Fire and Life Safety Policies

STUDENT HANDBOOK: Policies and Procedures

The following are violations of Fire and Life Safety Policies:

Setting fires

This includes intentional or accidental fire, even those caused by cooking, fireplace use, or smoking anywhere inside a building.

Setting off fire alarms

This includes intentional or accidental fire alarms.

Failing to evacuate

When a fire alarm sounds, all occupants must evacuate the building promptly.

Tampering with or misusing fire protection or other life safety equipment

This includes, but is not limited to: fire extinguishers, FIRE ALARM boxes, fire hoses, emergency exit lights, fire doors and related closures, alarms, sprinkler head obstructions, and smoke, carbon monoxide, and heat detectors.

Possessing and/or using flammable materials

This includes, but is not limited to: gasoline, lamp oil, camp-stove fuel, fireworks, AC-powered holiday lights (battery-operated holiday lights are permitted), paint thinners, candles, and incense. This does not include scented oil diffusers.

Tampering with wiring

This includes, but is not limited to: electrical equipment, cable TV, computer wiring, or overloading electrical outlets. Only UL approved, surge-protected extension cords are allowed.

Causing or contributing to a fire safety hazard

This includes, but is not limited to: obstructing exits, stairwells, hallways (bicycles are not allowed inside buildings), or passageways; storing an excessive amount of waste paper or other waste; having halogen lamps or heat lamps; having ceiling hangings (they may spread fire and smoke more rapidly); covering more than 50 percent of the wall space in an assigned room; or having personal belongings in any College common space.

Roofs/Other exterior structures

Bennington College strictly prohibits anyone from climbing on any College building, tree, or structure. In addition, any student who allows another individual to access the roof or exterior of a building from the occupant’s assigned room is in violation of this policy. The College assumes no financial or legal responsibility for injury due to such prohibited acts.

Pools

Bennington College prohibits pools and or any structure used to collect water.

Weapons, ammunition, explosives, or hazardous material

Any item that, in the opinion of the College or any of its disciplinary agencies, is or appears to be a weapon, ammunition, explosive, or other hazardous material is not permitted in College buildings or on College property. This includes, but is not limited to: guns, paintball guns, bb guns, ammunition, knives, fireworks, and combustible or hazardous material. Students using such material for academic purposes must arrange with their faculty members or departmental coordinators to store the said material away from College houses in an approved and properly secured space. Campus Safety must be notified of any such material.

Smoking

Smoking is prohibited inside any building and is limited to designated exterior areas on campus. See the College’s Smoking Policy.

Fireplace use

Fire screens must be employed whenever fireplaces are in use, and the student in charge of the event must be trained and take responsibility for the use of the fireplace.

Bonfires

Bonfires are prohibited without the approval of the Director of Campus Safety. Students who wish to have a bonfire in conjunction with an event must register the bonfire through the Office of Student Life at least 10 days in advance. Approval for a bonfire is subject to the safety and environmental conditions as determined by the North Bennington Fire Department and the Director of Campus Safety.

In accordance with fire codes, occupancy is limited to eight people per room, regardless of room size.

Gatherings in student rooms where there is not at least one resident present will result in Campus Safety clearing the room of all persons and securing the room door.

Fire Safety Violations

Tier 1 – Prohibited item(s); the fine remains dormant contingent upon no further fire safety violations for the current academic year. Any fire safety sanction within the same academic year by individual or same residential shared room, both sanctions will be applied. The following infractions are included in this tier: smoking in a building or smoking within 30 feet of a door or window; possessing prohibited items and or appliances in residential rooms including but not limited to the following; lit and unlit candles; incense; heat lamps; hot pots; coffee pots; air conditioners; toasters; toaster ovens; gas stoves; burners, camping stoves; halogen lamps; any appliance, whether listed here or not, that exceeds 1,000 watts; also prohibited is any appliance that is not specifically approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), is in poor working condition, is not properly wired or lacks an appropriate cord, or is deemed inappropriate by the Director of Campus Safety; failing to evacuate when a fire alarm is activated; possessing or using flammable materials. These are flat-rate fines of $200 for a violation (not per item).

