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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What happens if I lose a room key?
When this happens, we must replace all keys assigned to the room, and provide a new core lock mechanism for the door. The total for a single room is $80 ($50 re-core, $30 room key). The total for a double room is $80 ($50 re-core, $30 room key, $30 roommate key). The total for a triple room depends on the room and door configuration but can range between  $80 - $160. Please know that all roommate keys muct be replaced regardless of whether or not you have a roommate. 

What do I do if I withdrew and left campus without returning my key?
Please return your key! If you can come in person, please return it to Clark Hall as soon as possible. If not, mail it to the address listed below in a padded envelope, so the key does not rip out in the mail.

IMPORTANT: If we do not hear from you we will assume the key has gone missing.

Is smoking allowed in the houses?
Smoking is forbidden in all campus buildings and anywhere within twenty feet of any building. 

What if I have a disability?
If you have a documented disability—including, but not limited to, sensory or mobility impairment, a chronic illness, a learning disability, a medical or psychological condition, or being in recovery from substance abuse—we encourage you to register with the Office of Disability Services as soon as possible. You can do this by completing the Disability Identification Form you received in the first mailing from the Office of Admission and returning it directly to the disability services director, College Hall 104. The form contains instructions and describes the requirements for submitting supporting documentation. Before or immediately after your arrival on campus, please schedule a meeting with the director to discuss accommodation plans. This is especially important for students needing help to get books in alternative formats, e.g., tapes or disks. Call the Office of Disability Services at 413-585-2071 or via TTY at 413-585-2072 if you have any questions.

I'm on leave for the fall semester. How do I get a spring assignment?
Students returning to campus in the spring semester from studying abroad in the fall will receive an email the first week of November with a link to the "Spring Room Assignment Request Form." You will complete this form and indicate if you want to return to your previous house and other preferences. We will do our best to place you back into your previous house assignment if you desire but it all depends on availability.

I'm currently withdrawn for the fall semester. How do I get a spring assignment?
We cannot assign housing to withdrawn students until we receive official notification from the registrar that they have been re-admitted to the college. This happens after a student has paid their deposit (usually in December or January).

I was planning on going away for the spring but I have decided to stay. How do I keep my current room assignment for spring?
You need to let the Global Studies Department know if your intention to remain on campus. You will then need to check in with Residence Life to let us know. Once these two things happen you will be able to keep your room assignment for the spring. If you hapen to receive an email from Residence Life asking you to confirm your plans to study off campus for the spring, pleease write to us RIGHT AWAY to let us know of the error. 

Is it possible to move off campus?
There is an off-campus lottery for rising seniors when we coordinate that process this spring for room assignments for the coming academic year. In this case, you would not need to complete a petition to live off-campus, you would complete the Special Interest lottery form for off-campus which open from February 3, 2020 to February 13, 2020. You can find it on the Res Life self-service page on the Smith Portal. If you miss the off-campus lottery, you can complete the Petition to Live Off-campus, which opens April 10. Please know that living off-campus may affect any financial aid you may be receiving. We always recommend that students check in with SFS to determine this before they decide to move off-campus.

Can I return to on-campus housing after living off campus?
Yes. Fill out the form Off-Campus—Returning to On-Campus Living found under Forms and Applications on the Residence Life website.

Does 150 Elm have a kitchen?
There is a full kitchen in 150 Elm, including a microwave, stove top and oven, refrigerator, etc.

What is the “505 Internal Server Error” message on the RLIF form?
That error is typically a result of too many characters entered into a field. Responses are limited to 200 characters (not words!). Try shortening your responses and resubmitting.

Where do I fill out the housing preference form?
All Reslife forms are available from the Smith Portal under the Residence Life Self-Service link.

I can no longer see my fall housing assignment, has it been deleted?!
Probably not. Fall housing assignments are sometimes not visible for any students for a brief time during the summer, but they have not been deleted. We hide assignments so that incoming students are not able to identify their assignments prior to when final confirmation emails are delivered in late July.

Do I qualify for early arrival housing?
Early Arrival housing is only available to students under certain circumstances follows:

  1. You are here (staying on-campus)  for the entire month of August, in which case you may sign up to move into your house for Early Arrival. You would move from your assigned Summer Housing house into your Fall room assignment
  2. You are being paid as student staff to work on Orientation, or you work an on-campus job that is needed for the opening of the college
  3. A Five College course that begins before the Smith move-in 
  4. Certain House Council positions that require training before the start of the academic year

You can stay for extended housing if you are working for commencement/reunion. Your supervisor will add you to the extended housing list with our office. Please check in with your supervisor. You can also sign up for summer housing. There is a weekly fee to stay for summer housing.

