Health and Safety

Fire Safety

Review Harvard's emergency policies and procedures and take precautions to reduce the risk of fire.

Prohibited Items

The following items are prohibited in the Houses, Dudley Community, and first-year dormitories:

  • Combustible materials – not allowed in hallways or stairwells, including welcome mats outside suite doors.
  • Cooking equipment –the City of Cambridge forbids cooking in any room or apartment not equipped with permanent cooking facilities. One exception to this rule is made for the product called Micro-Fridge, which can be purchased from the manufacturer website or rented through Harvard Student Agencies (HSA). 
  • Candles and other sources of open flame – Any candles found during room inspections will be confiscated. Items used for religious purposes, including menorahs, may be lit only in House common areas and only with the approval of the Faculty Dean or Dudley Community Resident Dean. They must always be attended.
  • Air conditioners are forbidden without the written approval of the Accessible Education Office.
  • All halogen floor lamps are prohibited. 
  • Curtains are not allowed in first-year dormitories. If you live in the Houses or Dudley Community, you must use fire-proof curtains.
  • Avoid flammable decorations.
  • Do not decorate the outside of any residential building. Exceptions require the approval of the respective Faculty Dean, Dudley Community Assistant Dean, or First-Year Experience Office staff and Building Manager.
  • Do not block building exits or key structures. Do not place objects, including, but not limited to antennae, satellite dishes, or plants on outside walls, window sills, window frames, roofs, fire escapes, or ledges.
  • External antennae, dishes, etc. are prohibited.

Use of Electrical Equipment

Your House Building Manager or Yard Ops may request inspection by Facilities Maintenance electricians of any electrical device brought to the College. If Facilities Maintenance declares the device unsafe for any reason, you must remove it from College housing immediately.

  • Do not overload wiring with appliances. Plug appliances into wall outlets – do not connect appliances to light sockets. Do not daisy chain or plug multiple outlet strip plugs or surge protectors together.
  • Only use approved electrical cords. Use cords approved by the National Electric Code or approved cords in good condition and of proper rating or use extension cords approved by Underwriters Laboratories. You may use electrical devices, such as hairdryers and electric razors, only if they comply with the standards of the National Electrical Code, Underwriters Laboratories, and Massachusetts laws and regulations, and are not cooking appliances. Extension cords and stereo speaker wiring must be in good condition and of adequate wire gauge.
  • Do not attach extension cords and stereo speaker wiring to wall or floor surfaces.
  • Do not splice extension cords. Never run them through doorways or partitions, or cover them with rugs.
  • Install micro-fridges/refrigerators carefully. Do not install micro-fridges/refrigerators in closets or bathrooms. Do not cover refrigerators/micro-fridges with blankets or tablecloths. 
  • You may use equipment for capturing direct broadcast satellite signals only if the installation of these devices does not cause damage to College-owned property and if the installation is performed in accordance with residential policies. Consult with your Building Manager or Yard Ops if you have any questions.


Preparing for Emergencies

  • Any smoke detector in a stairwell or corridor can initiate a general alarm when a predetermined concentration of smoke reaches it. This alarm has the same sound as the alarms initiated manually and is a signal to leave the building.
  • Each room or suite is typically equipped with a 110-volt AC smoke detector. If activated, the alarm sounds in that room only. Additionally, all of the dorms and Houses are equipped with sprinkler systems, which, if activated, produce 18-25 gallons of water per minute.
  • If there is a fire, go to the nearest exit, pull the fire alarm at the pull station, and leave the building.

Emergency Procedures

  • Know emergency escape routes: fire doors, window exits, and fire escapes.
  • Never block emergency escape routes or block open or prop open any fire doors. Emergency exit doors within rooms/suites shall not be blocked on either side by furniture or obstructions of any kind.
  • Student participation in annual fire drills is mandatory.
  • If you have information on the cause of a fire alarm activation, report information to your tutor, proctor, Faculty Deans, Resident Dean, or the Fire Department representatives.
  • For further information, contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, 46 Blackstone Street, Cambridge, 617-495-2060, or visit their fire safety website.

