Residential Life Policies


  1. Residence Agreement. All students living in College housing are required to comply with all rules, regulations, and policies related to student housing. This includes, but is not limited to, the information outlined below and various Residential Life publications (Opening and Closing Notices, Vacation Housing Notices, and the annual housing lottery document). In return, the College will work to provide Bowdoin students with safe, comfortable, well-maintained living spaces, in an academically conducive environment. 

  2. Residency Requirement. All first-years and sophomores are required to live on campus in residence halls, apartments, or College Houses. Juniors and seniors interested in living off campus in private rentals should enter the Off-Campus Housing Lottery to seek approval to be released from their on campus living obligation. Approval to live off campus is not guaranteed and therefore students should refrain from signing leases until receiving approval to live off campus from the Office of Residential Life. The Office of Residential Life and Office of the Dean of Students will review all lottery names and may deny anyone for whom living off campus may not be the best option for the student or for the local-area community.  
  1. Assignment Information. Assignments for first-year students are made based on information requested prior to enrollment. Generally, the housing lottery is held in the spring. Information regarding the housing lottery will be announced by the Office of Residential Life. Except for students already assigned housing through an on-campus job, returning students choose housing for the next year by participating in the housing lottery. The lottery is run by the Residential Life staff. Lottery information is typically distributed immediately following spring vacation. Students returning for second semester, including those returning from off-campus study, are assigned via an open rooms process. All assignments are made at the room/suite/apartment level, students select their individual bedrooms when applicable. For more information, contact the Director of Residential and Housing Operations in the Office of Residential Life.

  2. Right to Assign and Reassign. The Director of Residential and Student Life reserves the right to assign any vacancy in College-owned housing at any time, and/or to reassign any student at any time.

  3. Occupancy Periods. Housing is available only when the College is in regular session. Students are required to vacate College housing between semesters and during spring break and when residences are otherwise closed. Information about dates and times that College residences open and close are published in the academic calendar in the Student Handbook. Closing notices are sent to on-campus students prior to each closing. Unless otherwise specified by the College, all students, except graduating seniors, are required to vacate within twenty-four hours of their last exam. Students who arrive before housing opens or remain after housing closes without express permission from the Office of Residential Life may face disciplinary action and/or incur fees.
  1. Transitional Housing. Students who need housing between semesters, during spring break, or during the summer should read the closing notices and/or contact the Office of Residential Life prior to these periods. Remaining in College housing when the College is not in session or when residences are otherwise closed, without permission of the Office of Residential Life, is a violation of College policy.
  1. Opening Day. All students must arrive no earlier than the scheduled opening day for fall and spring semesters. Early arrivals are not permitted. For more information, contact the Director of Residential and Housing Operations in the Office of Residential Life.
  1. Decorations. Decorations, and the installation of any decorations, must not cause any damage to College property; hooks or clips should be used instead of nails, screws or other hardware. No fasteners may penetrate any surfaces. Occupants of rooms must not place objects, including, but not limited to, antennae, satellite dishes, or plants on outside walls, windowsills, window frames, roofs, fire escapes, or ledges.

    No decorations of any kind may be hung from any sprinkler pipe, sprinkler head, smoke detector, strobe, or light/utility fixtures. Decorations that block or interfere with emergency exits or fire safety equipment, including exit signs, emergency lights, electrical/alarm panels, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers are prohibited. All other decorations must be made of non-flammable materials. Decorations or signs are ordinarily not permitted on the outside of buildings or in exterior windows. Exceptions require the approval of the Office of Residential Life.