What is the housing situation for JGrads who will be attending commencement?
The Office of Residence Life will contact all JGrads during the spring before their May commencement. JGrads are provided with a link to a housing form where they can opt in or out of commencement housing. ResLife will then assign housing to any JGrad who has opted in for commencement housing. The graduate will be contacted with this assignment via email. JGrads are not charged for opting in or out of commencement housing.

What does room draw look like if I have a housing accommodation through ODS?
All students who have a housing accommodation begin receiving emails beginning in December reminding them to complete the Housing Accommodation Form (HAF). The deadline to complete the HAF is February 15. On this form, students with accommodations indicate their choice for the following year. The choices are as follows:

  1. Remain in their current house and room.
  2. Need to update their housing accommodation with ODS.
  3. Indicate that their current room no longer meets the accommodation we have on file and therefore need a new assignment.
  4. Try for a different room through room draw.

Any student with an accommodation who does not complete this form is automatically re-assigned to their current room for the following year.

Do I need to register my Emotional Support Animal?
Yes! Please go to your Res Life Self-Service page and register your animal at your earliest convenience. The deadline to register your animal is August 1st.


For New Students

What is the probability of having a single as a freshman?
About 15% of first years will be placed in a single. Probability will be based on what area of campus you are placed in as some areas of campus have more singles to offer than others.

How do I find out my roommate’s email address?
When you compose a new email in your Smith email account you can type their name into the “To” bar and the student's name/email should come up for you to select.

What will my mailing address be?
You can send and receive mail at the college's postal center, in the lower level of the Campus Center. Mail is not delivered to the houses. Your assigned unit number will be sent to your home address during the latter part of the summer, in a postal info packet. (You'll keep the same unit number for your entire time at Smith.) If you do not know what your Unit # is, go to the Campus Directory and search for your name. For more information about mail and mail services, please visit the Mail Services for Students page.

How big are the rooms?
The rooms vary in size by house and by the number of students they accommodate. The average single is 9' x 10' and the average double is 12' x 14'. These sizes are approximate. We do not provide dimensions for specific housing assignments.

What size are the windows in the houses?
The size of the windows varies even more than the size of the rooms. We encourage you to decorate your room with curtains. Most houses already have curtain rods in them. If your room does not, you can purchase an adjustable tension rod after your arrival either in Northampton or through mail order. Rooms in Cutter and Ziskind houses already have curtains.

What size are the beds? Do we need to bring our own sheets and linens?
You will need twin extra-long sheets for the beds. Plan to bring sheets, blankets, pillows, linens, towels and so on.

Can I bring my own bed and mattress to Smith to put in my room? 
If this is a medical accommodation, please contact the Office of Disability Service. They will work with you to ensure that you have everything that you need at Smith, housing and beyond. Please email Lisa at (lroberge@smith.edu)

If these special requests are simply because of preference, please contact Facilities Management as they would be the ones removing and storing the college-provided bed. You can call them at (413) 585-2400.

What are already in the houses and rooms?
There are basic communal items in houses with kitchens--pots and pans, plates, cups, bowls, silverware. In your room you will have a bed, desk, chair, bureau and bookcase. There will be basic window shades for the windows. 

What should I bring with me?
When you arrive, your room will contain a twin bed, desk with chair, bureau, mirror, bookcase, recycling container and trash can, and window screens. You will need to bring the following items:

  • comforter
  • pillow and pillowcases
  • blankets
  • twin-size sheets (flannel sheets are cozy in winter)
  • towels
  • clothes hangers
  • alarm clock
  • lamps and light bulbs

Other items that students often bring include:

  • curtains (except in Cutter and Ziskind houses)
  • laundry bag
  • wastebasket
  • room decorations, including rugs (see policy)
  • computer (and surge protector)
  • tool kit
  • extension cords
  • bulletin/memo board
  • stamps
  • hair dryer
  • sewing kit
  • first-aid kit (including thermometer, ice pack and hot-water bottle)
  • headphones

You'll need a heavy coat, gloves, a hat, a scarf and warm, waterproof boots for our Massachusetts winters, which can come in November and stay until March. Boots and shoes with good traction are a big help on icy days. For rain, you'll need rain gear and an umbrella.

