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B.2.f. Residential Life Policies

Last updated August 12, 2017

1.       Fundamental Purposes

2.       Housing Options on Campus

3.       Student Responsibilities and Expectations

4.       Use of Residential Spaces

        a.       Living and Learning

        b.       Guest Policy

        c.       Entry by College Officials

        d.       Housing Regulations & Resources

5.       Requesting Changes or Off-Campus Housing

6.       Termination of a House


(1) Fundamental Purposes

Middlebury College’s Community Standards speak directly to the goals and values that underlie all of Middlebury’s residential life policies: safety; respect for self, others and our shared environment; individual responsibility; and fostering a diverse and inclusive community committed to civility, open-mindedness and finding common ground. Enrolled students are required to live on campus for all 8 eight semesters and participate in the dining plan.  A small number of upper class students may be permitted to live off-campus as authorized by the office of the Dean of Students (DOS).  The procedure to request permission is below. The College assigns housing and reserves the right to change and alter housing assignments to better serve compelling community interests.

(2) Housing options on Campus

At Middlebury College, students are offered more than 60 on-campus buildings for student housing. All students are assigned to one of five Commons for the first two years. Juniors and seniors can choose from other housing options available across campus while remaining a member of their original Commons. Middlebury maintains houses in the belief that they can be a positive addition to the larger campus community and that they provide students with valuable opportunities for assuming responsibility for activities and programs that support the life of the Middlebury community.

In addition to First year and Sophomore housing with the Commons, the College offers Academic and Special Interest Houses that students can join on campus for students interested in pursuing common academic, co-curricular, and special interests. Oversight of these houses is the shared responsibility of the Office of the Dean of Students and the academic (in the case of Academic Interest houses) or administrative (in the case of special interest houses) department sponsoring the house. Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors are eligible to reside in Academic Interest Houses. Students can choose from the other housing options in their junior and senior year.

More information on joining these houses and the Room Draw process can be found at:

Middlebury reserves the right to reassign, restrict, and, suspend student housing where that decision will serve a compelling community interest, or in instances where a student has demonstrated a flagrant and/or repeated disregard for the principles set forth in the Handbook. This includes the restriction from participating in room draw and housing selection.

(3) Student Responsibilities and Expectations

Residential Living Spaces are provided for Middlebury students only.

Students are responsible for what takes place in their rooms and common suite space, including parties and other activities, whether or not they are present. It is the student’s responsibility to maintain clean and sanitary conditions in dormitory rooms, and must clear common space after personal use.

Students cannot switch rooms and keys or change residences without proper permission.

Students are not expected to be in areas that are not regular living spaces. They should not use areas outside of their living spaces for storage unless authorized. The list of spaces excluded from student use includes any roof or outer surface of any Middlebury building. Accessing a roof in any manner or climbing on a building is considered dangerous behavior and is prohibited; fines will be assessed.  Unauthorized access to prohibited areas of Middlebury buildings (e. g. basements, closets, crawlspaces and/or attics) will incur fines (see section on fines and fees).

Students are expected to be considerate of others with respect to noise in the residence halls; see Noise Regulations for more information. Conduct that creates a public disturbance in a residence hall or interferes with another student’s ability to study is prohibited.

Students are expected to be responsible for their personal valuables and belongings. Middlebury does not accept responsibility for loss of money or other personal property or damage thereto which may occur in residence halls and elsewhere on campus. Students may wish to insure their property against such loss.

Students may not remove Middlebury-provided furniture from their bedroom for any reason, including but not limited to bedframes, mattresses, dressers, bookcases, chairs, desks and wardrobes. Removal of any College furniture without proper permission will result in a fine. Limited medical or ADA exceptions may be granted with appropriate approval. For a list of furniture that are not allowed on campus, please read here.

(4) Use of Residential Spaces

(a) Living and Learning

Residential spaces are ordinarily entitled to a higher degree of privacy than public spaces. Residences are provided to support the co-curricular learning.  However, the overall safety of our campus and our community justifies balancing individual expectations of privacy vs. community interests.  Solicitation in residence halls for any purpose by persons outside the Middlebury community is prohibited.

