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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

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.

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 (again) 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.

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).

I'm on leave for the fall semester. How do I get a spring assignment?

For students returning to campus in the spring semester from studying abroad in the fall, you will receive an email the first week of November with a link to the "Spring Room Assignment Form for Students on Leave." You will complete this form and indicate if you want to return to your previous house assignment 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.

For New Students

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.

What should I bring with me?

When you arrive, your room will contain a twin bed, desk with chair, bureau, mirror, phone, bookcase, recycling container 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.

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 & Room Draw

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. 

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.