Your Guide to College Dorm Rules

Living in a dorm can feel a lot like living on your own for the first time. While this is partly true, keep in mind that you’re living in fairly close quarters with a lot of other people.

Naturally, this can present some problems; living with other people takes some getting used to! There are a number of rules you can expect when moving into a dorm. Most of these rules primarily address safety and courtesy. Here are some common restrictions when living in a college dorm.

1. Fire Hazards

The degree to which these are restricted varies, but most dorms will outlaw candles, hot plates, and anything with a burner on it — sadly, this means most coffee machines, too.

2. Quiet Hours

To encourage studying, most dorms will crack down on excessive noise after a certain hour, especially during the week.

3. Pets

Most dorms don’t allow pets. Remember that dorm-mates may be allergic. In any case, you’ll move out of your room within a year, and pets can leave some pretty gnarly odors behind. Some buildings may allow fish, but check to make sure.

4. Dorm Meetings

You may be required to attend mandatory dorm meetings to go over rules, safety practices, and common courtesies.

5. Holes in Walls

Rules about putting holes in walls vary from school to school, but most places will allow you to put up a few thumbtacks. Installing extra shelving, on the other hand, may cross a line. Check your school’s guidelines, and be ready to spackle any holes at the end of the year.

6. Visitors

Single-sex or religiously-affiliated schools may have rules about visitors of the other sex and what are its appropriate visiting hours. For example, your boyfriend may not be able to stay later than 10 p.m. Even if such visits are not prohibited, be mindful of how many visitors you have and the frequency of their visits. If your boyfriend crashes with you for a week straight, you are probably violating a dorm rule. Instead, you want to be mindful of your roommate’s space.

7. Substances

No one under the age of 21 is ever allowed possession of alcohol, but dry dorms (or schools) may not allow any substances, even if you are legally allowed to have them. If your school does not have such a rule, it is still considered public space, which means you can’t legally drink outside of your dorm room.

So what happens if you break one of these rules? Again, this varies from school to school. Consequences range from a monetary fine to community service, verbal reprimands from the RA, or required classes to learn more about fire safety and alcohol abuse. With serious or repeat offenses, you may have to meet with the dean of students and can even face expulsion. It’s important to check the guidelines for dorm living for your school to make sure you are within the school’s expectations.