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Residential Living at Westminster

One of the greatest experiences in college is living in community. Residence hall living gives students the unique opportunity to live and interact with a variety of people. Students living in residence halls do better academically, are less likely to drop out, are more likely to graduate in four years, and are more likely to be involved in college activities and develop leadership skills. Thus, Westminster College regards the residential experience as an integral part of the education of a student.

Westminster College has 8 residential facilities: 6 residence halls, Thompson House, and Berlin Village that house approximately 1,130 students. The Associate Dean of Student Affairs is responsible for supervising Residence Life staff, formulating residential policy, and overseeing programmatic efforts. The Director of Facility Operations is responsible for residence hall custodial services, building maintenance, and upkeep. It is a joint effort to provide an environment that is conducive to the personal development and education of each student.

Mission Statement


The mission of the Residence Life program at Westminster College is to contribute to the development and education of students by creating inclusive communities in which students can:

  • feel safe to explore new ideas
  • be challenged to relate to others with respect and compassion
  • be supported in self-discovery
  • be supported to solve problems autonomously

Rooted in the Westminster College mission, the mission of the Residence Life program supports the academic endeavor of students. Further, the Residence Life program supports the quest for excellence that Westminster College espouses for all students. To this end, the following are learning outcomes for students involved in the Residence Life program:

Knowledge acquisition, integration, and application

Students will learn life skills and will be able to connect classroom learning to real life experiences.

Civic Awareness and Engagement

Students will learn to contribute to and affect positive change within individual communities and the world at large.

Intra/Interpersonal Relationships

Students will learn about self through reflection, learn about others through collaboration, and develop communication skills to connect the two.

Diversity Awareness/Cultural Competence

Students will discover that their unique experiences, beliefs, values and culture affect the way they see the world and others in it.

Identity Development

Students will participate in programs, processes, and leadership opportunities that assist in the development of their sense of spirituality, purpose, worldview, and authentic identity.

Housing Requirements


Residence hall rooms are assigned with the understanding that they will be occupied for the entire academic year. All full-time undergraduate students are required to live in a College residence hall unless at least one of the following criteria is met:

  • Resides in the permanent home of a parent(s) or legal guardian within 30 driving miles of the College. Verification from parent/guardian is required. Students may only commute from the home of a parent or legal guardian. Students enrolled prior to Fall 2018, the driving mileage is within 50 miles of the College.
  • Has resided in a residence hall for at least four years.
  • Has reached the age of 23 prior to the term(s) for which the request is made.
  • Is given special permission in writing by the Office of Student Affairs to live at his fraternity house.
    To be eligible, a fraternity member must be enrolled at the College, have at least junior standing (generally 62 credit hours), have at least a 2.0 GPA, and must demonstrate responsible behavior as a member of the Westminster College community. The College’s policy with regard to allowing sophomores to live at houses is limited to those elected to the positions of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Risk Manager. Fraternity members are not permitted to move from a fraternity house to an off-campus location without written permission from the Office of Student Affairs.
  • The College reserves the right to take disciplinary action against students who violate the Housing Requirements policy. Violations include, but are not limited to, residing in off-campus housing without the expressed written permission of the College. Sanctions include, but are not limited to, restitution for room and board.

Commuter Status


Commuter status is reserved only for students who are living in the permanent home of one or both parents or legal guardians. In order to obtain commuter status, written and verbal notification from the parent or legal guardian is required. Additionally, a student must be living within 30 driving miles of the College to be eligible for commuter status. Students wishing to commute the following academic year should notify the Office of Student Affairs of their intention by June 1. Notification after June 1 will result in a contract breakage fee of $125.

