How Families Can Support Students Who Live on Campus
Research on college students has something to say about you too, parents. Students with involved families do better on grades, persist in college at higher rates, and graduate sooner.
Residential living takes some time getting used to. There aren’t many real-life situations that resemble living with dozens (or hundreds) of similar-age peers in a large building with long hallways and shared bathrooms. Because of how unique and close residence hall living is, a person’s living environment in college tends to create lasting memories and learning opportunities.
How involved is too much? A college has different obligations to parents than a high school. Parents have a new set of conflicts to balance: how much do I get involved, and how much do I let my daughter deal with things on her own? Can I trust the university to be fair in its decisions related to her experience there? Do I make this phone call to advocate for my son, or let him sort through this himself?
We want to hear from you. If you have concerns related to Residence Life, we will follow up on anything that needs to be followed up on, and we will make sure we do everything we are able to do to help get your child into the best possible living situation. We will answer every question you have about our housing policies, process, and paperwork.
We won’t do those things without your child’s involvement. Our mission is to offer safe, welcoming living for all students. That being said, students ultimately need to take the most responsibility for self-advocacy. The most rewarding staff-parent interactions are the times when we partner together to help encourage a student to act independently and be involved in the process.
We would also love to hear from you when things are going great. Nothing makes our day like being able to pass on to a staff member that a parent went out of their way to give positive feedback.
The following section addresses some of the policies and procedures that often come up as questions from parents. It is not intended to encompass every policy the university has. For that, please see the Student Handbook of Rights and Responsibilities.
About Living on Campus
Residence Life Mission, Values, and Staff
Residence Life is committed to offering a residential environment that is safe, welcoming, and free from any forces that seek to oppress or limit any individual. Our staff are tasked with responding to any behaviors that disrupt the academic environment or interfere with the ability of anyone in the community to live securely.
Vermont State Colleges Housing Policy
All students are required to live in the residence halls for their first two years. This is because students who live on campus are more likely to be academically successful and persist until graduation.
Additionally, all students who live on campus must purchase a meal plan. Exemptions are extremely rare and are primarily at the discretion of the Director of Dining Services in consultation with the Housing Review Committee. The process for requesting an exemption is the same as the Housing Review process, detailed below.
Students who will turn 24 before the spring semester of a given academic year are not required to live on campus. Students who transfer in as sophomores are only required to live on campus for one year. Additionally, students who live within an approximate 30-mile radius may commute from the home of their parent or guardian. They must complete a Housing Review form as detailed below.
Housing contracts are binding for the full academic year. Students may not be released from the contract during the academic year, even if they are not required to live on campus.
Students who wish to appeal the housing policy, should complete a Housing Review Form, available on the portal. Students doing so are strongly encouraged to meet with the chair of the Housing Review Committee on your campus, to ensure they understand the process and required documentation(s). Requests must generally meet one of the following criteria:
- The student is married, in a domestic partnership, and/or has primary custody of a child.
- The student has a serious, persistent, and documentable medical, learning, or psychiatric limitation that makes it impossible to successfully live on campus.
- The student has significant financial difficulties and may not be able to remain enrolled as a student if they are required to live on campus.
Room Assignments and Changes
Room assignment preferences for new students are based on the date which students submit their housing contract. Students who request each other as roommates may do so as long as both students submit their contract before June 15.
NVU has single, double, and triple rooms. Single rooms are prioritized on a need basis. If there is documented need, the student must complete a disability disclosure with The NVU Learning Specialist.
When making room assignments, we consider the information provided on the housing contract. This is our best opportunity to make a successful roommate match. However, no set of questions can perfectly predict how roommates will get along. That said, parents should not complete the housing contract for their son or daughter.
For room changes, students should generally see their RA first for help. If the problem is an interpersonal conflict, the staff will make every effort to help resolve the conflict first. Determining the nature of a conflict between roommates can be a challenge, and it is important for students to advocate for themselves as much as possible especially if the root cause of the issue is inappropriate or unsafe behavior.
Room change requests are sometimes impossible to immediately approve due to lack of available beds. When this occurs, please know that we are doing our best to find a placement that will be helpful to the student.
Community Commitment and Expectations
We strive to have a residential environment that supports NVU’s Community Commitments, which include: lifelong learning, personal well-being, success, freedom of expression, curiosity, critical thinking, compassion, service, involvement and respect. Students are expected to adhere to the Student Handbook of Rights and Responsibilities. Our staff are expected to be fair and approachable in their interactions with students.
A residence hall floor of thirty residents could have thirty different worldviews, interests, belief systems, and behavior sets. A successful community understands and celebrates those differences while being considerate to the basic needs of others.
We receive many questions from parents about substance use and the university’s policies. NVU does not allow or condone any illegal or illicit use or possession of alcohol or drugs. The Residence Life staff and Public Safety officers will proactively address and document any concerning behaviors relevant to use or possession of substances that are illegal or illicit.
Parents of students who violate the alcohol or drug policy will receive a notification letter. We strongly encourage you to discuss the incident with your son or daughter. If, after doing so, you have any questions, you are welcome to contact the Dean of Students office on your student’s campus.
In some of our residence halls, we have established designated alcohol-free environments. In these areas, residents sign a specific agreement not to possess, use, or be under the influence of alcohol or other substances while in the living space. These areas are established to recognize the fact that many students want to live in an environment free from those behaviors.
Students should feel free to decorate their room in a way that is welcoming and consistent with both residents’ tastes and interests. Due to fire code restrictions, however, wall coverings must not cover more than 30% of the total wall area and nothing can be hanging from the ceiling.
Students may not paint their walls and we strongly encourage the use of blue painter’s tape or masking tape to hang posters, as other adhesives can leave damaging residue. Tacks, nails, and other wall-piercing methods of hanging stuff up are not permitted.
We try to be as reasonable as possible in charging people for room damages, but we do charge for damage beyond reasonable use. Standard repair or replacement costs are available at the student’s request.
When damages occur in a room, the residents will be charged based on the replacement or repair cost of the damaged item. The decision of whether repairs are possible is at the discretion of NVU’s Physical Plant Department. If the damage is clearly the responsibility of one resident, that person will bear the cost for it.
Sometimes, community damage occurs (such as in hallways, bathrooms, lounges, and/or lobbies). When this happens, we will make a good-faith effort to identify who is responsible. If no one comes forward, the community will share the cost. We determine who to charge based on where the damage occurred. If it occurred on a floor, the floor is charged; in a stairway that most of a wing uses, the whole wing is charged; and so forth.
Northern Vermont University has two week-long breaks each semester in addition to the gap between the semesters. Students are responsible for exiting the residence halls by 10 a.m. on the Saturday that starts a break, and are welcome to return anytime after 10 a.m. on the Sunday before classes resume.
The exceptions to this are generally related to varsity athletics; employment, classes or courses that have trips or weekend class meetings; and distant travel (outside New England, and Eastern New York). Requests for other exceptions can be made via the Break Housing Request Form.
Learn more about residence life at NVU here.