Policies and procedures for students

Adverse weather

On occasion during the academic year, adverse weather conditions call for the delayed opening, early closing or cancellation of classes, programs, activities or services. In such cases, the College employs several methods to ensure the campus community is notified:

  • Mount Holyoke College weather line: 413-538-2330 
  • Mount Holyoke College website: mtholyoke.edu
  • my.mtholyoke for students, faculty and staff
  • Community email announcements
  • Mount Holyoke College’s official Facebook and Twitter channels
  • TV: Channel 22 (WWLP), NBC TV affiliate; and Channel 40 (WGGB-TV), ABC affiliate 

Our goal is to have a decision about any campus inclement weather delays made and posted immediately, or by 6:30 a.m. when the decision is made overnight.

Many factors go into the decision regarding opening and closing with primary consideration resting with the safety of students and employees. 

Campus entrances, walkways and parking lots are cleared to provide broad access for the community. Priority is given to walkways, ramps, parking lots and building entrances that provide access to individuals with disabilities. Anyone encountering a barrier due to adverse weather, such as fallen tree limbs, snow or ice should contact Facilities Management at 413-538-2012 to report the location and condition of the barrier. Facilities Management is available between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. After hours, call Public Safety & Service at 413-538-2304. 

Individuals with specific routes, pathways or entrances of concern should speak with the Section 504 Coordinator, contactable at 413-538-3642 or via email at section504coordinator@mtholyoke.edu.

The College has adopted a “weather team” to monitor weather forecasts with the potential of significant impact to campus. The constitution of the team is broad, including the president of the College, the Office of the Dean of Faculty, Human Resources and the Section 504 Coordinator.

See Adverse Weather Policy for additional information.

Alcohol and other drugs

Mount Holyoke College understands that each student makes their own choices regarding whether or not to engage in the use of alcohol and/or other drugs. Thus the College emphasizes the responsibility of each community member to be law-abiding, knowledgeable and thoughtful about any decisions regarding alcohol and drug consumption. The College expects all faculty, staff and students to become familiar with the laws and with the College’s policies governing substance use and to consider the penalties and risks that can result from violations. The law puts major responsibility, and therefore liability, on both the person who serves and/or the person who buys the alcohol, and the penalties for both the individual and the institution are very severe.

See the associated policy pages for details:

Animals on campus

The College has established both a pet policy and a service animal policy to provide for the health and safety of Mount Holyoke College students, faculty, staff and visitors; for the protection and enjoyment of the College’s property; and for the responsible management and operation of the College.

Audiovisual recordings in the classroom

To encourage active engagement and academic inquiry in the classroom, as well as to safeguard the privacy of students and faculty, no form of audio or visual recording in the classroom is permitted without explicit permission from the professor/instructor, or without a letter from Disability Services and signed by the faculty member, authorizing the recording as an accommodation. 

Authorized recordings may only be used by a student who has obtained permission and may not be shared or distributed for any reason. Violation of this policy is an infraction of the Mount Holyoke College Honor Code and academic regulations that will result in disciplinary action.

Bicycles on campus

All bicycles on campus must be registered with Public Safety & Service. Registration is free. The registration decal will expire upon the student graduation date or no longer than four years from the original registration date.  Learn more about how to register a bicycle.

  • All bicycles on campus must be stored in approved residence hall locations and secured to a bicycle rack. If the bicycle is outside, it should be secured to an outside bike rack. 
  • Bicycles may not be secured to fire hydrants, trees, parking signs, ramps or railings or left in the path of egress in any building on campus. 
  • Bicycles left over the summer that have expired decals or are not registered will be considered abandoned and will be confiscated and discarded. 
  • Any bicycle in violation of the College’s bicycle policy or that is unregistered will be confiscated, and, if not claimed within 30 days, discarded.

Commencement adornment policy

Adornments may be worn during commencement and are limited to stoles, cords, medallions, pins, and tassels from organizations/groups officially recognized by Mount Holyoke College.

