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Frequently Asked Questions for Students Living Off Campus

IMPORTANT: A note regarding lease-signing with off-campus housing

Please note that Union College is a residential college.  All students are required to live on campus for their entire time at Union College, provided space is available.  Historically, all seniors who wish to live on campus are able to be accommodated.  Only a limited number of seniors are released each year to live off campus.  Students are discouraged from signing a lease with a landlord off campus until they are given explicit permission to live off campus.


Why is the College interested in my conduct off-campus?

Students are representatives of the College. Whether you are on or off campus, you are responsible for following Union College’s Conduct Code. The College addresses off-campus conduct issues that adversely affect our community, the pursuit of the College’s mission, and/or damage’s the College’s reputation. In instances where off-campus activities violate a law (local, state, or federal), and/or the Conduct Code, the College will process with Student Conduct Code proceedings regardless of criminal charges.

Do I need to register my off-campus address?

Yes.  The College must have up to date contact information available on file.  Please ensure that your student contact information is up to date with the College.  You will submit your address when you go to the Registrar to check in.

How does the College get information about what happens off-campus?

The College (Campus Safety Department) will receive calls from concerned neighbors, the Schenectady Police Department, and/or the Schenectady County Sheriff.

What if I decide to have a party?

It is your responsibility to stay in control of yourself and  your guests. For your safety and those of your guests, avoid overcrowding which might:

  • Block residence exits in case of an emergency.
  • Result in your porch or other areas of your residence collapsing.
  • Result in vehicles blocking your street and delaying or preventing fire, police, and/or medical units from responding to emergencies.
  • Force your guests to inappropriately use “outdoor bathroom facilities.”

Talk with your neighbors before the party.

Clean up after the party both inside and outside. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption which increases the risk of personal injury and even death as well as contributing to sexual misconduct and legal problems.

How can I have a legal and safe party off-campus?

If you choose to have a party, here are some tips on how to do it safely.

  • Serving minors, charging admission, or creating loud noise is against the law.
  • Large parties often get out of control and WILL draw the interest of the police.
  • If people attending your party are intoxicated, it can lead to irresponsible, dangerous, or illegal action.
  • You can be held responsible as the person who leases or owns the residence. Avoid this!

Failure to observe even one of these directions can result in a criminal sanction and a Conduct Code violation referral. Sanctions, such as withholding a degree or the right to participate in Commencement, can be substantial. Additionally, if you are a Greek Chapter hosting a party, you are advised to review and follow the requirements contained in the FIPG, Inc., Risk Management Policy. Your insurance coverage could be affected by your failure to follow these requirements.

Does the City of Schenectady have a noise ordinance?


Code of the City of Schenectady §182-4 Unnecessary noises enumerated.

P.   Fraternities and sororities, dormitories, private clubs, meeting halls, private residences, parties and other social events.

  • No noise from parties, entertainment, music or social gatherings of any kind, whether public or private, shall be such that noise caused by and/or emanating from said use can be heard:

○      Between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 12:00 noon the following day, inside any residence, regardless of whether the windows of such residence are open; or

○      At any other time if said noise is unnecessary or unreasonable under the circumstances.

  • It shall be unlawful for any person in charge of a party or other social event that occurs on any private or public property to allow that party or event to produce noise in a loud, annoying or offensive manner such that noise from the party interferes with the comfort, repose, health or safety of members of the public within any building or outside of a building, or recklessly creates the risk thereof, at a distance of 25 feet or more from the source of such sound.

○      For the purposes of this section, a person “in charge of a party or other social event”:

  • That occurs on any public property shall include the person or persons who obtained permission to utilize that property for that event.
  • That occurs on private property shall include the person who owns the premises involved and any adult person who lives in or on the premises involved in such party or social event.

 The owner of any real property (except public highways, and other publicly owned facilities) from which sounds prohibited by this chapter emanate shall be guilty of a violation of this chapter, whether or not such owner was on the premises or occupied the same when the proscribed sounds emanated from same. This section, however, shall not render a landlord liable for a violation emanating from a leased premises.

For Greek Chapters, are there special rules addressing occupying facilities not owned by the College?

Yes. In accordance with the Greek Recognition Policy, a Chapter’s recognition can be revoked or the Chapter can be put on probationary recognition for various reasons, including:

  • For fraternities and sororities occupying facilities not owned by the College, failure to have certification to the College that there exists a house association (which shall sign such certification) which [h]as assumed full responsibility for the physical condition of the facility and compliance with all applicable local codes, regulations, and standards for issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. Additionally, failure of an officer of the house association and the chapter president to certify that an annual safety inspection has been performed by an organization or person satisfactory to the College and that all violations have been corrected or are in the process of being corrected.  Local authorities having jurisdiction include, but are not limited to, the Schenectady Fire Department and Building Inspector.

