Terms, Conditions, and Regulations: Residence Halls at Penn State Altoona
Terms, Conditions, and Regulations of the Housing and Food Service Contract for Undergraduate Residence Halls and Food Service Operations
The University reserves the right to revise or amend the Terms, Conditions, and Regulations at any time without notice.
Please read the following information thoroughly and keep it for reference throughout your stay in University housing.
Penn State strives to provide a residence environment that is both comfortable and conducive to learning and personal growth. The University assigns housing accommodations without regard to personal characteristics, not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy, or by state or federal authorities. The University does not discriminate against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. All students should familiarize themselves with the Terms, Conditions, and Regulations of living on campus.
The Housing and Food Service Contract is legally binding and begins when the student accepts the Contract. Students are expected to abide by the Terms, Conditions, and Regulations of the Housing and Food Service Contract, which includes assuming financial responsibility for the entire contract period. Residence accommodations are available only on a combined room-and-board basis unless otherwise noted. The Housing and Food Service Contract cannot be transferred or assigned to another student except as outlined in the “Contract Transfer of Obligation” process. The Penn State id+ Card provides access to the residence hall security system and the Campus Meal Plan and may be used only by the student to whom it is issued. Failure to pick up the room key or properly check in does not release a student from the Housing and Food Service Contract.
When a student accepts the Housing and Food Service Contract, a $100 non-refundable housing deposit must also be submitted, or the student must agree that the University can charge the housing deposit to the student’s Bursar account if the housing deposit is not on file. The housing deposit will not be refunded if the student decides to not attend the University for the student’s admitted contract period. The University will retain the housing deposit throughout the contract period that the student resides in University Housing, until the student no longer has a Housing and Food Service Contract on file with the University for future academic periods. The housing deposit will be credited to the student’s account within 30 days after the final contract period the student resides on campus ends.
Students who feel that they have a significant chronic physical or emotional condition that may affect the assigned housing environment must submit the Reasonable Accommodations Request Form for Housing by the deadline indicated on the Medical Accommodations guidelines. A student must have a valid, accepted Housing Contract before the form can be submitted. If the Reasonable Accommodations Request Form for Housing is received after the deadline date, Housing Contract preferences for area, building, Special Living Options, and/or roommate will be reviewed but only taken into consideration if space permits. The Housing Accommodation Form determination will supersede any preferences indicated on the Housing Contract. If the Reasonable Accommodations Request Form for Housing is received after room assignments are posted, Housing reserves the right to reassign the student to a space that will meet the medical need. This move will only accommodate the student requiring the medical need and not any requested roommate(s). If a student is offered a change to the housing environment, an additional cost may be associated with the resulting assignment or requests. Once the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form for Housing is submitted, the student will be reassigned appropriately, as space permits.
Students who have questions about this process should contact the Commonwealth Campus Housing and Food Services Administrative Office by email or by calling 814-865-7862. Students requiring special assistance for academic activities should contact the disability services coordinator in the Health and Wellness Center in the Sheetz Family Health Center or at 814-949-5540.
Temporary Medical Conditions
Room changes for temporary medical conditions are valid only for the academic year in which they are filed. If a student needs to request a temporary housing accommodation, the student’s attending physician must complete the Reasonable Accommodations Request Form for Housing. Once the medical need is established, the student will be moved to a space that will best accommodate his or her need until the accommodation is no longer required or until the end of the contracted period should the original room assignment be assigned to another student with a Housing Contract.
Meningococcal Disease Vaccination
The University is required by state law to maintain meningococcal vaccination information for every student who lives on campus. All Penn State students residing in on-campus housing, including all residence halls and apartments, are required to comply with this law by indicating acknowledgement of this requirement when accepting a Housing Contract. More information about meningococcal disease can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Students must be in registered status as degree-seeking at Altoona to reside in University-owned housing. Registered status is when the student has paid the semester bill in full and acknowledged the bill in eLion. Students who have not paid the student bill will be asked to vacate the residence hall and officially check out of the room. The Housing Contract for the current and future semesters will be canceled. A financial hold will be placed on the student’s records until all charges incurred have been paid in full.
Change of Campus Registration
Upper-class students who are attending another Penn State campus or college and are planning a change of campus (COC) to Altoona may request a Housing and Food Services Contract through the Online Contract System process during the advertised period. The student must initiate the COC process at his or her current campus. If the COC is not approved, it is the student's responsibility to contact the Housing and Food Services office to cancel the Altoona Housing and Food Services Contract. If a student's University records reflect a campus other than Altoona after July 1, his or her room assignment will be held until the COC to Altoona is complete. Students who have not completed the change of campus by the last day of the second summer session will lose their room assignment and will be placed in space reserved until the change of campus is approved. The student will then be assigned to either a regular or supplemental room, whichever is available. If the COC to Altoona is not approved, and the student does not notify Housing and Food Services prior to arrival day, the student's contract will be canceled and the student will forfeit the $100 housing deposit.
University Academic Drop
A student who is academically dropped by the University is responsible for notifying the Housing and Food Services Office of their status. The student must pay any room and board charges incurred during a stay on campus to the Housing and Food Services Office. Students who become re-enrolled during the contract period will be obligated to the remaining portion of the contract.
Rental Contract Periods
There are two rental contract periods for assignment to Altoona residence halls. A separate contract request must be accepted for each applicable period a student is interested in residing on campus. The University retains the right to not offer a particular housing option during a rental period based on demand or maintenance work scheduled.
- Academic Year (fall and spring)
- Spring Semester
First-year students are not required to live on campus.
The Housing and Food Service Contract includes the Campus Meal Plan for students residing in residence halls. All undergraduate students residing in the residence halls are required to purchase the Campus Meal Plan for each semester/session the student is living on campus and pay the total rate for the Campus Meal Plan, based on the level selected. Depending upon the level selected, the available dining dollars used to make actual meal purchases may not be enough to cover all meals during a semester/session.