Accomodations for Disabilities


Westminster College works very hard to accommodate students with special needs or disabilities. If a student’s medical condition requires special consideration by the College, Housing Accommodation Request Packets are available by scheduling an appointment in Student Affairs. A portion of the packet should be completed by the student and the remainder completed in full by an appropriate and qualified medical professional including, but not limited to, a physician, medical specialist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor and submitted to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs. The College will use the information shared on these forms to develop a strategy to best meet the needs of that particular student. Please understand that due to the number of students that suffer from allergies and chronic respiratory illnesses, the College cannot provide special accommodations in such situations unless a major life activity is substantially limited. The College will provide necessary equipment to accommodate students qualifying under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Residence Life Staff


Jeter Smith, Associate Dean for Student Affairs for Residence Life and Student Conduct
Patrick Bussiere, Area Coordinator: Housing
Grayson Blythe, Area Coordinator: Residence Life

Area Coordinators (ACs) supervise the Residence Life program in the residence halls. They work with students, head resident assistants (HRAs) and resident assistants (RAs), and the Office of Student Affairs to provide an environment where each student can reach their fullest potential.

Resident assistants are upperclass students who live within each residence hall community. They are available to assist with any questions or problems students may have. In addition, they act as an information source and handle assigned administrative responsibilities. Their goal is to interact with residents, helping to build and maintain a sense of community within the residence halls. They also strive toward bridging the classroom experience with residential living through educational and social programming, and work to nurture a sense of mutual respect and responsibility in the residence halls.

Residence Life Policies


Alcohol

Alcohol and illicit drugs are prohibited on the grounds of Westminster College. Employees, students, and visitors are not permitted to possess or use any of these substances while on College property.

Because they are under the age of 21, Pennsylvania law prohibits most Westminster students from drinking alcoholic beverages. For the sake of reasonable administration, and in order to create the best possible living and educational atmosphere, there shall be no use, possession, sale, or serving of alcoholic beverages by any student while on or in College property. In fairness to our students, the same policy applies to guests and visitors to our campus.

Students found to be in possession of alcohol or illicit drugs on campus will face disciplinary action through the College Code of Conduct and could face criminal prosecution as well.

Appliances

Refrigerators are permitted in student rooms; they must be stamped with a visible and acceptable Underwriters Seal of Approval and may not exceed 4.3 cubic feet in size. Air conditioners or freezers are not permitted in residence hall rooms. Microwave ovens are permitted in student rooms only if they have a power rating of 1100 watts or less. Refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers are provided in Berlin Village.

Other appliances such as fans and Keurig-style coffee makers (coffee makers with an exposed heating or warming element are not permitted) are allowed for individual use in rooms. Exposed heating element appliances such as George Foreman grills, toasters and toaster ovens are not permitted, with the exception of Berlin Village.

To conserve energy and minimize the risk of power failure, the College reserves the right to restrict or limit the use of electrical appliances. In addition, the College does not allow students to regulate thermostats or have air conditioners in rooms.

CARE OF FACILITIES AND DAMAGES

An important part of living in a community is demonstrating respect for fellow residents by taking responsibility for the community environment. Residents assume a shared responsibility for the proper maintenance of their rooms and the common areas of the residence halls. Westminster College provides daily cleaning service to all public areas of residence halls, and students are expected to help maintain these areas. Berlin Village residents are responsible for cleaning within the townhouse, including bathrooms.

Students are liable for damage to College or student property caused by negligent or willful actions. In extreme cases, damages by unidentified persons will be the financial responsibility of the community. Please keep damage costs down by playing sports outside of the building. Residence Life and Physical Plant Staffs regularly inspect all rooms and common areas.

A Room Condition Form is completed by each student as they move into a residence hall room. The exact condition and contents of the room are noted at that time. When a student checks out of a room, the initial condition of the room will be compared against its current state. Any damages beyond normal wear and tear will be assessed to the room’s occupants. Residents who wish to check out of their rooms must do so with their RA to complete the necessary steps and paperwork involved. A $15 improper check-out fee can be avoided by taking the few minutes necessary to check out properly when rooms are vacated.

Emergency Procedures

All residence halls and many administrative buildings are equipped with fire alarms and fire suppression systems that are inspected annually. Pay close attention to posted directions in residence halls regarding emergency procedures. A planned alarm and complete evacuation of the residence hall constitutes a fire drill. Four fire drills will be conducted annually in each residence hall. The first fire drill will be conducted within the first ten days of occupancy. Additional fire drills will be scheduled throughout the year to replicate different activity periods on any given day. A minimum of one drill will be conducted after dark. When the alarm sounds, Pennsylvania law requires that everyone will immediately evacuate the building, even though it may be a false alarm. A complete report of monthly fire drills is available in the Office of Student Affairs. Occasionally a fire alarm will sound in the building for reasons that do not involve an actual fire (i. e., system trouble, burned popcorn) and cannot be counted as fire drills.

