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Fire Safety

The following regulations are intended to prevent injuries to members of the University community and physical damage to facilities.  Rooms are inspected periodically, at random times, to assure compliance with University regulations.

Because of the seriousness of the regulations that cover fire safety and the use of exterior elevated surfaces of campus buildings, the University takes disciplinary action on the first offense.  Such actions may include the imposition of a fine by the Housing Department.

The University has the right, moreover, to require students who violate these safety rules to vacate their accommodations with no financial credit for the remainder of the semester.  For clarification of any safety violation, students should consult the Housing Inspection Office.

If you have any questions, please contact the Princeton University Housing Inspection Office at inspectr@princeton.edu.


Candle Policy

Candles and/or incense are not permitted in any dormitory room or common space at the Graduate College or in any areas within the Annexes.  These items will be confiscated and disposed of immediately on the first violation.  If a candle cannot be easily removed from its holder/container/receptacle, all parts will be confiscated and disposed of.  Please refer to item #11 in the Fire Safety Policy section for more information.

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Cooking

The ”New Jersey Hotels and Multiple Dwelling Act,“ and University policy, prohibit cooking in dormitory/annex rooms. While micro-fridges rented through Princeton Dorm Furnishings Agency are allowed, student-owned microwaves are not permitted anywhere in dormitories/annexes. Student-owned microwaves and/or induction food preparation devices, when discovered, will be confiscated and fines levied (See regulation #1 of the Fire Safety Policy for further information concerning electrical appliances).  Any suggestions for the placement of additional items on the authorized list should be submitted to the Manager of Dormitories (inspectr@princeton.edu). 

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Fire Safety Policy

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1.  Heat-Producing Appliances

No heat-producing electrical appliances are permitted in University dormitories/annexes, inclusive of student rooms, except for certain authorized items.  The only exceptions to this rule are locked, limited-access kitchens, locked cabinets in open kitchens and private kitchens in some suites.  Appliances found elsewhere in the dormitories, including those found in open dormitory kitchens, are confiscated and fines are levied.  Appliances in sealed cartons will incur a warning on the first inspection.  Their continued presence during a subsequent inspection will incur a $100 fine. (This fine can be incurred whether it is the original cited appliance or another appliance in a sealed carton.)  Authorized heat-producing appliances may not be left on while unattended or used in any hazardous manner.

Authorized items are irons, electric blankets, hair dryers, hair curlers and clothes steamers.  Also, certain coffeemakers, kettles, hot air corn poppers and ice tea makers are authorized.  A complete list of authorized appliances with model numbers is listed at http://www.princeton.edu/us/housing/inspections/fire_safety/authorized/ Please be sure not only to get the correct manufacturer, but also to get the correct model.

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2.  Halogen Lamps

Halogen lamps found in dormitories/annexes are considered an unauthorized heat-producing appliance.  Halogen lamps will be confiscated and a fine of $50 per lamp assessed for the first violation; $100 per lamp for the second violation.  No warning is issued before fines are levied.

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3.  Unauthorized Space Heaters

Unauthorized space heaters are not permitted.  They will be confiscated and a fine of $50 per heater assessed for the first violation; $100 per heater for the second violation.  No warning will be issued before fines are levied.

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4.  Intentional Activation of Fire Alarm

Intentional activation of a fire alarm when there is no fire emergency is a violation of state law. A $100 fines is assessed. No warning is issued before fine.

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5.  Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are not to be removed from their proper locations or discharged unless there is a true fire emergency.  Anyone found tampering with a fire extinguisher is subject to disciplinary action and fined $100 per extinguisher or per student, whichever is greater.  Building Services maintains and services portable fire extinguishers.  Students are asked to report vandalism and/or discharged fire extinguishers to Facilities Customer Service at 8-8000.

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6.  Alarm Systems

Smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and/or carbon monoxide detectors must not be covered or blocked. A 24-inch circumference clearance must be maintained at all times.Tampering with any component of the smoke detection system, sprinkler system and/or carbon monoxide detector is prohibited.  Absolutely nothing may be attached to wiring, smoke detectors, sprinkler system components and/or carbon monoxide detectors.  Students will be charged for repair and/or replacement of any detection device and a $50 fine will be issued to all room occupants with possible discpiplinary action by Dean's Office.

