Housing, Dining & Residence Life (HDRL)


As members of the Duke community, students share the obligation to establish and sustain a living environment that supports individual needs and university values. The policies below have particular relevance to our residential communities. All residents are expected to review these policies. In addition to HDRL policies, all students should review the policies as published in the The Duke Community Standard in Practice.

Air Conditioning

  • Only HDRL air conditioners are allowed in student rooms.  Students may not install individually owned air-conditioning units in their room.

Alterations, Additions, And Painting

  • No alterations or additions may be conducted within the premises by or at the request of the resident(s). Residence hall students may paint their rooms providing they restore the color back to an HDRL-approved color and condition prior to checkout.  Students will be charged for repairs needed for rooms not returned to HDRL-approved color and condition.

Bathroom Access

  • All residence hall bathrooms are secured with key- access to residents.  Bathrooms may be unlocked based on a voting process, which is administered by HDRL.  If a community votes to have its bathroom unlocked, it may be billed for any damages that occur in the bathroom area.


  • Approval. The specific design, including sketches noting dimensions, must be submitted in writing to the residence coordinator of that quad or house at least three (3) weeks prior to the desired construction date. Approval for a bench must be received from the residence coordinator prior to construction.
  • Design. The maximum dimensions of the bench include: 8’ in length, 5’ in height from the ground, and 6’ in depth. A preapproved bench plan is available upon request. Note: Due to potential health hazards and adverse impact to the environment associated with burning pressure treated or chemically treated wood, benches must be constructed using untreated wood. Untreated wood that is properly sealed and painted will last for quite some time if it is not buried in the ground and is exposed only to the weather.
  • Placement. Only residential houses (SLG and non-SLG) may place benches on university property, unless an exception is granted by HDRL. Benches will be permitted only in areas designated by HDRL. Students should contact the appropriate RC to learn where their house bench can be placed.
  • Relocation. House benches may have to be moved temporarily (e.g., for special events or summer programming). Every effort will be made to retain the integrity of the bench
if it is necessary to move it; however, the university will not be responsible for repairing benches as a result of a move. Otherwise, removal of benches from their designated locations is not permitted. Such action only serves to lessen their structural integrity and places the health and safety of those moving these heavy objects in serious jeopardy. Additionally, benches placed in unauthorized areas disrupt the normal use of public areas and unreasonably divert university employees from their assigned duties for the retrieval or removal of these structures.
  • Expectations. House benches are intended to serve as locations for relaxed social interaction. House residents are expected to maintain them in good order, routinely making certain that damaged wood is replaced and fresh paint is applied as needed, including to cover acts of vandalism.
    • Individual residents, and potentially their living groups as well, may be subject to disciplinary action if they are identified as being responsible for moving benches. Each group has an obligation to deter its members and residents from tampering with the property of other groups, for a living group can be held accountable for the action of its individual members. Disciplinary measures taken against students identified as participating in the relocation/damaging of house benches may include, but are not limited to, having their housing licenses placed in imminent jeopardy of revocation, being placed on disciplinary probation, and being assessed repair/replacement costs should a bench be damaged. A living group found responsible as a cohesive unit may have its bench dismantled, and denial of the privilege to build a new bench may extend for a period of time not to exceed one calendar year. Should a living group be found responsible for the damage or destruction of another living group’s property, the offending groups should anticipate loss of its bench and responsibility for the requisite replacement of the property it damaged or destroyed, and possible loss of selective living group status.

Bench Design Guidelines

House Benches have a proud tradition at Duke.  With the cooperation and support of both students and administrators, this tradition has been maintained within our new Duke Houses residential mode.  Below are the parameters for houses who wish to have a bench.  This applies to benches on East, West, and Central.

The bench can not exceed the below dimension limits at any part.  HDRL will check benches upon completion and if a bench goes beyond the dimension limits, the group will have to immediately correct the problem area or have the bench removed.  The new limitations for bench dimensions are:

  • Height limit of five feet
  • Width limit of eight feet
  • Depth limit of six feet

Attached is a sample bench design.  Please note it is a revision of one of the old sample bench designs and it is possible an update was missed.  Groups can develop their own design, but must stay within the approved bench dimensions.  Also, HDRL will review the bench for structural integrity upon completion and adjustments may be required.