As such, for those Greek Chapters occupying off-campus facilities not owned by the College where any Chapter activities are conducted (e.g., social events, initiation activities, pledging recruitment, etc.), regardless of whether or not this is called their “official” Chapter House or whether the Chapter has on-campus dedicated housing, they are required to comply with this requirement.  Union will actively seek to verify compliance with the same prior to the commencement of the Academic Year.  Failure to comply will necessitate taking appropriate disciplinary action.

Am I responsible for putting out my trash?

As a tenant you are responsible for putting out your trash. Oftentimes trash is put out over the weekend causing an unnecessary eyesore and nuisance. The city trash ordinance stipulates that garbage and recyclables may not be placed at the curb before 2:00 p.m. on the day before collection. They must be at the curb by 6:00 a.m. on collection day. Empty containers must be removed from the curb within 12 hours after collection.  The city trash ordinance states further that solid waste and recyclable material shall be stored at basement or grade level in tightly covered containers, out of sight when possible. Solid waste and debris shall not be stored on open porch areas or in areas that are visible to the public. Violations will result in a city administrative fee not exceeding $50.00.

Recycling:  Your landlord must provide each apartment unit with the appropriately labeled bins for recycling materials (glass, plastic containers, aluminum cans and newspaper). Your participation in recycling both on and off campus is extremely important. Please be sure to secure your recyclables when you place them at the curb. For further information on the new city recycling program, please see link to “2013 Recyclution Brochure” at:  http://cityofschenectady.com/222/Garbage-Recycling  

Based upon the risks involved in hosting a party (including crowd control and potential City ordinance violations, third party civil liability exposure, and Conduct Code violations) will the College provide an orientation session to better prepare Greek Recognized Chapters and others residing in dwellings not owned by the College?

Yes. At the beginning of the Academic Year, the College will conduct an orientation session which will include College officials and the Schenectady Police Department.  For example, for the Greek Chapter officers, the Greek Life Director will review the various insurance policy exclusions contained in the Chapter’s insurance contract that apply when hosting Social Events with Alcohol or when violating the National’s anti-hazing policy.

As well, non-Greek residents are encouraged to review with their parents whether their parents’ home owners insurance will provide coverage should a third party sue for injuries resulting from a Social Event with Alcohol that occurs on the premises (under New York State’s Social Host Liability Law §11-100 General Obligation Law).  Please keep in mind that New York State’s Alcohol Beverage Control Law provides:

No person shall sell, deliver, or give away or cause or permit or procure to be sold, delivered, or given away any alcoholic beverages to (1) any person under the age of 21 and (2) any visibly intoxicated person.

We will also review the College’s Alcohol and Drug Policy and the College’s Good Samaritan Policy.

How are Union College’s Campus Safety Office and Schenectady Police Department related?

The Union College Campus Safety Office and the Schenectady Police Department (SPD) are entirely separate. Union College has jurisdiction on campus property, College owned property off-campus, and streets adjoining the campus. SPD has jurisdiction in the City of Schenectady.  Union’s Campus Safety and SPD will work closely together to help maintain off-campus policies.

What should I expect when interacting with a Campus Safety Officer?

The Campus Safety Office is committed to community oriented law enforcement founded on the principals of respect, fairness, and awareness of the diversity of the College community. Officers are expected to be courteous and exercise their authority only when necessary to maintain the safety of the College community.  As on campus, students are expected to comply with requests from officers (such as for a student ID) and to treat officers in a respectful manner.

Will Union’s Campus Safety contact the Schenectady Policy Department if a disturbance occurs at off-campus non-College owned property?

Yes. Union College Campus Safety views student safety issues and neighborhood relations very seriously. Because Campus Safety has limited authority to conduct an investigation on a site not owned or controlled by the College, it is essential that Campus Safety involve the Schenectady Police Department to conduct an appropriate investigation when Union College students are involved.  For example, in the past incidents have occurred resulting in serious personal injuries; and the residents of the off-campus, non-College owned residences where incidents have occurred have at times been uncooperative with Campus Safety investigations.

Therefore, as a result, the Schenectady Police Department will be contacted in the future.

A police officer knocks on my door and asks to come in and search my residence. Can they do this? Is it legal?

In general, yes, the police can ask  you for permission (i.e., your consent) to search your room, apartment, or car. If you object to the search, you should politely say no. If the police feel strongly enough about the need to search the property, they will have to see a judge to apply for a search warrant. With a warrant, they have the authority to search your room, apartment, or car over your objections. If you deny consent, however, there are still some circumstances under which the police can enter without a warrant. The police can enter if they suspect that a crime is underway. If you are being arrested in your residence, police may lawfully seize any contraband or evidence of a crime that is in plain view and use it as evidence. They may do a “protective sweep” for weapons or accomplices to protect their safety or prevent the destruction of evidence. They may also enter your residence if there is an emergency situation that could compromise public safety or lead to loss of evidence. The rules governing the condition under which a police officer can enter and search your residence are covered by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

adapted from the University at Albany

updated August 23, 2016