Office of Student Affairs

Housing

Residential Life

Housing

Amherst College has 37 student residence halls. Seven of these buildings are for first-year students; the remainder, in various room configurations, is for upperclass students. Included in some of the buildings are Theme Houses. The occupancy of the buildings range from 12 to125.

All of the residences are co-ed. Some of the floors are designated single gender. All residents are bound by the college's Housing Regulations.

New students are assigned housing based upon the preferences they indicate in the New Student Housing survey.

A listing of housing regulations appears at the end of this section. These regulations should be read with great care, as they are the rules to which the Dean of Students’ Office, the Office of Residential Life, and Facilities will hold students responsible.

Room Draw

Each spring semester, rooms in the upper class residence halls and houses are selected by returning students on the basis of seniority through a housing lottery system called Room Draw. Each student is assigned a point value based upon his or her class year. Groups of students may enter Room Draw as a unit by averaging their point values. Students having the same point value are randomly assigned priority by the college computer. Suites, contiguous rooms and singles are selected in order of overall priority. A special lottery is completed prior to Room Draw for students interested in living in the Jenkins 10-person suites. Students may petition to form theme houses, and if the College Council grants approval, a designated house or floor within an existing residence hall will be assigned prior to Room Draw. Each theme house has a selection process and chooses its residents prior to Room Draw.

Since specific ground rules for the room selection process are complicated and subject to yearly revision, they are not outlined here fully but may be viewed on the Residential Life website: Room Draw. Room Draw occurs in mid-April.

Theme Houses

As part of the system of social and residential life, students have been encouraged to form theme houses under the sponsorship of faculty advisors. Students submit proposals for theme living to the College Council, which accepts the proposals and allocates space for the programs when there is a clear linkage between student efforts to pursue or realize a living environment that closely matches the college’s central educational mission. All theme houses are expected to enrich the life of the campus by undertaking outreach programs that educate students about the particular theme that is used to organize the residence. For 2013–14, the themes, locations and faculty sponsors are as follows:

French House (Newport): Paul Rockwell, Department of French

German House (Porter): Susanne Gomuluch, Department of German

Russian House (Porter): Evgeny Dengub, Department of Russian

Spanish House (Newport): Victoria Maillo, Department of Spanish

Black Cultural House (Charles Drew)

Arts House (Marsh): David Schneider and Jeffers Engelhardt, Department of Music

Asian Culture House (Fourth Floor Moore): Wako Tawa, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations

Chinese/Japanese House (Sourth Floor Seligman): Wako Tawa, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations

Health and Wellness Quarter (Third Floor Valentine): Denise McGoldrick, Health Education

La Casa (Third Floor Moore)

Each member of the theme house is expected to adhere to all responsibilities that are required of house members. The effectiveness of the house rests firmly on an accepted code of behavior in which cooperative living and consideration for others are the keynotes. Individual theme houses are responsible for developing workable ways of alleviating individual differences and resolving conflicts so that the rights of each student and the rights of the community are protected. Any resident who does not adhere to the expectations of the theme house in which he or she is living may be removed to other campus housing on the recommendation of the advisor of the house, the Director of Residential Life or the Dean of Students.

Theme houses are reviewed every two years by the College Council, which solicits a yearly description from each house of its activities for the year and judges its success in meeting the goals of theme housing. New theme houses are reviewed yearly with special care for their first three years and are then considered presumptively ongoing. Presumptively ongoing houses will continue to be reviewed but will be moved by the College Council from their current location or denied renewal only if they clearly and consistently fail to meet the goals of theme housing for a sustained period of time. In general, no student may live in a particular theme house for more than two years.

Humphries Co-Op (“The Zü”)

Humphries House on Snell Street is designated as a cooperative house. The 22 members of the house will purchase supplies and cook for themselves cooperatively. Extensive kitchen facilities, including two refrigerators and two stoves, have been installed in the house and are cleaned and maintained by the residents. All of the residents are exempted from the college meal plan. Humphries is an alternative style of living for those willing to be committed to co-operative and community living. It is not simply an alternative to being on the meal plan and requires dedication. The Humphries Co-Op Application is a lottery.

Rest and Relaxation Center

For students recovering from an illness or injury, or who need a brief time away from the distractions of their current living environment, quiet bedrooms with desks, are located in Moore and Morris Pratt residence halls. Students should contact the Dean of Students’ Office on weekdays or the dean on duty on nights and weekends if they would like the use of an R&R room for a stay of 1 – 3 nights. The kitchen in Moore is available for student use but must be reserved in advance. It is crucial that students using this facility keep it clean and remove all garbage. 

Area Coordinators

The Office of Residential Life staff includes four Area Coordinators who work within the various campus residences. They supervise the Resident Counselors; help in the organization of social, educational and cultural activities; and serve as liaisons with Facilities. In addition they are available as a resource and support for students. All four reside in campus housing.

Resident Counselors

In February and March of each year, 60 Resident Counselors are selected from the current first-year, sophomore and junior classes. These students serve during the following academic year, advising all students. RCs live in the residences and are expected to have an openness toward and concern for others, as well as a wide knowledge of the various aspects of the college. The job requires a general readiness to aid students in their transition to the college and the continuing choices and dilemmas they may face during their years at Amherst. 

To apply, a student should review the job description and application online, or request an application from the Dean of Students’ Office (105 Converse) in early February. It is also suggested that applicants speak to as many Resident Counselors as possible, to obtain a sense of the position and its responsibilities. Any students wishing to apply for a position and who will be studying abroad during the interviewing process should contact the Director of Residential Life during the prior spring semester.

Partial-Year Housing
Students Away During Fall Semester

Housing assignments for students who have been away from Amherst College during the fall semester are usually completed by the second Friday in January. Students will receive an e-mail with their housing assignment from the Office of Residential Life prior to the move-in date. Students can submit their housing preferences as part of the Readmissions form online.

Students can move into their spring housing after the midpoint of Interterm (this date varies each year). Since currently housed students have until early January to be in their rooms, requests for early returns cannot be accommodated. Students are advised to make their own arrangements until their rooms are ready. Only those students who were in campus housing at the end of the fall semester are eligible to return to their rooms at the beginning of Interterm.

The meal plan for students who have been away begins at the same time as their housing, after the midpoint date of Interterm.

Students Away During Spring Semester

Students who are away during the spring semester should designate a proxy to select a room for them during Room Draw. Students can submit their housing preferences and name a proxy as part of the Readmissions form online. This form is to be completed and returned by the deadline indicated. The information is used for Room Draw in April. Students are reminded to choose their proxies carefully. Each student will be held accountable for decisions made by a proxy on his or her behalf, and Residential Life will be unable to make room changes based upon misunderstandings between students and proxies.

Off-Campus Housing

First-year students are not allowed to live off campus. Because the college does not have housing facilities for them, all married students and students with children live off campus. However, spouses and children are encouraged to participate fully in campus life. All students requesting permission for off-campus housing must submit their requests online no later than Nov. 1 for the spring semester and March 15 for the next academic year. The online off-campus housing request form is at www.amherst.edu/campuslife/reslife/housing. The college allows a maximum of 50 students to live off campus each semester. Each request must be submitted online prior to the semester it will affect. Requests need to be resubmitted each year. Failure to meet deadlines may result in the denial of off-campus status. Note: Having signed a lease before being granted off-campus status does not constitute automatic eligibility.

Students who live off campus have the option of retaining the full meal plan or using AC Dollar$. In granting approval for students to live off campus, Residential Life will give priority to students with compelling personal or financial reasons for moving off campus, and then to seniors and juniors, in that order.

