Residential Policies

STUDENT HANDBOOK: Policies and Procedures

Residency requirement

Out of a commitment to student development and success, Bennington College requires all students enrolled in classes full time to live on campus in College housing. Part-time students, except those in their last term, are not eligible for campus housing.

Exception to the residency requirement

The College recognizes that a few students may need an exception to the residency requirement. The College will grant exceptions for an enrolled student who is:

  • 23 years old or older
  • Living at one’s parents’ home, within a 25-mile radius of the College
  • Married or in a civil-union recognized by the state of Vermont
  • A parent or legal guardian of a child. (Bennington does not provide family housing for students.)
  • Exempted from the residency requirement as an accommodation for a disability. For more information see the Accommodations and Support section.

Right to assign

The College reserves the right to assign any vacancy in College housing and/or to reassign any student’s College housing placement at any time. This includes consolidation of students living alone in multi-occupancy rooms. Efforts will be made to keep students within the same house during consolidation when possible.

Occupancy

Students are allowed to occupy their assigned rooms and to use the common space in their houses and all other College facilities when the College is in session. Students cannot access College facilities between terms except in specific situations. These situations require advance permission from the College.

Information about dates and times that College residences open and close are published in the Academic Calendar, and various communications sent out from the Office of Residence Life to all students during the term. Students are expected to arrive and depart campus in accordance with the set deadlines. Early arrivals and late departures are not permitted unless approved in advance by the Office of Residence Life. Unapproved early arrivals and/or late checkouts are subject to the student conduct process.

Non-Term Residency

On campus housing is limited when the College is not in session (Winter break, Field Work Term, and Summer break) and requires an application process that certifies employment or specialized study at the College. Information on how to apply is made available at the end of each term. Students must be in good academic standing to apply for non-term housing. 

Assignment Information

Each spring, upperclass students enrolled and continuing at the College choose housing for the next year by participating in the in-house room selection process or the housing lottery that is run by the Office of Residence Life. Housing reservation information is distributed in the latter part of the spring term.

First-year and transfer students are assigned to housing based on their preference form and space availability. Late applicants or students returning from leave are housed on a space-available basis.

Students who withdraw or become part-time during the term, except those in their last term, must vacate their housing within 48 hours.

Room changes

The Office of Residence Life will notify the student body about the room/house change process and any housing assignment changes at the beginning of each term. Students are encouraged to address any conflicts directly with their roommates/housemates. They can then seek assistance from House Chairs who may serve as mediators. The official room change request process starts by the student meeting with Residence Life staff. Failure to obtain permission from Residence Life may result in referral to the student conduct process.

Returning from leave of absence/abroad programs

Returning students who were on leave, or are re-entering after being considered withdrawn by the Office of the Provost will be assigned based on availability and the housing preference questionnaire. Students returning from study-away programs will receive an email from housing prior to their return. Students should complete a Student Housing Preference form by March 15 for the upcoming academic year and November 1 for the spring term.

Exchange Students and Visiting students

Students in this category are placed according to their term standing (determined by the Office of the Provost). Exchange students and visiting students should contact the Office of Residence Life as soon as possible to discuss housing options and availability. Exchange students who apply after August 1 or February 1 are offered space on campus based on availability.

Welling Town House and Longmeadow House

Students who wish to live in these houses must complete an application from the Office of Residence Life. Notification about the application process is sent during the spring term. Students will be selected and notified prior to the regular housing assignment process. Welling Town House, although located off campus, is subject to all policies applicable to on-campus housing.

Paran Creek Apartments

Students residing in Paran Creek Apartments are subject to the same Community Standards as those students living in other College-owned and managed housing including, but not limited to, room changes, occupancy, smoking, safety, room damage, and access. Residents are responsible for the cleaning of individual rooms, as well as the common areas, kitchens and bathrooms in the individual apartments. Buildings and Grounds (B & G) staff will maintain the general common areas, hallways and laundry rooms on each floor. Each apartment will be issued a 4 digit key code to access their outer apartment door. This code should not be distributed to any resident who is not officially assigned to the apartment. New key codes will be issued after room changes and between academic years. Students who have forgotten their key codes should contact Campus Safety for immediate entry and then contact Buildings & Ground to report a forgotten code. Fees may be assessed if a key code is reset multiple times due to lost codes.

Residents of Paran Creek apartments are not permitted to host events in the general common areas. No loud noises are permitted after 10:00 pm. 

Selection of Paran Creek apartments as a housing option will be available in the spring housing selection process.

Personal Property

The College assumes no responsibility for theft, loss, or damage to a student’s personal property. Students are encouraged to take appropriate steps to safeguard their property and to maintain their own personal property insurance. Any loss or theft of property should be reported to Campus Safety so that an official record is available if needed.

Storage

The College offers limited short-term storage for students assigned to houses that are used during Winter Break and Field Work Term. The College does not offer storage for personal property during the regular term or over the summer break. 

Students who study away or withdraw from the College are not permitted to store items on campus during their time away. Students who withdraw during the term are required to remove all belongings from campus housing. If personal items are left, the Office of Residence Life will consider the items abandoned and donate them to local organizations or dispose of them. The Office of Residence Life can provide students with information about local storage options

Accountability

Students are responsible for all activities taking place in their room, whether they are present or not. Each occupant will be held responsible for any prohibited activity(s) or illegal item(s) found in their room.