Appliances that can be used include radios, clocks, CD or record players, TVs and DVD players, lamps, hair dryers, humidifiers, electric blankets, computers and peripherals, printers, hot air corn poppers and coffee pots that have UL approval. Lightweight refrigerators no larger than 3.5 cubic feet in capacity are allowed but discouraged for reasons of sustainability.

What can’t I bring with me?
The following items are prohibited because they pose fire hazards:

  • candles and incense
  • halogen (torchiere-style) lamps
  • toasters and toaster ovens
  • electric hot plates
  • space heaters
  • paper lampshades
  • microwave ovens
  • quick-heat pots
  • kerosene or oil lamps

Also not allowed: Christmas trees, branches, live or dry wreaths; air conditioners; charcoal grills, crockpots, doughnut makers, electric fry pans, gas appliances, hamburger makers, waffle irons and woks.

Can we visit our rooms before school starts, once we know our room assignment?
No. Because the summer is extremely busy and not all houses are empty at that time, it is impossible for us to show houses and rooms.

What are the options available at Smith for students with food allergies or diet restrictions. Are there vegetarian or vegan options? 
Yes, we do have all those options! We have two specific vegan/vegetarian dining hall on campus, and every dining hall has non-dairy milk options (usually soy, almond, and rice). We also have a gluten-free dining hall available where access is gained through a doctor's note. In addition, one of our dining halls is specifically nut and shellfish free. 

Those are the basics but if you have any further questions you should reach out to Dining Services (dining@smith.edu).

Can I bring a car to campus?
First-year students are not permitted to bring cars. All students should be aware that there is also a shortage of off-campus parking in Northampton. Much street parking is far from the college, and on-street parking is prohibited during snow emergencies from the first declared snow emergency to April 1. Smith College Campus Police personnel and Northampton police ticket and tow cars parked in violation of college or city regulations.

Where should I go when I arrive?
Before stopping at your house to unload all those treasured belongings, please attend central check-in at the Indoor Track and Tennis Facility, which is part of the Ainsworth athletic complex on College Lane. There we will officially welcome you with your house and room keys, course registration materials, orientation packet and college publications. You'll also be asked to complete any required forms and resolve any issues related to health services, student employment, financial aid or paying your bill.


Room Changes

Can I request a room change?
To request a room change, you'll want to fill out the Room Change Request Form, found on your Residence Life Self Service page (found through the Smith Portal). You can request a change at any point in time and we will address them on a rolling basis.

Is it possible to tell me which houses have available singles?
Unfortunately, we cannot accurately tell which houses have available singles, as housing shifts week to week when people request to move. However, be specific on the request form, including what houses you'd be willing to move into, what are your top choices, and specifically that you'd ONLY want to move if you could get a single. 

How are rooms assigned for room change requests? 
The way we assign rooms is by matching preferences, in the order they come in, with available rooms. For example, if the  list is Cutter, Ziskind, Chapin, Tyler, and Morris, and you only want a single room. We look at the list of available rooms, and if there are no singles in Cutter, we look at Ziskind; if there are no singles in Ziskind, we look at Chapin, and so on. If we get to the end of the list and there are no singles that match the houses you listed, or if students higher on the list has already been placed in the open rooms, you are put on the waiting list, to be revisited when new rooms open up. The only ways to maximize the chances of getting a room change are filling out the form early and being open to all singles on campus.

How fast is the process?
We address room change requests based on time stamp of the form being completed. It can really vary how much time it takes to make a move, especially if your requests are specific.

Can I swap rooms with someone?
In order to complete a room swap, both people need to complete the Room Change Request Form indicating that you wish to swap rooms. Your swap request should be included in the notes section of the form along with whom will be moving into what room. You should also list each other as your new intended roommate. In addition, if either of you have a roommate currently, the roommate will also need to approve this room swap. This can be done by the roommate by also completing the Room Change Request Form or emailing our office at reslife@smith.edu stating that they approve of the move. Once all parties have approved of the room swap, you will receive a formal room change offer. Both moving parties will then need to identify a time to come to Clark Hall after the offer is made to exchange keys for our records. If you are seeking a room change into a double together, but not in a situation where your roommates are agreeable to a swap, you should both complete the Room Change Request Form indicating that you are seeking an open double and indicating each other as your new intended roommate.