Housing Regulations

The following conditions and regulations prevail as to the use and occupancy of residence halls and houses:

  • Rooms will be available beginning at the opening of the college in September. During the Winter Recess, college residences may be closed and may not be occupied. Students wishing to stay on campus during this time are encouraged to consult with the Office of Residential Life about what, if any, on campus options may be available. If no campus options are available, students must make their own arrangements. 
  • Students are allowed to invite guests to campus. Guests are limited to a stay of three nights, providing that the rights of others are not infringed upon. This means that you must clear your guest’s stay with your roommate. Guests who drive to campus should also register their vehicles with Amherst College Police.
  • Students who wish to change rooms must notify the administrative assistant for Residential Life in the Dean of Students’ Office.
  • The occupants of each room will be held accountable for missing or damaged furniture, for the fabric of the room and for any college property found in the room if it was moved into a room without permission. A charge will be assessed to the occupants of a room for each item of misappropriated college property. In the event that common-area furniture is moved and left outside a student residence, a $50-per-item moving charge, plus the cost of repairing any damage to the furniture, will be assessed to the residence. Students are asked to review Room Condition Inventories when moving in and are held accountable for leaving rooms in the stated condition when moving out. If there are any discrepancies between inventories and actual room conditions, they should be reported to the Resident Counselor, who then will notify the Dorm Damage office. Otherwise, each student should sign the form, keep one copy for his or her own records and return the other copies either to the RC or directly to Facilities. In addition, discharged fire extinguishers and items damaged in or missing from the lounges or common areas will be charged to the residents of the floor or residence as appropriate. Students are responsible for the college furniture and for restoring the room to its original condition. Removed furniture must be stored in accordance with the college storage policies and returned to the room before the student moves out. Failure to return any college furniture will result in a fine per item. Because moving charges and furniture replacement charges can be expensive, students should restore college furniture to their rooms if they wish to avoid these charges. Students who do not leave their rooms in neat condition will be charged. A neat room consists of no trash, recycling, cinder blocks or non-college furniture.
  • The college assumes and accepts absolutely no responsibility for the loss or damage to personal property of any occupant of college housing. Each individual assumes responsibility for insurance of personal property as well as its safe storage and maintenance.
  • Students are held responsible for damage to their rooms and to any college property therein. Students are expected to report all damages to their rooms, common rooms, hallways, bathrooms and other areas of the residence, whether accidental or otherwise, to the RC, so that repairs can be made.
  • The person directly responsible for the damage to a common area will be expected to acknowledge responsibility in order to avoid having some or all occupants of the building charged proportionately for repairs of such damage. In case of negligent or intentional damage, the person(s) responsible may be fined by the dean and subject to other disciplinary actions and also made to pay restitution. Students will also be held accountable for damage caused by their guests.
  • Students who wish to receive more information about items on their bills should telephone the Office of the Comptroller at (413) 542-2101. Students wishing to appeal damage assessments or fines should do so within seven days of billing and state their reasons for appeal in writing. Since such charges involve the Amherst College Police, the Facilities Department, the Comptroller’s Office and the Dean of Students’ Office, students (and parents) can save multiple phone calls by putting their cases in writing and sending the correspondence to Box 2271, c/o Student Damage, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002-5000, or e-mail dormdamage@amherst.edu. That office will send copies of appeals to other campus offices and departments involved in the assessment(s). The process takes time, and instant responses are not possible.
  • During vacations, efforts are made under the authority of the Dean of Students to recover from residence hall rooms any college property, such as library books, dining hall utensils and gymnasium equipment. For fire safety, maintenance and security reasons, private locks may not be installed or used in college residences. Any student who installs a private lock on a door will be assessed a $75 charge. College officials may periodically inspect student rooms during the academic year to check the condition of safety systems, structure and furnishings. College officials retain right of access to student rooms at all times. During the academic year, Facilities and members of the college community make periodic room inspections to determine dorm damage and condition of buildings. Examinations may occur during the two academic semesters, during Winter Recess and at the end of the academic year.
  • The college reserves the right to assign a resident to another room or residence hall. Prior to reassignment, the college will consult with the student and/or explain to the student the reasons for the move. In the event of an emergency, the college reserves the right to increase occupancy, so long as such a measure conforms to health and safety regulations.
  • First-year students, sophomores and juniors are required to vacate their rooms at 5 p.m. on the day after spring-semester examinations end. Graduating seniors may stay until 5 p.m. on the day of Commencement but may be asked to move from their rooms to consolidate area and make room available for parents and families during Commencement week.
  • Commencement and Reunion workers and other students authorized by the Dean of Students’ Office to remain on campus will be relocated—they will not remain in the rooms they occupied during the spring semester. Questions about housing during Commencement week should be directed to Maryann Wood in the Office of Public Affairs in 306 Converse Hall; call (413) 542-2322.
  • It is important that students comply with the above deadlines, so that rooms can be cleaned and readied in time for Commencement and Reunion use. If necessary, the college will pack and clean those rooms not vacated in time, at the students’ expense. Students have not always been cooperative in vacating their rooms promptly in the past and consequently have paid for their lateness.
  • Rooms should be left clean and in good order. Students will be billed for any extra work performed on rooms.

Custodial

Room Keys

If a student loses a room key or does not return a key at checkout, a lock charge of $75 per lock will be assessed, in addition to a $1 charge for each key that must be replaced. Students living in multiple room configurations such as suites, who lose or fail to return a room key at checkout will be assessed a lock charge of $150. When students are issued keys to their rooms, they must sign the Student Dorm Key Policy form, which outlines the charge policy for loss of exterior door keys. Key problems should be reported to (413) 542-2254. All dorms have been equipped with proximity card access for student safety. Damage done to the access panel will result in a fine equivalent to the actual cost of repair.

Walls and Ceilings

Affixing Items: In general, pictures, tack boards and other decorative items may not be fastened directly to the walls or woodwork of the residence rooms, as this causes costly damage to the surface material. Most rooms contain picture moldings from which such items can be hung, and others are equipped with built-in tack boards. The following suggestions have been prepared by Facilities:

  • Students should not hang anything on doors, wood-paneled walls or woodwork.
  • Students may use pushpins (not thumbtacks), in reasonable numbers, to affix items to the walls. When a student moves out of a room, he or she should pull out the pushpins. Pushpins will work on walls unless there is very hard plaster underneath.
  • Fun-Tak may be used on wallpaper that has not been painted over. This is a very good solution in areas where the plaster under the wall is very hard. When a student moves out of a room, he or she should remove all Fun-Tak residue from the walls and ceilings.
  • If a room has painted wallpaper over very hard plaster, there is no recommended way of affixing items to the wall that is guaranteed not to cause damage.
  • Nails should not be pounded into the walls for any reason. The holes they leave are too big, especially when the plaster surrounding the hole crumbles.
  • Students are not allowed to paint the walls or ceilings of their rooms. Students who do will be charged the maximum fee to repaint the room.
  • Curtains should not be hung up as room dividers under any circumstances, whether the curtains are fire-safe or not.
Furniture

In Student Rooms: Student rooms are equipped with essential furniture. An inventory of this furniture and its physical condition will be made at the beginning and end of each school year. The college may require personal furniture and furnishings to be removed, at the student's expense from any residence where, in the judgment of the Environmental Health and Safety Manager, there is a potential fire, health or a housekeeping hazard. Waterbeds and similar furniture are not permitted, because of the strain imposed on the building structure and the danger of water damage. All personally owned furniture and furnishings must be removed from student residences at the time they are vacated at the end of the school year. Any items remaining after that date will be disposed of by the college at the student’s expense.

In Lounges: Lounges are a well-used and important part of Amherst residence halls. Unfortunately, the furnishings have all too often been “borrowed” to enhance student rooms or off-campus apartments. Furniture not authorized for the room in question is considered stolen property. Students found in possession of it will be fined. Room searches for stolen or missing furniture may be conducted periodically.

Insurance of Personal Property

The college assumes and accepts absolutely no responsibility for the loss or damage to personal property of any occupant of college housing. Each individual assumes responsibility for insurance of personal property as well as its safe storage and maintenance.

Energy Conservation

Facilities is actively involved in energy conservation. Energy problems should be reported to the service desk at (413) 542-2254. Students should call (413) 542-2644 for questions pertaining to energy conservation. The following is a general outline of energy conservation procedures.