Academic Year Meal Plan Level Options
The Campus Meal Plan offers six levels, with varying dining dollars available to purchase meals. When a student accepts the Housing and Food Service Contract, the Campus Meal Plan is defaulted to level three. To adjust the level, the student can log in to eLiving and select a different level. Levels can be adjusted during the semester until seven days before the end of the semester. Levels can be adjusted higher or lower, and additional dining dollars can be added directly to the student's account online at www.idcard.psu.edu. Any dining dollars remaining at the end of spring semester are forfeited and will not be refunded.
Campus Meal Plan Account Balances
The Campus Meal Plan offers six levels, with varying dining dollars available to purchase meals. When the Housing Contract is accepted, the Campus Meal Plan is defaulted to level three. To adjust the level, the student can log in to eLiving and select a different level. Levels can be adjusted during the semester until seven days before the end of the semester. Levels can be adjusted online higher or lower as applicable.
Transfer of the Campus Meal Plan to Another Student
The Campus Meal Plan cannot be transferred or assigned to another student. The id+ Card is used as the meal access card and may be used only by the student to whom the card is issued.
A student with special dietary requirements (religious, medical, personal, dietary preference, etc.) that cannot be fulfilled by individual selection from the menu choices must contact the Housing and Food Services office prior to accepting the Housing and Food Service Contract.
If the student has accepted the Housing and Food Service Contract and subsequently develops a medical condition that requires a special diet, the student may be required to submit medical documentation verified by University Health Services. If the documentation confirms dietary requirements that Campus Dining is unable to accommodate, the student may request cancellation of the Housing Contract. Students with questions about special diets should contact the Housing and Food Services office prior to accepting the Housing and Food Service Contract.
Removing Food or Unauthorized Entry into the Dining Commons
When dining in the all-you-care-to-eat locations, takeout options are one piece of hand fruit (apple, orange, or banana) and one ice cream cone. Removing additional food or beverages, dishes, or silverware from the dining room or entering the dining commons without paying for the meal will be considered theft. Theft in the dining commons is a serious issue that will result in disciplinary action by the Office of Residence Life, the Office of Student Conduct,, and/or University Police. Further repercussions could include cancellation of the Housing and Food Service Contract. Campus Dining reserves the right to examine customers' backpacks or bags when they exit the dining commons. Acts of horseplay, food fights, and inline skates are prohibited. Students who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action.
Meals During Illness
If a student becomes ill and is unable to have meals in the dining facilities, they can request a meal from the Housing and Food Services office.
Check-In and Room Inspection Form
Information about when check-in will be held for each semester will be announced in advance through the Housing Arrival site. Students should plan on arriving on the appropriate scheduled arrival day, unless arrangements have been made for a special group to arrive early.
The student must be present to check in; a parent or other family member may not check in for the student. The student must present his or her Penn State id+ Card or other valid photo identification at check-in to receive a room key. Each student will receive one room key at the time of check-in and will sign an acknowledgment of receiving the room key. Information about the student’s mailbox will also be provided.
The student must complete the Room Inspection Form in eLiving within seven days of check-in. The Room Inspection Form is used to identify any damages or missing items in the room and will be verified when the student checks out of the room. Any damages or missing items not noted will be charged to the student’s account.
Unless the student requests an extension of the arrival period in writing to the Housing and Food Services office, the University is not obliged to hold a specific room assignment later than 5:00 p.m. of the first day of classes. Students must accept other available accommodations if they arrive after that time, and will be obligated for full room and board charges if enrolled at the University.
All rooms, regardless of the date or circumstances, should be clean and in good condition at the time of check-out. Students should notify the Housing and Food Services office regarding their check-out date and determine a time the room can be inspected.
Students must return the room key to Housing and Food Services as instructed prior to check-out. If a student does not return a room key, the cost to change the lock will be charged to the student's account.
Any items a student leaves in the room will be handled in accordance with the lost and found policy. For additional information about the check-out process and room inspection, refer to the Moving Out instructions
Only students withdrawing from the University are permitted to cancel the Housing and Food Service Contract. Students who leave the University during the contracted period must notify the Housing and Food Services office of the change of enrollment status before vacating the room.
University Break Periods
University Housing is closed during University breaks. Dates of closing and opening will be posted on bulletin boards in the residence halls and are posted online. Room and board rates do not include services during official University breaks. At the end of each semester, residence halls close at 4 p.m. on the day following the last scheduled examination for official University courses, as announced by the University Registrar.
Direct Room Exchange
A direct room exchange is a change of assignment with another student of the same gender with a compatible Housing Contract. Students must use the Room Exchange eBoard to post their room, search available postings, or conduct a direct room exchange. There are some restrictions to room exchanges, depending upon room type, such as Special Living Option or rooms with medical accommodations. A direct room exchange cannot be processed for students assigned to a medically-equipped room due to a medical need unless the change is to a similarly equipped room.
Emergency Room Change
An emergency room change will be arranged only when all other options to resolve differences between roommates have been thoroughly explored. If a student feels that an emergency room change is necessary, the student must discuss the need for a change of a residence hall assignment with a Residence Life staff member. If the staff member determines that an emergency exists and space is available, the Residence Life staff member will contact the Housing and Food Services office to process a change in assignment.
Room Change for Spring Semester
A student interested in changing their room assignment for spring semester may do so during the posted time periods. Students will be able to view a list of spring semester vacancies at the Housing and Food Services Office and select a room to be reassigned to. Some restrictions apply.
A student receiving a change of assignment for spring semester must vacate the fall room before the end of fall semester or before leaving for semester break, whichever is first. The student can make arrangements with the Housing and Food Services office of the new assignment for storage during the semester break period if the new assignment is not available before the end of fall semester.
After the second week of spring semester, depending on room availability, students will be able to view a list of spring semester vacancies and select a room to be reassigned to. Some restrictions apply.