What is the room change process?

  1. If you hope to move from a room with a roommate, first try communicating with your roommate about your shared space and what you both need for a positive living environment. Consider what you completed on the Roommate Contract and how you can identify steps to create a better shared living space. These conversations are important when preparing for your meeting with your Residence Life staff.

  2. Complete the Room Change form and set-up a meeting with your house coordinator, or house community adviser (if your HR is not available). Adas will meet with the apartment manager. In this meeting you will identify next steps which could be mediation with a roommate or gain a better understanding about your request to move.

  3. We also encourage you to set-up a consultation meeting with your area director or attend their open hours. This conversation will help clarify questions, better understand your request, and confirm final decisions. 

  4. When you submit your Room Change Request Form, it will then be placed on a waiting list for the assistant director of housing operations who will find the best possible option for you. The length of time between when your form is submitted and if/when you receive an offer varies by the individual. Open rooms are constantly in flux so please be patient with the process! You do not forfeit your room by completing a Room Change Form or going through the process. You can always stay in your room. If you deny a room change offer then we move onto the next requests first before we provide another room offer to you. 

If you want to swap rooms with someone, then you still need to complete a Room Change Form and may set-up a consultation meeting with your Res Life staff. Students may not change rooms by switching keys. Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action. 

I am returning to Smith in January and am curious about what I should anticipate regarding my housing situation for next semester. Will I be placed in my old house?
Fill out the Spring Room Assignment Request Form when that opens in Residence Life Self-Service. You will provide information about your top choice houses and you can also include any preferences in room numbers if you know they are open. We cannot guarantee but we will do our best based on what we have open! We are assigning students who are returning from leave based on class year and form submission date order.

Why do we have a two-week room freeze?
Smith College has a residential requirement for all undergraduate students. When placing our first-year students, we had to use temporary/nontraditional spaces due to the above-average residential numbers this year. 

The only room openings at this point come from students who withdraw. We have a room freeze in order to process all the withdrawals that come directly from the Registar's Office. We do not change a student's room assignment to withdrawn status until we hear from the Registrar's Office, and they need time to process. It is more effective and efficient for both the Office of Residence Life and you if we have time to compile this information and then move forward with room changes. It is also our priority to move students from their temporary/nontraditional spaces first if they choose to do so however they can remain in their spaces for the academic year.

Keep in mind that when we offer a room change, a student can either accept or deny that room within 48 hours. Then we give 72 hours to move. At that point, another space becomes available. Please be patient with this process, as it is often similar to a domino effect as spaces become available.


Room Draw

How do I apply to the special lotteries?
Applications for special lotteries early spring semester, before Room Draw. The special lotteries include Tenney, Hopkins, the Friedman Apartments, Chase Substance-Free community, and the off-campus lottery. If you do not get housing in any of these lotteries then you will be able to enter regular Room Draw. 

Can I apply to more than one special lottery?
Yes.

Where can I find all these forms?
All forms will be available on your Residence Life Self-Service page (via your Smith portal), under the Application tab.  Note: They will appear when the forms open.

If I’m on leave in the spring, do I still participate in Room Draw for the fall?
Any students on leave in the spring will participate in Room Draw so keep your eyes open for an email about that process! We start emailing in late December, January, and then February when forms open!

I am currently studying abroad and I have inconsistent internet access here, and the room draw lottery occurs at a time that's a little inconvenient for me given my timezone, so I've asked my friend to be my proxy (and sent them an email giving them permission). What else do I need to do?
Your friend will come to Clark Hall front reception on Wednesday or Thursday- at least 10 minutes before your start time - and we will confirm the email confirmation your friend has from you to be your proxy. We will log into the computer system as you (because we have administrator privileges). Then once your time is ready, we will have your friend get on the computer and pick your room for you. They will pick a room right there and you'll be confirmed right away!

With the new duo authentication system, you may be wondering if this will effect being a proxy. It will not affect the process as long as your friend comes to Clark Hall to do your room draw. Do not just send your friend your login information, because then Duo will stop them from being able to log in!

How are room lottery numbers assigned?
The Office of Residence Life uses an online system of assigning lottery numbers to enhance the randomization of lottery number assignments and ensure equity through the room draw process. Each house has a separate lottery that is comprised of rising seniors, rising juniors, and rising sophomores.When we assign lottery numbers, we proceed with the randomization process and then after all room draw lottery numbers are assigned, we manually assign #1 to the House President. Room Draw Numbers are assigned within each class year group (numerical class years only). Rising seniors start at #2 (House Presidents get the top slot), rising juniors start at #100, and rising sophomores start at #200. If there are any outliers who are now the entering class year because they are on leave, they would start at #300. 