  • Heating: The standard room temperatures on campus are 68 degrees Fahrenheit during occupied times and 64 degrees during unoccupied times. Students should control the temperatures of their rooms by adjusting their thermostats, not their windows. If you do not know how to adjust the thermostat, please call (413) 542-2254 for assistance. If your room is too hot even with the thermostat turned all the way down, please call the Service Center to have the system repaired. Opening your window to compensate for a radiator that won’t shut off wastes a tremendous amount of energy.
    • When you leave for Winter Recess, please make sure your windows are shut tightly and your curtains drawn, and leave your radiator turned ON to the setting that was most comfortable for you during the year. Every dorm has a central thermostat that will allow the building to be set to a lower temperature, allowing the college significant energy cost savings for the few vacation weeks.
  • Windows: Students are asked to report broken, loose or drafty windows. Storm windows are designed as an extra layer of insulation. The concept of additional insulation works only if exterior and interior windows are closed and tightly fitted. Locking windows helps ensure tight fitting. Window shades can be used as additional insulators during colder months. Keep shades down as much as possible during the day and at all times during the night. Closed shades can prevent up to 25 percent of the energy leakage. If windows are loose or leaking, call (413) 542-2254. 
  • Electricity: Common sense applies very directly to the conservation of electricity. Students should use the smallest appliance that will perform the requisite function and turn off electrical appliances when they are not in use or when leaving an area for more than five minutes. Refrigerator doors should remain shut. When doing laundry, students should not to overload clothes dryers.
  • Water Conservation: As with electricity, the first rule of water conservation is, “If you aren’t using it, turn it off!” Leaving the water faucet running while you brush your teeth or shave can waste up to 10 gallons of clean water per person daily. Along the same line, turning showers down or off while applying soap can save many gallons of water daily. Dripping faucets and toilets that run continuously can waste hundreds to thousands of gallons of water per day and should be reported immediately to the Service Center at (413) 542-2254. Remember, even a few gallons of water saved per person per day add up to a lot of water in a town of 35,000 people—or in a country of 300 million!
Laundry

There is no laundry service provided by the college, but in residences and houses, washers and dryers are available for use by any student. There are also several Laundromats and dry cleaners in town. The college does not provide linens; students must provide their own.

Satellite Dishes

Satellite dishes are not permitted and may be removed by Facilities. Charges for removal will be incurred by the student.

Solicitation

Vendors are prohibited from selling, soliciting or making deliveries in college residences. Students may sell in college residences with the written permission of the assistant dean of students responsible for student activities. For their own protection, students are urged to insist upon seeing the vending permits of anyone selling in the residences and to report selling by nonstudents at once to Amherst College Police.

Defenestration

No objects (including but not limited to water balloons and pumpkins) may be dropped, thrown or propelled from windows, as serious injury may occur to persons below. A $100 charge will be assessed against any person or residence that violates these regulations.

Dartboards

Students who use dartboards are encouraged not to place them near doorways or hallways where a dart may strike someone. Students are also encouraged to avoid charges for dart holes in walls by investing in a 4-foot by 8-foot piece of homosote (costing around $12) on which to mount the dartboard.

Inspections and Dorm Damage

College officials may periodically inspect students’ rooms during the academic year to check the condition of safety systems, structure and furnishings. Examinations may occur during the two academic semesters, during Winter Recess and at the end of the academic year. During vacations, efforts are made under the authority of the Dean of Students to recover from residence hall rooms such college property as library books, dining hall utensils and gymnasium equipment. For fire safety, maintenance and security reasons, private locks may not be installed or used in college residences. Students who install private locks on their doors will be assessed a $75 charge. College officials retain the right of access to students’ rooms at all times.

The occupants of each room will be held accountable for missing or damaged furniture, for the fabric of the room and for any college property found in the room if it was moved into the room without permission. A charge will be assessed to the occupants of a room for each item of misappropriated college property. In the event that common-area furniture is moved and left outside a student residence, a $50-per-item moving charge, plus the cost of repairing any damage the furniture sustained, will be assessed to the residences.

Students are responsible for the college furniture and for restoring each room to its original condition. Removed furniture must be stored in accordance with the college storage policies and returned to the room before the student moves out. Failure to return any college furniture will result in a fine per item. Because moving charges and furniture replacement charges can be expensive, students should restore college furniture to their rooms if they wish to avoid these charges. Students who do not leave their rooms in neat condition will be charged. A neat room contains no trash, recycling, cinder blocks or non-college furniture.

Students are held responsible for damage to their rooms and to any college property therein. Students are expected to report all damages to their rooms, common rooms, hallways, bathrooms and other areas of the residence, whether accidental or otherwise, to the RC, so that repairs can be made. Students are asked to review Room Condition Inventories when moving in and are held accountable for leaving rooms in the stated condition when moving out. If there are any discrepancies between inventories and actual room conditions, they should be reported to the Resident Counselor, who will then notify the Dorm Damage office. Otherwise students should sign the form, keep one copy for their own records and return the other copies either to their RCs or directly to Facilities.

The person directly responsible for the damage to common areas will be expected to acknowledge responsibility in order to avoid having all occupants of the building charged proportionately for repairs. In case of negligent or intentional damage, the persons responsible may be fined by the dean and subject to other disciplinary actions, as well as made to pay restitution. Students will also be held accountable for damage caused by their guests. In addition, discharged fire extinguishers and items damaged in or missing from the lounges or common areas will be charged to the residents of the floor or residence as appropriate.

Student Activities

Kegs

Kegs are permitted in upperclass residences according to procedures established under the college’s party notification system, which requires prior notification, properly filled out paperwork, and approval of the Assistant Dean/Director of Student Activities. Amherst College Police and the town police department have additional requirements for the use of kegs on campus which are explained to the student(s) when officially registering an event where a keg is being requested. If the proper paperwork is not filed or the additional requirements are not met, a minimum fine of $100 will be issued to the responsible party. Kegs are prohibited in first-year residence halls, and thus neither the Dean of Students nor Amherst College Police will grant permission. Accordingly, an automatic minimum fine of $100 will be issued for absence or violation of proper paperwork. An additional fine of $100 will be assessed to any person or residence in violation of the first-year residence keg prohibition.

Noise Complaints

The college prohibits ongoing excessive noise in its residences at any time. Repeated noise violations may result in a room reassignment, disciplinary action or a fine of up to $100.

Party Cleanup

An important part of any party involves planning for cleanup. Hosts should always inspect the party area 30 minutes before the party begins and carefully note any preexisting damage. Cleanup regulations are listed below:

  • Students will need all-purpose cleaner provided by the college.
  • Students will also need extra trash bags provided by the college.
  • Students must pick up all trash, both inside and outside the building, and bring it to the designated rubbish-removal area.
  • Students must sweep floor and vacuum carpets or rugs.
  • Students should damp-mop the floor at least twice, changing the mop water between mopping. With hardwood floors, a minimal amount of water should be used, to avoid damage. Mop water solution should be 2 ounces of all-purpose cleaner per gallon of cold water.
  • Carpets and furniture should be returned to proper rooms and locations.
  • For parties held during the weekend, areas must be cleaned by noon the following day.

Hosts may call Facilities to request additional time to complete the cleanup for a party as long as the cleanup process has been initiated. The options for cleanup are as follows:

  • Students may let Facilities do the cleanup at the rate of $30.50 per hour.
  • Students may get a volunteer group of students to clean.

In the event that an area is not cleaned sufficiently, as determined by the custodial supervisor in accordance with above directions, the following procedure will apply: 

  • Custodial Services will clean up the party. The house or party host will be charged $30.50 per hour. The house or party host will also be charged for whatever cleaning materials were used.

For further information on party cleanup, Custodial Services can be reached at (413) 542-2367. Disputes over cleanup may be brought to the attention of the Area Coordinator and/or the Dean of Students' Office. A house or dorm may deny another house, dorm or group permission to use its space if it feels that there will be a problem with the party cleanup or damages.

