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Housing and Dining Conduct Policies

The community standards for residential living and dining detailed below are established to promote personal responsibility and to support cooperative community living. Residential Education staff members are trained to respond to violations of community standards in order to foster a sense of community in the residential halls and facilities of Oberlin College and to model and encourage respect for self and others. 

Professional residential education staff members are authorized to respond administratively to first time violations of many housing and dining conduct policies that are discovered during life safety or end of term room inspections. Exceptions to this practice are violations involving smoking or burning objects; tampering with, misuse of, or vandalism to fire safety equipment; weapons, detonating devices, or combustible materials; the active use of illegal drugs or controlled substances; or evidence of the manufacture or distribution of illegal drugs or controlled substances.  

Administrative responses to initial violations of first time possession of illegal drugs, controlled substances and related paraphernalia are spelled out within the Alcohol and Other Drug Policy.

 A residential education staff person may respond administratively to a violation discovered during a life safety or end of semester inspection once in any academic year. A second such violation may be handled this way if it occurs during a different academic year; all prior fines and interventions are satisfied; and if the residents do not have an existing judicial record related to the use, possession or distribution of illegal substances or related paraphernalia. Administrative responses may include a fine, an educational intervention where one is appropriate, and an administrative notation in a student’s record that a life safety violation has taken place. The fines that may be imposed are published online at, and are subject to change each academic year. Individuals who disagree with an administrative response to a documented violation may schedule to meet with a hearing officer to resolve the matter by participating in a judicial administrative hearing.


The policies listed here are those specific to alcohol use and possession in college housing. Please refer to section V. Social Conduct and Regulations and section N. for the general college policies on these substances:

a. Persons under the age of 21 may not possess or consume alcoholic beverages or host drinking in college housing.

b. Alcoholic beverages may be possessed or consumed (but not sold) in student rooms by the resident(s) and the invited guests who are of legal drinking age (21 or older).

c. Underage persons may be present when drinking occurs in a private residential room as long as a legal-aged resident of that room is present. It shall be the responsibility of the legal-aged resident to see that alcoholic beverages are not served to or consumed by underage persons. Anyone allowing underage students to drink alcohol in a college housing room will be subject to disciplinary action.

d. Open containers of alcohol are not permitted in lounges, hallways, bathrooms, porches, stairwells, balconies, and lawns or in other public or semi-public areas of college housing unless the necessary party planning procedures have been completed with the Office of Residential Education and Dining Services.

e. Residents of legal drinking age may not possess large quantities of alcohol in college housing. The alcohol present must be deemed a reasonable amount intended for personal consumption.

f. Kegs or beer balls (empty or full) and common source containers are not allowed in college housing unless the official party planning process has been completed with the Assistant Director of Residential Education or a designee. 

g. Beer bongs and other items used for quick or mass consumption of alcohol are strictly prohibited.

h. The college reserves the right to bill the students assigned to a residential unit and/or sponsors of alcohol related activities hosted in the assigned unit for any damage resulting from the alcohol related activity.


Residents may have an overnight guest including family members for a single visit of not more than seven consecutive nights per semester in college housing. The presence of the guest cannot constitute an inconvenience for roommates or otherwise interfere with the housing community life. If this occurs, the college has the discretion to terminate the visit. In no instance shall a guest become a long-term resident in a college facility. Residents are responsible for the actions of their guests and must be present for the duration of the visit.

Residents are required to apprise residential education staff of any overnight guest in a college owned residential facility. The resident should complete the guest registration form on the residential education website no less than 3 days in advance of the guest’s arrival. The number of guests in a college residence at one time should not exceed two guests per person assigned to the space.

Violations of any aspect of this policy will result in judicial action and/or eviction. It is Oberlin’s philosophy that the residence halls should provide a living environment that fosters mature and responsible behavior between students and that protects the rights and needs of individuals. To this end, it is the policy of the college that each section or residence hall should determine its visitation policy. The policy set by the section or hall may be more but not less restrictive than the Office of Residential Education’s stated policy. 


Students may not conduct games or sporting events/activities or engage in other behaviors that may cause damage or injury to any other person or property in hallways, lounges, or stairwells or limit egress from the building. This includes but is not limited to using any athletic equipment, rollerblades, roller skates, skateboards, scooters, or bicycles within college housing.