Tier 2 – Immediate imposed sanction due to severity and unsafe nature of the violation. This would include but may not be limited to the following: tampering with fire suppression equipment and devices such as: smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, fire alarm panels, fire alarm pull stations; starting fires intentionally; activating the fire alarm system intentionally and without probable cause; unapproved fires of any origin including bonfires, campfires, grill fires; any other fire code violation not listed here the college deems severe in nature. These fines are $500.

Kitchens and Cooking

The College provides kitchens in each of the College houses for student use. Students are expected to take responsibility for their use of the kitchens, food, or other personal belongings. Students who use the kitchens are responsible for appropriate use, cleaning up, and for disposal of food and trash. Report any problems or concerns with equipment to Buildings and Grounds. Concerns related to cleanliness or use of the kitchens should be raised with house members during Coffee Hour. The kitchens in the College houses are not meant to replace the dining halls, but are provided for student enjoyment and convenience. Cooking is not allowed in any other space in the College houses. Electricity Safety. Each College house is adequately equipped to handle the normal volume of electricity demanded by the student body. However, to prevent electrical overload and to avoid the hazards that arise from such an overload, some appliances are permitted while others are not.

Permitted Appliances

Appliances permitted include computers, computer equipment, stereos, TVs, VCRs, DVD players, clock radios, hair dryers (not exceeding 1,000 watts), small fans, refrigerators less than 3 cubic feet, and lamps with incandescent bulbs of 60 watts or less.

Prohibited Appliances

Appliances prohibited include air conditioners, any appliance with an exposed heating element, hot plates, toasters, toaster ovens, gas stoves or burners, camping stoves, halogen lamps, and any appliance, whether listed here or not, that exceeds 1,000 watts.

Also prohibited is any appliance that is not specifically approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), is in poor working condition, is not properly wired or lacks an appropriate cord, or is deemed inappropriate by the Director of Campus Safety or Facilities Management. Such appliances must be removed from College spaces. When in doubt as to whether or not an appliance is allowed on campus, students should ask the Director of Campus Safety or Director of Facilities Management for clarification.

Other Policies

Smoking Policy

The College’s smoking policy complies with Vermont State law. Smoking is prohibited in all indoor areas at Bennington College, including but not limited to: classrooms, offices, dining halls, common spaces, hallways, bathrooms, rehearsal rooms, and studios. Smoking is also prohibited in all student houses. The areas within 30 feet of entryways, exits, windows, and balconies of all buildings are also designated as nonsmoking areas. Smoking includes cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes, hookahs, tobacco substitutes such as e-cigarettes, and other items that convey nicotine and other substances through electronic or battery-powered devices. Evidence of violating the smoking policy includes any smoking material such as cigarette butts, cigar butts, and ashtrays or other items that contain ashes.

Guest Policy

Students may have up to two guests on campus at any one time. Guests must be registered, by the student host, at the Office of Campus Safety at the time of the guest’s arrival on campus with proper ID as described below. Guests, including alumni and former students (except when attending public performances), must present a photo ID and receive a visitor’s pass. Access to student houses is restricted to current students and their signed-in guests.

Note: The College reserves the right to limit or deny guests and may revoke guest or hosting privileges for any reason, at any time for any reason, including, but not limited to, violation of this guest policy or any College regulation or policy.

  1. Hosting a guest. Only current students of the College can serve as hosts for guests. Students are responsible and accountable for the conduct of their guests at all times. Guests must comply with all College policies and regulations. The student host may also be subject to College disciplinary action if his or her guest violates a College regulation or policy. Student hosts must be with their guest at all times and not allow the guest to move freely about the campus on their own. Hosts may not have guests (including alumni and former students) prior to the date that returning students move into the houses at the start of the fall and spring terms. Guests are not allowed during the last week of each term Guests may accompany students into College facilities, but are not permitted to use College supplies for their own personal use. Only residential students may sign in overnight guests. Guests of non-residential students must depart campus by 2am. Guests are not allowed to take up residence on campus, and overnight and/or day visits are limited to 6 days per month. A day visit is quantified as a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 24 hours. Guests may not stay the last 6 days of one month followed by the first days of the next month. There must be at least 10 days between such visits. Any request for an extension of the 6-day limit must be approved by the Director of Campus Safety in consultation with Student Life staff.