Emergency Preparedness and Fire, Health, Safety and Sanitation

Environmental Health and Safety

Amherst College is committed to providing a healthy and safe educational and working environment for our faculty, staff and students. In order to meet this goal, the college has developed a number of policies and procedures to protect the campus community. The success of the program depends on each one of us.

The following are the Emergency Preparedness, Fire, Health, Safety and Sanitation Policies and Standard Operating Guidelines for Amherst College. These rules and regulations comply with those of local, state and federal regulatory agencies, including, but not limited to, the State Building, Health and Sanitation Codes; the Massachusetts Fire Prevention Regulations; and other recognized standards, such as those of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Emergency Preparedness

  • Amherst College is committed to the welfare of its students, faculty, staff and visitors. Preparing an Emergency Preparedness Plan and allocating resources to respond to possible emergencies is one way the college meets this commitment. The plan is fashioned in accordance with the laws, regulations and policies that govern emergency preparedness and reflects the most current thinking in this area.
  • The Emergency Preparedness Plan is designed to maximize human survival and preservation of property, minimize danger, restore normal working conditions and assure responsive communications with the college community, surrounding neighborhoods, the Town of Amherst, state agencies such as the State Police, the local Hampshire County Emergency Planning Committee (HREPC) and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
  • The Emergency Preparedness Plan for Amherst College is publicly available on the Environmental Health and Safety website (click here to view).
    • Copies of our incident-specific response plans are located in each Amherst College Police car, the Environmental Health and Safety response vehicle and the Dispatch Center of the Amherst College Police Department.
  • It shall be the responsibility of the Chief of Amherst College Police and the Environmental Health and Safety Manager to update the Amherst College Emergency Preparedness Plan. The plan shall be reviewed annually and updated as needed.

Reporting

  • The Campus Emergency Number is (413) 542-2111.
    • It is strongly recommended that this number be programmed into cell phones to prevent a delayed response.
  • There must be a commonly known way to report an emergency for the public.
    • The Amherst College Police Department posts bright orange stickers near all common telephones with emergency numbers to call. In addition, the numbers are posted in telephone directories and Campus Security Act Compliance Documents and referred to during all crime-prevention seminars.
  • The Environmental Health and Safety Manager make reference to reporting emergencies in all training for Facilities staff and incorporate it into appropriate policies.
  • There are also a number of emergency call boxes located throughout the campus that dial Amherst College Police directly. These are clearly marked by a visible blue light.
  • Certain emergencies are reported immediately to local authorities by the Amherst College Police Communications Center. A direct line from Amherst College Police allows immediate contact with the local public safety dispatch center.

Emergency Notification

  • Depending on the type of emergency, Amherst College has numerous methods to notify faculty, staff, students and visitors, including parents, about an incident on campus.
    • Fire alarm systems
    • Panic and security alarm systems
    • Campus emails
    • Campus Intranet
    • Mass Notification System
    • Campus Siren with mass email, telephone, text messaging and cell phone notifications

Emergency Preparedness Plans

  • Amherst College has a campus specific All-Hazards Plan with more than 100 pre-planned responses for incidents including civil disorder, hazardous materials, health-related emergencies, natural disasters, structural incidents, transportation emergencies and utility/communication failures.
  • Amherst College has designed and implemented these plans to minimize the risk of illness and injury, protect property and the environment, reduce other risks, maintain communication and then restore the campus to normal operation. The plans were developed in cooperation with the college administration; specific departments; faculty, staff and students; outside contractors; Amherst building, DPW, fire, health and police departments; and the local Hampshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee (HREPC).
  • The Amherst College Police Dispatch Center maintains frequently reviewed flowcharts, campus-specific plans and response protocols.

Medical Emergencies

  • All medical emergencies should be reported to the Amherst College Police Dispatch Center at (413) 542-2111.
    • Provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible, including:
      • your location
      • what happened
      • how many people are ill or injured
      • what first aid (if any) is being provided
      • your cell phone or telephone number
      • whether someone is available to meet the officer or ambulance
    • Do not hang up the phone until the dispatcher has hung up.
  • Stay with the patient (unless it places you at risk) until more trained medical personnel arrive and take over.
  • If you have been trained in first aid, render appropriate care, such as the control of bleeding and/or rescue breathing and CPR.
  • Talk with the patient and provide emotional support until the Amherst College Police, ACEMS or the ambulance arrives and takes over.

 Blood and Body Fluid Cleanup

  • All blood and body fluids will be professionally removed by the Amherst College Police, the Custodial Department and/or Environmental Health and Safety.
  • Limit exposure to these potentially infectious materials until they are properly cleaned up and the area disinfected.

 Additional Information

Fire

Bonfires
  • The Amherst Fire Department can issue one permit in any year for a ceremonial bonfire.
    • Bonfires shall mark the observance of a significant municipal, state or national event, and such ceremonial bonfire shall be under the continuous supervision of the fire department.
    • A permit for such ceremonial bonfires shall be issued only to a municipal department or a civic, fraternal or veterans’ organization within the Town of Amherst.
  • Fines for creating an unsafe condition start at $100 plus the cost of cleanup.
candles (birthday included) and open-flame devices
  • Open-flame devices, except for cigarette lighters and matches, are prohibited in residence halls.
  • Candles for religious services and birthday parties must be approved in advance by the Amherst College Fire Marshal. Candles, incense and similar items may not be burned or lit in any residence hall, unless permission has been granted in advance by the Amherst College Fire Marshal.
    • If lit or previously-burned candles or incense are found or reported, they will be confiscated.
  • The minimum fine for an unauthorized candle, incense or open-flame device is $25. Any candle, incense or open-flame device that is actually found burning will result in a fine of $100.
  • Smoking is not permitted in any Amherst College building, academic, residential or support area, including outside assemblies and gatherings. Smoking must be done outside, at least 25 feet away from the main windows and doorways of any building.
    • A minimum fine of $100 may be imposed for smoking indoors or in other prohibited areas.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Amherst College has recently installed additional carbon monoxide detectors in all residence halls that use gas or oil for heating and/or wood for fireplaces. These detectors were installed as required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for your protection, as carbon monoxide is a colorless, practically odorless gas that is generated through incomplete combustion or inadequate ventilation, such as might occur when, for example, a chimney flue is not opened.
  • Carbon monoxide is a cumulative poison, which, at low concentrations, will cause flu-like symptoms, or, at higher concentrations, will impair vision and coordination and lead to headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea and possibly even death.
  • The detectors are typically placed 5 feet above the floor, as required. This placement makes the units accessible to building occupants.
  • The detectors are connected to each building’s fire alarm system, as well as heating systems. Pressing the “test” button will send an alarm to Amherst College Police, will shut down the heating system as is required and will initiate a response by Amherst College Police, Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are life safety devices. Damaging or using the detectors improperly will result in a fine for the residence hall, as well as potential call-back charges for Facilities staff.
    • Fines for interfering with the carbon monoxide detector start at $100, not including callback charges for Facilities staff.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm activates, it indicates that the level of carbon monoxide is at or above 35 parts per million, which is well below hazardous concentrations.
    • If the alarm sounds, contact Amherst College Police at (413) 542-2111.
Ceilings and Walls
  • In accordance with the requirements of the Massachusetts Fire Prevention Regulations, ceilings and walls in student rooms and common areas in any building are not permitted to have greater than 20 percent of any surface covered with combustible material such as paper, posters or other wall hangings. 
  • Ceiling and wall hangings must be fire retardant and shall not: 
    • block or partially obstruct a smoke detector 
    • block or partially obstruct a fire alarm horn or strobe 
    • interfere with the operation of a sprinkler system 
      • Items shall not be hung from sprinkler heads or piping. 
  • Curtains and other draperies cannot be used in rooms as dividers. 
  • Fines for improper ceiling or wall hangings start at $100 plus the cost of repair. 
Fire Reporting Procedure
  • The following procedure should be followed if a fire is discovered:
    • The door to the room involved should be closed. This will contain the fire and make it easier to extinguish.
    • The closest fire alarm pull station should be activated. Pull stations are normally located next to the exit or stairwell door.
    • The fire must also be reported to Amherst College Police at (413) 542-2111. Calls should be made from a safe location, away from the fire. It should never be assumed that someone else has called.
    • Students who have been trained can attempt to extinguish the fire using the appropriate fire extinguisher, provided they are not placing themselves at risk and the fire is small, such as one contained in a waste basket.
Fire Evacuation Procedure
  • When evacuating the building, the most direct possible means of egress should be used.
    • Before opening a door, a person should feel the door with the back of the hand.
      • If the door is hot, or if fire or smoke can be seen in the corridor, students should not pass through and should instead stay in the room. Students should pack towels (preferably wet) under the door to prevent smoke entry, telephone Amherst College Police at (413) 542-2111 and report their location. If a telephone is not available, students should go to the window and wave a brightly colored cloth to attract attention. Students should open but not break the window. If a window is broken, smoke may enter from the floor below.
      • If the door is cool, a student should open it slowly and, if there is no smoke, proceed to the nearest exit. If the smoke is light, students should crawl, low to the ground, to the closest exit. If smoke is encountered along the way, an alternative escape route should be chosen. Students should make sure doors close behind them, to prevent the spread of smoke.
  • Once outside, students should proceed to the pre-designated area, away from the building and doors, and make sure that everyone is accounted for. If occupants were unable to get out the building, or if they cannot be found, this should be reported to the Amherst College Police officer, who will arrive on the scene as soon as possible.