    Only UL-listed miniature lights may be used (preferably LED lights). No more than three strands of lights may be strung together at a time, to prevent overloading. All lights must be turned off when the room is unoccupied and over night.  Cut greenery, such as trees or wreaths, are not permitted.
  1. OneCards and Room Keys. When school is in session, student residences are accessed by their OneCard.  OneCards and room keys are issued through the OneCard Office located at the lobby of Coles Tower.  Students are responsible for the key they sign out and must return it to the OneCard office upon moving out.  For more information regarding keys, please see the Building Access section of the OneCard website.  Students have access to residence halls and apartments via their OneCard. Access may be restricted or limited at the will of the College. Exterior doors to residence halls are locked at all times. Students are asked to help keep unwanted guests or intruders from entering buildings by closing doors that others leave propped open and reporting suspicious behavior or malfunctioning doors to Security.
  1. Room Lockout Policy. Students are expected to carry their OneCard with them at all times and are expected to keep their rooms locked. If a student locks themselves out of their room, they are to follow these steps to gain access to their room.
    1. Between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and midnight, students should attempt to find a student Residential Life staff member to gain entry to their room. Student Residential Life staff may not loan out their OneCard or master key.
    2. If a Residential Life staff member is unavailable, or it is after midnight, students should call Security at ext. 3314 to request entry to the room. If a student is requesting an excessive number of lockouts, the Director of Residential Life may request to meet with the student and/or take formal disciplinary action.
    3. Security can be contacted by calling ext. 3500 or 725-3500 in an emergency or ext. 3314 or 725-3314 in a non-emergency.
  1. Broken or Lost OneCards. You must have a working OneCard to access buildings, eat in the dining halls, use your Polar Points, do laundry, make photocopies, and take books out from the library.

    If your OneCard does not function for any of the above-mentioned tasks, please go to the OneCard Office to obtain a replacement card.

    If you lose or break your OneCard, you may obtain a new card for $15.00. This cost will be billed to your account through the Bursar's Office. It is important to deactivate your card online at the OneCard website or call Security to have them deactivate it for you.  This will protect your OneCard funds and keep the campus safe.
  1. Personal Property. The College assumes no responsibility for loss of, or damage to, a student's personal property. Each student is encouraged to take appropriate steps to safeguard and insure their property including maintaining appropriate personal property insurance. Any loss or theft of property should be reported to Security so that an official record is available if needed. The College does not provide storage for students' personal property.
  1. Right to Enter. Bowdoin College reserves the right to enter any College-owned space at any time for the purpose of responding to emergencies, maintaining acceptable health and safety standards, establishing order, making repairs, routine maintenance (including response to work orders), inventory, extermination, cleaning, enforcement of College rules and regulations, securing buildings during vacation and break periods, and for any other reasonable purpose. The resident's absence will not prevent such entry. Entry will be made by authorized College personnel.
  1. Right to Enter and Search. The College reserves the right to enter and search student rooms/suites/apartments and/or belongings in any College building or storage space. A resident's room, suite, or apartment or possessions on campus will not be searched by College authorities unless there is sufficient reason to believe that a resident is using their assigned space for purposes which may be in violation of Federal, State, or local law or of College regulations.

    Before conducting a search, the Security Office must have written permission from the Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs, the Dean of Students, or the Director of Residential and Student Life. The written permission authorizing the search shall state the reasons for the search, a description of the objects or information sought, possessions and locations to be searched, and the approximate time the search will be conducted. Although not required by law, whenever possible the search will be conducted at reasonable times with occupant(s) present.

    The College will cooperate with law enforcement officials who, having obtained a search warrant from an appropriate source having jurisdiction to issue such warrants, seek entry to student rooms for the purpose of executing such warrants.
  1. Accountability. All occupants of a shared living space are responsible for all activities taking place in their space, including common rooms, whether they are present or not. All occupants can be held responsible for any prohibited or illegal activity or for any prohibited or illegal items found in the space.
  1. Withdrawal. Upon withdrawal or suspension from the College, the individual student has forty-eight hours, or a time frame as determined by the Director of Residential and Student Life, to vacate the premises.