A Housing and Food Service Contract submitted to the University is legally binding and holds the student to the financial obligation of the entire contract period. A student is released from that obligation should the student cancel his or her enrollment with the University. If the contract holder is continuing his or her education at Altoona and wishes to be released from the obligation, he or she is required to transfer the contract to another student via Contract Transfer of Obligation. Students with extreme circumstances will be considered for release on a case-by-case basis upon submission of a Contract Release Request. These students will be charged a fee equal to 20 percent of their room and base board costs if released before the first day of classes. Cancellations granted after the first day of classes will have charges assessed according to the University's established refund policy. Failure to pick up a key will not release a student from the contract obligation.
A student committed to a Housing and Food Service Contract who wishes to be released from the contract may transfer the obligation of the contract to another student. The Contract Transfer of Obligation must be approved by the Housing and Food Services office.
Regulations for Contract Transfer of Obligation
- The replacement student accepting the Contract Transfer of Obligation must be an undergraduate student of the same gender and in good standing with the University.
- The replacement student may not be a University student who has already accepted a Housing and Food Service Contract.
- The replacement student must accept the Housing and Food Service Contract through eLiving and authorize or make a payment to the University for the room and board fees before the vacating student can receive a credit for room and board fees. The Housing and Food Services office will prorate the charges for both students as necessary.
- If the replacement student does not take occupancy or withdraws from the University before taking occupancy, the student initiating the transfer of obligation will resume financial obligation of the contract.
- It is a violation of University policy to sell or attempt to sell a Housing and Food Service Contract. The replacement student cannot offer and the transferring student cannot accept any form of compensation for the transfer of a Housing and Food Service Contract. Any student who is found to have sold or purchased a Housing and Food Service Contract may be subject to a range of sanctions including contract review and/or termination and disciplinary action.
- In the case where there are limited vacancies, the option of Contract Transfer of Obligation may be suspended without notice.
- The Housing and Food Services office may deny a Contract Transfer of Obligation request should it be felt that the transaction is not in the best interest of the University or the students involved.
The following conditions exist for assignment from a Contract Transfer of Obligation:
- If supplemental housing is currently being used, the replacement student will be assigned to supplemental housing.
- If supplemental housing is not being used, the replacement student will be assigned to a regular residence hall room.
Once the Contract Transfer of Obligation is complete, if the replacement student is interested in other housing options on campus, they can complete a Room Change or add their name to a special housing option Waitlist, if one is available.
Practicum, Student Teaching, Internship, Co-Op, or Study Abroad
Any student who has accepted a Housing and Food Service Contract but will be away from campus for a University-sanctioned academic activity such as practicum, student teaching, internship, co-op, or study abroad for one or both semesters, can submit a Contract Release Request through eLiving. Upon verification of the student's status, the Housing and Food Service Contract will be cancelled for the period of time that the student will be away from the Altoona campus. The Housing and Food Service Contract will remain active for the time period that the student will be attending Altoona, and the student will be financially liable for that portion of the contract.
If a student takes a leave of absence or participates in student teaching, internship, practicum, etc., for fall semester and returns as a registered undergraduate student during the contract period, the contract is still active and the student must return to campus housing. The housing deposit will be retained for spring semester. If a student is on leave of absence for two consecutive semesters, the housing deposit will be credited to the student’s account. Any contract submitted thereafter must include another $100 deposit. Students re-enrolled after withdrawal will initially be assigned to supplemental housing.
Spring Semester and Summer Session
Spring semester and summer session students who withdraw or take a leave of absence from the University prior to taking occupancy will have their contracts canceled and $100 housing deposit will be forfeited. The University will retain the $100 housing deposit as liquidated damages.
Withdrawal from School and Approved Release from the Contract after Taking Occupancy
Students who took occupancy of a residence room and then withdrew from the University or were granted a contract release will receive a credit based on a prorated daily refund schedule upon check-out. No room and board base cost refunds are granted after the eighth week of the semester. All unused meal plan funds in excess of $5 remaining at time of withdrawal or approved contract release will be refunded at face value. However, at the end of the spring semester, any unused funds are forfeited and no refund will be given for the base cost. Students withdrawing from the University must vacate their room no more than 24 hours after withdrawal from school or approved contract release. Credits will be based on the date the belongings are removed from the room and the key is surrendered, or the effective date of the withdrawal, whichever is later.
Campus Meal Plan Refunds
Refunds for unused dining dollars will not be given at the end of the contracted period. Students are encouraged to monitor their dining dollar balance and modify the meal plan level as necessary. Refunds are not given if a student schedules classes that conflict with the meal schedule or who choose not to eat in the dining commons. All unused dining dollars remaining at the time of withdrawal or approved contract release will be credited at face value. A credit will not be given for an account with less than a $5.00 balance.
The housing deposit is non-refundable for first-year students and will be retained by the University for the length of time that the student has a valid Housing Contract. The housing deposit is carried over year-to-year until the student no longer resides on campus. Once the student no longer has a Housing Contract for the subsequent contract period, the housing deposit will then be credited to the student’s Bursar account.
If a student cancels the Housing Contract or withdraws from the University without notifying The Housing and Food Services Office, the housing deposit will be forfeited for administrative costs. If for any reason a refunded housing deposit is not accepted, negotiated, or other demand made thereof, within one year from the University's initial attempt to return such to student, the student agrees that any remaining housing deposit will be a general gift by the student to the University.
The room rate and Campus Meal Plan base cost will be credited on prorated daily refund schedule after the student has received an approved Housing Contract release or officially withdraws from the University. The refund amount is based on the date of the Housing Contract cancellation. The refund will be applied to the student’s Bursar account and will be refunded less any outstanding charges against the account.
Maintenance needs, problems, or questions regarding a student room or hall should be discussed with Housing staff for the student's residence hall. Maintenance problems should be reported in a timely manner online at https://altoonacampusliving.auth.abs.vmhost.psu.edu/maintenance-request-form-0 or by phone at 814-949-5713.
A student who has requested a repair to an item in his or her room can expect this repair to be completed during regular business hours. For the safety and security of residents, it may be necessary to reassign the occupants to a different room to perform some types of maintenance.
Maintenance personnel may enter a student room to perform preventative maintenance, needed repairs identified during a room inspection, or an emergency repair. If an employee enters a student room when the student is not present, the employee will leave a form stating the time, date, and reasons for entering the room. Although a student may ask to schedule an appointment for a repair, it will be determined by Housing and Food Services, on a case-by-case basis, if the situation can wait or be scheduled at the convenience of the student.