Emergency Evacuation Procedures for Persons with Disabilities

  • If an occupant, resident or visitor with a disability is located on the ground floor of a building, he or she should exit through the closest appropriate means of egress.
  • If the person is located above or below the ground floor, the elevator should not be used. Rather, the person should stay in the office or room, or comply with specific examples listed below.
    • The person should call Amherst College Police at (413) 542-2111; give the dispatcher his or her name, exact location, room number and telephone number; and remain by the phone until contacted by the Amherst College Police. Firefighters will assist persons who are unable to evacuate.
    • Persons with hearing impairments can be assisted out of the building, provided that they are made aware of the activation of the fire alarm.
    • Persons with visual impairments can be safely helped out of the building, provided that someone is there to assist them and that most of the other building occupants have already left the building. The evacuation of persons with disabilities at the same time as everyone else might increase the risk of accident or otherwise endanger all persons trying to vacate the building. 
    • Persons with mobility impairments should, in most cases, remain in their rooms until assisted by the Fire Department. Untrained occupants should not attempt to carry people from the building. This could cause stairway restriction for other evacuees and may also result in a serious injury.
Fire Alarms and Drills
  • All faculty, staff and students are required to evacuate a building during a fire alarm. If a fire alarm sounds, doors to rooms should be closed and students should proceed to the closest exit. If smoke hampers means of egress, persons should seek an alternative route.
  • Fire drills at Amherst College will be conducted at least twice during the academic year. Fire drills are performed to familiarize occupants in the building with the sounds of the fire alarm, to verify that the system is working as required and to test the evacuation systems for faculty, staff and students.
  • Building occupants should not use elevators to evacuate the building, as smoke will rise into the elevator shafts, placing everyone inside at serious risk. The stairs should be used to evacuate safely.
  • If other people who may be unfamiliar with the alarm are observed in the building, they should be advised of the fire alarm and advised to evacuate. Never force a person to leave or become confrontational.
    • When outside the building, notify an Amherst College Police officer.
  • Everyone should proceed to a pre-designated assembly area, at least 50 feet away from the building. Persons should not stand in front of or near the entrances to the buildings, obstructing firefighters’ access to the building.
    • Faculty and Administrative Staff are required to have an accountability system in place, as they are responsible for their respective students in class or their staff at work.
      • Depending on the number of students or staff, a checklist of names is strongly recommended.
      • Click here for a list of assembly points by dorm.
  • Persons must not reenter the building until the fire alarm has been silenced and the Amherst College Police or the Amherst Fire Department has indicated that it is safe to reoccupy.
Fire Doors, Escapes and Exits
  • All means of egress and components must be properly maintained at all times, in accordance with the requirements of the State Building and Fire Prevention Regulations.
    • Means of egress shall include, but are not limited to, corridors, doorways, fire escapes, stairwells and exterior sidewalks that lead to parking lots or streets.
  • Corridors and stairwells in residence halls have the following life safety equipment: emergency lighting, exit signs, fire extinguishers, fire alarms and smoke detectors.
    • Tampering with or otherwise damaging this equipment could cause a serious accident or injury and make it difficult for persons to evacuate the building during an emergency.
    • Fines for tampering with or damaging the above-referenced equipment can range from $100 to $500.
  • Corridors in residence halls are required to be free of hazard and obstruction. Corridors, fire escapes, hallways and stairwells cannot be used for the placement or storage of combustible material (including boxes, cardboard and/or paper), bicycles, furniture or any item or equipment that would hinder a safe means of egress or firefighting operations.
    • Fines for items left in the corridors run up to $25 per item.
  • Corridors, fire escapes, hallways and stairwells, including those inside the Social Dormitory suites, cannot be used as runways for extension cords, telephone wires or television cables that could create a personal injury hazard.
  • Fire escapes cannot be used for the placement or storage of bicycles, equipment, grills, etc.
    • Fines for items left in the corridors run up to $25 per item.
  • Fire doors in corridors and stairwells, except smoke-activated fire doors that close when the fire alarm is activated, cannot be chocked or otherwise held open.
    • Fines for creating hazards within a means of egress are $25.
Fire Extinguishers
  • Fire extinguishers are strategically located on campus, based on the types of hazard present. Typically, a Type A Pressurized Water (PW) extinguisher is placed in corridors of a residence hall for use by emergency response personnel, such as an Amherst College Police officer, firefighter or other trained person, such as a custodian, Resident Counselor, etc. 
    • Only persons who have been trained to use a fire extinguisher shall do so, and only if the fire is small in size and the users are not placing themselves or anyone else at risk. 
    • Persons who are not trained shall simply close the door to the room where the fire is located (if possible) and evacuate the building, as indicated above.
  • Dry Chemical (ABC) fire extinguishers are placed in areas where cooking is done or where flammable liquids are present, such as in a laboratory or vehicle. 
    • Special care should be taken when using this type of fire extinguisher for a fire involving flammable gases and liquids, as there is a possibility of personal injury. Do not use this type of extinguisher unless you have been trained and you are sure it is safe to do so.
  • Fire extinguishers have a specific purpose on campus and have been successfully used to extinguish small fires before the arrival of the fire department. Fire extinguishers must be free of obstruction and shall not be tampered with, as they are often used by Amherst College Police, trained faculty, staff and students, as well as the Amherst Fire Department before attack lines can be pulled off the fire engine.
  • Fire extinguisher training is available, upon request, through the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
    • Contact your Resident Counselor to request a training session.
  • Fines for tampering with fire detection or suppression equipment, including extinguishers, are start at $100.
Fireplaces
  • Amherst College inspects fireplaces in common areas. Only fireplaces found to be in proper working order can be used.
    • Fireplaces located within individual student rooms are not to be used.
  • In order to use a fireplace on campus, in accordance with the requirements of the Amherst Fire Department, persons must first be trained.
    • Resident Counselors can contact Environmental Health and Safety for training before the fireplace is used.
  • Fireplaces must have screens, tools, metal ash buckets and fire extinguishers in place before being used. Affixed to the mantel or wall by each operational fireplace is a sign that indicates, as a reminder, how the fireplace is to be used. The sign is not a substitute for training. It also identifies the type and age of the firewood and the proper equipment to be kept on hand.
  • Fireplaces are not to be used for cooking.
  • Fines for improper use of a fireplace are $100.
FurniturE
  • Student rooms are furnished with fire-code-compliant furniture and mattresses. An inventory of this furniture and its physical condition will be made at the beginning and end of each school year.
  • Personal furnishings brought in by students are often not fire-code-compliant and will not be permitted if they fail to meet minimum requirements, such as CAL 117, CAL 133 or NFPA 701. A tag with appropriate code-required information will appear on the article of furniture. 
    • If, in the judgment of the Environmental Health and Safety manager, there is a potential fire or related health or safety hazard, the item shall be removed at the student’s expense.