Student Rooms

Students are responsible for maintaining their rooms in a healthy, safe, and livable condition. Students may contact Building and Grounds with concerns about their room or housing condition as well as place a work order by email. Students may also contact the Office of Residence Life with their room concerns.

Students are not allowed to alter any feature of their rooms or furnishings nor are they allowed to remove any college issued furniture from their room. Students are responsible for any costs associated with restoring their assigned rooms to the condition in which they were found at the start of each term. College staff members inspect and document the condition of student rooms and the College furniture in that room before the start and just after the end of each academic year. This information is recorded on Room Condition Reports. Restoration charges may include, but are not limited to: the repair or replacement cost(s) for damage to the room, College furniture, or equipment provided; repair, labor, replacement, or costs of any extra work necessary to restore the room to its original condition including extra cleaning, moving, or rebuilding of furniture. Students are not allowed to repair any damage to their rooms or to common areas of the houses.

Room Condition Reports

An email is sent to each student at the beginning of the term with a link to the Room Condition Report to document the condition of the student’s room and the condition of College issued furniture in that room. Students are expected to complete and submit the Room Condition report within the first 2 weeks of each term (or within two weeks of completing a move). If the student fails to submit their Room Condition Report, the student will have no basis for an appeal on the state of the room at the end of the term or when the student separates from the College.

Common areas

Common areas are to be used and enjoyed by all members of the Bennington community. House common areas include living rooms, kitchens, hallways, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. Residents are individually and collectively responsible for the condition of their common areas and the College furniture provided. House common areas are expected to be kept in a clean, healthy, safe, and livable condition, and alcohol or alcohol bottles not permitted. Personal items may not be stored in common areas (including hallways). Furniture should not be removed from the common areas without written permission from the Office of Residence Life.

Common area inspection

The Office of Residence Life reserves the right to inspect all common areas without notice throughout the term. The House Chairs and/or Residence Life staff members inspect all house common areas before the start and at the end of each term to assess the condition of those areas and the status of College property, in addition to regular checks during the term. House residents are accountable for any damage beyond normal wear and tear, repair or replacement costs, or extra work necessary to restore the house to its original condition.

Damage and Restoration Charges

Students are responsible for all restoration charges to cover the costs of repair or replacement of any damage beyond normal wear and tear or missing items from their room. If damage is discovered during move-in, it must be reported immediately. 

When College furniture is moved from its designated location or common areas within a house are damaged, House Chairs will be consulted. The House Chairs will have a subsequent discussion with the members of their house at their next Coffee Hour. The house will have an opportunity to identify the responsible individual(s). If no individual is identified, the cost to repair or replace the items as well as moving charges will be divided among the residents of the house and billed to each student account. If residents of a house believe they know who is responsible, they should notify their House Chair, a member of the Residence Life staff, or Campus Safety staff as soon as possible.

If a student moves any common area furniture into their own room, they may be charged for the misappropriation of College property and moving cost.  A list of estimated damage fees is available through Buildings and Grounds.  

Confirmed damage charges may be added to a student’s bill at the end of the year or after a student departs or graduates.

Damage Charge Appeals

After the end of each academic term, damage billing, including the cost of each individual’s room damage as well as the prorated cost of all common area damage, will be added to the student’s Populi account. Any damages to the student’s space prior to their arrival/move in should be documented/submitted by the deadline in a Room Condition Report.

Should a student find a discrepancy in the damage charges, it is the student’s responsibility to write to the Office of Residence Life and Buildings and Grounds to request an appeal. Appeals should explain in specific detail the reasons for contesting the charge(s). Appeals will be accepted by the Office of Residence Life and Buildings and Grounds within 2 weeks from the date of the charge and will be reviewed within 2 weeks of receiving the appeal. Students will be notified in writing of the decision. 

The decision of Residence Life and Buildings and Grounds is final, unless the student can provide new or additional information that may influence the decision. Charges being appealed will appear on the student’s bill and will be credited or upheld based on the decision.

End of Term House Closing

At the end of the fall term, students in selected houses need to remove all of their personal belongings (limited storage for these students is available). Over the summer break, rooms in every house must be completely emptied. Residents will receive information about what is expected at checkout and off-campus storage options in the End-of-Term announcements distributed prior to the end of each term. House Chairs will discuss this information with residents at Coffee Hour.

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Bennington College recognizes the importance of service animals, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), and the broader category of “assistance animals,” which includes emotional support animals under the Fair Housing Act. Service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs) provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. 

The College allows individuals with disabilities the use of a service animal on campus to facilitate their access to, and participation in, the College’s programs and activities. The College also permits emotional support animals (ESAs) for students who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major activities. An ESA is prescribed by a  mental health professional and an integral part of a student’s treatment. The ESA must demonstrate excellent temperament and reliable, predictable behavior.

The following 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 does not apply to “Service Animals” as defined by the ADAAA.