(b) Guest Policy

A guest of a student may stay in a dormitory no more than three days in any one term. All guests must register in advance with the Department of Public Safety.  Residential Life staff must be told in advance where the guest is staying. No guests may stay overnight in residential lounges, or stay overnight on campus when Middlebury is closed. Students are responsible for the behavior of their guests. Middlebury reserves the right to remove any guest whose behavior is not appropriate, and to rescind the privilege of hosting guests. Failure to follow the guest policy will result in fines and loss of privilege to host guests. See guest policy

(c) Entry by College Officials

i. Entry into Student Residence Halls, Houses and Suites
The Department of Public Safety is responsible for patrolling residential areas on campus and may enter student residence halls and houses in order to perform their duties (examples: locking the building, responding to complaints and calls for service, party checks, etc.). Since many residential houses need to be patrolled and may require checks or locking (examples: Homestead, Jewett, Weybridge, The Mill), officers may enter the communal areas as appropriate. Public Safety officers respect a student's right to privacy and do not enter more private areas such as suites or very small houses without knocking and gaining permission to enter, unless conducting a party check, addressing significant Middlebury policy violations, or in accordance with the other entry policies listed above.

ii. Possession and Securing of Evidence 
The Department of Public Safety is authorized to enter a student's residence to take possession of and secure evidence of a serious Middlebury policy violation. Department of Public Safety and other Middlebury officials should enter a student's room only under certain circumstances and in conformity with the procedures outlined in Entry into Residential Rooms. In the event that stolen property or prohibited/illegal goods are observed, the items will be confiscated, notice will be sent to the Commons for appropriate action, and the occupants of the room will be notified. 

  • Procedure for Entry in Non-Emergency Situation
    • Community Service
      Middlebury officials may enter a student dormitory room to perform a community service: e.g., to turn off an unattended alarm clock or radio, to mitigate property damage, or to allow authorized designees to retrieve residents’ belongings. 
    • Routine Inspections and Repairs
      Middlebury conducts routine inspections of student rooms in the dormitories to check on violations of health and safety regulations and to recover misappropriated property. Inspections are held at reasonable times, in a manner that will least inconvenience residents. Students are notified by voice-mail and written notice at least 24 hours but not more than two weeks prior to the inspection. Students discovered in violation of health and safety regulations, or in possession of stolen property or illegal goods, are subject to normal Middlebury disciplinary action as appropriate. During vacation periods, student rooms in Middlebury-owned housing are inspected to check heat settings, to ensure that lights and appliances are turned off, and that windows are closed. Following such inspections, or at other times, facilities services personnel may enter student rooms to make repairs. (See Notification of Entry, below.) Occasionally, Middlebury officials may need to enter a room for reasons other than those listed in this section, such as to evaluate a room for planning purposes and space needs. In these circumstances, 24-hour notice will be given and the requester will attempt to coordinate a mutually agreeable time with the student.
    • Communications Infrastructure Maintenance
      Improperly configured or malfunctioning computer or communication equipment can seriously degrade the operation of Middlebury's communication networks. It may be necessary for personnel to enter a student room to confirm the location of such a device, and, if necessary, disconnect it from the network until the situation can be resolved. ITS will attempt to contact the student before entering the room, but time-critical situations, where significant network services are impacted, may require entry without prior approval. Students' computers will not be touched without their prior consent; room entry will be only for the purpose of confirming that the misbehaving computer has been properly identified. For the protection of the student, the Department of Public Safety and/or the Commons office will be notified if entry is made without prior approval. Any temporary disconnection will be made in the network equipment closet, without directly handling students' property.
    • If students request assistance from ITS to repair a problem with their network connection, they may give ITS permission to enter the room and disconnect equipment for testing and troubleshooting in their absence. Similarly, Telephone Services personnel may enter student rooms in the residents' absence to effect repairs to voice telephone equipment or infrastructure. (See Notification of Entry, below.)
  • Procedure for Entry in Emergency Situation
    • Emergency Entry 
      Middlebury officials are authorized to enter a student's room without prior notice in emergency circumstances, such as a fire, fire alarm, fire drill, an immediate threat to health, safety or property, a call for help, or what reasonably seems to constitute an emergency situation.