Supplementary Commencement Adornment Request Formmust be submitted to the Adornment Policy Committee 60 days prior to the ceremony date via written request. The link to download the request form is below. Approval may be granted after review and recommendations by the Adornment Policy Committee are given to the APC (Academic Priorities Committee). This committee is comprised of the following: the Associate Dean of Students for Community and Inclusion, one member from the Junior or Senior Class board, the Senior Academic Dean, an Associate Dean of Faculty or designee, two students appointed by the SGA Executive Board (this should be someone from one of the SGA committees and/or senator), and a representative of the Office of Student Involvement.


The following is required for all bachelor’s degree-seeking recipients: 

  • Black Gown
    • Zipped
    • Straight, open sleeves
  • Black four-point mortarboard cap; decorations permitted
    • Tassel 
  • Blue and white hood

Graduate students

The following is required for all master’s degree-seeking recipients: 

  • Black gown
    • Zipped
    • Straight, open sleeves
  • Black four-point mortarboard cap; decorations permitted
    • Tassel
  • Blue and white hood. 

What is not allowed? 

Personal decor is not allowed on the gowns. 

Commencement is Mount Holyoke’s parting tradition to graduating seniors and graduate students. During this tradition, we expect that students refrain from including the following as part of their academic dress: profanity, offensive symbols, hate speech, nudity. Those who do not adhere to this request may be asked to remove the items for the duration of the Commencement ceremony and/or change their attire to be consistent with the approved regalia.

Who is responsible for the policy? 

For following the policy: All students participating in the Commencement ceremony; all student groups, departments, administrators, faculty and staff who issue or sponsor student regalia and/or adornments. 

For implementation of the policy: Commencement volunteers, selected by the Adornment Policy Committee in collaboration with the Office of the President, will ensure that students uphold the policy during Commencement, as previously defined. 

For oversight of the policy: The Adornment Policy Committee

Failure to comply

Students and organizations are expected to comply with directions and reasonable requests of College officials and follow all College policies. Specific expectations include:

  • Following the directions of College officials and not hindering any College employee (including student employees) in the performance of their duties or interfering with the operations of the college.
  • Complying with College policies and regulations, including but not limited to those found in the student handbook.
  • Providing identification or identifying oneself when requested to do so.
  • Turning over or disposing of any prohibited items.
  • Complying with requests to disperse from common spaces on campus.
  • Complying with the results of hearings and procedures in which they participate.

Student organizations are also expected to comply with the policies and regulations in the Student Group Handbook, including, but not limited to risk management policies and regulations for behavior. In addition they are expected to comply with any other policies or regulations that govern their organization, in particular if they are a chapter organization, etc.

Fire Safety and Violation Policy

It is a violation of the honor code to refuse to leave during a fire drill, to partake in negligent behavior leading to a fire, or to engage in hazardous behavior such as possessing and/or using candles and incense or obstructing the sprinkler system. Students must assume responsibility for the behavior of their guests in residence halls and can be fined and held responsible for guests’ violations of these policies. For a list of approved and prohibited items, please refer to the campus packing list.

If you have disability-related concerns about fire alarms, fire drills, and/or emergency response support, please contact Disability Services

Residence Hall Fire Safety Regulations and Protocols

Residence hall fire EVACUATION procedures


Hazing is a serious offense. The College encourages students to report such offenses promptly. Hazing is prohibited by both Commonwealth law and the Mount Holyoke College Honor Code, and will not be tolerated in this community of trust. All reported cases of suspected hazing will be seriously investigated with a fair process. For more information on the College Anti-Hazing Policy, please review the full policy.

Jury duty

According to the Office of Jury Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “Every U.S. Citizen 17 years of age or older who is a Massachusetts resident or an inhabitant for more than 50% of the time is eligible to serve as a juror. If a student is a resident of another state but a student at a Massachusetts college, they are an inhabitant for more than 50% of the year and, therefore, eligible to serve as juror in Massachusetts.”