The following fire safety code and college policy violations are subject to disciplinary action, including but not limited to, referral to the Conduct Review Board:

  1. Care of Rooms, Common Areas, and Furnishings. All residents are responsible for keeping their room, suite, or apartment and all common areas in their building or apartment complex in acceptable condition in accordance with the Facilities Management Policy.
  1. Cooking/Kitchens. In certain locations, the College provides cooking facilities for student use.  Cooking other than by microwave outside of established kitchens is prohibited; students are allowed to use a microwave oven or coffeemaker in their room. Residents are responsible for food or other personal belongings left in the kitchen area. All food and trash must be properly disposed of and students should check to be sure that ovens are turned off after use.
  1. Permitted Items: The following items are permitted: Microwave ovens of 1000 watts or less and not larger than one cubic ft. in size, Energy Star-rated refrigerators less than four cubic ft. in size, computer equipment, coffeemakers, electric kettles, curling and clothing irons, hair dryers, desk fans, lamps, televisions and DVD players. All permitted appliances must be Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved. Permitted appliances in poor working condition, or those deemed inappropriate by the Director of Residential and Housing Operations, must be removed from College spaces.
  1. Prohibited Items: Students are prohibited from possessing, using, or keeping the following items on-campus or in on-campus residential spaces, including common rooms:
    1. Any cooking/heating appliance not specifically listed above in the Permitted Items section, gas stoves or burners, camping stoves, space heaters, tanning lamps, and all halogen lamps.
    2. Any appliances that exceed 1000 watts.
    3. Air conditioning units, except when required by law.
    4. Fog machines, except by prior approval from the Office of Residential Life for one-time use during a registered event.
    5. Candles (regardless of intent to burn), scented plug-ins, wax warmers, and burnable incense. Students who use candles for religious observation may not keep them in their residences and should coordinate with the Director of the Rachel Lord Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.
    6. Battery or fuel powered hoverboards, smartboards, balance boards, skateboards, scooters, bicycles, and similar electric devices.
    7. Flammable liquids including, but not limited to camp-stove fuel, lamp oil, lighter fluid, propane, gasoline, and paint thinners.
    8. Fireworks and other pyrotechnics.
    9. Matches, lighters, and other ignitors may not be used under any circumstances in on-campus residential spaces. Please refer to the Alcohol and Other Substances Use and Abuse for more information.
    10. Certain room or residence decorations (see Section A(8) above).
Possession of one or more of these items may result in serious disciplinary action
  1. Fire Safety. The following fire safety code and College policy violations will be subject to disciplinary action, including but not limited to, referral to the Conduct Review Board. Restitution or fines may also be assessed. If the violation results in personal injury to others, damage to College property, or is a repeat offense of the same violation, in addition to College disciplinary proceedings, the College may report the incident to law enforcement for prosecution or fine:
    1. Setting of a Fire: This includes intentional or accidental fires, even those caused by cooking or smoking in approved areas.
    2. Setting off Fire Alarms: This includes intentional or accidental fire alarms, even those caused by cooking or smoking in approved areas.
    3. Failing to Evacuate: When an alarm sounds all occupants MUST vacate the building immediately; to remain in the building during an active alarm is a violation of state and federal fire codes. This includes all residential and academic buildings.
    4. Tampering with, Misusing, or Defeating Fire Protection Equipment: This includes, but is not limited to: removing or covering emergency exit lights or signage, hanging items of any kind from sprinkler heads or piping, propping open fire doors, disabling or covering smoke detectors, or improperly discharging fire extinguishers or fire hoses. The improper discharge of a fire extinguisher is a significant environmental health concern due to the chemical suppressants it contains (normally consumed when properly applied to a fire) being a severe respiratory irritant, and a distinct hazard to persons with sensitive respiratory conditions.
    5. Tampering with Any Wiring: This includes, but is not limited to, electrical equipment, building wiring, cable TV, computer wiring, or overloading electrical outlets with multiple plugs.  Only UL-approved grounded (three-prong) extension cords with an integral surge protector (such as those used for computers) are allowed; ungrounded (two-prong) extension cords of any kind are prohibited.