    • Special Room Inspection
      In addition to the circumstances described above, Middlebury officials may initiate entry of a room and/or a room search when there is reason to believe that a serious violation of Middlebury policy has been committed and/or the evidence may be found in a student's room. Searches of this nature will not be conducted without prior authorization of an appropriate senior Middlebury official. When possible, the student or students concerned and a witness shall be present when a room search is conducted. (See Notification of Entry, below.)

    • Students living in Middlebury-owned housing have the right to be free from unlawful room searches conducted by law enforcement officials. In most instances, a lawful search must be conducted pursuant to a warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause. Middlebury officials must arrange with law enforcement authorities to obtain a search warrant before searching a student's room for evidence which they intend to turn over for purposes of criminal prosecution. If a police officer sees a student commit what reasonably appears to be a criminal offense or violation of local ordinances, however, Middlebury will not interfere with the officer's legal pursuit of the student into a dormitory and into a student room. Similarly, a Department of Public Safety officer who sees a student commit what reasonably appears to be a crime or a violation of Middlebury regulations has the right to pursue the student into a dormitory and into a student room.

    Notification of Entry
    Whenever a student's dormitory room is entered by a Middlebury official to meet an emergency, to make a repair, to carry out a community service, to conduct a routine inspection, or to conduct an authorized search, a note will be left indicating the time, date, reason, and name of the Middlebury person or office responsible, unless the occupant of the room is present at the time of entry.

    (d) Housing Regulations & Resources

    Fire Safety Regulations

    Any violation of fire safety regulations will result in a fine.  Students found responsible will have to pay the additional cost(s) of repair or replacement of damaged equipment or property.  Students will be subject to disciplinary actions as well. 

    • Room entries, exits and hallways must be kept clear and free of potential obstructions.

    • Nothing may be hung from a sprinkler apparatus or sprinkler piping. 

    • Only two walls of any room may be draped. Ceilings may not be covered with tapestries or other materials. Other wall hangings and posters may be prohibited if a fire or egress hazard is created.

    • Nothing may be built or placed over or around a room radiator that will interfere with the free flow of air around the radiator or prevent easy access to service it.

    • The following items are prohibited: halogen lamps, portable heaters, fuel, dangerous chemicals, fireworks, hazardous materials, new or burned candles, incense, oil lamps, oil/wax diffusers that sit on lightbulbs or other items with the capability of an open flame or burning embers.

    • String lights are prohibited, with the exception of LED lights in good working condition (no frayed or bare wires, cracked sockets, loose connections or damaged insulation).  LED lights are acceptable ONLY if they are labeled with Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approval. Tags with this information are required to be on each string of lights. LED string lights may not be placed over doorways, on ceilings or wrapped around any sprinkler piping, furniture or other cloth items such as curtains or wall hangings. LED lights may not be attached with nails or staples. LED lights must be plugged directly into an outlet or surge protector and may not be strung together.  If it cannot be verified that the lights are LED, the College has the right to remove them.

    • Smoking is prohibited in all campus buildings, including the small residential houses. This includes porches, balconies, decks, or within 25 feet of any part of the building structure. E-cigarette smoking is also prohibited in campus buildings.

    • The use of portable fire pits is prohibited.

    • Use of fire, or lighting a fire without an authorized fire permit, inside or outside of buildings, other than smoking in authorized outdoor spaces, is prohibited. The use of outdoor grills is limited to authorized locations at small houses and must be approved before use.