If You Find a Fire

  1. Sound the alarm by activating the nearest fire alarm pull station and call the Fire Department at 911 from a safe location. You can also call 617-495-5560, the University Operations Center, who will notify the Fire Department, HUPD, a University fire safety mechanic, the Building Manager, and other key personnel.
  2. Alert your neighbors only if you can do so without delaying your exit.
  3. Leave the building immediately, close doors behind you as you exit the building and proceed to the designated emergency evacuation meeting location.
  4. If you have information on how the fire started or how the alarm was activated, report it to the Fire Department.

Do not try to put out the fire. Use your common sense. Your safety is more important than property.

If the Alarm Sounds

Do not delay evacuation or assume that this is a false alarm. Immediately begin to exit the building.

  1. Feel the door. If it is hot, do not open it. Stay in your room. Put a towel or blanket (preferably wet) under the door to keep the smoke out. If your telephone works, call the Cambridge Fire Department at 911. Also call the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212 to let them know where you are. Attract attention to yourself. Hang a sheet or something out the window.
  2. If the door is not hot, open it slowly. If smoke and heat fill the hall, close the door, stay in your room, and call for help.
  3. If you can safely leave your room, take your key and close your door behind you. Exit by the nearest clear exit stairway. Do not use the elevator – it may fail in a fire or be automatically recalled to the ground floor. Failure to leave when an alarm sounds, unless there are safety reasons for not doing so, is a punishable offense.
  4. If you encounter smoke on your way out, stay low and crawl if necessary. You are more apt to find breathable air close to the floor. Cover your nose and mouth with a wet towel or wet handkerchief, if possible.
  5. Go to the predetermined emergency evacuation meeting location so that you may be accounted for.

Do not attempt to reenter the building until the Fire Department gives permission to do so.



Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide

Select rooms may be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating gas created when fuels (e.g. gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, and wood) are burned.
  • Improperly vented appliances used for heating and cooking can be sources of carbon monoxide. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires residential buildings with carbon monoxide-generating appliances to be equipped with carbon monoxide detection devices and alarms.
  • Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, runny nose, sore eyes, and are often described as “flu-like symptoms.” Higher-level exposure symptoms may include dizziness, drowsiness, and vomiting. Extreme exposure to carbon monoxide can result in unconsciousness or death.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm Instructions

The carbon monoxide alarm will sound four quick “chirps” every few seconds, indicating that carbon monoxide is present.

  1. Everyone in the immediate area of the alarm must immediately move to fresh air outdoors. If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 or Harvard University Police Department, 617-495-1212.
  2. If there are no symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, call the University Operations Center, 617-495-5560, for instructions and assistance. Remain outside until directed by the Police or Fire Department that it is safe to re-enter the building.

Building Security and Access

As a resident of the Harvard College community, you are reminded to:

  • Always lock your doors even if leaving your room for a moment
  • Never prop open doors
  • Never leave your key in the lock or near the door
  • Never allow visitors to “piggyback” with you when entering your residence hall
  • Request your visitors identify themselves prior to opening the door
  • Never leave notes indicating your absence
  • Never go up on the roofs or any roofing surfaces of any building

Crime prevention tips


Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls 

The placement of an obscene or harassing telephone call is a criminal offense, punishable to the full extent of the law in the courts. It is treated as a serious disciplinary issue within the College. 

Contact Harvard University Police if you receive such a call. 

Key Loss

If you lose your keys along with some form of identification, the lock to your suite will ordinarily be changed as soon as it is feasible to do so. An exception will be made in cases where there is no possibility that the keys can be retrieved.

You will be asked to sign a receipt for the coded keys issued for your House or dorm and, when applicable, your mailbox. You are responsible for returning your keys, ordinarily in an envelope provided at the time you give up occupancy.

Associated Fees

  • A $50 charge is assessed for each key not returned to the proper location when you vacate your room or suite.
  • Each replacement key costs $20 per term. You must request replacements for lost keys from your Building Manager.
  • You will be charged a fee of $150 for lock changes. If you live in the DeWolfe apartments, the charges will be assessed by Harvard University Housing.

