributing to a cleaner and healthier world.

For questions about recycling and waste reduction please call the University Operations Services Recycling Hotline at 617-495-3042 or refer to the University Operations Services Recycling & Solid Waste Removal Website.

Resource Conservation

Undergraduates play a key role in University efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move toward an environmentally sustainable campus. Student cooperation and leadership in areas of energy use reduction, solid waste reduction and recycling has and will continue to help further FAS environmental stewardship goals for Houses and dorms.

Undergraduates in residence are urged to integrate resource efficiency and environmental responsibility into their daily life in the Houses and dormitories. Above-mentioned expectations include: recycling all recyclable containers and papers; properly disposing of toxic materials such as batteries; reporting leaks immediately; turning off lights and appliances when not in use; and reducing heat waste in the winter. Other community standards include: using computer power management software; purchasing energy-efficient appliances; taking only as much food as one will eat in the dining hall; and using warm or cold water rather than hot for most laundry loads. Consult the Harvard Green Campus Initiative for further information on campus greening activities.

Questions about recycling may be addressed to the University Operations Recycling Hotline at 617-495-3042.

Care of Furnishings and Personal Property

  1. Students are responsible for all University furniture provided in their rooms or apartments. If students in the Houses or dormitories decide not to use some pieces of furniture, they must store them within the building at the direction of the House Building Manager or the manager of Freshman Dormitories. In the DeWolfe Street buildings, furniture storage is not available. Written instructions about the process will be made available during move-in. Students are also responsible for returning any stored pieces to the room before they vacate it. Failure to do so will result in a moving fee.

  2. Students may obtain a bed board or bunk bed guardrail for health or comfort from the House Building Manager or the manager of Freshman Dormitories. The student must sign a form agreeing to be charged the cost of replacing the bed board or bunk bed guardrail if it is not returned by the end of the academic year.

  3. Waterbeds are prohibited in College buildings.

  4. Furnishings for the House and dormitory common areas may not be removed for students’ personal use. Building Managers will remove such furnishings from student rooms when found. Students will be assessed the cost of removing the articles, and the incident may be brought to the attention of the Administrative Board for appropriate disciplinary action.

  5. Students who bring articles of personal property onto the premises of the University do so at their own risk. The University assumes no responsibility and shall not be liable for any articles, including mail or parcels sent to students that are damaged, lost, stolen, or left behind after vacating. The University urges students to leave valuables at home or to obtain appropriate property insurance. The University recommends obtaining private insurance if your belongings are not covered by your family’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. You may contact the Office of Risk Management for advice regarding insurance options available to Harvard students.

  6. Retrieval of personal property (jewelry, contact lenses, etc.) from sink, shower, toilet and bathroom drains is the financial responsibility of the student requesting retrieval. He or she will be term billed $50 for the cost of the plumber’s time necessary to retrieve the object. This charge applies even if the plumber is unable to retrieve the lost item.

  7. Students must maintain their personal furnishings in a decent state of repair, and remove them from the suite at the time of vacating. Any furnishings that might cause a fire hazard or injury to the cleaning staff must be removed on request.

  8. Students may keep refrigerators in their rooms for personal use if the units meet the following specifications: dimensions not to exceed 36” high x 24” wide x 24” deep; weight not greater than 85 lbs. Building Managers will have a list of some models meeting the guidelines.

  9. It is the students’ responsibility to supply their own telephone equipment, or to rent such at the time they apply for service. All suites are equipped with jacks that accommodate the modern plug-in (modular) cords.

  10. Bicycle racks are provided for active use, not for long-term storage. Bicycles left on racks for extended periods of time, or which appear to be unusable may be removed from bike racks. Check with your Building Manager or Quad Bikes for availability of seasonal storage.

Security and Access

Health and Safety

  1. In accordance with College fire safety policy, cooking appliances are prohibited in any room or apartment not equipped with kitchen facilities. One exception to this rule is made for the product called Micro-Fridge, which can purchased from the manufacturer, Micro-Fridge, by calling 800-577-8041 or on line at www.collegerefrigerators.com/. Models MH-2.7TP, MF-3TP, and MF3.6TP are all permitted in student rooms.

  2. No student may keep an animal in a building owned or leased by the College.

  3. Trash must be placed at all times in appropriate containers. Students are required to dispose of their trash according to the particular guidelines established for each residential building by the Building Manager and the Custodial Division.

  4. No chemicals, solvents, grease, paint, or toxic or hazardous substances may be disposed of in the sink, toilet, or shower drains. Students must contact the House Building Manager regarding proper disposal of such items.

  5. Students are not allowed on the roofs or any roofing surfaces of any building.

  6. Students are not allowed on fire escapes except in the case of fire or other emergency.

  7. Occupants of rooms must not place objects, including, but not limited to antennae, satellite dishes, or plants on outside walls, window sills, window frames, roofs, fire escapes, or ledges. Decorations are ordinarily not permitted on the outside of buildings. Exceptions require the approval of the respective House Master or Dean of Freshmen and Building Manager.

  8. Students may use electrical devices, such as hairdryers and electric razors, only if they comply with the standards of the National Electrical Code, Underwriters Laboratories, and Massachusetts laws and regulations, and are not cooking appliances, as stated in item 1 above.

  1. Refrigerators may not be installed in closets or bathrooms or covered with blankets or tablecloths. Cords for refrigerators must comply with item 8 above.

  2. The House Building Manager may request inspection by Facilities Maintenance electricians of any electrical device brought to the College. Should Facilities Maintenance declare the device unsafe for any reason, it must be removed immediately from College housing.

  3. The installation of air conditioners is forbidden without the written approval of the Accessible Education Office.

  4. Students may use equipment for capturing direct broadcast satellite signals only if the installation of these devices does not cause damage to College-owned property and if the installation is performed in accordance with items 5, 6, and 7 above. External antennae, dishes, etc. are prohibited. Students with questions should consult the House Building Manager or the manager of Freshman Dormitories.

  5. All halogen floor lamps are prohibited.

Students are urged to be thoroughly familiar with Fire Safety Regulations, Instructions, and Procedures.

Storage and Vacate Procedures