The approval process is:

  • Each House can construct a bench.
  • House councils funds may be used to purchase materials to construct the bench.
  • Contact RC for your area to request approval to build a bench.  Submit bench design at this time.  Design should be submitted at least three weeks prior to construction.
  • RC will inform house where bench is to be located.
  • Bench construction should not interfere with the important academic responsibilities of our students.  As such, construction needs to follow these parameters:
  • Occur on weekends, if at all possible, and not begin prior to 10am.
  • Begin after 12 noon on weekdays (Monday - Friday).
  • Conclude by 6 pm due to darkness and safety concerns.
  • No bench construction may occur during reading and finals period.


  • Bicycles may be kept by the owner in her/his assigned room space. Hangers and other means of suspending bicycles may not be attached to any wall, ceiling or door. Bicycles are not permitted in other areas of the residence halls such as commons rooms, bathrooms, hallways, stairwells, study rooms, and entrances. In compliance with Durham Fire Marshall regulations, bicycles found in unauthorized areas of the residence halls will be removed without warning and the owners will be required to pay a removal charge in order to recover them. The University is not responsible for damage to bicycles or devices used to secure them.  Abandoned bicycles will be removed at the University's discretion. 


  • HDRL cleans each room/apartment prior to occupancy. Thereafter it is the responsibility of the resident(s) to clean the space. The residence is expected to be kept in a sanitary condition during the year, and in a clean condition upon vacating. If a room requires extraordinary cleaning during occupancy or upon checkout, the cost will be charged to the resident(s). 

Common Areas  

  • Each quad/house has common areas for use by residents. These areas include commons rooms, hallways, stairwells, bathrooms, study rooms, and laundry rooms.  It is the responsibility of each community to see that these areas are kept in good condition and that the furnishings are not damaged or removed. Items not belonging in common areas may be removed by HDRL without warning for safety reasons.

Commons furniture owned by HDRL may not be removed from its intended location. Anyone doing so may be subject to disciplinary action.  Commons furniture found in bedrooms may be removed by university personnel at the expense of the occupant(s).
  • Common areas are intended primarily for use by the residents in the assigned area for studying and social activities. Sleeping overnight in commons rooms is prohibited. 

Computer Labs 

  • Students and staff with a valid DukeCard may access labs with an outside entrance. Only those with a valid DukeCard for a building may access a lab in that building. 

Damage to Student Room  

  • Use of nails, screws, hooks, tacks, decals, or adhesives which damage walls, ceilings, furniture, doors, windows, or fixtures is prohibited. Students may be billed for damage beyond normal wear and tear to buildings, building equipment (including plumbing), and furniture (including missing furniture). The assigned occupant(s) is (are) responsible for reporting to HDRL defects or damages found in a room within two working days after occupancy. The resident(s) of a room will be charged for any damages or modifications found in the room after occupancy unless previously noted on the room condition report. (back to top)