Resource Conservation

As a Harvard College student, you play a key role in University efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move toward an environmentally sustainable campus.

Student cooperation and leadership in areas of energy use reduction, solid waste reduction and recycling has and will continue to help further FAS environmental stewardship goals for Houses, Dudley Community, and dorms.

Environmental Responsibility

Students living on campus are urged to integrate resource efficiency and environmental responsibility into your daily life in the Houses and dorms. You are expected to:

  • Recycle all recyclable containers and papers
  • Properly dispose of toxic materials such as batteries
  • Report leaks immediately
  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use
  • Reduce heat waste in the winter
  • Dispose of trash in appropriate containers at all times according to the particular guidelines established for each residential building by the Building Manager and the Custodial Division.
  • No chemicals, solvents, grease, paint, or toxic or hazardous substances may be disposed of in the sink, toilet, or shower drains. You must contact the House Building Manager regarding proper disposal of such items.

Other community standards include: using computer power management software; purchasing energy-efficient appliances; taking only as much food as you will eat in the dining hall; and using warm or cold water rather than hot for most laundry loads.

Harvard Green Campus Initiative

Maintenance and Energy Conservation

Report all building maintenance problems to your Building Manager’s office for your House or dorm. If there is a security guard on duty in the House when the problem occurs, the security guard should be notified. After hours, and if the Building Manager is not available, or in cases of serious emergency, the problem should be reported to the Harvard Control Center at 617-495-5560.

All students are urged to be especially mindful of energy consumption as energy costs are a significant portion of annual room fees. The following simple actions will reduce energy consumption:

  • Use computer power management software and turn off computers when not in use
  • Turn off lights and other appliances when last to leave a room
  • Close windows and storm windows during cold weather
  • Move furniture away from radiators and adjust the radiator (most radiators in Houses have adjustable valves that allow control of the level of heat in the room) to a comfortable temperature

Never turn radiator valves all the way to the “off” position or leave windows open during cold weather, since you may be held responsible if pipes freeze because of these actions.


Recycling is mandatory in Cambridge

You must bring all trash and recyclables to the designated recycling area in each House, Dudley residence, or dormitory, and should do so regularly throughout the term. Materials should be sorted into trash, mixed paper, commingled container, and battery receptacles. Composting is recommended and encouraged in dormitories.

  • Mixed paper includes newspapers, magazines, phone books, white and colored office paper, junk mail with window envelopes, paper with metal staples or spiral bindings, paper with small bits of adhesive tape and flattened cardboard. The mixed paper bag or barrel should not contain food wrappers, tissues, cups, pizza boxes, plastic wrappers, or trash. Please make a dedicated effort to reuse and recycle paper, as paper is a major component of University waste.
  • Commingled containers include cans, jars, cardboard beverage containers and bottles made of glass, metal, or plastic. All caps and lids should be discarded, and containers should be emptied and rinsed before they are deposited in the receptacles. Liquids remaining in containers significantly complicate recycling and waste disposal.
  • Batteries of any kind, including those for laptops, cordless phones, pagers, radios, Walk- mans, etc. must be recovered for safe disposal. In the Yard, batteries can be left at the battery recycling bin in each trash/recycling room. In the Houses, batteries can be left at the Building Manager’s office.

In addition to recycling, you are encouraged to reduce waste by purchasing and printing carefully and reusing paper, mugs, furnishings, and other equipment. Direct benefits of recycling to students include contributing to University financial savings which can be translated into student programs, raising Harvard’s standing in national recycling competitions, forming sound habits for the future, and contributing to a cleaner and healthier world.

For questions about recycling and waste reduction please call the University Operations Services Recycling Hotline at 617-495-3042 or refer to the University Operations Services Recycling & Solid Waste Removal website.

Responsible Social Events

Harvard College is committed to supporting a residential and educational community that is culturally, intellectually, and socially enriching for our students.