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7.  Holiday Decorations

Flammable holiday decorations such as live Christmas trees (cut or balled), wreaths made from pine boughs and untreated bunting are not permitted in University housing units.  Inspectors will remove and dispose of pine bough wreaths and other flammable decorations found in the dormitories/annexes.  A fine of $25 is assessed for every live tree, wreath, bunting or garland found in a dormitory/annex.  The student is expected to remove the decoration as soon as possible, but no later than the start of the next business day.  If the tree is still present upon re-inspection the next business day, it will be removed at the student’s expense.

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8.  Room Entry Door/Fire Door

Room entry doors, fire doors and/or any door with a closing and latching mechanism must not be propped open or disabled.  Students are charged for repair and replacement of closing mechanisms, latch/lockset mechanisms and/or other door mechanisms or parts including the door.

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9.  Egress/Second Egress

Nothing is allowed to block, even partially, any means of egress.  Water bottles, clothing, furniture or any other items may not be placed in hallways and/or stairwells.  All items must be kept in the room or in storage.  Egress doors must be able to open fully with nothing blocking the swing of the door.  Major items such as furniture or boxes blocking the doors will immediately subject students to fines.  Lesser items, such as clothing or paper, will warrant a warning and an explanation before any fine is issued.

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10.  Safety Seals

Tampering with safety seals on any egress door is prohibited.

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11.  Open Flames

Alcohol lamps, oil lamps, stoves, fireworks, flammable or combustible materials such as gasoline, kerosene, propane, lighter fluid, charcoal products, or similar substances are not permitted in any student housing unit. Grills are prohibited as is grilling without the permission of the University. Candles/incense are not permitted in any graduate dormitory or common space at the Graduate College or in any areas within the Annexes.  These items will be confiscated and disposed of immediately on the first violation.  If a candle cannot be easily removed from its holder/container/receptacle, all parts will be confiscated and disposed of.

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12.  Exterior Elevated Surfaces

Exterior elevated areas (fire escapes, roofs, parapets) of dormitories are designed to be used as a second means of egress in an emergency.  No items may be placed in these areas at any time under any circumstances.  No items, including antennae, wires, lights, flags, banners, etc. may be placed on or affixed to the exterior of any building.

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13.  Safety Signs/Evacuation Signs

Safety signs, evacuation signs and markings are not to be altered, defaced, damaged, covered or removed.

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14.  Electrical Wiring

Only University wiring is allowed in dormitory and Annex rooms with the following exceptions: U.L.-listed, fused power strips with cords of 12 feet or less may be used.  Power strips may not be used in series to gain greater length.  Electrical cords must not be routed unsafely (under carpets, in pathways, through doorways, taped down, etc).  Spliced, taped or frayed cords must not be used.  Electrical wiring which is "home-made" or otherwise modified is prohibited.  Non-breaker multi-outlet devices such as adapters and cubes, etc. are prohibited.  Dimmer switches, ceiling fixtures and ceiling fans may not be installed.

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15.  Egress Door/Window

Nothing may be affixed to any window or egress door (such as room entry, bedroom, room hall) or window.

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16.  Tapestries

Tapestries or other wall coverings must be hung vertically and must be at least 18 inches from any heat source (electrical outlets and/or switches, lights, etc.).  Nothing may be hung from and/or placed on the ceiling.  Tapestries, posters, fabric items and lights may be draped from wall to wall, but must be installed flat to the wall.  Unframed paper, tapestries, fabric items, plastic or other easily ignitable materials may not be hung near operating fireplaces.  At least six inches of space must be left between wall hangings.

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17.  Unsanitary or Excessively Disorderly Conditions

Excessively disorderly conditions and the storage of excessive amounts of paper, trash or recyclables are prohibited.  Trash and recycling containers should only be placed in hallways for disposal.  Trash and recycling containers must not be kept in hallways or stairwells.

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18.  Refrigerator or Freezer

Refrigerators and freezers that do not conform to University standards may not be kept in the dormitories or Annexes and will be removed.  Students are permitted only one refrigerator or only one freezer per occupant.  An occupant may not have both.  Students should consult the Housing Inspection Office for information regarding appropriate specifications.

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19.  Partitions/Paneling

No paneling or partitions are to be installed by students.

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20.  Motorized Vehicles

No motorized vehicles (motor-bikes, mopeds, motorcycles and scooters) may be stored or parked in or near a dormitory.  Students wishing to park their vehicles should contact the Transportation and Parking Services (8-3157).

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21.  Other Hazardous Conditions

Hazardous conditions not anticipated by specific reference in the Fire Safety Policy are prohibited.  Such conditions are specifically identified and an opportunity is provided to correct them before any fine is assessed, unless they present a clear and present danger, in which case immediate appropriate action will be taken and a fine imposed accordingly.

