Residential Life Policies

Room Assignments
Housing Eligibility
Room Changes
Conditions of Occupancy
Care of College Property
Keys and Locks
Storage of Personal Belongings
Off-Campus Housing
Tri-College Living
Break and Summer Housing

Swarthmore’s housing philosophy is based on the belief that residence-hall living enhances education by contributing to an individual’s academic, social, and personal development. If residence halls are to provide an environment for personal growth, residents must accept responsibility for their own actions and demonstrate respect for the rights and concerns of others and for the property of the College.

General housing policies and regulations are established by the Dean’s Office with student input and are administered by the resident assistant staff and the Dean’s Office. Acceptance of space in College housing reflects a knowledge of and willingness to abide by housing policies. Living in College housing
is a privilege and not a right. The Dean’s Office may, at any time and at its own discretion, withdraw this privilege due to behavior which does not rise to the standards outlined below. Students who lose their housing privileges are not entitled to a refund of
their room payments for the remaining weeks of the semester.

Room Assignments

New students are required to live on campus for
at least their first (1st) two (2) semesters. New transfer students are required to live on campus for at least their first (1st) semester. All new students are assigned roommates and residence halls by the Dean’s Office. Individual hall and roommate requests are not granted. An appropriate number of rooms are allotted for the entering class, so not all rooms are available to returning students in the housing lottery. Family housing is not available in College residence halls.

During the spring semester, current juniors, sophomores, and first-year students select rooms
for the following fall. The housing lottery system is a seniority-based hierarchy—rising seniors are highest, followed by juniors, and then sophomores. Each student receives a lottery number, which dictates his/her priority status in lottery room selection. The College guarantees housing for all students who participate in the housing selection process in a timely manner. While most juniors and seniors live in single- type rooms, the College cannot guarantee singles
for all juniors and seniors. First-year and sophomore students are generally ineligible for singles.

Housing Eligibility

Eligibility for the spring housing lottery is contingent upon an up-to-date College bill (paid in full each
term by Dec. 1 and April 1). Students who clear
their accounts after the lottery are not guaranteed housing. No money will be accepted at room choosing.

The student accounts manager (Parrish 105, www., not the Dean’s Office, makes decisions about financial matters. If students have questions about their account or need to make special arrangements, they should speak with the student accounts manager early in this process. Also, all students must be
in good standing with the College and satisfy any outstanding fees owed to the College prior to move-in day. Students with outstanding balances will not be able to move into their residence hall rooms or collect their keys until the matter is resolved.

Students who have used eight semesters of housing may need to seek non-College housing. They may sign up for the end of the waitlist and be assigned housing at the last minute.

Room Changes

Requests for room changes can be made by contacting the Housing Office. Making a room change request does not ensure that a room change will
be made. Students are expected to work through roommate and other housing conflicts with the involved parties, with the help of resident assistants (RAs) and deans and/or through mediation, if appropriate.

Prior approval from the Dean’s Office is required of any student making a room change. Students who switch rooms without the consent of the assistant dean for residential life will be penalized $100 and will not be permitted to participate in the next room- choosing lottery.

Phone numbers will not be changed within a room or unit after they are chosen at the lottery or assigned to new students.

Conditions of Occupancy

Students living in College housing agree to abide
by the housing rules and regulations as stated in
this Student Handbook. Residents must accept responsibility for their own behavior and act in a manner that demonstrates respect for the rights and concerns of others and for the property of the College.

Occupancy dates for the residence halls are noted
 in the College calendar. Seniors may stay through graduation, exact departure time to be announced. Students who are in residence halls when they are not authorized to be are subject to fines.

A. Arrival and Departure Dates
Students may neither arrive early at the beginning
of a semester nor remain in College housing
beyond the announced closing date without special permission from the Dean’s Office. This permission
is rarely granted. A fine of at least $100 is levied
for infractions, and individuals found to be in the residence halls without permission will be required to relocate.

B. Housing Fines
Any time a student reserves a room through the housing lottery or waitlist system and does not use that room, a minimum $100 fine is assessed to the student’s account. Other fines are assigned as follow:

For fall semester: If a student selects a room in the lottery and

  1. chooses to live off-campus, but is still enrolled, the student will be assessed

    a. a $500 fine, unless everyone in the space notifies the Residential Life Office by June 1 that they will not be occupying the room. Then, the fine will be $100 each.

    b. $500 for each person moving off campus when notice is given between June 1 and week eight (8) of classes.

    c. no room refund when notice is given after week eight (8) of classes.