Students are expected to maintain their rooms in an orderly and sanitary condition. Students occupying suites or rooms with baths are responsible for cleaning the bathroom. Students are responsible for removing trash from their room/suite/apartment and placing in the designated dumpster. If Housing becomes aware of unsanitary conditions resulting from students failing to maintain their rooms, Housing will clean the room, the resident(s) will be charged, and the amount will be applied against student accounts. Depending upon how Housing and Food Services and other students are affected by the persistence of disorderly and unsanitary conditions in a student's room, the University reserves the right to cancel the student's contract and to refuse an assignment for future contract periods.
A room inspection is not a search. Student rooms are inspected during each session/semester and at the time of check-out. Routine inspections will be announced in advance, and the student may choose to be present during the inspection. These inspections are conducted: 1) to evaluate the condition of the room and furnishings; 2) to identify needed maintenance and repairs; and 3) to check for fire and safety hazards. If damages are noted, the cost for repairs or replacement will be charged to the resident(s) of the room. The University reserves the right to make non-routine, emergency inspections to protect the health and safety of its students.
Should Housing and Food Services staff observe the presence of unapproved appliances or objects in the room or notice objects attached to the facilities in an unapproved manner, this will be recorded on a Notice of Room Check form. A copy of the form will be left for the student, who will be expected to correct the improper situation. In the case of noncompliance, the University reserves the right to have the items removed at the expense of the resident(s).
Alcohol and Illegal Substances
- The possession or use of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in all Penn State on-campus undergraduate residence hall buildings, including apartments, for students of any age.
- It is a violation of state law and University policy for a student under 21 years of age to attempt to purchase, consume, possess, or transport alcoholic beverages. It is unlawful to sell, furnish, or given to any minor, or permit that alcoholic beverages be sold, furnished, or given to any minor.
- It is against residence hall policy for there to be any tailgating activities in the residential quad areas or residence hall parking lots where alcoholic beverages are being served on any football game/event weekend including all home football games, Football Eve, Fourth Fest, and the spring Blue and White Weekend. Students tailgating with alcoholic beverages in these defined areas will be confronted and will likely be charged with “open containers in an unauthorized area."
- Residents will be held responsible for activities that occur in their rooms, and will be referred to the Office of Residence Life, the Office of Student Conduct, and/or University Police if guests are violating the on-campus alcohol policies listed above.
- Failure to comply with the direction given by or the request to present identification to a University Official acting in the performance of their duties is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and will result in a referral to the Office of Residence Life or the Office of Student Conduct.
- It is against the Student Code of Conduct to supply false information, such as name, age, etc. to University Officials who are acting in the performance of their duties.
It is a violation of state and university policy to illegally possess, use, distribute, manufacture, sell or be under the influence of other drugs. Students who violate this policy will be referred to the office of Residence Life, the Office of Student Conduct, and/or University Police.
It is against residence hall policy for a student to be in a residential area (room, common area, common building, building entryway, or quad area immediately adjacent to the residence halls) and in the presence of an illegal substance. Students who are in the presence of an illegal substance in these areas will be referred to the Office of Residence Life, the Office of Student Conduct and/or University Policy.
Canvassing and Solicitation
Canvassing in University Residence Halls
- Canvassing shall be defined as any effort to influence opinions, gain support, or promote a particular cause or interest, specifically excluding any solicitation or fund raising as defined by current University policy. Surveys are not considered to be canvassing for purposes of this policy.
- Students, student organizations, residence hall house governments and area governments, and outside interests are eligible to canvass in the residence halls.
- Canvassing may not occur in individual residence areas unless approved by a majority vote of the residents of that area.
- Canvassing may occur in designated Food Service areas with an approved space/table reservation. Canvassing may not occur in the dining rooms.
- Any canvassing in Food Service areas must have a formal space/table reservations and follow the terms and conditions for reservations and use of common area spaces in residence hall complexes. This reservation process takes a minimum of five (5) business days to complete and can be completed in the Housing and Food Service Office.
- Canvassing shall be restricted to the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Any canvasser in the residence hall buildings must register with the Associate/Assistant Director of Residence Life no less than twenty-four hours prior to the canvass and must clearly understand all provisions of canvassing regulations before canvassing may begin. A canvasser who is not a resident of the building in which door to door canvassing is taking place must be escorted by a resident of the building at all times.
- When contacting students in their rooms, canvassers must knock before entering, identify themselves, announce their specific purpose, enter an individual room only with the expressed consent of the resident, and leave immediately if the resident so requests.
- Canvassers must abide by all University rules and regulations. Violators will be subject to referral to Office of Student Conduct and/or civil or criminal prosecution.
The use of University facilities and/or property for commercial sales activities by individual or non-University organizations is prohibited. University organizations, within limitations established by this policy and other University regulations, and with appropriate approval, may sell materials to support the purpose of the organization.
a. A residence hall is a University-owned building that contains rooms assigned to students for sleeping, dressing, studying, and socializing, and that also contains common facilities and areas used by all students assigned to such residence halls, including common means of entering and exiting, common lavatories, common study lounges, common storage areas, and areas used in common for organized educational and social functions.
b. Solicitation is the offer of a sale of products or service.
- Except as hereinafter provided, no person (including a student), firm, business entity, charitable organization, religious organization, or other organization may solicit money, sell, or solicit the sale of any product or service anywhere in a residence hall.
- A student assigned to a room in a residence hall may invite a person, firm, business entity, charitable organization, religious organization or other organization to that student’s assigned room to solicit money, sell, or to solicit the sale of products or services with that student only. Such solicitation or sale must occur only in the assigned room of the student-inviter. The solicitation of money or the sale or solicitation of a sale of products or services to any other student is prohibited anywhere in the residence hall.
- Registered student organizations and residence hall house governments may solicit money or sell/solicit the sale of products or services in a residence hall in accordance with the regulations governing student organizations found in the Student Guide to General University Policies and Rules.