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Fines

Fire safety violations listed above result in the following fines:

Regulations 1, 2 and 3
Electrical appliances, space heaters and halogen lamps: $50 fine per appliance/heater/lamp for the first violation.  $100 fine per appliance/heater/lamp for the second violation.  No warning is issued before fines are levied.

Misuse of authorized appliances (irons, electric blankets, hair dryers, hair curlers, clothes steamers, and designated models of kettles, popcorn poppers and coffee makers):  A warning is issued on the first offense.  Subsequent violations result in confiscation and a fine.

Regulation 4
$100 fine.  No warning is issued before fine.

Regulation 5
$100 fine per extinguisher or per student, whichever is greater.

Regulation 6
$50 fine.  No warning is issued before fines and possible disciplinary action by the Dean’s office.

Regulations 7, 8, 9, 12, 13
$25 fine.  No warning is issued before fine.  Subsequent violations result in increased fines and possible disciplinary action by the Dean's office.

Regulation 11
Unlit candle first offense incurs a $50 fine and possible disciplinary action by the Dean’s office.  Lit candle first offense incurs a $100 fine and disciplinary action by the Dean’s office.  Fireworks first offense incurs a $50 fine and disciplinary action by the Dean’s office.  Flammable liquids first offense incurs a $50 fine and possible disciplinary action by the Dean’s office.

Regulations 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
(except for unauthorized use of fire escape and/or exterior elevated surface)

A warning is issued to all occupants of the room or suite when the violation is first identified.  If the violation is not corrected, or if a second violation of the same regulation occurs anywhere in the same suite, a fine of $25 is assessed.  If it is still not corrected, or if a third violation occurs anywhere in the same suite, an additional fine of $50 is assessed.  If it is still not corrected, and a fourth vilation occurs anywhere in the same suite, an additional fine of $100 is assessed.

The total amount of fine(s) incurred by a room will be charged to each occupant.  If an occupant accepts sole responsibility for a fine, that occupant would only be fined the single fine amount (not the multiplied amount).

If violations persist after the above fines are assessed, other penalties follow, including additional fines, termination of the housing contract with no financial credit, denial of permission to reside in University housing in future years, and University discipline through the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School.

After every fire safety inspection, the inspection results will be electronically transmitted to every occupant.

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Inspection Procedures

To ensure that students are complying with the University’s fire code, the Housing and Real Estate Services Department conducts periodic inspections of dormitory rooms.  These are necessary to guarantee safe living conditions for the many students that the University houses.  The procedures that the Housing Inspectors follow when doing inspections are listed below.

This set of procedures is intended to cause the least amount of inconvenience to students, while still giving the Housing Inspectors a chance to do their jobs effectively.  In the same way that students may expect the Housing Inspectors to be courteous and reasonable, so too is it expected that students treat the Housing Inspectors in the same professional manner.  The Housing Inspectors are open to discussion about why a certain situation is unsafe and in conflict with the Fire Code, but are not the proper authorities with whom to dispute a fine.  If students have additional questions about the Fire Code or a particular fine, they should contact the Dormitory Property Supervisor at inspectr@princeton.edu

Housing Inspectors will follow procedures as outlined below:

1.Inspections shall not be conducted earlier than 10 am.

2.Inspectors shall follow this procedure:

  • Announce their presence by knocking loudly on the entrance door and saying: “Fire Safety Inspection.  May I come in?”
  • If there is no response, unlock the door.  Knock again after opening the door just enough to identify themselves again.  If there is no response, they will enter the room.
  • If there are closed bedroom doors, they will knock and ask to come in before inspecting them.  They may enter if there is no response.
  • If in any instance there is an answer and the occupant asks them to wait, they will wait for the occupant to open the door.  They may suggest to the occupant that he/she stay covered up in bed, and enter if the occupant clearly agrees to this.
  • If the occupant refuses them entrance completely, they will inform the occupant thusly: “I must report your refusal to the Dean’s office.”

3. If the student is not home, the Housing Inspectors will take care to leave the room as they found it; however, if the door is unlocked, it will be locked by the Housing Inspectors as they exit and the situation noted in the appropriate box on the inspection report.

4. While inspecting the students’ rooms, the Housing Inspectors will be courteous to the students and respectful of their belongings.

5.If there are any infractions, the Housing Inspectors may explain to the student how and why the situation is in violation of policy and suggest possible remedies.  Explanation must be given if requested.