Decorations And & Theme Parties  

  • This policy applies to all Duke University facilities to include Campus, Medical Center, Hospital and Health System. All students, visitors, and employees must adhere to this policy when planning a theme party, event, meeting, or decorating any work area. Notify OESO-Fire Safety as soon as possible but no less than 72 hours prior to the placement of decorations.
  • General Restrictions
    • The use of pyrotechnics by individuals or performers is prohibited on campus.
    • All decorations (to include artificial greenery such as wreaths and holly) must be non-combustible, inherently flame resistant or treated with an approved fire retardant in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications that will pass NFPA 701 test. Decorative materials shall not exceed 10% of the aggregate of wall and ceilings
    • Combustible natural decorations such as straw, hay, corn fodder, dried flowers, bamboo, and other similar decorations are prohibited as decoration inside facilities without written authorization from the OESO-Fire Safety Division.
    • Combustible decorations shall be prohibited in all healthcare occupancies (Hospital, Duke Clinic, PDC, etc.) unless they are flame retardant. (Exception: combustible decorations, such as photographs and paintings, in such limited quantities that a hazard of fire development or spread is not present).
    • Fog and smoke machines may not be used inside facilities without written authorization of the OESO-Fire Safety Division.
    • Animal(s), regardless of size or species, are strictly prohibited to attend or participate in any event, party, or meeting.
    • Water, waterfalls, pools, spraying water, running water, or utilizing water in any way is strictly prohibited.
    • All doors (i.e., exit, smoke, fire, interior, exterior), hallways or any other means of egress may not be covered or blocked in any manner by decorations.
    • Trash must not be allowed to accumulate, but collected in appropriate containers during the event and removed at the close of the event.
  • Electrical Safety and Holiday Lighting
    • All electrical lights, electrical equipment, animated or electrical decorations must be UL listed.
    • Manufacturer’s instruction and precautions shall be followed.
    • Each living group or office should have an appointed representative to ensure that the electrical decorations are de-energized at the end of the day.
    • Any light string with worn, frayed, broken cords, loose bulb connections, and empty sockets shall not be used.
    • Use of holiday lights and light strings shall be limited to reduce overheating.
    • Lights shall not have more than three strings of light connected to each other.
    • The use of lights and wiring on metal Christmas trees (aluminum trees from the ’50s and ’60s as defined by the NC Department of Insurance) is prohibited. Fiber optic and pre-wired artificial trees are acceptable as long as they are UL listed.
    • Only indoor lights will be used inside facilities.
    • Light strings or electrical decorations shall be de-energized before replacing bulbs or fuses.
    • Light strings must be mounted in a manner that will not damage the cord’s insulation.
    • Light strings should be plugged directly into an outlet or an electrical surge protector with built-in circuit breaker.
    • All combustible party decorations shall be removed from the area immediately following the event.
  • Exception.
    • During the holiday season decorations shall be removed no later than December 30th. Residence halls shall have all decorations removed no later than the closing of the residence halls by Residence Life and Housing Services.
  • Live Greenery and Christmas Trees.
    • Live greenery, such as Christmas trees, pine wreaths and holly, are prohibited inside the hospital, medical center facilities, and residence halls. In addition, live greenery is prohibited in assembly areas, education facilities, schools, day cares, stores, businesses, residence halls, and hotels unless the building is protected throughout with an approved automatic sprinkler system.
  • Artificial greenery may be utilized if it meets the general and electrical requirements as listed above.
    • Where Christmas trees and live greenery are allowed by code, they must adhere to the following:
    • Only one tree will be purchased for each department or group and the tree will be located in a common area, reception area or lounge.
    • All trees shall be prepared by sawing off the trunk of the tree at an angle at least one-half inch or more above the original cut and spraying the tree with an approved fire retardant in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications as required by NC State Building Code.
    • The tree will be placed within a tree holder/stand capable of containing water to prevent drying. The stand will be checked daily to assure the water level is adequate.
    • Live greenery shall not be placed near any heat sources (direct or radiant).
    • Smoking or open flames shall be prohibited near live greenery.
    • The tree shall be removed from the facility whenever the needles or leaves fall off readily when a tree branch is shaken or if the needles are brittle and break when bent between the thumb and the index finger.
Candle Safety.
    • Candles or other open flames are strictly forbidden for use inside all university facilities. The only exception to this policy is the use of candles during recognized religious ceremonies. Those individuals or groups wishing to utilize candles in observance of a religious holiday shall first contact OESO-Fire Safety Division to obtain information concerning fire prevention. If the Fire Safety Division has approved the use of a candle(s), basic safety guidelines should be followed (e.g., do not leave a lighted candle unattended, keep area around candle free of combustible materials, place candle in a fire-resistant holder on a stable surface). 

Fire Alarms - Evacuation 

  • To further assure life safety, fire alarm systems are located in each residence hall to alert the occupants in case of fire. Residents must comply with all fire alarms/drills. Failure to evacuate may result in disciplinary action. Activating/reporting false alarms or tampering with the alarm system is strictly prohibited.