A healthy and satisfying social life is an important aspect of the undergraduate experience and plays a vital role in developing the bonds of friendship, collegiality, and community. While alcohol may have a place in social activities, its role is ancillary to the mission and purpose of our residential and educational community. The College encourages students to socialize and interact with each other in safe and healthy ways:

  • We favor a multifaceted approach to alcohol education, policy, and practice that prioritizes student health and safety and promotes student welfare
  • We encourage responsible social behavior in a variety of ways, including educating the community through peer education programs such as Wellness Educators.
  • We implemented the Help-Seeking Policy to help ensure that students seek medical care for their peers.
  • Each year, we dedicate significant resources to support a wide range of alcohol-free programming alternatives at the House, Yard, and campus-wide levels.

Alcohol Event Policies and Procedures

Private Parties in the Houses

  1. Students who are 21 years of age or older are permitted to possess, store, and consume alcohol in their assigned rooms.
  2. Students who wish to host private parties with alcohol must 21 years of age or older. If the private party is to be held in a suite, the hosts must be residents of the room in which the private party will be held.
  3. All private parties must be registered with and approved by the House. Houses may determine the deadlines and means of submitting registrations provided the following minimum requirements are met:
    • Student hosts must meet with their tutor prior to hosting their first private party of the academic year.
    • Student hosts must demonstrate a satisfactory understanding of strategies to create safe social environments as well as their understanding of the applicable laws and policies governing alcohol, including responsibilities for social hosts.
    • Student hosts must acknowledge responsibility for compliance with all applicable laws and policies.
  4. Private parties are by personal invitation only. When choosing how many students to invite, a host should be mindful of the number of students permitted to be present in the suite at one time (see section 11 below). Advertising is prohibited. Use of social media is only permitted in the context of private and directed invitations. (e.g. private messages on Facebook, direct message on Twitter).
  5. Host(s) of private parties must be present for the entire event, monitor the event, and make sure there is no underage or unsafe drinking.
  6. Ample water, non-alcoholic beverages, and food must be provided for the duration of any private party or event at which alcohol will be available.
    • Water and non-alcoholic beverages must be as visible and accessible as the alcoholic beverages that are being served.
    • Adequate food also must be provided.
    • Alcohol may not be served at an event until water, non-alcoholic beverages, and food are also available; alcohol may not be served if the water, non-alcoholic beverages, or food become unavailable.
  7. The amount of alcohol purchased must be scaled for the reasonably anticipated number of attendees of legal drinking age.
  8. Activities that promote high-risk drinking, such as excessive and/or rapid consumption of alcohol, particularly of a competitive nature, are not permitted. It is expected that hosts will plan parties where drinking is not the central activity.
  9. Tutors or other House residential staff will check in at least once throughout the course of each private party.
  10. If a tutor has concerns that a private party is not being managed well, then the tutor will speak with the host(s) about the concerns, require that the host(s) resolve the concerns, and check the event again after a short time. If the concerns are not properly addressed, then the tutor will take steps to shut down the event.
  11. Private parties are limited to the number of students that can be safely in the suite, as determined by the House.
  12. House common spaces may be used by student residents who wish to host private parties, at the discretion of the House, where the architecture of student suites makes them unsuitable for private parties, In such cases, the rules provided in this section apply.