  • Waterbeds and similar furniture are not permitted, because of the strain imposed on the building structure and the danger of water damage.
  • All personally owned furniture and furnishings must be removed from student residences at the time the residences are vacated. 
    • Any items remaining after that date will be disposed of by the college at the students’ expense.
  • Lounge furniture cannot be used to enhance student rooms or off-campus apartments.
    • Furniture not authorized for the room in question is considered stolen property.
      • Room searches for stolen or missing furniture may be conducted periodically.
    • Fines for removing furniture from the lounges will be assessed by the Dean of Students’ Office.
Holiday DecorationS
  • In accordance with the Massachusetts Fire Prevention Regulations, the following decorative items shall not be permitted in Amherst College buildings, including residence halls:
    • Candles, incense or open-flame devices, unless previously approved by the Campus Fire Marshal
    • Christmas trees or other sawn trees
    • Christmas wreaths or other decorative wreaths
    • Cornstalks or shucks
    • Cotton or confetti
    • Dry moss or leaves
    • Hay or straw
    • Paper streamers
    • Sawdust or wood shavings
    • Tree branches or leaves
  • Only UL- or FM-approved artificial trees, wreaths and lighting for indoor use may be used in academic or residential buildings.
  • If used, lights may not be run over ceiling tiles or grids or through walls or doorways.
    • Lights must be hung below the ceiling, using a nonconductive material (e.g., string or tape).
    • Lights may not restrict means of egress and can be removed by the College Fire Marshal or Environmental Health and Safety Manager if a hazardous condition exists.
    • No more than three sets of lights can be attached to a single extension cord.
    • Lights must be turned off whenever the area is unattended.
  • Fines for improper holiday candles, incense, open-flame devices or decorations are $100.
Fire Code Infractions
  • Failure to Evacuate 
    • Except for emergency response agencies, all occupants in the building must evacuate when a fire alarm has been activated. Individuals or groups failing to evacuate will be subject to judicial action, fines, expulsion from college housing and/or criminal prosecution.
      • Fines for failing to evacuate range from $100 to $500.
    • Amherst College Police and/or the Amherst Fire Department can perform floor and building sweeps for the health and safety of the residents. Residents found in their rooms during fires or fire alarms will be reported to the Dean of Students’ Office for disciplinary action. Amherst College has adopted this approach to help prevent “false-alarm apathy.”
      • Fines for failing to evacuate range from $100 to $500.
  • Fire Department Access
    • Persons who intentionally block or otherwise hamper the duties of the Amherst Fire Department or Amherst College Police during a fire or medical emergency will be subject to judicial action, fines or expulsion from college housing and/or criminal prosecution.
      • Fines for obstructing emergency response agencies range from $100 to $500.
  • Fire Hydrants and Fire Lanes
    • No vehicle, except for emergency response apparatus or cars, may park in a designated fire lane or in front of a hydrant. Amherst College is not responsible for any damage to a motor vehicle that obstructs the response of the Amherst Fire Department or other emergency response agency.
      • Fines for obstructing emergency response agencies range from $100 to $500.
  • Fire Detection and Suppression Equipment Tampering
    • Unauthorized modifications of or tampering with the fire detection and/or suppression system (including fire extinguishers) in any building or room will result in judicial action, fines, expulsion from college housing and/or criminal prosecution.
      • The minimum fine for tampering with fire detection and suppression equipment is $100.
  • Fire Drills
    • Fire drills at Amherst College will be conducted at least twice during the academic year. Fire drills are performed to familiarize occupants in the building with the sounds of the fire alarm, to verify that the system is working as required and to test the evacuation systems for faculty, staff and students.
      • Fines for failure to evacuate are $100 to $500.
  • False Fire Alarm
    • Any person who, without proper justification, turns in a false fire alarm by activating a pull station or calling in a report of fire may be punished with judicial action, fines, expulsion from college housing and/or criminal prosecution.
      • The range of fines for false alarms is $100 to $500.
  • Malicious Burning of Building Component(s) or a Building
    • Any person who knowingly sets fire to components of a building (i.e., doors, bulletin boards, furniture) and/or the building itself will face judicial action, fines or expulsion from college housing and/or criminal prosecution.
      • In addition to paying for any damage or replacement costs, fines for malicious burning shall range from $100 to $500.
  • Fire Hazards
    • Motorcycles, automobiles, mopeds, gasoline, propane, flammable liquids and other similar items are not allowed in buildings, other than those facilities specifically designed for that intended purpose, and shall be removed at the owners’ expense.
    • Fire hazards, such as those associated with poor housekeepingelectrical hazards and improper use of cooking equipment, are addressed in a later section.
      • Fines for creation of a fire hazard range from $25 to $500.
  • Smoke Bombs and Bomb Threats
    • Any person who possesses and/or activates a smoke bomb in a building without the permission of the Amherst College Police, or any person who initiates a bomb threat, will be subject to judicial action, fines or expulsion from college housing and/or criminal prosecution.
      • Fines for the possession or use of smoke bombs or a bomb threat range from $100 to $500, with the potential for judicial and criminal charges.
      • Calling in a bomb threat or planting a bomb or other incendiary device will result in criminal prosecution.
  • Fireworks
    • Any person possessing and/or discharging fireworks on campus will face judicial action, fines or expulsion from the college housing and/or criminal prosecution.
      • Fines for possession or using fireworks range from $100 to $500, with the potential for judicial and criminal charges.
SmokinG
  • Smoking is not permitted in, or within 25 feet of, any building at Amherst College. 
    • The 25 feet rule is in place to protect building entrants from having to walk through second-hand smoke and to prevent the introduction of smoke into the air intakes of the campus buildings.
  • Smoking is not permitted in student rooms or inside any portion of a building. 
Sprinkler Systems
  • Sprinkler systems are life safety devices designed to discharge up to 20 gallons of water per minute during a fire.
    • The glass bulb or fusible link, if broken by heat or physical damage, will permit water flow.
    • Do not obstruct or hang anything from the sprinkler head or associated piping.
    • Do not place any items above, in front of or within 18 feet of sprinkler head.
  • Normal activity around a sprinkler head will not cause activation.
    • Striking a sprinkler head with a ball, stick or other similar object may cause significant water damage in the building.
  • Obstruction of, damage to or tampering with a fire suppression system, such as a sprinkler system or fire extinguisher, is illegal.
    • Fines for damage, obstruction or tampering with a fire suppression system range from $100 to $500, with the cost of repair and the potential for judicial and criminal charges.
Storage
  • Storage areas are monitored by the Amherst College Custodial Department, Environmental Health and Safety and the Town of Amherst. 
    • These storage areas must be properly maintained for fire and safety reasons. 
      • Aisles must be adequate in width and passable. 
      • Housekeeping must be maintained. 
      • Empty combustible boxes must be discarded. 
      • Storage cannot be placed within 18 feet of a sprinkler system. 
      • Improper articles and items, as referenced on the doors and in this manual, shall not be placed in storage areas. 
    • The Office of Environmental Health and Safety shall monitor these areas for code compliance and, when necessary, require the correction of noncompliant conditions, which are referenced above, at the expense of the residence hall or specific person(s). 
      • Fines for improper placement of storage will start at $25 per item. If the storage area must be addressed by the Custodial Department, the cost for corrective actions will be charged to the residence hall or the individual(s) responsible. 