  2. Alumni guests. Alumni are allowed to visit campus for unlimited day visits without being signed in. Alumni guests are not allowed in student housing at any time unless signed in as a regular guest. After 8pm, all alumni must be signed in by a current student and are limited to 6 overnight visits per month.

  3. Parents. Parents who plan to visit campus should arrange to stay off campus in town and may not stay in student housing.

  4. Group Performance Visitation Policy. Groups such as bands who wish to perform at Bennington College must sign in as guests of a single host supplying proper photo ID to Campus Safety. Upon completion of the performance, the members must return to Campus Safety and either leave campus or sign in again following the regular individual guest policy.

Pet/Animal Policy

The College has established strict policies regarding the presence of pets and animals on campus. With the exception of small fish, service animals, and approved emotional support animals (ESA), the College prohibits any student  from bringing or keeping pets or animals of any kind in student residences or any administrative, service, or academic building. Students who need to request an accommodation for an ESA in campus housing should contact the Office of Student Life at 802-440-4330. Individuals found in violation of the pet policy will be fined $200 and will be given 48 hours to remove the animal from campus. It is the responsibility of the individual to provide proof (verbal and written) to the Director of Campus Safety, or his designee, that the pet has been removed; Campus Safety will also re-inspect the room to ensure compliance. If the animal has not been removed within 48 hours, a subsequent fine of $50 per additional day will be assessed. The student may also be subject to disciplinary actions. The Office of Campus Safety will arrange (with or without notice) to remove from the campus animals that are in violation of policy. Should external assistance be used to remove an animal, the owner will be responsible for any cost incurred. Any damage or repairs arising from animals being brought onto or kept on campus by students will be charged to the student.

Students are responsible for their guests’ compliance with the College’s policy and will be held accountable for reimbursement of any damage or any costs incurred by the College related to violations. Animals of unknown ownership roaming loose on the campus will be taken to the local animal shelter. Dogs temporarily brought onto the campus by residents, employees, or visitors must be in the full control of their owner or other custodian. All dogs are to be on a leash at all times. Under no circumstances are dogs allowed to run loose or to be tied to buildings, handrails, trees, bicycle racks, or other objects. Infractions or complaints are to be brought to the attention of Campus Safety.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Policy

Bennington College recognizes the importance of “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the broader category of “Emotional Support Animals” (ESAs) under the Fair Housing Act that provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. The College is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the College’s programs and activities. The College is also committed to allowing Emotional Support Animals, necessary to provide individuals with mental health disabilities, an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing. 

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a category of animals that provide necessary emotional support to individuals with a mental or psychiatric disability and is selected to play an integral part of a person’s treatment process.  The ESA must demonstrate excellent temperament and reliable, predictable behavior. An ESA must be prescribed to an individual with a disability by a mental health professional. An ESA is not a Service Animal.

The procedure for requesting Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) follows the general procedures set forth in the Housing Accommodation Requests policies and procedures and the requirements set forth below; however, to the extent the requirements and procedures in this policy conflict with the general Housing Accommodation policies, this policy shall take precedence.

This Policy explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an ESA in College housing. Bennington College reserves the right to amend this Policy as circumstances require. This policy applies solely to Emotional Support Animals, which may be necessary in College housing. It does not apply to “Service Animals” as defined by the ADAAA.

Although it is the policy of Bennington College that individuals are generally prohibited from having animals of any type in College housing (other than fish), the College will consider a request by a student with a disability for reasonable accommodation to allow an ESA that is necessary because of a mental health disability, if this request is reasonable. However, no ESA may be kept in College housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation.  Generally, the presence of only one ESA will be approved for a student, in order to fulfill the intent of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requirements in providing support to a student with a mental health disability.

To be allowed to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) reside in campus housing, the student must first contact the Office of Student Life to complete the appropriate documentation requirements.