  2. takes a leave of absence and notifies the Dean’s Office

    a. by Aug. 1, the fine is $100.

    b. between Aug. 1 and week eight (8) of classes, the fine is $500.

    c. after week eight (8) of classes, there will be no room refund.

For spring semester: If a student selects a room in the December lottery or already has a room from fall semester and

  1. chooses to live off campus, but is still enrolled, the student will be assessed

    a. $250 fine, unless everyone in the unit leaves this space and notifies the Residential Life Office by Dec. 1.

    b. $500 each when notice is given between Dec. 1 and week eight (8) of classes.

    c. with no room refund when notice is given after week eight (8) of classes.

  2. takes a leave of absence and notifies the Dean’s Office

    a. by Dec. 1, then there is no penalty.

    b. between Dec. 1 and Jan. 5, then there is a $100 fine.

    c. between Jan. 5 and week eight (8) of classes, then there is a $500 fine.

    d. after week eight (8) of classes, there will be no room refund.

C. Meal Plan
Each student who resides in College housing is required to subscribe to the meal plan. The selection of a meal plan option is done through Dining Services (Sharples Dining Hall).

D. Empty Beds
In all non-single rooms, if one or more assigned residents do not occupy the room, the Housing Office has the right to fill the empty space or to move the remaining roommate(s) to another comparable space. This will be done in consultation with the remaining occupant(s), who may state preferences about prospective roommates or a possible move to another room.

E. Cable and Internet
Cable access is provided to one TV set per building. Splicing into the line or installing a satellite dish is prohibited. Wireless network access is provided in all residence halls. The use of personal wireless access points is prohibited as they may interfere with the College-provided service.

F. Quiet Hours
Quiet hours are established by hall residents at the beginning of each term. Should there be a conflict between roommates about sleeping, socializing, and studying schedules, the students’ sleeping schedules will generally take precedence over other room
uses. It is understood that an occasional late-night study session may need to take place in a residence hall room. If a regular pattern of late-night studying develops and the roommate needs to get a regular amount of sleep, the studier will be asked to relocate to a more appropriate location (library, classroom, or residence hall lounge).


Primarily, residence hall rooms are designed for sleeping and studying on the part of the occupants. Generally, Swarthmore students are welcome to have guests on campus. Guests are defined as traditional college-aged students, family, non-Swarthmore friends, and prospective students. Individuals or groups contracted to perform specific functions at
the College (e.g., performers, speakers, etc.) are not permitted to stay overnight in the residence halls. If a guest of a student will be staying in a residence hall overnight, the resident assistant (RA) must be notified, and all roommates must agree to any overnight stay.
A guest is not permitted to stay in a residence hall more than four (4) nights each term because guests use residence hall resources and add to a sense of crowding and noise. In no circumstances may guests sleep in lounges or other public places.

Residence halls are designed for our student population, and, as such, children, parents, and other non-traditional college-aged adults should not be overnight guests. Requests for exceptions must be made to the assistant dean for residential life.

Before inviting a guest into the room, at any time
of the day or night, the student must secure the permission of all roommates. If the roommate does not give permission, the inviter may not have the guest in the room. Usually, roommates can agree about the presence and timing of guests. But if no agreement can be reached, the basic principle is that the room is for study and sleeping by the assigned occupants.

As noted above, RAs must be notified about guests. This is for health and safety reasons.

Hosts are responsible for the behavior of their guests and can be sanctioned if the guest breaks College policy.

Cots and inflatable mattresses are available for rent on a limited basis. To request a rental, please contact Facilities and Services. These requests must be made at least three (3) days in advance; linens are not provided.

Care of College Property

College-provided furniture in residence hall rooms may not be removed or dismantled. With the limited storage areas in residence halls, there is no safe space to store unwanted room furniture. Public-area furnishings are intended for general use and are not to be taken into private rooms. The environmental services (EVS) or other staff will report infractions
of this rule. Students who violate these rules and/or do not comply with the directive to restore furniture and equipment to its rightful place will be fined,
with additional penalties assessed for continued noncompliance. Serious or repeated violations could also subject the student to suspension of her/his right to reside in College residence halls.

Personal beds—including water beds and mattresses— may not be added to the room unless specific permission is obtained before the student’s arrival date from the assistant dean for residential life. For safety reasons, construction of lofts or walls in rooms is not permitted.