It is not unusual for students residing in Hampshire County to be summoned to serve as trial jurors. Jury service, on a short-term basis, can provide students with a good opportunity to fulfill one of their important responsibilities as members of the community. Mount Holyoke College supports students in the fulfillment of this civic duty. 

Students should carefully read all materials they receive with their summons to service, which contain helpful information about confirming, postponing, rescheduling, or relocating service, and address many of the most frequently asked questions. Jury duty is an important legal obligation, and those who fail to respond are subject to criminal prosecution. 

Students who must miss class in order to fulfill the jury service requirement should notify each of their instructors of the summons and make arrangements with the instructor to complete any missed work. Staff at the Office of Academic Deans may be able to assist students in arranging for missed class time due to jury service. Students may be required to furnish their summons notice or the certificate of service when making these arrangements. 

For questions about jury duties, including confirming, postponing, rescheduling, or limiting service, students can contact the Office of Jury Commissioner (1-800-THE JURY / 1-800843-5879).

Leave policy

Mount Holyoke’s Leave of Absence Policy covers four types of leave: academic, medical, personal and mandatory.

Missing Person Policy and Procedure

This policy is intended to establish formal notification procedures for students who reside in Mount Holyoke Student housing and are reported as missing, as required by the Higher Education Act as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), effective October 1, 2010.

View the full policy.

Personal vehicles on campus

The College is not responsible for, nor will it pay any claims for, damages to student-owned vehicles resulting from falling ice, snow, tree limbs or any other natural occurrence or event on its property or elsewhere, whether the possibility of such an event is warned against or not. The College is not responsible for, nor will it pay any losses, claims or damages to student-owned vehicles resulting from vandalism, collision or other acts by any person, other than damage caused directly by its employees. More information is available at the parking office. Policy violations or non-compliance with parking rules and regulations may be addressed primarily by the Office of Public Safety & Service using process and procedure set out by that office. 

Political activity

All Mount Holyoke community members — students, faculty and staff — must comply with the policy on activities related to political campaigns.

Responding to online issues

College officials do not read, consult, monitor or respond to online pieces, unless specific information is brought to their attention by a concerned third party. They are unable to keep the source of the information anonymous and may share the identity of the source in an effort to determine the credibility of the concern or to assess the safety of the individual involved and/or campus community. If someone online presents a College official with a specific statement of intent to harm self or others, they will address that by approaching the person, letting them know how they received the information, and doing a general well-being check.

Right of entry by Public Safety & Service

Officers of the Mount Holyoke College Department of Public Safety & Service are sworn police officers of the commonwealth of Massachusetts under the authority of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 22C, Section 63, and in that capacity exercise police powers, including the power of arrest on campus. 

Public Safety & Service officers may conduct searches of persons and their immediate surroundings in the course of making an arrest to seize weapons that might endanger the officer. They may also enter a student’s room without permission when pursuing a fleeing suspect. Persons arrested by Public Safety & Service officers will be searched and their property inventoried as a matter of department policy. Evidence or information about any illegal items obtained from an inventory search subsequent to an arrest may be used against the arrested individual. 

Public Safety & Service officers may search student rooms, vehicles or possessions for evidence of a crime with a valid judicial search warrant. Public Safety & Service officers may enter a student room without permission in response to an emergency such as threatening life situation or threat to the health or property of the College and campus community. Should Public Safety & Service see evidence of a crime in plain view, they are under a legal duty to seize the evidence and, if appropriate, make an arrest. 

Public Safety & Service officers have a legal duty to seize any illegal items in plain view when they are located in a space where the officer has a right to be present. Officers have a right, and are expected, to patrol all public and common areas of the College. The procedure for seizing items under the plain view doctrine will be done in accordance with federal and state laws. The College may take still and video photographs of serious incidents and disasters to preserve a record. The director of Public Safety & Service or designee will determine the need for such evidence and documentation. 