Tampering with any fire safety equipment, such as extinguishers, exit lights, hoses and alarms, or failing to evacuate a building when an alarm is sounded are serious offenses. Violators are subject to disciplinary action and may be referred to civil authorities.

Furnishings

Residents are responsible for the conduct of their guests and for informing them of College policies and residence hall procedures. Residents of the residence hall must escort guests throughout the building — bedroom door to main door. An escort is required throughout the entire building. This means students must escort guests to the public restrooms or completely out of the building upon departure. This is also applicable to lobbies during non-visitation hours.

Immediate family members of residents may visit students’ rooms before regular visitation hours with the permission of the Residence Life Staff. Regular visitation policy applies to brothers and sisters who are attending Westminster College concurrently. Within guidelines of the College visitation policy, residents who wish to invite guests to stay overnight with them may do so at any time, with the understanding that the maximum stay is three days within any 14-day period. Permission to stay additional days must be obtained from the Office of Student Affairs.

Health and Safety

Living in community means that a balance must be struck between the individual rights of residents, while respecting the needs of the community as a whole. Therefore, the following policies are in place to ensure the health and safety of each resident.

Pets are not permitted in residence halls and town houses on campus. Exceptions to this policy are fish in freshwater aquariums inside occupants’ rooms.

Prohibited items include firearms, ammunition, weapons, fireworks, candles, incense, open flames, gasoline, flammable materials, and motor vehicles.

The College provides curtains in each room that are made of flame-retardant material. These curtains must be kept in place. Additional window dressings are not permitted.

Please don’t put your fellow residents at risk for potential fire by having candles in residence hall rooms. Avoid administrative fines for candle possession by leaving candles at home. Students may use electric tart burners or wickless candles that never contained a wick.

Due to fire concerns, halogen/torchiere lights must be low wattage and UL approved; string LED lights are permitted at any time, but traditional (non-LED) lights including Christmas lights and any other decorative string lights are not permitted at any time.

Personal belongings and large objects are not permitted in residence hallways due to potential hazard(s) in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Decorations and displays erected in a manner that block or obstruct an exit, hallway, circuit breaker panel, fire hose cabinet, smoke detector, or fire extinguisher are prohibited. Side entrances and exits, as well as windows, are to be used only in emergencies.

Screens are to be kept in windows at all times. There is a $50 fee per screen to reinstall removed screens. Students are not permitted to keep live trees, exercise weights, or anything that extends outside room windows. Due to safety concerns, roofs, overhangs, attics, and marked physical plant spaces are off-limits to students as well.

Heating

To address residents’ comfort while conserving energy, Physical Plant follows this schedule: Heat is provided from October through April. As the need arises, the Physical Plant office, in consultation with the Office of Student Affairs and the National Weather Service, may adjust the established heating “on” and “off” dates. Due to the size and complexity of the College’s heating system, it may take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours for the effects to be realized within the halls.

Personal space heaters are not permitted in individual residence hall rooms or other residential spaces. Students should contact their Resident Assistant if they are finding issue with the temperature of their room. If it is determined that the temperature is not within acceptable limits the Resident Assistant will make the appropriate contact with the Physical Plant Office. If the Physical Plant Office deems the heat to be malfunctioning, the Physical Plant Office will provide an appropriate temporary solution until the heating issue is resolved.

Holiday Decorations

Decorating community hallways is a long standing holiday tradition, but needs to be done in a way that ensures the safety of all residents and does not cause damage to the building. Hall decorations should be removed within one week of a holiday (trick- or-treat) or before the residence halls close for a holiday break.

To minimize damage to the buildings, only masking or painter’s tape should be used to hang decorations (not duct tape). Please do not use tape on the floor. Nothing should be hung from ceiling tiles as they are easily broken and are often in areas where fire suppression equipment is located.