Health

Biohazards
  • The inappropriate, unintentional discharge of a biohazard, such as urine, fecal matter or other bodily fluid, is a significant health concern that is strictly prohibited on campus. Bodily fluid cleanup must be immediately addressed, as it is a public health issue.
  • Person(s) who intentionally discharge a bodily fluid into or on a surface that was not meant for that purpose, such as a floor or stair, will be referred to the Dean of Students’ Office and appropriately fined.
  • Fines for particularly offensive behavior are $100 plus the cost of cleanup.
Bugs, Rodents and other pests
  • The presence of bugs, rodents and other pests is typically related to poor housekeeping practices, such as food left out or not disposing of waste.
  • Amherst College has an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program which focuses on using environmentally appropriate pest-control practices, not fungicides, insecticides and rodenticides. The college has contracted with an outside pest-control company that inspects the campus at least weekly and when requested for a specific emergency. 
    • If faculty, staff or students wish to report pest-related problems, they should contact the Facilities Department at (413) 542-2254. 
      • If a bug, insect, pest or rodent problem is attributed, or thought to be attributed to, poor housekeeping practices, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety will inspect the area(s) involved and will initiate corrective action to reduce the hazards.
      • If more aggressive housekeeping is required, or if the timeline for cleanup has not been met by the occupant(s) of the room(s), Environmental Health and Safety will request the response of the Custodial Department, who will rectify the adverse health conditions at the expense of the residence hall or individual(s) responsible.

Housekeeping fines for the above-referenced conditions are $100, plus the cost of cleanup

Hazardous Materials
  • Waste disposal at Amherst College is closely monitored and regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Significant fines and regulatory actions can be levied against the college for improper disposal of hazardous and other regulated materials or waste.
  • The following items cannot be placed into trash containers or dumpsters on campus:
    • Appliances/electronics
    • Batteries, including alkaline and rechargeable
    • Computer monitors
    • Concrete
    • Hazardous materials, including asbestos, chemicals, paint and oils
    • Light bulbs (except incandescent)
    • Metal (including pipes)
    • Pesticides
    • Recyclable materials
    • Rocks, soil and stone
    • Tires
  • Persons wanting to discard or recycle any of the items listed above must contact the Recycling Office at (413) 542-5038.
  • Fine for improper storage, use and/or disposal of hazardous materials and waste is $100, plus the cost of cleanup and disposal.
Mold and Mildew

Health Effects

  • For many people, mold is a significant concern. For those who are sensitive to its presence, it may trigger an asthma attack or initiate an allergic reaction. It can instigate coughing, eye irritation (itching and watering of the eyes), nasal stuffiness, throat irritation and/or skin discomfort. People who are immuno-compromised could develop serious lung infections that may be difficult, if not impossible, to treat.

Procedures for Reporting Leaks, Mold and Mildew

  • Amherst College faculty, staff, students and visitors should always report to the Amherst College Facilities Department at (413) 542-2254 or servicectr@amherst.eduthe following non-emergency conditions:
    • Water damage and leaks, regardless of cause or potential source, both inside and outside the building
    • Any drain- or sewer-related issues
    • Decaying leaves, mulch or similar outside organic material outside of buildings around doors, windows and ventilation systems
    • Standing water within 10 feet of a building
  • If the above-referenced condition is an emergency, such as a broken or leaking pipe, and it occurs after hours (3:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. or on the weekend), then contact the Amherst College Police at (413) 542-2291.
  • Amherst College will initiate the most appropriate response, depending on the type of emergency.
Odors
  • All odors should be reported to the Amherst College Facilities Department at (413) 542-2254. 
    • If the odors are potential emergencies, such as the smell of something burning, smoke or a potential hazardous material, immediately remove yourself from the area and contact the Amherst College Police at (413) 542-2111. 
Pets
  • Because many people are allergic to animals and residence halls do not provide adequate space or security for the humane care of animals, no pets other than small aquarium fish or amphibians are allowed in residence halls, college houses or apartments. Absolutely no mammals or rodents are allowed in the residence halls. Aquariums or other cages for permitted pets may not use heat lamps. Students found with pets, whether visiting or owned by the students, will be subject to an automatic fine.
    • Fines will start at $100, and an additional $100-per-day charge will apply for each day after the college has requested that the pet be removed.

Inspections

  • Most residence hall fires begin in a student room. The cause could be careless disposal of smoking material, cooking equipment, candles or improper lights or wiring. Residents often believe that a fire will not take place in their building because the dormitory is constructed of brick and/or concrete. While it is true that the exterior is fire-resistant, the contents inside are not. Wastepaper baskets, sheets, futons, wall hangings and furniture are fuel sources for a potential fire; if ignited, each will allow smoke and flame to spread throughout a room, floor or building. Ignition sources include, but are not limited to, candles, extension cords, halogen lamps, hotplates, incense, space heaters and smoke material.
  • For health and safety reasons, Amherst College will inspect each means of egress, electrical room, recycling closet, student storage area and individual room to help maintain a healthy and safe living environment for all building residents. In addition, if the college receives a health- or safety-related complaint about an area or room within a residence hall, the college can and will inspect to rectify the hazardous conditions at the residents’ expense. The Amherst College Police, Environmental Health and Safety Office and/or Dean of Students’ Office can inspect, correct and, if necessary, confiscate any item found within an area or room that poses a risk to the occupants of the area, room or building. A complete list of billable damages may be picked up from any Resident Counselor or Area Coordinator or the Dorm Damage Office.
  • Annually, in cooperation with the Town of Amherst’s Office of Inspection Services, Amherst College will inspect all academic and residential buildings on campus to obtain a Certificate of Inspection, which is required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During this inspection, a comprehensive survey of all code and related health and safety issues is performed, work orders and appropriate notifications for issues of noncompliance are generated and corrective actions are initiated.
  • Environmental Health and Safety can and will inspect individual rooms or areas for fire, health, safety and sanitation reasons with or without prior notification of the occupant(s), depending on circumstances related to the above-identified conditions or complaints.

Safety

Appliances
  • For fire, health and safety reasons, the following appliances are not permitted in student rooms:
    • Air conditioners
    • Coffeemakers and coffee pots without automatic shutoff
    • Crock-Pots
    • Doughnut makers
    • Electric frying pans
    • Gas appliances
    • Grills
    • Halogen lamps
    • Hamburger makers
    • Hotplates
    • Immersion heaters
    • Microwave ovens
    • Popcorn poppers with oil
    • Power strips without built-in breakers or fuses
    • Refrigerators larger than 4.5 cubic feet
    • Space heaters
    • Sunlamps
    • Toaster ovens
    • Waffle irons
    • Woks
  • For fire and safety reasons, the following are not permitted inside Amherst College buildings, academic or residential:
    • Overloaded extension cords
    • Overloaded electrical outlets
    • Outdoor lights
    • Decorative lights, improperly installed
  • Appliances found in violation of these regulations will be confiscated and returned only at the end of the academic year. Any student in possession of an unacceptable item will be fined.
    • Fines for the improper use of equipment are $100.
    • A $25 fee for handling and storage will be charged when the device is returned. The college will dispose of all unclaimed articles after a one-year holding period.
Confined Spaces and Tunnels
  • Signs usually identify confined spaces on campus. These signs bear the word “Danger” and will identify the spaces as being “Permit Required” or “Non-Permit Required.” Regardless of whether a confined space requires a permit, access to these areas, which can include the steam tunnels, manhole covers, some attics, all crawl spaces and parts of elevators, is prohibited. These areas are or can be extremely hazardous. Once inside, you can become lost, injured or even die. Only trained and authorized personnel are permitted in these spaces.
  • Unauthorized “Confined Space” entry can result in judicial actions, fines or expulsion from college housing and/or criminal prosecution.
    • The minimum fine for unauthorized entry into a confined space is $50.
Construction
  • Students may not construct partitions, subdivide their rooms, construct additions that increase fire loads, install or modify electrical wiring or plumbing or alter “means of egress” (emergency exits). Each of these modifications increases the risk of fire or personal injury accidents. 