    6. Causing or Contributing to a Fire Safety Hazard: This includes, but is not limited to: storage of materials in exits, stairwells, hallways, or passageways in any manner that obstructs egress, storing an excessive amount of waste paper or other flammable materials, having ceiling hangings of any kind or wall hangings covering more than 50 percent of the wall space, and having an excessive amount of personal furniture in any College space.  Personal furnishings must be UL-labeled for fire resistance where applicable.
    7. State, federal, or local law: Any violation of state, federal, or local laws or ordinances, including Town of Brunswick Fire Department regulations.
    8. Decorations: Any violation of the Decorations policy (see above).
  1. Firearms/Weapons. Firearms, ammunition, and weapons of any kind are strictly prohibited in all College residences and other College spaces. Please refer to the Weapons Policy for more information.
  1. Pets and Animals. To preserve student health and safety, no animals of any kind are permitted in any College spaces, except when required by law.
  1. Roofs and Balconies. Bowdoin College strictly prohibits students from being on or accessing the roofs and balconies of any residence, as well as other College buildings. Students who allow others to access the roof or balcony from their room will be held accountable. The College assumes no financial or legal responsibility for injury or damages sustained due to this prohibited act.
  1. Winter Safety. Tunneling into plowed snow piles on campus is extremely dangerous, and therefore a prohibited activity. The piles of snow are continuously moved and added to by heavy equipment at all hours of the night and day during the winter, and the drivers have no way of knowing whether someone is inside or not. In addition, hollowed-out piles can easily collapse under their own weight, trapping or suffocating any occupants.
  1. Furniture. Furniture belonging to the College may not be removed from rooms/suites/apartments and common space. This furniture is for all current and future residents. This regulation includes, but is not limited to, removal of beds, mattresses, trash cans, desks, chairs, tables, bookshelves, couches, loveseats, and appliances. Students are expected to comply with requests to return furniture indoors or to its original location.
  1. Guests. The College allows guests for up to three nights, but their presence may not infringe upon the rights of other Bowdoin students. Specifically, Bowdoin students are not to be unwillingly deprived of their assigned sleeping accommodations because of guests. Any room, suite, or apartment-mate or other Bowdoin student who feels inconvenienced by a guest should first discuss the matter with the host student. If that discussion does not resolve the matter, the student should contact their RA, Proctor, or the Residential Life Office. Bowdoin students who bring guests to campus are responsible for violations of College policies committed by their guests. Guests will also be held responsible for their actions to the extent possible.
  1. Lofts, Waterbeds, and Inflatables. Homebuilt lofts and waterbeds are not permitted in College residences. Inflatable pools and/or hot tubs, or other similar items are not permitted anywhere on campus.
  1. Noise. In an academic setting, the need for quiet study areas takes precedence over recreational activities that cause noise. Noise is disruptive whenever it disturbs others. If disturbed by noise, approach the person making the noise to explain that the noise is a nuisance and ask them to quiet down. If this fails, contact the Proctor or RA who will speak with the person causing the disturbance. If the Proctor or RA is unavailable or it is after midnight, call Safety and Security to explain what steps have been taken and ask for assistance. For more information, see the On-Campus Noise Policy.
  1. Noise in the Town of Brunswick: In addition to being thoughtful of fellow students, all students should be considerate of local Brunswick residents. Many Brunswick residents live in the same neighborhoods as students and they deserve the same respect. Students hosting parties should be particularly cognizant of noise levels at their event and remind their guests to be quiet as they leave the event.
  1. Senior Week Housing. All students except seniors (and those authorized to stay for Senior Week and Commencement) must vacate their rooms within twenty-four hours after their last exam.  Senior Class sponsored events with alcohol are required to be registered during Senior Week.
  1. Solicitation. College residential facilities are not open to any person selling or buying goods or services or otherwise soliciting. Students are urged to report solicitors to the Office of Safety and Security.
  1. Posters. All posted materials in residence halls must include the name of a sponsoring department, organization, or individual and must comply with all College policies cited in the Student Handbook.

Violations of any Residential Life policies or procedures constitute a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, including the Social Code, and may result in disciplinary action.