Fire code requires that corridors and egress routes remain unimpeded. Therefore, “Exit” signs and fire suppression equipment (extinguishers, sprinkler heads, sensors, etc.) must remain uncovered. Additionally, door decorations should leave at least one-inch uncovered around the perimeter and the number plate must remain visible. Doors cannot be wrapped.

Please do not leave objects on the floor that might cause tripping. Decorative lights should be unplugged when not attended. Finally, decorations should be inclusive and participating students should be considerate of students not taking part. Remember to be courteous if you are asked to move or remove decorations for any reason.

Internet Access

Your Titan Card is used for access to your residence hall. If it is lost, report that information immediately to the Public Safety Office located on the second floor of McKelvey Campus Center so that the card can be deactivated. Obtain a replacement card from the Titan Card Office, on the second floor of Old Main.

Titan Card access to Ferguson Hall is given to all sorority women for the use of chapter rooms and entry to the building for formal sorority events (recruitment parties, meetings, etc.). Misuse of Ferguson access will result in loss of the card access privilege.

Each resident student is issued a room key. Replacement cost for your room key is approximately $50, due to the necessity of an entire lock change. This cost is nonrefundable and subject to change during the year. To ensure the safety of a student and his or her belongings, lost keys should be reported to the Residence Director within 24 hours. A spare key may be obtained from a Residence Life Staff member until a lock change occurs and new keys are cut. College keys are not to be duplicated by students.

Residence hall room keys must be returned during the official checkout period or when room is permanently vacated. Students will be billed for any keys not returned at this time.

If a student is locked out of his or her room, a Residence Life staff member will unlock a room. Students who overuse this service will be subject to judicial action. A student will not be allowed entrance into rooms other than their own for any reason.

Laundry

Washers and dryers are available free of charge to the residents of each hall. Residents are responsible for adhering to posted laundry room regulations. Each townhouse in Berlin Village has a washer and dryer. All washers on campus are high efficiency and therefore HE detergent must be used.

Lobbies

Residents may have non-resident guests in their main lobbies at any time. In all of Westminster’s residence halls, students are responsible for the conduct of their guests. The Residence Life Staff is authorized to ask guests to leave the building if their conduct disturbs the orderly operation of the residence halls.

Off-Campus Overnights

It is suggested that students who will be leaving New Wilmington for any extended period of time should inform their RA or another student of their destination, a phone number where they may be reached, and the approximate time of their return. This will enable the College to reach a student in case of an emergency.

Outdoor Areas

Outdoor areas are public space and should therefore be free of clutter and storage of students’ belongings. Specifically, Berlin Village residents may decorate the porch of their unit. However, decoration must be tasteful, uncluttered, and must not limit egress from the unit.

Items such as bikes, shoes, and furniture should not be stored outside the Berlin Village townhouses.

Students are not permitted to have grills with the exception of those provided to Berlin Village residents through reservation in the Student Affairs office.

Personal Belongings

Residents are responsible for the security of their personal belongings. Westminster College cannot assume responsibility for stolen, lost, or damaged articles in residence halls. It is recommended that students insure their personal property and always lock rooms when unattended.

Pregnancy Policy

The following policy concerns students who experience a pregnancy while living in campus housing. All students should be aware that confidential counseling is available both on and off-campus to support students who become pregnant.

Students who become pregnant are strongly encouraged to contact the Wellness Center, to create a wellness plan, and the Residence Life office as soon as they become aware they are pregnant. The Wellness Center staff will refer the student (and the father if necessary) to the appropriate on/off-campus support to assure the mother has a comprehensive prenatal care plan in place and the department has the most up-to-date contact and physician information in case of an emergency. It is College’s goal to help a pregnant student have a healthy, comfortable, and supportive living environment throughout the pregnancy, if she wishes to continue at Westminster College.

Pregnant students may continue taking classes and engage in all other community activities during the duration of the pregnancy. If a student prefers to take a medical leave of absence with the intention of returning to campus after delivery of the baby, such leaves may be requested through the Office of Student Affairs.

For those students who decide to keep the infant after the birth, it is important the student make necessary arrangements for housing for the infant prior to delivery. Westminster College facilities are limited to single-student housing and are unable to accommodate infants or children in residence.

Quiet Hours

Students have the right to uninterrupted sleep and study in their rooms. Courtesy hours are in effect 24 hours a day.