- Nothing in these regulations shall be deemed to preclude any solicitation or sale by mail, email, telephone, or other communication media.
Decorations and Displays
Advertising of merchandise or services for sale or rent is not permitted in residence halls unless it is for the sale of the personal property of the students living in the residence halls. Special bulletin board space is designated for this service. Advertisements, if posted elsewhere, will be removed.
- Pictures, additional bulletin boards, and decorations are to be hung from picture molding with picture hooks.
- Nothing is to be strung across the room for the purpose of hanging decorations.
- Darts and dart boards are not permitted.
- Because of the costly cumulative deterioration of physical facilities, the use of tape, adhesives, glue, paste, nails, tacks, staples, and screws on walls, furniture, doors, or other woodwork or glass is not permitted. Students may utilize products such as Command brand and poster putty on walls but will be responsible for any costs to repair damages resulting from its use.
- Painting or papering of rooms or furniture is not permitted.
Students may decorate the surface of their room door facing the corridor, provided that it is done according to the guidelines that follow. Adhering to these guidelines will protect doors from unusually harsh wear, eliminate potential fire hazards, and ensure the free movement/access in the corridor. No decorations may be placed on the exterior of the building.
- Decorations may be placed on the upper section of room doors above the lock mechanism. If the door has louvers, no materials may be placed on the louvers.
- Decorations may not project more than one-half inch from the surface of the door. Greeting cards are to be fastened shut.
- No decals or stickers are permitted.
- Bunting and streamers are permitted to celebrate special occasions but must be removed within 24 hours.
- All memo boards, pictures, signs, and posters must be unframed.
- Only masking tape or “sticky tack” may be used.
- Nonflammable materials should be used whenever possible.
- In buildings/rooms where a room sign with white/cork board is provided, decorations are limited to static cling items.
- All door decorations must be removed prior to the student being checked out of the room. Damages to the doors as well as any extra cleaning required will be the responsibility of the residents and may result in a charge to the student account. Housing and Food Services staff will determine the nature and extent of all damages. Any materials found to be offensive or outside the boundaries of reasonable community expectations will be referred to the area Residence Life staff.
Student room and lounge window decorating and display policy
Students may decorate the window(s) in their individual residence hall room as well as the window(s) in their hall lounge provided that it is done according to the guidelines that follow. Adhering to these guidelines will prevent windows from being damaged and eliminate potential safety hazards.
- Decorations may only be on the inside window side.
- Decorations must be removable (not permanent). Only water-based poster paint may be used for painted decorations.
- For emergency reasons, such as in the case of a fire, one-half of the total window space must be transparent.
- Decorations that present health hazards due to weight, possibility of breakage, degree of cleanliness, etc. must be modified and/or removed if deemed necessary by the Housing and Food Services and Residence Life staff in consultation with Environmental Health and Safety staff.
- All decorations must be temporarily removed at the request of the Housing and Food Services staff for regularly scheduled window cleaning.
- All room window decorations must be removed prior to the resident being checked out of the room. Damages to the windows, drapes, and/or blinds as well as any extra cleaning required, will be the responsibility of the residents and may result in a charge to the student account. Housing and Food Services staff will determine the nature and extent of all damages. Any materials found to be offensive or outside the boundaries of reasonable community expectations will be referred to the Residence Life staff.
Many residents are interested in seasonal or holiday decorating. The following policy outlines acceptable standards for seasonal and/or holiday decorating.
- Live trees or greens are not permitted due to fire hazard concerns. Artificial trees may be used in approved lounge locations on the upper floors of the building.
- Only room and hallway bulletin boards can be decorated; walls or ceilings may not have decorations applied to them.
- Candles are never permitted. If the use of a candle is required for a religious celebration, the student must work directly with the Housing and Residence Life staff to find an appropriate location for religious observance.
- No plastic or foam type materials may be used in decorations.
- When decorating, all materials must be non-flammable such as ceramic or glass, decorative 100% aluminum foil wrap, fire-retardant-treated paper, crepe paper, tinsel, ribbon, etc.
- Spray-on snow is acceptable for windows.
- Decorative lights may be used in individual residence hall rooms; however, students are asked to consider the University’s Energy Conservation committee request that students not use these types of lights to help conserve energy.
- All holiday decorations must be removed prior to the beginning of the semester break.
Any questions related to the above policies should be referred to the Housing and Food Services or Residence Life staff.
The residence halls are intended for use by residents of the building and their invited guests. A guest is defined as a person visiting a resident of the residence hall at the resident’s invitation. Delivery persons are not considered to be guests for purposes of this policy.
To ease the congestion of the move-in period and to allow roommates the opportunity to discuss what to do about overnight guests in the room, no overnight guests will be allowed in the residence halls until the first day of classes, then only with the permission of the roommate.
The following stipulations relate to all guests:
- It is the responsibility of the host student to ensure that their guests are aware of University and residence hall policies. Guests are held responsible for their own actions and for knowledge of University and residence hall regulations. However, hosts may be held accountable for damages committed by their guests, unless the guest can be identified as a University student. Hosts may also be held accountable for their guests’ behavior.
- Residents are permitted to have guests in their rooms only if there is no objection from their roommate(s)
- Neither room keys nor door access cards will be provided for guests. Residents are not to give their keys or Penn State id+ Card to a guest in order for them to gain entrance to the room or the building.
- Students may have an overnight guest in their room for a maximum of three consecutive nights. The University reserves the right to revoke this privilege. Guests may not move from one host’s room to another in order to extend their stay in the residence halls.
- Only residents and their invited guests are permitted in the living areas of the building, i.e., locations other than the lobby, which includes individual rooms and floor lounges. Individuals found in the building who are not residents or guests of residents are considered trespassing.
- Guests are to use the appropriate gender restroom/shower facilities.
- All guests must be escorted by a resident of the building at all times. A staff member may confront individual if they are not recognized as a resident of that building and/or resident of the building is not escorting them.