Guidelines and Requirements for ESA

An ESA must be contained within the Owner’s privately assigned living accommodations except to the extent the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief. When an ESA is outside the owner’s assigned living accommodations, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness. ESAs are not allowed in any College facilities other than the College housing to which the owner is assigned. No owner shall permit the animal to go loose or run at large. If an animal is found running at large, the animal is subject to capture and confinement and immediate removal from College housing.

Owner’s Responsibilities for Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

An exception to the College animal and pet policy is granted for approved animals provided that their behavior, noise, odor, and waste do not exceed reasonable standards for a well-behaved animal and that these factors do not create an unreasonable living environment or frequent disruptions for other residents. If the noise (crying, barking or meowing, especially when the student isn’t around) is excessive, as judged by residence life staff, it is grounds to rescind permission for the specific ESA to be in campus housing. The following factors (among others) are used as evidence in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable, or in the making of housing assignments for students with ESAs:

  • The size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space; 
  • The animal's presence would force another individual from individual housing (e.g. serious allergies); 
  • The animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to peace and quiet enjoyment; 
  • The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner; 
  • The animal's vaccinations are not up-to-date;
  • The animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others, such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others, or the potential of transmission of zoonotic diseases; 
  • The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.

Terms and Conditions for Emotional Support Animals (ESA) at Bennington College

Once a student has registered with the Office of Student Life and has been approved to have an ESA as an accommodation in the residence hall, the following additional requirements must be met:

  • Student must register your approved animal with the Office of Student Life by providing all necessary paperwork.
  • Student must abide by current town, county, and state ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is your responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. The College has the right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and/or regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate. The College must have a copy of the ESA Registration form and all relevant documentation on file prior to bringing an ESA to campus.

Student is solely responsible for properly containing and disposing of all animal waste in appropriate outside trash dumpsters. Litter boxes should always be placed on mats, so that feces and urine are not tracked onto carpeted surfaces. While it is preferable that litter boxes are placed on a tiled or vinyl bathroom floor, this may not always be possible, due to structural limitations within certain residence areas; nevertheless, precautionary measures will still be expected, in order to maintain a standard level of cleanliness within the student's living space.

  • Student will not bathe and/or groom the ESA, or clean its cage/crate, or bedding using residence hall facilities (bathrooms, showers, dorm rooms or suite facilities).
  • Student is required to ensure that the animal is well cared for at all times. Any evidence of mistreatment or abuse may result in immediate removal of the assistance animal and/or discipline for the responsible individual.

Student is not required to pay a fee or surcharge for an approved assistance ESA; however, a student may be charged for any damage caused by their animal beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extent that other individuals are charged for damages beyond wear and tear. 

Student’s living accommodations may be inspected for fleas, ticks, or other pests if necessary as part of the College’s standard or routine inspections. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a College-approved pest control service. As the owner of the animal, student will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls. The College has the right to bill a student’s account for unmet obligations under this provision. 

  • Student is solely responsible for assuring that the animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for students who reside there. Sensitivity to residents with allergies and to those who fear animals is important to ensure the well-being of the residential community.
  • Emotional Support Animals may not be left overnight in Campus Housing to be cared for by any individual other than the student. If the student is to be absent from their residence hall overnight or longer, the animal must accompany him/her.  Student is responsible for ensuring that the ESA is contained, as appropriate, when they are not present during the day while attending classes or other activities.
  • In the case of an emergency, in which the ESA must be cared for unexpectedly, student will name someone, other than another resident, as the emergency contact.
  • Emotional Support Animals are only permitted in the owner’s assigned residential room and outdoor areas. When transported outside the assigned residential room, the animal must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness at all times.
  • The ESA is allowed in College housing only as long as it is necessary because of a disability. Students must notify the Office of Student Life in writing if the ESA is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. To replace an ESA, the new animal must be necessary because of a student’s disability and they must submit a new Disability Accommodation Request form when requesting a different animal.
  • An approval for an Emotional Support Animal is valid only for the academic year in which it has been approved. As with all housing accommodations, this accommodation will be reviewed annually.
  • College personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for any assistance animal including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire drill, fire alarm or natural disaster. Emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the animal and may not be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the animal. 
  • Students must fully cooperate with College personnel with regard to meeting the terms of this agreement and developing procedures for the care of the ESA (e.g., cleaning the animal, feeding/watering the animal, designating an outdoor relief area, disposing of feces, etc.).
  • Student must provide written consent (see Acknowledgement and Release of Information Consent Statement on Agreement Form) for the College to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the ESA to those individuals who may be affected by the presence of the animal including, but not limited to, student life personnel and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s). Such information shall be limited to information related to the animal and shall not include information related to your disability.