Since Westminster College seeks to establish a community that is governed by mutual respect, a student’s polite request for the cessation of noise should be heeded. If a personal request for a quieter environment goes unheeded, the student should notify a Residence Life Staff member. During quiet hours, the noise level generated by any individual should not exceed the confines of his or her room. Individual communities may expand the number of quiet hours; however, individual communities may not decrease the number of quiet hours below Residence Life guidelines:

Sunday through Thursday nights 9 p.m. – 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights 1 a.m. – 10 a.m.

The College provides practice spaces for musical instruments. Students interested in practicing drums, guitars, keyboards, or other musical instruments should contact the Music Department for practice space.

Students should be familiar with the quiet hours policy, adhere to it, and inform visitors of that community’s policy. Residence Life Staff provides support and assistance in these efforts, but the primary responsibility of maintaining quiet in the halls rests with each individual.

Right of Entry

The College reserves the right to enter any room to perform routine maintenance duties, to inspect any room for reasons of health or safety, and to determine if College policy is being violated. Upon entering the room, the College official may confiscate material believed to be associated with an alleged violation of Westminster College policy if the material in question is in plain view. The above may take place whether or not the occupant is present.

Searches of the room, its contents, and personal effects are not made except when authorized by the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students or his designee, and then only in the presence of the occupant(s) unless it is impossible to locate the occupant(s) to give them sufficient notice. The Office of Student Affairs recognizes and respects an individual’s right to privacy.

Room Assignments

The Office of Student Affairs makes room and roommate assignments for incoming first-year and transfer students. Upperclass residents choose their roommates and assignments through the Housing Selection process, conducted each spring semester. Students living in theme housing conduct their own housing selection process.

The housing selection process for upperclass students is structured in a way that gives preference to a student’s class standing. Within the various classes, room selection order is determined by random lottery of numbers. For example, all seniors will have first choice during general room drawing, and will use their randomly assigned lottery numbers to determine the order in which seniors will select rooms with their roommate(s). Juniors, sophomores will follow.

Information Services has worked with Residence Life to develop a random number generator that assigns lottery numbers to all undergraduate students. Information (name, student ID number, class standing for spring semester as designated by the Registrar’s Office, and lottery number) is printed on a brightly colored card that is sent to students through campus mail. This card is required for the single, double, triple, or quad room drawing process. Numbers are non-transferable. Roommate pairs/ groups should use the lowest lottery number for the pair/group.

Room selection for Berlin Village also occurs in the spring semester. Criteria used in the selection process include student’s class standing, semesters lived on campus, GPA, and demonstration of responsible behavior as a member of the Westminster College community. Information regarding this process will be made available in the fall semester.

Room Changes

Part of Westminster College’s educational mission is to assist students in developing the skills necessary to maintain respectful and healthy relationships with others. Students experiencing difficulties with their roommate and the subsequent room assignment should first contact their RA and have the responsibility to first work toward reaching a resolution to the conflict. All members of the Residence Life Staff are trained to assist students in working out these problems. The Office of Student Affairs will consider room and roommate changes only after the students involved have made a serious effort to explore all alternatives to a change. For administrative reasons, room changes cannot be permitted during the first two weeks of each semester for upperclass students, and the first month for first-year students.

Room Consolodation

At times it may be necessary for the Office of Student Affairs to consolidate within the residence halls. Students from one room may be split up or moved from one room to another. This usually occurs for reasons of discipline, safety, health, irresolvable conflict, maximum space utilization, or for other situations deemed necessary by the College. The Office of Student Affairs will attempt to give the students involved at least 48 hours notice when a move is made. In emergency situations, this may not be possible.

Room Painting

Westminster strives to provide students the opportunity to personalize their home away from home. Students who wish to paint their rooms should obtain a Room Painting Information Packet from the Office of Student Affairs. Rooms may not be painted without prior approval from Physical Plant and the Office of Student Affairs. Forms must be completed and submitted to the Physical Plant Office no later than two weeks before the last day of finals.