Fire Extinguishers, Sprinklers, Smoke Detectors and Other Fire Fighting Equipment (Tampering Prohibited) 

  • Fire extinguishers are located in all residence halls. The presence of this equipment can help quickly control fires, thereby avoiding injury or loss of life. Relocating, removing, tampering with, or destroying fire-fighting equipment is strictly prohibited and will likely result in revocation of the housing license for students found responsible for violating this policy.  Damage and/or theft of fire equipment are punishable under North Carolina state law. 

Fire Safety 

  • HDRL has installed numerous life safety mechanisms to decrease the risk of damage due to fire.  Please review the full fire safety policy and expectations. 


  • Each residential space is equipped with furniture by HDRL. The resident(s) of a room/apartment will be charged for any damaged furniture and/or furniture missing from their space.
  • University owned furniture must remain in the student's room. Personally owned furniture may be added to student rooms/apartments provided all residents of that room/apartment consent and the residents remove the furniture at the end of occupancy. Costs for removing any remaining personal furniture will be charged to the residents. 

  • Waterbeds are prohibited.


  • Residents may borrow barbecue grills on a short-term basis from the Central, East or West HDRL Offices. North Carolina law prohibits the use of portable charcoal, gas or electric grills within 10 feet of all residence halls. In areas where pine straw or bark mulch has been applied to grounds, grills must be 10 feet away from the perimeter of these materials. Storage of charcoal lighter fluid or other flammables, including gas grills, in the residence halls is strictly prohibited. Failure to obey these regulations may result in a fine by the Durham Fire Marshall and or be subject to Duke disciplinary action.

Guests (limits and responsibility)

  • Students may have overnight guests for reasonable periods of time, typically not to exceed a 72-hour time period, contingent upon the advance approval of his/her roommate(s). However, continued use of a residence hall room or Central Campus Apartment by person or persons other than those to whom the room or apartment is assigned is prohibited.  Overnight guests may not be entertained during final examination periods. 

HDRL reserves the right to require a guest to leave if university policies and/or residence hall policies are not obeyed or if complaints are received from members of the residential community. Violation of any of these policies may lead to nonresidents being charged with trespassing and residents (both guest and host) having their housing licenses revoked. 

Students are responsible for the conduct of their guests. Any violation of HDRL/ university rules and regulations by a guest, whether the host student is present or not, shall constitute a violation of the same by the hosting student.

IPTV - Commons Areas

  • IPTV on the Duke network is provided in selected residence hall commons rooms. Connecting televisions in bedrooms to the commons room TV network or otherwise tampering with the IPTV is prohibited.

Keys - General  

  • Keys are issued to students to provide access to their room, bathroom, and other areas to which they have authorized access. Use or possession of residence hall/apartment keys, including possession of master keys or keys other than those assigned to the student, is prohibited. Keys are not transferable; switching keys with other students is prohibited. Reproduction of keys is prohibited.  

Locks may not be tampered with or changed by residents or their guests.  For safety and security reasons, students should not carry their key on the same ring as their DukeCard. 

Keys - Room  

  • One bedroom door key is issued to each resident.  If you lose the key, you must obtain a new one from the appropriate HDRL Campus Office. Residents have one week to find the lost key. If the key is not found within one week and brought to the HDRL Campus Office for verification and return of the loaner key, the lock will be changed for your protection.  A charge for the lock change will be placed on your Bursar account. Circumstances may require a shorter time period to produce the missing key, at the discretion of HDRL.  Any key that you cannot present to the HDRL Campus Office will be considered lost, even if you dropped it down the drain or threw it away because it was broken. A new key will be issued in exchange for a damaged key at no charge if you return the damaged key to your HDRL Campus Office. 

  • Residents who do not return their key(s) when checking-out of the residence halls will be charged for a lock change.