Students charged with violations of the guest regulation will be subject to University disciplinary action. An unescorted guest who is a student of the University shall be subject to University discipline.
If a cot and/or linens are needed, students should make arrangements at the Housing and Food Services office. Charges for these services should be paid in advance; the deadline for reservations is 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
One of the goals of Housing, Food Services, and Residence Life is to provide an atmosphere within the residence halls that is conducive to study and rest. In order to meet this goal, it is necessary that all students understand that the right of students to study and sleep takes precedence over the right of students to make noise. Quiet hours and courtesy hours have been established and posted in every residence hall.
Courtesy hours are in effect 24 hours a day. At all times, a student’s right to study and sleep will be respected. Residents and their guests will lower their voices or the volume of their equipment (music, TV, computer, musical instruments, etc) if asked to do so by a University official or resident of the building.
Quiet Hours - Honors Environments
Sunday through Thursday: 8:00 p.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Friday and Saturday: Midnight - 10:00 a.m.
Quiet Hours - all other residence areas
Sunday through Thursday: 8:00 p.m. - 8:00 a.m.
Friday and Saturday: 1:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
During finals week, 24-hour quiet hours are maintained beginning at 8:00 a.m. the day before finals and continuing until the halls close at the end of the semester (except in Honors environments where this begins the Friday preceding the first day of Finals). It is expected that a proper study atmosphere be maintained during these established quiet hours. Residents are also reminded that these hours may be extended if additional study conditions are required. Residence Life may extend hours in consultation with student government or residence hall associations.
It is also expected that:
- Electronic sound equipment (radios, TVs, stereos, electronic games, computers, etc), musical instruments, and room activities will not be heard outside of the room. Such equipment should never be played so loudly so as to disturb other residents.
- At no time will amplified sound be directed out of windows by placing speakers in windows.
- It is important that residents take the initiative to discuss the noise with the offender. If a resident is bothered by someone else’s noise, the resident should ask him/her to reduce the volume level of the offending noise. The resident has every right to expect them to do so. Likewise, any resident who is requested to reduce their volume level should do so – thus showing respect for a fellow student. RAs will continue to deal with excessive noise. However, they cannot always be aware of every problem.
- All students and guests will lower their voices when talking in corridors, bathrooms, study lounges, etc., in order to help maintain a quiet living environment for all residents.
- All students will refrain from participating in any sports-like activity within or immediately adjacent to the residence halls. The University has designated playing areas for these activities. Information can be obtained from the Residence Life Office.
- Residents who persist in creating excessive noise will be subject to disciplinary action through the Office of Residence Life and/or the Office of Student Conduct.
Fire Safety Policies
Candles and Incense
For safety reasons candles, incense, and other flame-emitting articles are prohibited in the residence halls. Only potpourri burners with an enclosed heating element and an automatic shut-off are permitted.
The only cooking permitted in residence halls is that which can be done using the University-owned refrigerator/microwave provided in each room (also refer to Appliances).
Penn State promotes smoke-free environments by prohibiting smoking in all buildings. This policy is enforced in all University facilities, including residence halls and dining commons. Designated smoking areas are posted in each residence hall.
To comply with state and local fire regulations, fire drills will be conducted in all residence halls once a month. Everyone present in the building during the emergency drills must participate by vacating the building according to instructions. Rooms may be checked during fire drills to ensure compliance. Failure to vacate the building will result in disciplinary action.
Fire Safety Equipment
- Fire alarms and fire extinguishers are located on every floor in each building. Student should familiarize themselves with their locations.
- Each residence hall room is equipped with a smoke detector that is electronically operated. In rooms where sprinklers have been installed, the smoke detector is monitored by University Police. All other smoke detectors operate independently from the building fire alarm system. The detectors and sprinklers are for students’ safety and should not be tampered with at any time.
- Any student who experiences a problem with the smoke detector/sprinkler system should contact Housing and Food Services or Residence life staff immediately.
- Tampering with fire safety equipment is a very serious matter that could jeopardize the safety of a number of people. Tampering with this equipment at any time, including covering the equipment or dismantling the equipment in your room and discharging a fire extinguisher on a floor may result in severe disciplinary and/or criminal action including a loss of residence hall contract.
General Fire Safety Precautions
Students are responsible for taking precautions to prevent fire. Extreme caution and good judgment must be exercised when using a desk lamp of any kind. Lamps should not be placed near flammable objects such as curtains, bedspreads, pillows, posters, or clothing and should be turned off when residents leave the room. Due to potential fire hazards, University policy prohibits the use of Torchere-style (floor-standing lamps that project light upward) halogen lamps in any University facility.
Facility Safety Policies
Aerials and Antennae
Aerials, masts, satellite dishes, and other short-wave radio transmitting equipment are not allowed in the residence halls because of FCC interference regulations and safety precautions.
- The following electrical appliances are authorized for use in student rooms if the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. label (UL label) is on the appliance: televisions, stereos, coffee makers (with enclosed heating element and automatic shut-off), clocks, fans, hair dryers, hair setters, curling/straightening irons (with automatic shut-off), printers, University-owned refrigerators and microwaves, corn poppers (with enclosed heating element and automatic shut-off), and personal computers. Air purifiers with an appropriate UL label are allowed.
- The following electrical appliances are prohibited: hot plates, toasters, torchere-style (floor-standing) halogen lamps and lights, immersion heaters, heating coils, ovens, grills (indoor and outdoor), personal microwave ovens, personal refrigerators, and portable air conditioners.
- Irons may be stored in student rooms but are to be used only in designated ironing areas.
- If the use of multiple outlets is needed, a grounded 15 amp surge-protected plug-in strip with built-in circuit breaker should be used.
- Air conditioners are not permitted unless approved by the University for a student’s documented medical need. The University typically provides all air conditioning units.
- If unapproved items are observed in a room, the student will be asked to remove them from the building. In case of noncompliance, the University reserves the right to have the items removed. The items will be returned to the student for removal from the hall upon request to Housing and Food Services management.
Some residence halls have exterior balconies as part of the architectural facade. Access to them is prohibited at all times.