Should the ESA be removed from the premises for any reason, the student is expected to fulfill their housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.

Office of Student Life staff  have the authority to relocate a student and the support animal as necessary if circumstances are contrary to the terms of this contract and/or other College policies. 

Any violation of the above stipulations may result in immediate removal of the animal from Bennington College. If this occurs, the student has a right to appeal the decision through the Dean of Students.

Solicitation

Soliciting is not allowed in College houses and is only allowed on campus with permission from the Director of Campus Safety.

Motor Vehicle Regulations

All vehicle and traffic laws promulgated by the state of Vermont are effective on the Bennington College campus. Vehicles in operation must be licensed, registered, insured, equipped, and otherwise legal to operate in the state of Vermont.

All motor vehicle accidents that occur on campus must be reported promptly to Campus Safety. Motorists are reminded that leaving the scene of an accident or failure by a motorist to file a Report of a Motor Vehicle Accident is a violation of Vermont law.

In addition to state law, the College also has campus-wide motor vehicle rules and regulations, which are enforced by Campus Safety. Anyone who violates a College motor vehicle rule or regulation may be prohibited from driving on campus. The College also may ban a specific vehicle from campus.

Motor Vehicle Rules and Regulations, and Parking Permits

  1. All motor vehicles operated and/or parked on the College campus must be registered with Campus Safety and must comply with the Parking Rules and Regulations, available at the Office of Campus Safety.

  2. A parking sticker is provided at a cost of $140 per academic year upon presentation of a valid driver’s license, state registration, proof of insurance, and a completed application. Residents of Welling Town House, Shingle, Paran Creek, and Long Meadow are not subject to the $140 fee but must still register all vehicles with Campus Safety.

  3. Vehicles must also have a valid inspection sticker.

  4. Parking stickers do not guarantee the availability of a parking space in every lot at all times.

  5. All campus roads are fire lanes, which must be kept clear at all times. Cars parked in fire lanes are subject to ticketing and/or towing.

  6. Unregistered (no current College parking decal) vehicles will be ticketed; repeat offenders may have their cars towed at their expense.

  7. Vehicles must be parked only in areas to which they are assigned.

  8. Drivers responsible for multiple violations totaling $250 or more in the current academic year will be subject to disciplinary referral.

  9. Parking ticket appeals should be addressed to the Director of Campus Safety and must be made in writing within 5 days of the date of the ticket.

Speed Limits

No vehicle shall be operated at a speed above the posted speed limit. Violators may be subject to suspension of driving and parking privileges.

 

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving, as determined at the discretion of Campus Safety, is prohibited. Examples of reckless driving include, but are not limited to: being or appearing under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving at an excessive rate of speed (per posted speed limits or for campus conditions), failure to yield to pedestrians, and driving across lawns. Violators may be subject to suspension of driving and parking privileges, and local authorities may be notified.

 

Van Policy

The College has three vans: one van provides regular service into town and to nearby Williamstown, MA on weekends so that Bennington students may use the Williams College library; the two other vans are used for academic or co-curricular events involving members of the College community. Vans may not be used by individuals for personal activities. On occasion, vans may be needed for health emergencies; such emergencies have priority over all other activities.

Recognized student organizations may reserve a van for field trips. Organizations must seek approval from the Office of Student Life prior to reserving the van with the assistant Director of Campus Safety. The expenses of hiring a van driver will be charged to the organization’s account.

There is a 200-mile limit for trips. If the round trip is beyond 200 miles, the trip must first be approved by the Director of Campus Safety or his designee. For further information, students may contact Campus Safety at ext. 4250.

Please note: All drivers of College vans must be pre-approved by the Director of Campus Safety and the Office of Human Resources and successfully complete a road test and an online defensive driving course under the supervision of the associate Director of Campus Safety.