What timezone are the Room Draw times?
The email sent to all students with your time to pick your assignment for room draw is in United States Eastern Standard Time zone. Since it’s in April, it’s considered Eastern Daylight Time.

What are some helpful hints on preparing for Room Draw?
Before your time slot begins, clear your cache and cookies on your browser so you can start the process fresh!

  1. Keep the house diagrams open which are located on our website at http://www.smith.edu/reslife/houses.php.
  2. Make sure you have MANY back-up plans! You will be able to watch the available bed list update as the lottery goes on throughout the night. It’s important that once you see the last single picked, you know who you want to room with and be able to select them as roommates before your time slot.

What's the Room Draw process with a roommate?
You should plan with someone ahead of time to be roommates, then the two of you will be able to select one another before Room Draw. You and your roommate must be in the same house, because each house has an individual lottery. Either roommate can pick the room, we recommend that the person wih the best time slot pick. Once you have selected to be roommates in the system, only doubles will be visible during roomdraw. To see singles during roomdraw you cannnot have a roomate selected, however, you won't be able to pick a double without a roommate, so it is important to plan ahead. It can be helpful to do roomdraw together with your potential roommate to figure out what rooms (singles or doubles) are available as roomdraw is happening.

I completed Room Draw but am unhappy with the result. Is there anything I can do?
Anyone who is unhappy with the result of Room Draw may complete the Post-Room Draw Change Form. accessible via your Self Service page to request room and/or house preferences. You may indicate that they will accept a single anywhere on campus, or only in specific houses. Limiting preferences to only a few house choices will limit our ability to offer a single.This form is time sensitive so the earlier the you complete  it the higher up you will be on the list. We will use the information you provide on this form to help us determine a suitable room offer when we make our next round of room changes in June.

Room draw is over and I am in an open double. What is going to happen to my open double?
Typically we reach out to all students in June to confirm that you are in a half open double with no roommate. We usually do this after the Post Room Draw Change form offers have gone out. We inquire about potential roommates, or housemates, that we can either consolidate or other students looking to move. It would be the best option if you knew of another student wanting to move that would live with you in your double. If that option is not available, then we look into next options which are current housemates or an entering transfer.

What is a half open double?
A half open double is a room intended for double occupancy that has only one occupant. Students assigned in open doubles through the room draw process should expect the following: Over the summer an effort will be made to fill those spaces with entering transfer students. If students remain in an open double as the summer closes, then they may be consolidated into a room with another student in an open double (the student with the lower class year/lottery number is the one relocated). During academic terms, students in open doubles are expected to remain open to the possibility of a student moving into the vacant bed. Their house coordinator or house community adviser will contact them to discuss students who are interested, and they will be asked to meet to discuss the possibility of rooming together. If no roommate has been found, then students should expect that an entering transfer may be placed in the room assignment over Interterm in January. Nobody is allowed to remain the sole occupant of a half-open double for the entire school year, and they may not decline a room change request simply to keep a room as a single. 

I am interested in living with someone already in a half open double. How does that work?
Student staff in the houses will act as intermediaries to help place you in contact with the student in the half open space. Student staff will discuss your interest with the student currently living in the space, and, if amenable, a meeting will be arranged.

What are some ways I can find a roommate for my half open double?
One option is to look at the roommate finding form for someone who matches your routine or living preferences. To do this, go to the Room Draw tab in self-service, select Roommates/Suitemates, and then use the advanced search tool at the bottom of the page. In the "Other Attributes" section, you can try selecting a box that applies to you and see if anyone comes up. Also fill out the Post-Room Draw Change Form through the Self-Service page when it opens; with this there's a potential to placed in another house in a single or with a more specific kind of roommate.

I want to move into an empty double. Is that possible?
Students can only move into an empty double with a preselected roommate. Moving into a double alone means that the room is then designated as a half open double, which means you must be willing to share the room with a roommate (including meeting potential roommates to discuss living options).

Where is the Post-Room Draw Change form? 
Log into Portal and then click on Residence Life Self-Service. Then go to Applications and you will find the Post- Room Draw Change Form.It will close the last day of classes.