Residents agree to abide by state, local, and college regulations regarding fire, safety, and sanitation as stated below. In addition, students are expected to follow all policies related to prohibited and regulated items and smoking while in college housing. Failure to comply with these regulations jeopardizes the safety of self and others and may result in judicial action and/or fines. 

a. Equipment

Tampering with, misuse of, or vandalism to life safety equipment in any college building is a violation of state law. Equipment includes but is not limited to fire extinguishers, heat sensors, pull boxes, fire doors, exit signs, smoke detectors, door closures, and fire hoses. Causing a false fire alarm to sound may result in disciplinary action and fines. Evacuation from the building by all residents is required when the fire alarm sounds. Use of the fire escape of any college building is permitted in emergency situations only. Any nonemergency use of fire escapes is prohibited and will be considered an act of trespass. 

b. Egress from room

Furniture or other obstacles may not block, or limit access to doors, fire escapes, room windows, or any other means of egress from any room or building. 

c. Door closures/smoke detectors/evacuation signs

Removing, covering, or tampering with automatic door closers, smoke detectors, or evacuation signs is prohibited and will result in disciplinary action and fines.

d. Fire Alarms

Fire alarms exist in college housing to protect the occupants of the building. False fire alarms can decrease students’ response time to evacuation when alarms sound. The most common, preventable alarms are the result of carelessness while cooking. Students are expected to be responsible when cooking, this includes, being present in the kitchen at all times, using vent hoods, turning off burners and ovens after use, and ensuring that cooking appliances are clean prior to and after use.

Fire alarms that activate because of the negligence of residents or their guests may result in disciplinary action and fines. Fines may include, but are not limited to: (a) fines assessed to the college for Fire Department response; (b) labor costs associated with resetting the alarm (up to four hours of electrician labor); (c) labor costs associated with safety and security response (up to one hour of labor); and/or (d) materials (e.g., replacement smoke detector, discharged fire extinguisher). Students are expected to take responsibility for fire alarms that could have been prevented. In the case that a student does not take responsibility or there are repeat alarms in a single building, then the college reserves the right to divide any associated fine or fees among the residents of the building. 


For the sake of the general health and safety of the community that lives in close proximity, residents are expected to maintain the cleanliness of their assigned living spaces.

a. General housekeeping expectations

Students are expected to maintain the cleanliness of their room/unit including regular vacuuming/sweeping, trash removal, and proper food storage and disposal. Students living in units with kitchens or private bathrooms are expected to appropriately clean and maintain these spaces and associated appliances. Excessive accumulation of paper, trash, food, and clothing on the floor(s) and around radiators may constitute a fire/health hazard and/or pest concern. 

Students living in village housing must ensure that porches and yards, especially in the front of the unit, are free of trash, interior furnishings, and generalized clutter. 

b. Response to hazardous conditions or pest issues related to housekeeping

When students report pest issues, a Facilities Operations staff member or a designee will inspect the room. If the pest issue is made worse by the failure of the student(s) to maintain the space as defined above, the student(s) will be assessed fees associated with pest inspection and control. 

If the state of your room is determined to be a hazard/concern, you will be given notice to correct the situation. Failure to do so within 24 hours may result in judicial action, relocation, and cleaning fines.


For the policies regarding noise in residence halls, Social Conduct and Regulations, entry V., section K.


Fish and other aquatic animals that can only survive in water are the only pets permitted by students in college housing. No other animals are permitted in residential spaces for any period of time unless specifically approved by the Office of Residential Education. Unapproved pets may result in judicial action, fines, assessment of cleaning fees, and possible pest control.


a. Wall hangings

Oberlin College strongly recommends using finishing nails or tacks where possible to hang room decorations, as they tend to damage the walls less than most adhesives. (In addition, we recommend the use of  “sticky tack,” a rubbery substance that is usually blue or white in color). Please be aware if using other adhesives even those claiming to be safe for walls that they may remove paint in some spaces if not removed according to the instructions. Students are responsible for the costs associated with damage to the walls of their rooms due to hanging decorations. Some college housing assignments have bulletin boards or corkboard strips, while others have molding strips on which molding hooks may be used. Window treatments should be hung using tension rods. Duct and packing tape, screws, etc. may not be used on walls, doors, woodwork, or furnishings due to the damage that may occur to walls or finishes. 

For the sake of fire safety, residents in college housing may not have coverings (cloth hangings, tapestries, posters, pictures, window treatments, etc.) on more than 20 percent of a room’s wall surface. Residential education permits cloth tapestries, but only on walls. Residents may not mount canopy arrangements on beds or walls. Residents may not hang anything from the ceiling or from or around fire safety equipment (smoke/heat/fire detectors, sprinklers, etc.).

b. Electrical Appliances

Residential Education permits students to have the following electrical appliances in college housing: micro fridges provided by the college rental program in village housing and renovated residence halls, TVs, radios, stereos, telephones, fans, typewriters, personal computers, and hair dryers, as well as curling and clothing irons, and coffee makers/pots with automatic shutoff features. Residential Education prohibits the following electrical appliances in college housing: air conditioners and cooking appliances—including microwave ovens, immersion heaters, popcorn poppers, hot plates, and water heaters.