Most residence halls have elevators for moving people and equipment between floors. Students and guests should refrain from the following behaviors when using an elevator.
Students and guests should refrain from the following behaviors when using an elevator:
- Tampering with or abusing any of the elevator equipment or controls.
- Prying open elevator doors or holding them open by the safety edges.
- Attempting to exit an elevator that is stuck between floors without directions and assistance from elevator technicians or emergency personnel.
- Jumping up and down in the elevator.
- The elevator should never be used in the event of a fire.
- Engaging in any of the above behaviors may result in a referral to the Office of Residence Life or the Office of Student Conduct.
Residents are prohibited from using furniture other than what has been provided; the only exceptions are beanbag chairs and desk chairs. Residents who bring their own desk chair must keep the University-provided chair in the room.
Dismantling furniture or removing it from a fixed position is prohibited. Beds may be raised using bed risers made for this purpose; cement blocks or other makeshift risers are not permitted. Mattresses are to be used on bed frames provided and not on the floor. Residents who want to bunk their beds must contact Housing and Food Services to determine if this is possible; students may not bunk the beds themselves.
No furniture or furnishings are to be removed from the rooms at any time.
The use of other University furniture in an individual student room is not permitted and will lead to referral to the Office of Residence Life or the Office of Student Conduct.
Because of the excessive weight and potential for damage, liquid-filled beds and other liquid-filled furniture items are not permitted.
Routine room inspections of all residence hall rooms may be done periodically to evaluate the condition of the room and furnishings, to identify required maintenance and repairs, and to check for fire and safety hazards. In most cases, students are notified about room inspections in advance.
There are no routine room searches. A room search is conducted only when there is strong reason to believe that the occupant(s) of the room are in serious physical or psychological distress or that the room contains items that are contrary to University regulations (which include federal, state, and local laws). In most cases, an act of misbehavior will precipitate this concern.
Room searches are conducted exclusively by the Residence Life staff. When there is a potential search situation, the Residence Life staff must obtain approval from the Assistant Vice President of Housing, Food Services, and Residence Life. Approval is given only after the reason for search, the person(s) to search the room, and the object(s) being sought are clarified. Searches are usually conducted in the presence of the student occupants, and only in unusual cases would the room be searched in their absence.
When it is necessary for a member of the Department of University Safety to search a room, the search will be performed according to constitutional and criminal procedures (for instance, if an officer observes articles in plain view from a location where the officer has a right to be, the officer has not conducted a search). If time and circumstances permit, a member of the Residence Life staff will be notified of the impending search. The staff member can provide guidance to the resident of the room against whom any warrant is issued and can act as a witness. Items seized will be taken (as authorized by law) and inventoried, and a receipt listing each article will be given to the owner or left in the room.
Weightlifting equipment is not permitted in individual rooms because of noise and potential damage to the floors.
Windows and Screens
- To protect draperies and sills and to help conserve heating fuel, windows should be closed when residents are not in the room.
- No food or beverages are to be stored between the window and the screens on the outside ledges.
- Removal of any window screen is prohibited.
- No antennae or other devices are to be strung out of windows.
Every residence hall is equipped with an electronic, computerized card access system that permits access to the hall by residents of the building only. The system is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week when the residence halls are in operation. Adjustments to access hours may be made during the fall arrival period and spring semester closing. Students may enter only their assigned building by swiping their id+ cards in the card reader, located at the front lobby, and – in some halls- at other doors. If the id+ card fails to unlock the door of the student’s assigned residence hall, the student may gain entry with the assistance of a roommate, the staff member on duty, or in an extreme emergency, by contacting University Police. If a student has pizza or other food items delivered, the student must be in the lobby to meet the vendor at the front door. The delivery person will not be given access to the lobby. The resident host must come to the entrance and escort the visiting student to the room, and later out of the residence hall. If a student or guest leaves the hall through any of the regular building exits, they should be aware that exit doors are not to be held open for prolonged periods of time. An alarm at the door will sound and someone will be dispatched to determine if the door has been blocked open. Residents are not permitted to allow access to the buildings to anyone other than themselves and their invited guests.
Penn State id+ Card
If a student’s id+ card is lost or stolen, the student should follow the following procedures:
- Report the card lost online to deactivate the privileges of the card. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is the student’s responsibility to deactivate the lost id+ card. The University is not responsible for any loss or expense resulting from the loss, theft, or misuse of the card.
- Go to the Housing and Food Services office to obtain a replacement card at the current replacement fee. The student must present positive proof of identification to have a picture reprocessed. The replacement card will be active immediately for limited services, such as meal plans and residence hall access. Other services will not be activated on the temporary ID, such as fitness membership or football tickets.
Note: Students whose id+ cards are reported lost, misplaced, or stolen will not be allowed access to any dining commons or cash operation using their Campus Meal Plan until they have obtained a replacement card. The id+ card has monetary value and should be treated the same as cash. The University will not be responsible for any value loss due to misuse or fraud.
Resident Responsibility for Safety
Students play a critical role in maintaining a safe and secure environment within the residence halls. Even with a sophisticated mechanical card access system, the safety and security of the residents can be compromised by careless resident behavior. Students should always lock their room door and refrain from propping open a door.
Safety and Security Tips
- Students should not allow strangers to enter the residence hall with them.
- Students should notify the staff member on duty if someone has insisted upon entering the hall with them. The student should try to get a good description of the offender and observe the direction in which he/she moves.
- Students should keep their rooms locked at all times, even when they are sleeping, and especially when they are leaving the room or building.
- A malfunctioning card access reader or door should be reported immediately.
- Students should meet any guests/visitors at the lobby door.
- Students should not lend their id+ cards or room keys to others.
- Lost or stolen id+ cards should be reported immediately.
Report Suspicious Activity Immediately
Some people fail to report suspicious activity because they are not aware of what seemingly innocent activities might be suspicious. Others may notice activity and may be hesitant to call for fear of seeming over-reactive or embarrassed. Still others take it for granted that someone else has called. Students should call immediately about any suspicious activity. There is no need to worry about bothering staff on duty because that is why we are here. Students should not be concerned about being embarrassed if their suspicions prove unfounded. They should think instead about what could happen if they do not act.