Social Events on Campus

  1. For the purpose of this policy, “social events on campus” mean any organized functions held in House common areas (e.g. Junior Common Rooms, Dining Halls, Grilles) or non- residential facilities (e.g. the Student Organization Center at Hilles, Ticknor Lounge) where alcohol is served.
  2. All social events on campus must be registered and approved. See Additional Policies and Procedures Related to Specific Types of Social Events for specific registration and approval requirements.
  3. Alcohol is generally permitted only at social events that are limited to members of the Harvard community and their escorted guests. In certain limited circumstances alcohol also may be permitted at day or evening events that are open to the public, but only with prior approval of the Dean of Students Office. Alcohol is never permitted at late-night social events that are open and advertised to attendees beyond the Harvard community.
  4. Age Verification, Alcohol Service, and Monitoring
    • Proper verification of age is required at social events on campus where alcohol is served.
      • Acceptable identification for age verification of Harvard affiliates is a valid state or government ID accompanied by a Harvard University ID.
      • Failure to have both of these pieces of identification will result in a request for additional forms of ID, and may result in the denial of alcohol service.
      • Non-Harvard guests must show at least two forms of ID, one of which must be a valid state or government ID.
    • A “best practices” system for making sure that alcohol is provided only to those who are of age must be established and implemented. One such system is to identify those who are 21 and older by a non-transferable identifier (e.g. wristbands).
    • Social event attendees will not be served more than one alcoholic beverage at a time.
  5. For social events on campus with alcohol that are hosted by student organizations, Houses, or College offices or centers, a Student Event Services (SES) Team (comprised of TIPS – Training for Intervention Procedures – trained bartenders) must be engaged to handle both age verification and the service of alcohol. With the approval of the Dean of Students Office, College offices or centers may choose instead to use a licensed and insured vendor to provide bartending service.
  6. In the case of small House events where attendance is limited only to the residents of the host House, either a member of the House residential life staff or a member of an SES Team may handle age verification. A member of the SES Team, the House residential life staff, or the student organizers (provided they are of legal drinking age) may serve the alcohol.
  7. Throughout the duration of all social events on campus, those in charge of age verification and alcohol service must continue to monitor and ensure that alcohol is not provided to students who are under 21 and that students who are of legal drinking age are not over-served. If any non-compliance is not corrected, then the event will be terminated.
  8. In the case of House events, member(s) of the House staff must be present for the duration of the event. If a staff member has concerns that the event is not being properly monitored (for example, IDs are not being checked to identify those who are over or under 21, alcohol is being provided to those under 21, or alcohol is being consumed by those under 21), the staff member will speak with the host(s) about these concerns and ensure that the identified issues are corrected.

Quantity and Types of Alcohol

  1. The amount of alcohol purchased must be scaled for the reasonably anticipated number of attendees of legal drinking age.
  2. With the approval of Faculty Dean or authorized designee for House events and College staff for other campus events, kegs are generally permitted in the Houses and at College events, although they continue to be banned at athletic facilities and athletic events. Students must comply with all House or other protocols for registration, storage, and disposal of kegs.
  3. Only beer, wine, and malt beverages may be served at social events on campus. These beverages must not have an alcohol content that exceeds 15 percent.
  4. “Bring Your Own Beer/Booze” (BYOB) events are not permitted. All alcohol served at an event must be purchased and provided by the event host(s).

Serving Times

The service of alcohol at social events on campus may not last longer than five hours. With the exception of events that are two hours or less, last call must occur 30 minutes prior to the scheduled conclusion of the event and alcohol service must end 15 minutes prior to the scheduled conclusion of the event.


  1. Printed and electronic posters for social events on campus may mention alcohol, provided they use the following specific and approved language:
    “Non-alcoholic beverages available. Beer 21+”
    “Non-alcoholic beverages available. Beer and wine 21+”

  2. Only the Dean of Students Office may approve variations to this standard language for campus-wide advertisements, regardless of where the event is to be held. A House may approve variations to the standard language for events to be held within the House and advertised only within the House. Advertisements may contain no other references to alcohol, including without limitation: price of alcoholic beverages; types of beers, wines, or mixed drinks available; or photos or logos of alcoholic beverages.


  • If there will be a direct charge (such as a cash bar) or indirect charge (such as an event admission fee) for alcohol, a one-day alcohol license from the City of Cambridge is required.
  • An officer of the University will obtain alcohol licenses for College-sponsored events.
  • Social events on campus licensed by the City of Cambridge must conclude no later than 2:00am.
  • Social events in the Houses not requiring a license must conclude at a reasonable time, as determined by the Faculty Dean and House Committee. 
  • Social events in other campus locations not requiring a license must conclude at a reasonable time, as determined by DSO.