Officers patrol the residence halls as a part of their regular duties, usually limiting their patrols to the main floor and outside doors. However, they have the right to patrol and are responsible for the entire building. Specific incidents and requests may result in increased patrols of the floors of the halls to ensure the safety of the residents. During the course of residence hall parties and at other times, officers may patrol and inspect all public areas.

Smoke- and tobacco-free campus

In the interest of the health and well-being of the Mount Holyoke College community and the campus environment, the College adopted a 100% Smoke- and Tobacco-Free Campus Policy as of August 22, 2020.

Student Organizations Hosting Overnight Guests

This policy is for student organization conferences, performances or events hosting more than 15 guests on any given night. 

Occasionally, a recognized student organization on campus will want to host a conference, performance or event that includes inviting similar organizations from other campuses to the Mount Holyoke campus. If the event will require an overnight stay and the organization would like to offer guests housing with current organization members, the Office of Residential Life has enacted a specific policy that must be followed.

For the residential/overnight component of a student organization program, the Office of Residential Life has a duty to maintain the guest policies for the campus and to ensure that student organizations are not abusing this policy through inappropriate practices. These factors necessarily must be considered in the planning phase of proposed events.

Student organizations hosting overnight guests must follow these guidelines:

  • Any organization must make an appointment to meet with the director or associate director of Residential Life for approval. This meeting must take place during the semester prior to the event (i.e., meet in fall 2022 for a spring 2023 event). 
  • An event is limited to a maximum of 100 overnight guests. This number might be smaller depending on the student organization’s ability to comply with the formula for determining how many guests are allowed. Under no circumstances will this number exceed 100 people. Guests falling under this policy may not stay more than two nights on campus. 
  • Student organizations sponsoring conferences, performances or other events may not solicit hosts from the general student body to accommodate overnight guests for the event. Only pre-enrolled, active members of the sponsoring organization may host such guests and must do so within the established parameters of the Mount Holyoke College Guest Policy. Member solicitation to host must be free of coercion and provide members clear communications on opting out of hosting. Members who choose to host are obligated to gain permission from their roommate prior to agreeing to host. A host (an active organization member) may only house one delegate/guest and will need to sign a host agreement form before the event takes place. Under no circumstances will a Mount Holyoke student be allowed to host more than one guest for the event, regardless of whether they believe their room has the space to do so. 
  • The representatives responsible for the housing and registration portions of the event will need to provide a full list of hosts and assigned guests to the Office of Residential Life a minimum of one week prior to the event. 
  • If the event has more overnight needs than can be accommodated on campus in compliance with campus guidelines and state laws, advertising and registration details must be designed and written to encourage delegates or guests to pursue off-campus housing options at area hotels. 
  • The option for on-campus hosting of guests must be advertised as limited. The College recommends stating that it is available with priority given to those guests who have financial or travel hardships. 
  • Before registration materials are made public (on a website, in printed materials, on social media, etc.), the plan and materials to register/recruit institutions and guests for this event must be reviewed for compliance with these parameters by the Office of Student Involvement and/or the Office of Residential Life. 

Failure to follow this policy can result in the student organization being prohibited from hosting an event on campus that provides overnight housing, an honor code violation or disciplinary action. Students should contact the Office of Student Involvement and/or the Office of Residential Life with questions. 

Unauthorized entry

No student shall make unauthorized entry on or into any College facility, building, office, attic or roof or other College property without permission or in instances where the person knew or should have known that such access is restricted. This includes trespassing, propping or unauthorized use of alarmed doors for entry into or exit from a College building; and the possession, duplication or use of keys to College facilities. Further, no student shall enter or remain in a private room, office, or restricted area under control of another student, faculty member or College official.

Weapons and firearms policy

In accordance with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 269 Section 10J, weapons are prohibited on the grounds of the College with the exception of law enforcement officers duly authorized to carry such weapons. See the Public Safety and Services weapons policy.