By now, you’ve received your housing assignment and we know your list of questions is a mile long! Your main sources of information on housing will be the Columbia Housing website and the Residential Communities webpages. Below you will find information tailored to incoming students’ frequently asked questions.
Living on Campus
Required: Your Occupancy Agreement
All students living in residence halls must sign their Occupancy Agreement via the Housing Portal by August 1, 2021. You will not be eligible to move in without a signed agreement. You should have received an email communication from Columbia Housing instructions for signing the Occupancy Agreement by email in late June.
The Guide to Living
The Guide to Living is a compilation of policies, procedures and services created by Columbia Housing and Residential Life for students living in the 20 undergraduate residence halls and 18 brownstones.
The Guide to Living is reviewed each year, and updates are published in late summer. Columbia Housing will send an email notification to all students living on campus when the guide is updated.
It is important to understand and comply with the policies and procedures in The Guide to Living in order to prevent the loss of your guaranteed housing status.
Tips for Community Living
Your experience with your new residential hall community will depend in part on what you bring to it, so we recommend an open mind and an eagerness to connect. You'll also receive support from your resident adviser (RA), who will help everyone on your floor get to know one another and set agreements to create the ideal shared space. In the meantime, here are some tips for a successful transition to community living.
Get to know your neighbors. You need to know more than just the names and hometowns of the folks living in your hall. Ask questions. Learn about everyone in the hall, not just folks you connect with immediately. It helps to know about their experiences prior to Columbia to understand the perspective someone brings and how or why they may behave in a particular way. Also, it's much easier to make a request of someone with whom you have developed a relationship.
Talk directly about your needs. While you may be tempted to keep your expectations or needs to yourself, thinking you don't want to “start off on the wrong foot,” we encourage you to speak up for your needs. Bothersome behavior won't change if your floormates are not aware of the impact it's having. And reach out to your neighbor directly if you have a conflict, but allow yourself some time to calm down so you are not interacting at the height of your emotional reaction.
Be reasonable with your requests. Living in a community is about shared expectations, not just your individual needs. Prior to living at Columbia, you may have experienced absolute silence at bedtime or a bathroom in impeccable condition at all times. In a residence hall, you may be among peers who aren’t as sensitive to noise as you are. If issues persist after connecting with your neighbor, you can consult your RA for additional brainstorming.
For urgent issues, the resident adviser on-duty is able to bring in other campus resources and professional staff to address individual and community issues as necessary.
Furniture and Amenities
Rooms in residence halls are furnished with a bed, chair, chest of drawers, desk, bookshelves, closet or wardrobe, a wastebasket and recycling bins. Windows are covered with mini-blinds or shades.
Please note that you must keep all furnishings within your room, including bed frames and mattresses, and that you may not bring any additional furniture into your living space. Due to space limitations, we are unable to provide alternative storage for any furniture.
For information on bike racks, moving bins, fitness rooms, laundry, storage and other services and amenities, please visit the Services section of Columbia Housing’s Guide to Living.
Bed heights are adjustable (to a maximum height of 33") to allow for storage under the bed. For bed height specifics, please refer to the residence hall descriptions on the Columbia Housing website. You will need to bring your own pillows, linens and blankets. Your mattress is extra-long (80” x 36”), so it will require extra-long (sometimes sold as “XL twin”) sheets.
Columbia also works with a vendor, On Campus Marketing (OCM), to offer customized bedding packages that you can choose to have either delivered to your home before your departure or shipped directly to the campus mail center. All bedding products are designed for the twin XL beds in our residence halls.
Depending on your residence, the floors of your room may or may not be carpeted. In either case, you are welcome to bring your own floor covering.
Refrigerators are not provided in first-year residence halls. You may keep a refrigerator in your room as long as its volume does not exceed 2.5 cubic feet.
Columbia Housing facilitates refrigerator-microwave combination unit rentals for students through MicroFridge. MicroFridge units are delivered to student rooms before their arrival.
Note that other than MicroFridge combination units, which meet our size and energy requirements, microwave ovens are prohibited in rooms.
Telephones are available in residence hall corridors to place complimentary outgoing calls to the Hartley Hospitality Desk (4-2779) and Public Safety (4-5555). Hall phones cannot be used to place calls outside of the University.
Wifi and Cable Services
High-speed wireless access is available in all Columbia Housing residence halls, supported by Columbia University Information Technology (CUIT). The CUIT Service Desk is able to help you configure your computer’s network connection and answer computer-related questions. Cable television is also available in residence hall common spaces.
