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Life Safety Policies

When a student violates any of the life safety policies below, a Life Safety Violation charge may be levied. Students will be notified of these charges in writing. This notice may be delivered by an RA, placed under a student's door if they are not home, deposited in their room during health and safety inspections, or delivered via their campus mailbox or email. All students have the opportunity to address the situation with a Residential Life professional staff member. If a student does not contact the Office of Residential Life within ten days of delivery of the notification, the charges will be final. Depending upon the situation (severity, repeated offense, etc.), conduct charges may also be brought against a student in violation of these policies.

Life Safety Inspections and Fines

Pursuant to New York State Law, the College’s Fire Safety Officer, in conjunction with the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control conducts annual New York State Fire Inspections in all campus buildings. During such inspection violations of the New York State Fire Code as well as Property Maintenance Code are usually noted. In the case where such violations are found within student bedroom, sleeping or common areas within such violations are the responsibility of the occupant(s). Violations can include but are not limited to covered smoke detectors, sprinkler heads or other life safety devices, candles, smoking, incense, electrical violations and ceiling wall tapestries adjacent to bedding. During the first inspection a warning notice is issued that should be addressed. Within 30 days a second inspection will occur. If the violation is still present an “Order to Comply” notice will be issued to Union College with another 30 day inspection following. Upon returning for the final inspection and the violation is still present a fine will be issued to Union College.

If the violation was caused or created by the occupant Union College will seek reimbursement for the fine from the occupant(s). These fines can range from $50.00 to $500.00 per day based on severity and from the original inspection date.

Life Safety Violations

Level One Offense
(inappropriate appliance/furniture/loft, smoking, halogen/lava lamps, octopus cords, multi-plug adapters, excessive electrical cords, candles/incense, decorative string lighting)

• First Offense - Warning

• Further Offenses - $100 fine and possible judicial action

Level Two Offense
(possession of flammable materials or fireworks, removal of life safety devices, tampering with life safety devices, discharging a fire extinguisher inappropriately, failure to evacuate during fire alarm, negligent actions which cause activation of the fire alarm system)

• Any Offense - $200 fine and possible judicial action

Level Three Offense
Malicious activation of fire alarm system, arson, false reporting of a fire or other life safety condition

• Any Offense - $750 fine and possible judicial action and/or arrest by police

The following appliances ARE NOT allowed in residence hall rooms:  non-approved microwaves, non-approved air conditioners, electric heaters, toaster ovens, toasters, “George Foreman”-style grills, waffle irons, sandwich makers, or any other heat-producing electrical devices or appliances.  Students may use coffee pots, hot pots, and popcorn makers in their rooms as long as there are no exposed heating elements or coils and they are used responsibly. Students found in possession of unauthorized appliances will be charged a Life Safety fine in addition to the confiscation of the item.  For information about renting a Microfridge, please see the Refrigerators section. 

Air Conditioners
Air conditioners are not permitted in the residence hall due to excessive energy demand caused by large numbers of such appliances. Students with severe medical conditions that may require an air conditioner may request a Special Accommodations form. If approved, it must be installed by Facilities Services.  Arrangements for installation must be made by the students. Contacting Facilities at X6181 or


Bed in Common Rooms
In compliance with the building and fire codes, all beds and lofts must remain in designated bedrooms only and not in the common rooms of residence hall suites.

Candles and Incense
Candles, incense, and any other open-flame items (burned or unburned) are prohibited in student residences.  Only one type of incense is allowed on campus in the residence halls.  These incense are electric slow fragrance warmers that do not result in heat emission.  This type of incense can be found in the College Bookstore.  Be advised that in accordance with New York State Law, all candles, lit or unlit, will be confiscated and destroyed.

Decorations and Tapestries
Tapestries and posters may not be hung over the smoke detectors, heat detectors, fire sprinkler heads, alarm notification devices, overhead lights. Tapestries may not be hung on the ceiling above bedding or on wall space adjacent to bedding, draped from lofts or used as room partitions. Decorations must not cover more than 10% of each wall space.

Entry Doors
All residence hall entry doors must be locked and secure at all times. Propping doors for any reason is not permitted.

Excessive Cleaning
It is the responsibility of all residents to maintain a healthy living space for both themselves and fellow students. Additionally, it is the expectation that all residential students practice proper hygiene. Students with excessive trash or garbage in their living space are creating both health and fire hazards and may be subject to student conduct violations as well as life safety fines.

Fire Alarms
Evacuation compliance is mandatory for all students whenever fire alarms are activated, regardless of cause. Campus Safety and residence hall staff may check every room to ensure that all residents evacuate the building.

Fire Equipment
Tampering with fire safety equipment, including fire doors, exit signs, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, heat detectors, or fire alarms is prohibited. Fire safety equipment that is malfunctioning should be reported to Campus Safety immediately. Do not dismantle, remove, or attempt to repair any fire equipment.

Fire Pits and Open Burning
Open burning is prohibited on Union College property through an ordinance set forth by the City of Schenectady. Open burning includes bonfires, use of metal fire pits, man made fire pits or any other devices used for burning that are non combustible. Union College policy prohibits open burning in any form or fashion with the exception of the following; propane gas grills that are commercially manufactured and used for cooking purposes, charcoal grills that are commercially manufactured and used for cooking, hibachi grills that are used for cooking. Grills that use wood for meal preparation are not permitted. Use of flammable liquids other than those approved for cooking are prohibited. Schenectady City ordinance also prohibits the use of any grills under a combustible or non combustible porch, canopy or overhang. Storage of propane tanks and flammable liquids are prohibited inside Union College residential and commercial buildings. Tanks can be stored with the gas grill outside the building; however storage of tanks individually will not be permitted inside or outside a building.

Fireworks and other explosives (in their many and varied forms) are prohibited in and around all College-owned housing.

Lights and Lamps
Halogen lamps, paper lanterns, string lighting, and lava lamps are not permitted in the residence halls due to their proven fire hazard potential.

Octopus Cord/Multiple Outlet Plugs
The use of extension cords beyond their recommended use and the use of multiple outlet plug adapters, “octopus cords,” are prohibited. Power strips with surge protectors must be used to protect electrical equipment.

Noxious Odors
Activities producing odors considered offensive to members of the residence hall community must be curtailed upon request. In the event of such odors, a Residential Life or Campus Safety staff member may check common areas and individual rooms for the source.

Each room is only allowed one refrigerator or Micro-fridge unit, and each suite is allowed only a total of two units.  Small refrigerators measuring five cubic feet or less and drawing three amps or less to start, or one and one half amps or less to run, may be used.  Students may rent the Microfridge unit, a combination refrigerator/freezer/ microwave unit, from a vendor who will contract directly with the student.  The Refrigerator Leasing Company, Inc. can be reached at 607.431.9525 or www.refrigeratorleasing.com.

Security Screens
First floor windows have been provided with a security screen designed to prevent theft and inappropriate access to first floor rooms and common areas. The security screens must remain closed at all times. Tampering with the security screens is prohibited.

In accordance with New York State Law, smoking is prohibited in all indoor areas.  Smoking within twenty-five (25) feet of any residential building exit, entrance, or operable window is also prohibited in an effort to provide a safe and healthy environment for those members of the community who do not wish to smoke.

Fine Appeals Process
The Director of Residential Life is available to listen if a student wishes to challenge a housing or life safety violation.. If the decision by the professional staff member appears inaccurate based upon evidence and College policy, you may appeal the decision in writing to the Director of Residential Life within 10 days of notification of the violation., The director will determine whether or not to reverse the charge.