Suspicious activity includes:
- Persons going from room to room trying doorknobs
- Persons loitering at unusual hours and locations
- Persons running (especially if something of value is being carried)
- Persons exhibiting unusual mental, emotional, or physical symptoms
- Persons carrying University property or other items not wrapped
- Open or broken windows or doors
- Unusual noises, screams, cries for help
Computers and Networks
Housing provides a wired and/or wireless network connection in most residence rooms. Students can use their own personal computer devices on the network to access the Penn State computing resources and the Internet. Any student using the network acknowledges their responsibility to act in accordance with the relevant policies including:
- Penn State Policy AD20
- Educom Code: “Using Software: A Guide to the Ethical and Legal Use of Software for Members of the Academic Community”.
- The Residence Hall Network Connection Agreement
Violation of policy or law may result in suspension of network access or other information service privileges, disciplinary action, and legal proceedings. Information on using the network is available from Residential Computing (ResCom).
There are no active telephone landlines in student rooms. Students are encouraged to use the courtesy phones located in the residence hall hallways for security and local calls. Upon request, an individual land line may be activated for a specified charge. Interested students should contact the Housing and Food Services office.
Bicycles, In-line Skates, and Skateboards
Bicycles are to be placed in the bicycle racks located outside the residence halls. Bicycles are not permitted in student rooms, lounges, laundries, hallways, bathrooms, dining halls, or other public areas. Students may be held responsible for damages. Skateboards are prohibited on campus. In-line skates are not permitted to be worn in the residence halls or food service areas.
- Room occupants will be held responsible for the condition of the room and furnishings and for any damages or losses that may occur during occupancy.
- Individuals identified as responsible for damage, theft, or losses in common areas of the building (such as corridors, elevators, stairwells, recreation rooms, dining commons, study rooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms work rooms, and lounges) will be billed for the cost of repair or replacement. Amounts billed are additional charges under the Housing and Food Services Contract. Residents will be held collectively responsible for damages, theft, or losses in common areas of the building that may occur during occupancy when the individual(s) responsible cannot be identified.
- Residents are solely responsible for removing personal garbage from the residence hall room and putting it in the dumpster. Students are not permitted to put personal garbage in common area receptacles in the residence area, including lobbies, lounges, hallways, corridors, or bathrooms. Personal garbage placed in these areas will result in a fee applied to all students in the applicable area if the individual is not identified.
- For the purpose of damage, theft, or loss assessment, occupancy shall be inclusive from the date of check-in to the date the student properly checks out of the room. Charges will be applied against the student’s account. Residents must pay a damage assessment when billed.
- Residents are not permitted to make damage repairs or arrange for them to be made. In an emergency, Housing and Food Services staff, an RA, or University Police should be contacted. Any student who leaves the University at the end of the contract period or earlier because of withdrawal from the University or other termination of study, and who fails to return the room key at the time of check-out, will automatically be assessed a charge for core and key replacement. The amount will be charged against the student’s account.
The University is not responsible for loss or damage to occupants' personal property; therefore, each individual is strongly advised to carry property insurance.
Gambling in University-owned residence halls, apartments, and food service areas, which is in violation of federal, state, and local laws, is prohibited. Students involved in gambling-related incidents may face legal and/or disciplinary action.
Residential students will receive mail in Port Sky Cafe. Only mail addressed to the current occupant of the room and with the official occupant’s name will be processed. During the academic year, the mailbox number is the same as the student's room number. The combination to the mailbox is issued with the room key and is also available on eLiving.
Mail for resident students should be addressed as follows:
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Dr.
Altoona, PA 16601
For mail to be forwarded at the end of the academic year, the student will need to update their permanent address in eLion.
Pets of any type are not permitted in residence halls for reasons of sanitation and safety, with the exception of one small tank, not more than 5 gallons (U.S.) for tropical fish or goldfish. Service animals for individuals with disabilities are permitted. Students with a need should contact the Office of Disability Services.
There is limited storage space for bins and suitcases in student rooms. Storage between spring and fall semesters is not available. The University is not responsible for loss of items placed in storage rooms.
Residence hall students who engage in behavior that violates the Terms, Conditions, and Regulations of the Housing and Food Service Contract and/or the Student Code of Conduct will be required to work with the staff of Residence Life and/or Office of Student Conduct to resolve the issue. Outcomes may include, but are not limited to, educational sanctions, contract review, change of housing assignment, contract termination, and disciplinary action. Guidelines and procedures related to this process are available by contacting any Residence Life staff member.
Cancelations / Room Reassignments
In addition to the foregoing, the University reserves the right to cancel or deny a contract to a student, or to change the assignment of a student, if that student engages in the following conduct:
- Disregards the rights of other residents
- Jeopardizes the safety and/or well-being of him/herself or other residents
- Disrupts the residential environment
- Violates the University rules and policies and/or Terms, Conditions, and Regulations of this contract
The University, at its discretion, may determine whether a student who engages in the conduct mentioned above shall be covered by the preceding provision related to violations or whether the student should have a fair and equitable hearing by the Senior Director of Residence Life. In the latter case, the student will have the right to appeal to the assistant vice president for Housing, Food Services, and Residence Life, who will retain final authority in such cases.
The University reserves the right to deny or cancel a Housing and Food Services Contract or lease for University-provided housing to an individual whose conduct and/or proven criminal record indicates a potential threat or danger to the University community, including students, faculty, and staff. Any student who is not in registered status will have a financial hold placed on his or her student record for housing and food service charges incurred during the semester. Subsequent contracts will be denied until all financial holds are satisfied.
The University reserves the right to change the assignment of a student in specific locations in the event that (1) the location is needed for other programs or purposes and/or (2) the student’s room is specially equipped to provide for a medical need and such need arises, and/or (3) conditions in a specific location requires such reassignment to ensure a proper educational environment or the health and safety of individuals. The student will be given area assignment preference after reassignments are complete.