Charges will be assessed for the unauthorized painting of a room, or if the College has to paint over anything a student may have added to the wall (writing, stenciling, graffiti, etc.) during the course of the year. Residents of Berlin Village and Thompson House may not paint their rooms or common areas.

Room Vacancies

If a student does not show up for the opening of an academic semester, or later vacates the room, the remaining occupant(s) must provide ample area in the room in the event another student is assigned to that vacant space. The College reserves the right to fill vacancies in rooms at any time, and to relocate students if circumstances require. Students living off-campus while abroad and/or student teaching are guaranteed a residence hall space when they return to campus. The College tries, but unfortunately cannot guarantee a specific housing assignment.

Smoking/Tobacco Use in Residence Life

Smoking is not permitted in residence halls or Berlin Village. To locate complete smoking and tobacco information, please use the index or refer to this Handbook’s Section Four: College Policies and Procedures.

Suites in Eighenauer Hall

Eichenauer Hall’s rooms are arranged so that two double occupancy rooms typically share a common bathroom. Should residents choose their room and roommate during the “Quad Housing Selection Process”, the College would consider the three rooms as one shared living area. Consequently, all four residents would also share in the responsibility for all three rooms (two living/sleeping rooms and bathroom) in that suited living arrangement, including its contents, activities and damages.

Vacations and Breaks

All residence halls close during fall and spring breaks, Thanksgiving, Winter, and Easter. Residents may not remain in College housing beyond the announced closing hour or day, or return to the residence hall prior to the announced opening unless given special permission by the Office of Student Affairs. Students must vacate their rooms within 24 hours of their last final exam or final class period each semester. Residence Life and Public Safety staffs are authorized to enter all rooms to ensure that all health and safety standards are met. Students who fail to comply with break housing procedures are subject to judicial action. Students will be informed of break housing procedures prior to each break.

The College can provide housing for students over breaks, given that the student’s presence is integral to the operation of the department/program they represent. Permission for these students to stay in residence halls over break must be made in writing by the department/program head. Other students experiencing extenuating circumstances requiring their presence over College breaks should contact the Office of Student Affairs. Residents given permission to stay, but not participating in an authorized College program, may be charged a per night fee. Guests are restricted to only those Westminster students permitted to reside in the residence halls during the break period. Westminster College policies are in effect during break periods.

Berlin Village residents are permitted to stay in their townhouses during any academic break. The only exception is during Winter Break when the College is closed between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Exact dates will be communicated closer to the actual break.

Vending Machines

Snack vending machines are available in residence halls for the students’ convenience. If money is lost in the machine, notify the Titan Card Office so that a refund may be obtained. Malfunctioning vending machines should be reported immediately to the Titan Card Office. Illegal or improper use of vending machines is subject to disciplinary action, including suspension or civil prosecution.

Visitation

The College allows students latitude in determining when they will entertain guests in their residence hall rooms. A guest is defined simply as a person who has not been assigned by the Office of Student Affairs to that room. The rights of each room occupant to a peaceful room where they feel comfortable to sleep, study and live supersede the privilege of either roommate to have guests in the room. All students assigned to a particular building are allowed open access to visit other residents who also live in that building so long as they are welcomed by all residents of the room.

The College’s Visitation Policy will be discussed at the opening floor meeting of the year. At that time, each building’s residents will have the opportunity to review and amend the policy. Only two items within the existing policy may be changed. They are: (1) to allow open access to the building, by students living in other residence halls; and (2) to further limit the current visitation policies as outlined below.

Visitation hours are:

Sunday – Thursday:
Begins each day at 11 a.m. and ends at 11:59 p.m. on that day

Friday - Sunday:
Begins at 11 a.m. on Friday and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday

Weapons

Pennsylvania law and/or Westminster College policy prohibit the possession, use or storage of weapons or dangerous materials of any type or description anywhere on Westminster College property. This includes, but is not limited to, firearms, compressed- air or gas-operated guns, pellet guns, BB guns, illegal knives, swords, explosive devices, fireworks, ammunition, or any other dangerous or offensive weapon as defined in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, Section 908c. Additionally, the College prohibits the possession of any non-folding knife designed to be carried in a sheath, and any folding knife commonly referred to as a “pocket knife” unless it has a blade of less than three (3) inches in length.