Rooms should be returned to their pre-occupancy condition upon move-out. Rooms will be examined subsequent to each student’s departure, and a fine will be levied in the event that special cleaning beyond common procedures is required, or for the removal of College property from the room. When a student wishes to have her or his room inspected before leaving, she or he must contact the EVS technician or residence hall supervisor.

Fines are also levied if the staff must move furniture in or out of the room. Specific room inspections
may be made at the discretion of the deans. Similar charges will accrue if students leave belongings in common spaces that must be removed by facilities management personnel. Typically, those charges begin at $50 per resident and increase when extra cleaning of rooms is necessary. Room walls, floors, doors, and furniture may not be painted.

Prohibited Objects, by fire regulations, are: cooking appliances (including coffee makers, hot plates, toaster ovens, or other items with open-heat elements); space heaters; candles, incense, and other open-flame items; and halogen lamps.

Any student with an open flame (e.g., candle, incense, etc.) will be subject to a $500 fine.

The cooking facilities in residence halls are designed only for occasional snack use and not for regular meal preparation. Students are not permitted to cook in dormitory rooms or bring microwaves. Students may bring small refrigerators for their dorm rooms, but they must meet all College specifications (Energy Star rated and no larger than 24” x 18” x 18”). Wastebaskets must be metal. Extreme care must be taken with irons, clothes steamers, curling irons, and other personal-care devices. Electrical items using excessive wattage (e.g., air conditioning units) are prohibited. Extension cords must be Underwriter’s Lab approved; outlet strips must have a built-in circuit breaker. No gas-powered vehicles are permitted in the buildings.

Pets of any kind are not allowed in residence halls. Keeping any pet within a residence hall is an offense against local Board of Health regulations, as well
as an imposition on residents of that building and
the EVS technicians. Fines will be levied against offenders, and the pet(s) will be removed from College premises. A repeat offense will cause the student with the pet to forfeit her/his right to reside within College housing.

Keys and Locks

Security. The College takes precautions to protect the safety and well-being of students, but it also requires students’ full participation. For security reasons, rooms should be locked when unoccupied, even for
a brief period, to avoid theft of personal property. Exterior entry doors should not be propped open. Public safety officers, Environmental Services (EVS) staff, and maintenance workers and their supervisors, as well as resident assistants (RAs), have keys to all residence hall rooms and use them only in the course of fulfilling duties. In addition, any dean may enter and inspect a residence hall room without the resident’s consent, if there is reason to believe that any College regulation is being or has been violated.

Key Central.Located in the Facilities and Services Building, Key Central is generally open weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The office may be contacted by emailing or calling ext. 5397 (KEYS) from a campus phone. From off campus, call 610-690-5748. For security reasons, keys will only be issued to the person to whom they are assigned.

Lost Keys. Please notify Key Central immediately in writing (by email) about a lost key. A new key and the necessary paperwork will be prepared. The student will be notified by email or telephone once the key is ready to be picked up. There is a minimum charge of $50 per each lost key, and the student’s account will be billed accordingly. Roommates will not be charged, but they will have to come to Key Central to exchange keys if a lock is changed.

Found Keys. Found keys are to be sent to Key Central via campus mail in order to promptly return them to the person to whom they were issued. For security reasons, the office will not divulge the identity of a key or its owner to anyone.

Returning Keys. At the end of the year, students should return their keys to Key Central. If the office
is not open, place the key(s) in the 24-hour key drop located directly at the top of the loading dock stairs of the Facilities and Services Building. If the student wishes to receive a key-return receipt, she/he may get one during business hours at the Key Central window. Keys must be in the hands of Key Central by Jan. 1 or June 5 in order for the student to get credit for the key’s return and avoid the $50 fine. Students who return keys after the deadline are eligible for a $20 credit against the late-key-return fine. Should the student elect to take a leave of absence or leave the College earlier than originally scheduled, all College keys become due and must be surrendered before leaving campus.

Room Changes. If a student is changing rooms, she/ he may only have one (1) key in her/his possession. The student is not to trade key(s) with other persons involved or not involved with the move. When rooms are changed, Key Central automatically reassigns a new key and flags the other key(s) as due. If the key is not returned promptly, the student will be charged $50. Keys are assigned to one student and one student only. Only College locks may be used on doors; personal locks will be removed, and the owner will be charged for damages and labor.