c. Refrigerators

Only one refrigerator per room is allowed in college housing. Divided doubles are considered one room. The capacity of refrigerators may not exceed five cubic feet except for refrigerators provided by the college rental program and those refrigerators in village housing.

d. Grounded extension cords

Extension cords must be grounded (three-pronged) and should be protected with fuse devices (surge protectors) throughout college housing.

e. Combustible materials

The presence of combustible materials including but not limited to gasoline, kerosene, paints, thinners, poisonous or hazardous chemicals, and fireworks or explosives is prohibited throughout college housing.

f. Electric blankets

Electric mattress pad covers and electric blankets are prohibited in college housing.

g. High wattage lamps

The use of halogen lamps or light bulbs of higher wattage than the specified rating in the light fixture is prohibited throughout college housing.

h. Portable heaters

Use of electric, kerosene, or other types of portable space heaters is prohibited in college housing.

i. Nonflammable waste containers

Only flame retardant wastebaskets are permitted in college housing.

j. Furnishings

Waterbeds and other pieces of waterfilled furniture are not permitted in college housing. In addition, wooden structures, including lofts and room dividers are prohibited. Curtains, blinds, or window treatments other than those provided by the college are prohibited.

k. Bicycles

Bicycles may be stored in individual student rooms in college housing if they do not block egress. Additional designated storage areas are located in Burton, Noah, and Tank bike storage areas. In order for bicycles to be placed in storage, they must be registered with the Office of Safety and Security. All bicycles left on campus at the end of spring semester should be stored in one of the designated bike storage areas. Bicycles not properly stored will be removed and discarded. Motorized bicycles or motorcycles may not be stored in any facility. Motorcycles and motorized bicycles found in college housing or other facilities will be removed at the owner’s expense.

l. Decorations

Presence of burned candles, incense, or anything with an open flame, even for religious purposes is not allowed in college housing. In addition, live or cut trees, live wreaths, or artificial trees over four feet tall are prohibited in college housing. Such items found in college housing will be confiscated and turned over to the Office of Safety and Security.

m. Weapons

For the policies regarding weapons in and on college property, see the entry in section IV. Judicial System, D. Code of Conduct., section 6.b.


Out of concern for safety and security, college housing is locked 24 hours each day. Student identification cards are programmed to unlock access doors on college residence halls and some village housing units. Students are expected to carry their OCID card with them at all times. Identification cards may not be loaned or given to anyone else, nor may they be altered. Residents may not allow people who are not their guests into college housing buildings. Tampering with a building’s exterior door system or propping open an exterior door may result in disciplinary action.

Lost cards are to be reported immediately to the Office of Residential Education and Dining Services during weekday hours and to the Office of Safety and Security after hours, so they can be deactivated. Temporary replacement access cards are available evenings and weekends from the Office of Safety and Security. Temporary replacement dining cards are available evenings and weekends from Stevenson Dining Hall with proof of notification of a lost or stolen card from Safety and Security. Students are required to get a new card from the Office of Residential Education and Dining Services. There is a fee for replacing a lost card or for reactivating an old card.

Damaged or altered cards can damage the access and cash terminals. Students must replace damaged or altered cards immediately. Damaged cards will be replaced free of charge.

Students are required to show their ID card when asked to do so by a college official. Misuse of, altering, forging, contributing to the fraudulent use of, or failing to show an ID card may result in a fine or disciplinary action.


Residents may be held responsible for the upkeep of public areas including, but not limited to, hallways, bathrooms, stairwells, elevators, lounges, studies, utility rooms, lobbies, porches, patios, and lawns. Residents are expected to take every precaution to assure that communal property is not abused. In addition to individual rooms, it is the responsibility of the residents to keep laundries, bathrooms, and kitchenettes clean. In college housing where the college determines that a majority of the residents are tolerating undue abuse of college property (in excess of normal wear), and the responsible individual(s) cannot be identified, all residents of the area will be held responsible for a proportional amount of the cost of repairing or replacing damaged items, cleaning fees, or the cost of fines.

Lounge furnishings are designated for the collective use of residents; therefore, they may not be redistributed for use in student rooms. Any lounge furniture found within a student’s room or in another building on or off campus will be considered theft, and judicial charges may be filed against the students assigned to the designated room or found responsible.


All keys remain the property of Oberlin College. It is unlawful to duplicate a college key. Lost keys are to be reported to a residential education staff member immediately. A lost key or failure to return the correct key at checkout will result in at least a $60 charge per lock change. For safety purposes, no resident should allow another person to use the key to their room. Residents should keep their doors locked at all times to prevent theft.


See Smoking Policy, V. Social Conduct and Regulations section.


Residents are responsible for understanding and complying with social conduct standards. Behavior that threatens or endangers the wellbeing of others or substantially interferes with the rights of others may result in eviction or assignment transfer.