Lofts

  • Before constructing a bunk bed or loft, a student must submit a hard copy of the plan to the Amherst College Police Chief and Environmental Health & Safety for approval. Construction shall not take place until the plans have been approved and returned to the requestor by the Fire Marshal. After the bunk bed or loft has been completed, the Fire Marshal must be notified in order to conduct an inspection. Provided the bunk or loft has been constructed according to plan, the Fire Marshal will grant approval.
    • The occupant or Facilities personnel (at the owner’s expense) will disassemble all bunks and lofts that were not approved by the Campus Fire Marshal. If an unapproved, constructed loft is found during an inspection or complaint, the Fire Marshal can order removal of the furniture and prohibit the resident from being able to construct it in the future. Every bunk or loft must:

a) be in compliance with all state building and fire-prevention regulations.

b) be freestanding and not attached to the floor, wall or ceiling.

c) have a sleeping surface at least 4 feet beneath the ceiling.

d) not have more than two sides enclosed by wall or partition.

e) be built using construction-grade lumber.

f) not exceed 30 percent of the floor’s square footage.

g) not block or obstruct windows, doors, smoke detectors, network outlets or emergency exits. 

h) not cause damage to the room or its contents (the owner will be financially responsible for any damage to college property).

i) be removed by the last day of spring-semester classes. If it is not removed, the college will disassemble and remove it at the owner’s expense.

  • Fines for lofts and other illegal construction are $200, plus the cost of removal and repair.

Electrical
  • Electrical cords must not pass through walls, through floors or above suspended ceilings.
  • Electrical cords must not run beneath carpets or across corridors or fire escapes. This type of placement could cause a fire or be responsible for a personal injury accident. If temporary wiring is required, the cord must be run along the wall, not across an aisle or above ceiling tiles. If elevated, cords must be held up with a nonconductive material, such as string or tape, and may not run above a concealed space such as a drop ceiling.
  • Electrical and mechanical closets and rooms are hazardous locations. They are not to be used for general storage, and they must be kept clean at all times to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Electrical panels shall be properly maintained. In accordance with the Massachusetts Electric Code, there must be at least three square feet of space around any and all electrical panels, boxes, disconnects, fuses and other associated equipment.
  • Faculty, staff and students who have questions about electrical closets, disconnects, panels, room or service should contact the Amherst College Facilities Service Center at (413) 542-2254.
  • The fine for improper use of electrical appliances and creating electrical hazards is $100, plus the cost of removal and storage.
Elevators
  • Elevators are a convenient way to access certain buildings at Amherst College.
  • Elevators must be used appropriately to prevent damage.
    • Do not block elevator doors open, such as when moving in or out of a building. Doing so will cause the elevator to stop working and shut down, which will require the recall of the outside elevator company, at the expense of the occupants of the residence hall.
  • For safety reasons, students should not:
    • use arms, legs or any body parts to block, hold or stop the elevator doors from closing.
    • block the elevator doors with any object, such as luggage, furniture, etc. Doing so causes elevators to shut down.
    • remove light bulbs or any other fixtures in elevators. 
    • participate in horseplay or cause excessive movement within elevators. 
    • push the emergency call button located inside the elevator except in case of an emergency.
  • In case of an emergency, elevator emergency phones inside the elevators are automatically programmed to contact the Amherst College Police when the phones are picked up.
  • Fines will be imposed for any damage to or improper use of elevators. The fines will include the costs of parts and labor. 
Roof and Porch Access
  • For safety and regulatory reasons, students are not permitted on the balconies or roofs of Amherst College buildings, including residence halls. Damage to the roofs, unknown structural integrity problems and missing guardrails and handrails make climbing or walking out on roofs very hazardous.
  • Amherst College has indicated, by posting stickers on windowsills, that access to roofs is prohibited.
    • Fines for screen removal and balcony and/or roof access range from $25 to $525.
Security Screens
  • For the safety of the students, security screens have been installed on grade-accessible and roof-level windows or other elevated areas of campus housing.
    • Fines for damage to a security screen are a minimum of $400.00. Fines for breakage or removal of red seals or tags are $25.

Sanitation

Housekeeping
  • Poor or improper housekeeping practices are the cause of many health, safety and sanitation issues. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety will inspect buildings at least annually and when requested to do so because of complaint. 
    • Environmental Health and Safety will initially coordinate cleanup efforts with the occupants of the area, building or room. However, if the corrective actions cannot be made by the assigned time, or the conditions warrant immediate response of the custodial department, the cost for cleanup will be assessed to the residence hall or the individual(s) responsible. 
  • Fines for poor housekeeping practices can range from $25 to $100, not including the cost of custodial intervention.
Kitchens
  • It is the responsibility of the students to properly maintain the kitchens and associated areas of dormitories or residence halls. Countertops, cupboards, cutting surfaces, dishwashers, floors, ovens, pots and pans, refrigerators, sinks and stoves must be cleaned at least daily to lessen the risk of food-borne illnesses.
  • Prepared foods placed inside the refrigerator must be properly covered, labeled and dated for health and safety reasons. The college food and/or health inspector can discard prepared food that has not been adequately covered, labeled or dated.
  • Cooking is permitted only in recognized kitchens and kitchenettes on campus, in both academic and residence halls.
    • Exhaust fans must be utilized whenever cooking is performed.
  • In accordance with the requirements of the Town of Amherst, no grease-producing food—including butter, oils, hamburgers, etc.—may be placed upon a stove, unless the exhaust system above the stove has an approved fire suppression extinguishing system.
  • In accordance with the Massachusetts Building Fire and Mechanical code regulations, stoves that are no longer approved because of location, exhaust capability or renovations must be removed, as they are considered to be noncompliant.
    • In order to install new stoves, now considered to be “commercial cooking equipment,” every stove must be vented directly to the roof and enclosed in an approved duct system and must have a fire-suppression system similar to those located in restaurants. It is not possible for stoves to meet these requirements in our residence halls.
  • For fire safety reasons, cooking is not permitted in offices or student rooms.
  • Amherst College residence hall kitchens cannot be used to prepare food for sale. The Town of Amherst Board of Health regulates the sale and distribution of baked goods, foods with dairy products and other consumable items that can be considered “potentially hazardous foods.” Any kitchen or other food preparation area must be inspected and approved by the Town of Amherst before consumable items can be made and sold. Inspections are conducted by Dining Services and/or Environmental Health and Safety. If conditions warrant, the inspectors will notify the Dean of Students’ Office and request corrective action within a specified time frame. If conditions do not improve, the Dean of Students’ Office will have the Facilities Department correct the adverse conditions and charge the residence hall for the overtime. If conditions remain uncorrected, the inspectors can ask the Dean of Students’ Office to temporarily or permanently close down the problem area.
    • Typically, the Amherst College Food or Health Inspector will grant a specified period of time for students to clean their respective areas or kitchens. The permitted time shall not exceed 24 hours.
      • If the area or kitchen is not cleaned or otherwise addressed in the time frame allotted, the kitchen will:
        • a. be closed and locked by Amherst College Police, Environmental Health and Safety or the Facilities Department.
        • b. be cleaned by the Custodial Department (off-hours) at the expense of the residence hall or person(s) responsible.
  • The fine for improper use of a stove or cooking is $100, plus the cost of cleanup.
Laundries
  • Laundry rooms must be properly maintained to prevent fire, health and sanitation problems. 
    • Washers should not be overloaded. 
    • Dryer lint traps must be cleaned after each use. 
    • Clothing should be dried thoroughly and not left (wet) on the floor or shelf.
  • Improper use of the equipment, such as overloading the washer or not cleaning out the lint trap, can cause a fire, and leaving wet clothing in the room will cause odors and draw bugs, including silverfish.
  • Damage to a washing machine, a dryer or parts attached to it will result in the person or residence hall having to pay for repairs.
  • Housekeeping fines for the above-referenced conditions are $100, plus the cost of cleanup.