Storage of Personal Belongings

1. Dorm Storage. Regular storage is currently provided in most residence halls. It is open at the beginning and end of each semester. Contact resident assistants (RAs) for access to these spaces. Bedding, books, and small boxes are typical items stored here over 
the summer. During the school year suitcases, trunks, and off-season clothes are stored here as space is available. All items must be boxed and labeled. The College assumes no responsibility for stored items; students store items at their own risk. Empty boxes must be flattened and disposed of in the appropriate dumpsters. There is no access to these storage areas during winter and summer breaks. This storage option will be available to students through the summer of 2015. After items are retrieved in fall 2015, this resource will no longer be available.

2. Secure Storage in Old Tarble. This storage area will 
be open at the beginning and end of semesters on a limited and announced basis; no access is permitted outside these announced times. Students may
store up to three (3) items in this location during the summer break. Students going on leave may store up to three (3) items for up to a year. All items must be boxed and labeled with the student’s name and class year. The College assumes no responsibility for stored items; students store items at their own risk. This storage option will be available to students through the summer of 2015. After items are retrieved in fall 2015, this resource will no longer be available.

3. Prohibited Storage. Furniture (rugs, chairs, sofas, tables, etc.), food items, and other large items may not be stored on College property. Limited storage space and fire regulations prohibit storage of such items. Violation of storage policies will result in removal
 of forbidden items and an accompanying charge. Musical instruments and refrigerators are not allowed in secured storage.

4. Storage Clean-out. Periodically, all storage rooms 
will be cleaned and inappropriate items removed. Graduating students may not leave items in storage after Commencement. Any items found in storage rooms that are out-of-date or labeled inappropriately will be considered “abandoned” and disposed of accordingly. The College reserves the right to dispose of any items in storage locations, without notice, if the storage rooms become a health or safety concern.

5. Off-Campus Storage. There are many locations off campus that offer students summer- and winter- break storage options. Students must work with these companies individually as they are not managed by the College.

6. Insurance. The insurance program of the College is designed to provide protection for College property and does not include the property of students or other individuals. It is strongly advised that each student’s insurance coverage be extended to include personal property and effects while at Swarthmore.

Off-Campus Housing

In keeping with Swarthmore’s philosophy that “residence hall life supports the College’s academic mission,” most students (approximately 94 percent) live in the residence halls. However, it is recognized that some students may prefer to live off campus, and, with the exception of new students, they are generally allowed to do so. Students planning to live off campus should be aware that the Borough of Swarthmore has an ordinance prohibiting more than three (3) unrelated adults from living together.

Off-campus students may subscribe to the full meal plan or select a partial meal plan. Debit cards for
use at the Dining Hall, Kohlberg coffee bar, Science Center coffee bar, and the Tarble snack bar may also be purchased by off-campus students. Contact Dining Services for additional information.

Tri-College Living

Arrangements have also been made with Haverford and Bryn Mawr colleges to allow cross-campus living privileges. Students interested in living at Bryn Mawr or Haverford should contact the Swarthmore Housing Office by the midpoint of the semester proceeding the semester in which they would like to exchange. The student should plan to take some classes at the college of residence.

Break and Summer Housing

Dorm Closings. There will be gaps in available housing at the end of each semester and the end of the summer housing term. The College will not allow students to stay in the residence halls during these gaps, nor store their belongings in the rooms. During these periods, the Facilities and Environmental Services staffs are busy making repairs and preparing the buildings for Commencement, Alumni Weekend, summer programs, and returning students. There is no housing available from the College between the closing of residence halls in December and early January; the end of the spring term and the opening of summer housing; and the closing of summer housing and the opening of the residence halls in the fall. Students must make arrangements for off-campus interim housing during these periods.

Summer Housing. The College, as a service for faculty and their student researchers, provides limited summer housing. First priority goes to students conducting research with faculty members. Second priority goes to students working in College offices
and international students not returning home during the summer. Details, availability, cost, application, etc., are publicized after spring break by the director of summer programs. This housing is offered and managed by Facilities and Services Summer Programs and not by the Dean’s Office. The Summer Program Office hires one (1) resident assistant (RA) for the building to act as a conduit of information with the office.

Students in this summer housing are not supervised by the regular College offices. There is a limited meal plan available. No access to the College’s health and psychological services is available over the summer. There is only limited access to the library, information technology services, and athletic facilities.