  • Residents are responsible for removal of perishable items from the refrigerator and for cleaning utensils, pots and pans. Kitchens that are abused or not kept in good order may be locked. Items abandoned in the kitchen will be disposed of by HDRL staff. 


  • Only lofts provided by HDRL may be used in the residence halls.  Lofts are not allowed on Central Campus.  Please review the full loft policy before making a decision to get a loft. 

Obstruction of Hallways, Stairwells, Sidewalks, and Lawns  

  • North Carolina fire safety codes prohibit the obstruction of hallways and stairwells. The Durham Fire Marshall mandates the immediate removal of all items obstructing hallways and stairwells. HDRL will remove without warning or reimbursement furniture, bicycles, lumber, and all other items found obstructing hallways or stairwells. University furniture will be removed from hallways and stairwells and residents may be charged for missing furniture when they vacate the room.  In addition, access to room windows as a secondary means of egress is required.

  • Sidewalks, stairways, and entryways must not be used for purposes other than ingress or egress. 

  • Bicycles may not be left in these areas or other locations where they may cause harm to persons or grounds keeping equipment.

All vehicles, including motorcycles, must be parked in parking lots. Delivery trucks, automobiles, motorcycles, scooters, and minibikes are not permitted on lawns and walkways, patios, or stairwells. These vehicles must be parked in legal parking spaces.

Personal Property (Damage to) 

  • Duke University is not liable for damage, theft, or loss of a resident's personal belongings and does not carry insurance to cover such loss or damage. 

  • Personal property insurance is a wise investment for all residents. You may be covered under a policy carried by your parent(s) or guardian - have them contact their insurance agent to be sure.


  • Fish are allowed provided they are kept in an aquarium no larger than 25 gallons, the container is cleaned regularly, and no illegal species are kept. With the exception of assistance animals (such as seeing-eye dogs), no other animals are permitted in the residence halls. If it is reported that you have brought an animal into the residence halls, you will receive a letter requesting you remove the animal immediately and sign a statement that you have done so and will never again allow an animal to be brought into the residence halls. If you do not remove the animal and sign the statement, or if an animal is again reported to have been taken into the residence halls, you will be referred to HDRL or to the Office of Student Conduct for disciplinary action. Each resident of a room is held equally responsible. If your roommate or a guest brings an animal into the residence halls and you do not report the violation, you will be subject to the above procedure. If an animal enters your room you will be charged for the pest control treatment, which is done to protect the future residents from fleas or other vermin. When you vacate your room you will be charged for cleaning (if needed) and damages. The charges resulting from animals can be very expensive. 

Propelling Objects/Liquids Out Windows  

  • Throwing or in any other way propelling objects or liquids from windows is prohibited. Screens must remain in place and secured at all times. 

Propping Doors Open  

  • Propping open residence hall entrance and/or bathroom doors or in any way tampering with the security system of the residence hall violates hall security and is prohibited. 

Room Condition Reports & Inspections  

  • Room condition reports are provided to each resident during the check-in process. Updates to room condition reports must be submitted to your RA within two days of your occupancy. This document will protect you from charges for conditions which existed when you moved into your room. Carefully review the room condition report and amend it as necessary.

If there are maintenance needs, which need immediate attention, please call your HDRL Campus Office as well as noting them on your room condition report. Immediately report a faulty or missing smoke detector to your HDRL Campus Office. 

  • When you move out, your room will be inspected. Any repairs or cleaning required by conditions beyond normal wear and tear which you did not list on your room condition report will be considered damages and charged to you. We strongly recommend you be present when your room is inspected at checkout. Please make an appointment with your Hall RA team per established checkout procedures and instructions. An inspection cannot be done until you vacate the room and all personal belongings are removed and all keys are returned. Keep in mind there are peak periods when Hall Staff may not be able to schedule appointments, so signup as soon as you know your plans. 

  • Trash Removal  Students are required to dispose of trash in designated containers. Trash may not be placed in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, commons rooms, courtyards, or in any other place. 

Unauthorized Possession (Keys/Property) 

  • Possession of keys or other property for which one does not have appropriate authorization or ownership is a violation of university policy.