    • Several College residence halls and lounges have working fireplaces. Before using a fireplace, permission is required from the Commons office associated with the residence.  Fires in fireplaces should never be unattended and there should always be a fire extinguisher present in the vicinity when there is any fire in the fireplace. The use of chemical fire starters is prohibited.

    • Tampering with fire- or life-safety equipment is prohibited and subject to fines. These charges will be borne collectively by the residence hall if the responsible individual(s) cannot be identified. “Fire- and life-safety equipment” includes fire alarms, fire doors, pull stations, extinguishers, hydrants, smoke detectors, smoke detector batteries, carbon monoxide detectors, and sprinklers.

    • Students must exit a building when a fire alarm sounds; fines may be assessed for failure to do so. Fire escapes may only be accessed during fire drills or a fire emergency.

    • Appliances that have exposed heating elements, including but not limited to toasters, toaster ovens, hot plates, sandwich makers, electric frying pans or grills, electric woks, deep fryers, popcorn poppers (other than hot air poppers) and irons without automatic shutoffs may not be used in student rooms.  Small cooking appliances without exposed heating elements, such as rice cookers, steamers, and crockpots may be used in residential kitchen spaces.  These items must be attended while in use.  Such appliances may not be used in student rooms.  Storage of these appliances should be discussed with your Commons office. Please also see a list of allowable items on the Residential Life webpage.

    • The use of fog and smoke machines in campus residential buildings is prohibited.

    • Possession of flammable decorations including wreaths, sawn trees, corn stalks and shucks, tree branches, dry leaves, hay straw, paper streamers, saw dust or wood shaving is prohibited.

    • Possession of large appliances such as refrigerators in excess of 3.8 cubic feet, freezers, washers, or dryers is prohibited.

    • Construction of partitions, subdividing rooms, construction of additions, installation or modification or electrical wiring or plumbing, or altering means of egress is prohibited.

    Fire Safety inspections will be organized and conducted on an on-going basis as deemed appropriate.  Students will be reminded that inspections will occur at the beginning of each semester, and will be advised of the conditions following the inspections.  Any material in violation of the fire safety regulations will be confiscated at the time of the inspection, and the student fined.  

    Noise Regulations
    Middlebury seeks to promote the quiet, comfort, and health of the campus community and residents of the town of Middlebury. The student body must uphold the Ordinance for the Regulation of Noise of the town of Middlebury. This ordinance prohibits excessive or unnecessary noise, including vocal disturbances and loud music, and punishes offenders with fines.  Students should neither cause nor condone excessive amounts of noise, but should strive to be considerate and respectful of others. Students are informed about Middlebury’s noise regulations by the residential life staff. Procedures on Noise Complaints can be found here.

    Storage Regulations

    Students leaving Middlebury College at any time during the academic year are responsible for packing their belongings and arranging for storage or shipping. Storage during the regular academic year for undergraduate Middlebury students:

    1. Regular dormitory storage (trunks, suitcases, boxed items).
      i. Storage for some student belongings during the academic year is provided in some campus buildings. Interested students should consult with their resident assistant.
      ii. At the end of the school year, Facilities Services staff will clean out these storage areas and will dispose of any items not removed by students.
    2. House Storage
      Houses may only store house items, such as pool tables and composites, in their houses over the summer recess. Personal items may not be left in the social houses. The president of each social house is responsible for supervising the storage area.

    (5) Requesting Changes or Off-Campus Housing

    Changing Housing Assignment

    Students are assigned housing by the College through the room draw process. If students are experiencing a roommate conflict, they are highly encouraged to speak with their Residential Life staff or CRA before approaching the Commons dean or submitting a room-change request.

    Procedure to Request Room Change

    Mid-term room change requests may be submitted following the end of the second week of classes and will be considered in mid-October and mid-March.  Requests submitted during J-Term, and after the fall and spring deadlines will be considered on a case-by-case basis.   End of Term room change requests (fall and J-term) should be submitted to the residential systems coordinator by the assigned date.