Laundry facilities are located in each residence hall and are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Laundry is free to undergraduate students living in the residence halls. Learn more about laundry on campus, including how you can check for machine availability and cycle timing through the Housing website.
Housekeeping and Service Requests
To place a non-emergency service request, go to the Columbia Housing website, select the “Request Service” button on the homepage, then “Columbia Undergraduate Housing Maintenance,” and follow the instructions. Examples of maintenance requests include lock changes or repairs, missing furniture, malfunctioning plumbing, repair or replacement of safety equipment and lack of heat or air-conditioning, if applicable.
Emergency service requests, such as a gas or water leak, cannot be submitted via this system. In these situations, contact the Housing Hospitality Desk in Hartley Hall immediately at 212-854-2779 and they will escalate the issue for you.
The University assumes no responsibility for the loss or damage of students’ property while they are living in the residence halls. If belongings are not already insured through a parent or guardian’s homeowner’s policy, Housing strongly encourages residents to insure them through another vendor.
Getting Items to Campus
Here are a few Things to Bring / Things Not to Bring (PDF).
Before you make your list of things to bring, get familiar with the list of prohibited items.
Shipping vs. Packing
For ease in handling, pack your belongings using trunks, suitcases and sealed cartons, which can be moved easily and quickly. Avoid bringing loose belongings.
Remember to bring with you — rather than shipping — the items you’ll need during the first few weeks of school. Shipped items may not be available immediately upon your arrival.
Every shipped box should have your full name and address clearly labeled and securely affixed to at least two sides on the outside of the box. Put your name and address on the inside of the box as well. If your shipment consists of more than one box, number them “1 of 4,” “2 of 4,” “3 of 4,” etc. The Columbia Mail website provides the correct address format to use while at Columbia.
When possible, pack electronic equipment and other fragile items in the manufacturer’s original container and padding. If this is not possible, make certain to pack each item separately and protect all sides with at least two inches of protective padding.
Your mailbox number is your UNI. Instructions for shipping mail and packages to campus was included with your housing assignment Your mail will be delivered to the Student Mail Center in Wien Hall.
You may ship packages to yourself no sooner than August 2. If packages arrive sooner, they will be returned to the sender.
The Package Center sends an email notification to students within 24 hours of receiving a package. Packages are held for 14 days after notification, except for oversized parcels and deliveries containing perishables, which are held for seven days after notification.
Selecting a Shipping Agent
Make certain to employ a reputable shipping agent when sending packages. Ensure all your packages and use a shipping method that provides package tracking. In the event that a package is not received on time, searching by tracking number will be the only way to locate your shipments. Remember, the insurance and shipment of your package(s) is an arrangement agreed upon by you and your shipping agent. Columbia University is not responsible for any delayed or lost shipments.
Holidays and Academic Breaks
Residence halls are open throughout the academic year, including all University holiday breaks. (See the Academic Calendar for upcoming dates), but note that some services during breaks are reduced. Students continuing their studies at Columbia during the summer may also register for summer housing.
A number of staff and offices at Columbia University work together 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure your safety on campus and in your residence hall. The safety team includes the dean on-call, the resident adviser on duty, staff at residence hall welcome desks, Columbia Public Safety and Columbia University Emergency Medical Service (CU-EMS).
You can contact Columbia Public Safety for emergencies at any time by dialing 212-854-5555, and we recommend that you add this number to your contacts in your mobile phone. Public Safety will contact CU-EMS when necessary as well as the appropriate residential adviser and Residential Life staff.
For less urgent situations, residents may contact Public Safety or their RA directly. Except for holidays and intersession periods, an RA will be on duty in the residence halls each night between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. RA on-duty contact information is posted at building security desks or in the lobbies of the residence halls. RA on-duty phone numbers are also posted here on the Columbia Housing website.
Learn more about Campus Safety
Living off Campus
Columbia's Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA) office assists Columbia students and affiliates in their search for rental housing in the metropolitan area.
OCHA manages a database known as the Housing Registry, which includes available rooms and apartments in non-Columbia-owned buildings and sublets of units in Columbia-managed housing. Prospective roommates can also post and search profiles on this site.
In addition, OCHA offers housing search counseling and is supported in these efforts by our cooperative relationships with two New York City real estate/relocation agencies.