Other Regulations

  1. Activities that promote high-risk drinking, such as excessive and/or rapid consumption of alcohol, particularly of a competitive nature, are not permitted. It is expected that hosts will plan parties where drinking is not the central activity.
  2. Alcohol companies, services, or distributors may not provide support (i.e. monetary, gifts in kind, products) for social events on campus.
  3. To comply with fire safety regulations, events in spaces without Certificates of Inspection may not exceed capacity of 49 persons.
  4. Police security is required when the event is open to the broader Harvard College community and may otherwise be required at the discretion of the Faculty Dean, Resident Dean, or DSO.

Additional Policies and Procedures Related to Specific Types of Social Events

In addition to the policies and procedures set forth above, the following policies and procedures also apply to certain social events with alcohol.

Small House Committee and House Events

Examples: Stein Clubs, Happy Hours, House Dinners

  • Events can only be advertised in the host House and must follow the guidelines outlined in the House Committee Events Resource (available through the DSO).
  • Events are limited to House residents and their invited guests. Guests must present a college or valid government or state ID and be signed in by their hosts at the door.


Large House-Sponsored Events

Examples: Formals, House Dances, House Theatre

  • Approval for all such events is required from both the House and DSO. The event must be registered through the DSO using the Event Registration Form in Roombook and follow all guidelines related to event registration, ticketing, and management in the HoCo Events Resource.
  • Large House events are ordinarily held in a common area of a House. In special cases, with the approval of the Faculty Dean and DSO, an event may be held in an outside facility, but only if adequate arrangements for transportation have been made and the off-campus venue is licensed to serve alcohol, if alcohol is to be served.
  • Events are generally limited to House residents and their invited guests, but in some cases, at the discretion of the House and DSO, other members of the Harvard community may be invited. Guests must present a college or valid government or state ID and be signed in by their hosts at the door.
  • Events must be ticketed through the Harvard Box Office and must follow all applicable guidelines for capacity.
  • If the event is held in the Quad, additional shuttles from Harvard Transportation Services will be provided by DSO.
  • Transportation back to campus is required for late-night events sponsored by the College and held off campus. The sponsoring House, Office, or Center must arrange and pay for transportation.
  • Events must end no later than 11:00pm Sunday–Thursday, and 2:00am Friday–Saturday. The only exception to this rule is that, with prior permission from the Faculty Dean and DSO, House Formals held Sunday–Thursday may end at any time up to 2:00am.

Student Organization Events

  • Student organization events with alcohol held in House common areas and non-residential facilities must be registered with the DSO. All House and facility-specific registration requirements must also be met in order for such events to be approved.
  • SES Beverage Servers are required when alcohol is served. SES Event Supervisors may be required to monitor events to ensure that student hosts are effectively implementing the Event Plan established with the DSO.
  • The kinds of mixed drinks to be served must be approved in advance by both the Faculty Deans and the DSO.
  • All drinks containing hard liquor must include mixers and may not contain more than one standard measure of alcohol.
  • Professional bartenders from a licensed and insured vendor approved by DSO must be hired to mix and serve drinks.
  • Beer, wine, and malt beverages can be served open bar. Mixed drinks may only be offered for purchase or limited drink ticket system developed and approved by the Faculty Deans and DSO to ensure that appropriate limits are in place.

House Formal Pilot Permitting Mixed Drinks

During the 2021-22 academic year, the College will continue the pilot program permitting mixed drinks (drinks containing hard liquor) to be served at House formals held on or off campus. The following conditions must be met:  

  • The kinds of mixed drinks to be served must be approved in advance by both the Faculty Deans and the DSO
  • All drinks containing hard liquor must include mixers and may not contain more than one standard measure of alcohol 
  • Professional bartenders from a licensed and insured vendor approved by DSO must be hired to mix and serve drinks
  • Mixed drinks may only be offered for purchase or limited drink ticket system developed and approved by the Faculty Deans and DSO to ensure that appropriate limits are in place

Beer, wine, and malt beverages can be served open bar.