Students wishing to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) must complete an accommodation request. ESAs are not permitted on campus until the accommodation request has been made and acted upon, which may take up to 90 days to complete. Owners of service animals or emotional support animals are responsible for cleanup and any damage caused by their animals, and must take appropriate precautions to prevent property damage or injury. The care, supervision, and well-being of a service/emotional support animal are the sole responsibility of the owner at all times. Students found with unauthorized animals in the houses or classroom or failure to clean up will be subject to the student conduct process.

A request for an ESA may be denied as unreasonable if the presence of the animal: 1) imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden; 2) fundamentally alters College housing policies; and/or 3) poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause substantial property damage to the property of others, including College property. 

Please note that:

  • Bennington College may approve your request to have an ESA, but not approve the specific animal you were hoping to bring. For example, most reptiles and rodents may be rejected because of safety and health concerns, as they can carry zoonotic diseases which pose a threat to the general welfare of residents in the communal living environment. 
  • ESAs are restricted to the student’s immediate living space. They are not allowed in academic spaces or common areas in the house or apartment as others may have allergies. Moreover, the ESA must be contained (caged or crated) any time the student is not in the room.
  • The ESA may not be left in the care of other residents. If the student leaves campus overnight or at the end of term, the ESA must be taken along.
  • Students bringing ESAs to campus are fully responsible for the animal’s behavior, and for any damage done. If the ESA is disruptive to the living environment for others (for example, barking or other loud noises, or significant odor from litter boxes or cages), or if there is damage done to housing facilities, the ESA will need to be removed from the premises within 48 hours of notice being given. The student will be responsible for paying for property damage.
  • 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.

End of Term House Closing

At the end of the fall term, students in selected houses need to remove all of their personal belongings (limited storage is available for these students). Over summer break, all rooms must be completely emptied. Residents will receive information about what is expected at checkout and off-campus storage options in the End-of-Term announcements distributed prior to the end of each term. House Chairs will discuss this information with residents at Coffee Hour.

Room Keys

At the start of each term and throughout the room change period, keys are distributed from the Office of Residence Life.

Each student is expected to sign out a room key before taking occupancy of the student’s space. Leaving rooms unlocked is a safety concern. If the room is found unlocked, Campus Safety should be notified. The College urges students to lock their rooms when away and to carry their room key and ID card at all times.

Students who need to vacate their rooms for use during Winter Break and Field Work Term will return their keys at the end of the fall term and reissued at the start of the spring term. All other students will keep their room keys for the duration of the academic year and are responsible for the use of their individual keys. All houses not in use by outside groups during Field Work Term will be locked. Students found accessing their individual rooms or other areas of the College that they do not have permission to enter will be subject to the student conduct process.

Keys must be returned prior to departure at the end of each academic year. Unreturned keys will result in a lock change fee.

Expectations for House Events

Houses may host events in the common areas. These events must be registered with the Office of Residence Life. House members are expected to effectively manage their event and guests to abide by all campus policies and guidelines. Students must cooperate with College officials if a problem or concern is brought to their attention. If violations occur and/or the house does not cooperate with College officials, the event may be shut down. Gatherings or events may not exceed the fire code capacity for the common areas, no loud noises are permitted after 10 pm, and events must end by 2 am. There are no house parties permitted during the final two weeks of each term. Solicitation of funds to support house events, including alcohol, is prohibited.

Individual residents who wish to host events or gatherings using their house common areas must have consent of all house members before the event takes place. These individuals are responsible for promoting a healthy environment and controlling attendance, noise, and cleanup. House events must be registered with the Office of Residence Life. The sponsor of the gathering will be held accountable for any violations and damages that may occur during the event.

 

Right to Enter

Bennington College reserves the right of College personnel to enter any College building or space within that building, including student rooms, at any time, to respond to an emergency; monitor health and safety standards and/or compliance with College rules and policies; make repairs; perform cleaning, maintenance, or inventory; conduct any inspection or search; enforce College rules and regulations; secure buildings; and for any reasonable purpose as determined by the College. The resident’s absence will not prevent such entry, nor is consent required.

Suspension, Dismissal, or Withdrawal

Once the Office of Residence Life has received notification of expulsion, suspension, dismissal, or withdrawal, the student’s housing assignment is revoked. The student must vacate the assigned room and return the room key and student ID to the Office of Residence Life within the time specified.

Property remaining in an assigned space or left on campus after the deadline is considered abandoned and will be donated to local charities or discarded at the discretion of the College

Door Access System

Exterior entrances of all student residence houses are locked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All major residential houses are equipped with exterior door access control.

Cards lost or stolen during normal business hours should be reported immediately to the Help Desk. After hours, students should immediately report missing cards to Campus Safety. Lost cards will be deactivated and students will be required to purchase a new card which costs $15. 

During weekends and in the evenings, a temporary courtesy card will be provided by Campus Safety. This temporary card will expire at the end of the first business day. Courtesy cards must be returned to Campus Safety. Failure to do so will result in referral to the student conduct process. Personal guests of students, faculty, or staff members are not eligible for temporary access cards.

Tampering with any component of the Enhanced Card Access System or propping a door open, which is a breach of the residential security system, is considered a violation of the community standards.