6. If the student believes that the situation is not in violation of the code, the Housing Inspector will listen and consider the student’s explanation.  The student will then be invited to call the number on the form if they have additional questions.  The Housing Inspectors are neither obliged nor encouraged to engage the student in debate over the violation.

7. The Housing Inspector shall leave the student a notice of confiscation or notice of inspection.

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Appeals Process

The Housing and Real Estate Services Department recognizes that difficulties with the fire inspection process may occur.  Below is the description of the appeals process that should be followed if students feel they have a serious concern to address.

  1. Students who wish to submit a procedures-related appeal or dispute a fine over a particular interpretation of policy may file an appeal via email to inspectr@princeton.edu. Students have five business days, from the inspection date and/or after receiving a fine notification email, to submit an appeal.  Fines of a purely factual nature cannot be appealed.  (Factual fines are those given to students for such infractions as possession of an unauthorized appliance, storing fireworks or combustible liquids, candles, or covering/blocking smoke detectors and/or sprinkler .)
  2. The Manager of Dormitories will respond by email to each appeal made and attempt to resolve the issue if possible. If the student is still not satisfied with the action of the Manager of Dormitories, the student may resubmit their appeal to the Department of Housing and Real Estate Services for review by the committee.  Students will have a period of two weeks to respond if not satisfied with the Manager of Dormitories' decision.
  3. The Appeals Committee shall consist of the following members, each of whom have one vote: the Deputy Director of Housing and Real Estate Services, the Assistant Dean of Graduate Students responsible for housing, two members elected by and of the Graduate Residence Committee, and one of the graduate housing representatives elected from the Graduate Student Union.  The committee shall meet as needed to review appeals.  The committee shall require a simple majority vote in reaching its decisions.
  4. The committee may request individual interviews with the student and the Housing Inspectors involved with a particular case to facilitate its decision.  Failure to appear before the committee if so requested will entail forfeiture of the appeal.
  5. Within a month of receiving the appeal, the committee will make its decision to uphold, reduce or waive the fine.  The Housing and Real Estate Services Department Director reserves the right to review and give final approval of the decision.
  6. The student will subsequently be apprised of the outcome of his/her appeal.  The decision letter sent to the student will be considered final and binding.

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Second Means of Egress

A number of rooms on the upper floors of several dormitory buildings have been provided with a second means of egress that is designed to be used as an emergency exit.  This second means of egress takes two forms:

  1. emergency doors between suites on the same floor leading to a fire door in the adjoining suite and;
  2. an emergency door connecting a suite on the same floor that has a fire escape

Other regulations governing emergency exit doors are:

  • No furniture or impediments may be placed on either side of any emergency doors at any time.
  • The protective glass doorknob cover is a security device and may be broken or removed by students only in a true emergency situation.
  • Residents are charged $100 for the replacement or reinstallation of knob covers that are broken or removed unless the University Department of Public Safety verifies that an emergency situation existed that justified such breakage.  Tampering with or removing any University installed seals or breaking glass enclosures is prohibited.
  • The glass doorknob cover that protects the second means of egress can be removed if all students affected by its removal approve.  To have the cover removed, students must contact the Housing Inspections Office at inspectr@princeton.edu.  The charge for this service is $50, which absorbs the cost of the cover’s removal and its reinstallation when the current occupants vacate the premises.
  • No locks, slide bolts, hooks and eyes, chains or other devices may be installed on any emergency door (including individual bedroom doors and those from which the glass cover has been removed) within suites that give access to any emergency door or fire escape serving that suite.  The occupants of the suite are charged for the removal of any illegally installed impediments.

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Evacuation Procedures

Before a fire:

  • Students should know the location of all fire extinguishers in their area.
  • Students should know the location and route for their first and second means of egress.
  • Students should keep fire doors closed.

Whether you sense a fire or the building fire alarm system is activated, follow the evacuation plan.  Never ignore a fire alarm!   If a student suspects a fire or if the alarm sounds:

  • Your first action should be to take your room keys.  Be sure to alert any other occupants of the room.
  • Roll out of bed and crawl to the door.  Stay low to avoid smoke and super heated gases that may have entered your room.
  • Feel the doorknob or higher on the door with the back of your hand.  If it feels hot, do not open it — the fire may be on the other side of the door.  If it is not hot, open it slowly.  If trapped on upper floors, put a wet cloth under the closed door to help prevent the spread of smoke.  If you have a phone in your room, dial 911 and tell the operator the following: dorm name, room number and that you are trapped in the room and need to be rescued.  Stay on the phone until the fire department arrives at your room.
  • If the hallway is clear of smoke, walk to the nearest fire exit and leave the building.  Close your door behind you.  Leave the fire fighting to the professionals.
  • Pull the fire alarm on your way out of the building if the alarm horn is not already sounding.
  • Call 911 from a safe place and report the nature and location of the fire.
  • Do not attempt to extinguish a fire unless you are trained to do so.
  • Do not return to your room or go into the building until instructed.