    If a student is offered a mid-semester room change, the student has 48 hours to accept or reject the offer. If students have a double as a single for whatever reason, they must find an eligible roommate, or the residential systems coordinator will assign someone to fill the space. Students will always be encouraged to resolve any conflicts before considering a room change.

    As noted above, switching rooms and keys or changing residences without authorization is prohibited and subject to fines.


    Procedure to Request Off Campus Housing

    Off campus housing
    A limited number of releases are available for senior students to live off campus with prior approval from Residential Life. Students with special medical needs that necessitate a housing accommodation should address their concerns to Residential Life and the Student Accessibility Services. Students who are married or have dependent children living with them are exempted from the residency and board requirements upon providing documentation to Residential Life.

    Procedure to Request Living Off-Campus

    Middlebury permits a limited number of seniors to live off campus. Permission is granted by a process coordinated by the Office of the Dean of Students. Students with the status of "special students" are required to live off campus. The number of off-campus residents is based on our commitment to the residential experience and an evaluation of the rental market in the town of Middlebury. Off-Campus status requires the approval of the Commons dean. Approval may not be granted if a student has been subject to official College discipline or academic failure.  Students living off campus must provide their local address and phone number to Middlebury’s residential systems coordinator within the first five days of the term or the Off-Campus Fee Reduction will be forfeited.

    All Off-Campus forms must be turned in to the residential systems coordinator by the determined deadlines. Any student wishing to move off campus after the Off-Campus application deadline must notify the residential systems coordinator to be placed on a waiting list. Off-campus permission is granted through a random draw each term for the subsequent term. Applications are submitted electronically; students may apply as individuals or in groups up to three members.  Students who accept off-campus housing status are ineligible to participate in further fall term housing processes.

    Permission must be granted for each term a student wants to live off campus and an Off-Campus Fee Reduction Form must be submitted by the posted deadline.  A form submitted one term will not automatically transfer to the next term. Students living off campus for one term will be given priority to live off campus for the next term as long as there have been no disciplinary, academic or behavioral concerns raised during the previous term. Completing the form every term provides the Office of the Dean of Students with up-to-date residential information.

    Students who accept off-campus housing status and then request to move back on campus will be placed on a waiting list and housed by the residential systems coordinator following the completion of the housing processes taking place at that time.  There is no guarantee of housing for these students.

    Students who choose to live off-campus without authorization - that is, students who are not granted off-campus status but move off-campus nonetheless - will be subject to official discipline.

    Students who live off campus are expected to be good citizens. Students who violate Middlebury policy or local ordinances will be subject to Middleburydiscipline.

    Living on campus is considered to be an essential component of the educational experience at Middlebury. Request for off-campus housing on the basis of a medical or ADA-certified need will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require appropriate documentation.

    (6) Termination of a House

    The Vice President of Student Affairs/Dean of Students (VPSA) will recommend to the President termination of a house at Middlebury in the following circumstances:

    a. for disciplinary reasons if there is an extraordinary violation by a house of Middlebury’s rules and regulations for students in houses.

    b.for disciplinary reasons if there are repeated violations by a house of Middlebury rules and regulations.  The VPSA may issue appropriate sanctions to a house for violations of rules and regulations. Sanctions may include disciplinary probation, which will involve the loss of the right to hold parties and of other privileges to be specified by the Office of the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students and/or the VPSA will report to the President persistent violations of guidelines and regulations by a  house on probation.

    c.  on the grounds of loss of student support and extraordinary expense to Middlebury if room occupancy of the house by members fails to meet the capacity requirements established by the Office of the Dean of Students and the IHC or dorm damages for the house exceed normal wear and tear.

    d. The President may seek input from appropriate bodies, such as the Community Council. The President is not required to consult other offices or bodies, however, and reserves the right to take whatever action is necessary, including immediate, indefinite suspension of the house or termination of the house. Indefinite suspension shall mean suspension of the house as a social organization at Middlebury, including loss of the right of members to reside in the house.