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Emergencies

For any fire, police or medical emergency, students should call 911 immediately.  The communications officer who answers the call is trained in handling emergencies.  Students should give their location, describe the nature of the emergency and be prepared to respond to the communications officer’s questions or instructions.  In response to the call, the communications officer dispatches Department of Public Safety personnel and the appropriate local police, fire or emergency medical teams to the location immediately.  For routine information and assistance, students should call Public Safety at 8-3134.

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Fire Evacuation Drills

State law requires regular, unannounced fire drills.  Whether drills are conducted during the day or night, full cooperation in quickly and safely evacuating the buildings is expected.  Since everyone’s ultimate concern is safety, non-compliance or failure to cooperate in any way will lead to disciplinary action.

Any student who fails to leave the building when a fire alarm sounds is fined $50 and is referred to the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School for University disciplinary action.  Any student who again fails to leave the building during a subsequent drill may be required to vacate his or her dormitory accommodations permanently, with no financial credit given for the unelapsed term of the Housing contract, or may have other appropriate disciplinary action taken against him or her.

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Fire Protection Systems

All dormitories/annexes are equipped with an alarm system consisting of audible and visible alarms activated by manual pull stations or smoke detection.

Evacuation Procedures Evacuate immediately unless you have specific emergency responsibilities designated in the Additional Duties section of this plan. After you have left the building, you MUST go to your designated assembly point which can be found at http://web.princeton.edu/sites/ehs/emergency.

If re-occupancy is not imminent, occupants will be directed to proceed to Dillon Gym. Depending on the severity and scale of the event that triggered the evacuation, Public Safety will implement accounting procedures for college residents and all are expected to cooperate in the effort. At Dillon, telephone service and e-mail connections will be provided to allow students to contact family members.

During an emergency, students and visitors who may not be familiar with this plan must be informed of the requirement to evacuate. Special attention should also be given to any persons with disabilities, especially those who are visitors or unfamiliar with the building.

Resident Advisors, Dorm Assistants and Resident Graduate Students

For the purposes of emergency procedures and evacuations, residential advisors, dorm assistants and Resident Graduate Students are considered residents only and are not assigned or expected to perform any additional duties. However, once at the designated assembly points, RCA’s should account for all of their advisees.

Assistance in an Evacuation

If you think you might need specialized assistance in recognizing an alarm (e.g. a visual alarm device) or help during an evacuation (e.g. specialized evacuation equipment or alternative egress route planning) due to a medical condition or disability, you may contact your emergency coordinator to arrange for an evaluation. Self-identification is voluntary. All such requests and any special arrangements made will only be disclosed to Public Safety and individuals who have a responsibility to assist under the plan. Remember that elevators are tied to the fire detection system and are not available to occupants once a fire alarm sounds.

Nuisance Alarms

The primary goal of any fire alarm system is to ensure that occupants are alerted to a fire early enough to evacuate safely from the building.  To ensure that occupants will respond to an alarm, the fire alarm system must be reliable and free of nuisance alarms.  Nuisance alarms create complacency amongst occupants and can hinder evacuation.  Princeton University has adopted a policy to assist in reducing nuisance alarms.  When a nuisance alarm occurs (such as cooking), the occupants of the room in which the alarm originated from will receive a warning on first offense.  If there is a second violation, a $50 fine per occupant will be issued to all of the originating room occupants.  Upon third offense, a $100 fine per occupant will be issued to all of the originating room occupants.  A $200 fine per occupant will be assessed to all of the originating room occupants for a fourth offense.  A fifth offense is subject to disciplinary action which could include the confiscation of the appliance and/or loss of housing.

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Public Area Signs

The University is responsible for the installation and placement of interior signs in the dormitories.  Interior signs are determined by code requirements, fire safety and interior or exterior directional needs.  Interior signs installed by the University are affixed on a permanent or long-term basis.

At times, the University may affix temporary or short-term signs in a dormitory.  This must be approved by the Housing Department and must be removed within a specified time period.  Students posting signs must only use the available bulletin boards in the dormitories.  See Bulletin Boards in this guide.

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