Policies and Procedures

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.  See the adverse weather policy for details.

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. 

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

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 AccessAbility Services, 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 and 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.

A Supplementary Commencement Adornment Request Form must 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.

Commencement Regalia Specification


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.

Fire Safety Specifics

Candles, Incense and Open Flames                                                                                                     

The most frequent causes of residence hall fires on campus have been candles and incense. Candles, oil lamps, incense, alcohol lamps and open flame burners are prohibited. The policy also prohibits listed items for decorative purposes. If found in rooms, candles and incense will be confiscated.


State fire regulations require that all paths of exit, including corridors and stairwells, be kept free of obstructions. Bicycles, boots, shoes, boxes, trash, suitcases, clothes, umbrellas, beds and furniture should never be left in corridors or stairwells. Any item left in the corridors or stairwells will be confiscated and may be thrown away. Students are financially responsible for any missing room furniture, including furniture confiscated from corridors.

Electrical Equipment and Appliances                                                                                             

All electrical equipment is subject to inspection throughout the year by the College electrician as part of Mount Holyoke’s continuing fire safety program. For example, before an electrician will reset a breaker or replace a fuse, they must first determine the cause of the electric overload and therefore must check all rooms on the involved circuit for problems. 

All types of halogen lamps are prohibited. 

Extension cords may be used, but they must be UL-approved. Multi-outlet extension cords are also allowed as long as they are UL-approved and have independent fuse protection. Extension cords should not be run under rugs, in travel ways or under furniture. Do not tack extension cords to baseboards or other areas of the room. 

The storage and use of the following electrical appliances in student rooms are prohibited: 

  • Open heating coil
  • Refrigerators measuring over 3.1 cubic feet
  • Outside radio and television antennas
  • Space heaters
  • Heat-generating humidifiers or vaporizers
  • Toasters
  • Toaster ovens
  • Electric grills/griddles
  • Electric blankets

While most appliances are prohibited, there are a few exceptions, such as small blenders, coffee pots and electric kettles, rice cookers, and microwaves under 70 watts. Due to the limited capacity of the electric circuits, students are encouraged to limit electrical use. Appliances not in use must be turned off and/or disconnected.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are located on the main floor of each residence hall. Extinguishers should be used for their intended purpose only and should not be removed from their assigned location. Extinguishers should be used only after the alarm has been pulled and the fire department has been notified. Only then should a person try to control a small fire, if they can do so safely. Report fires of any size by dialing 911 or 413-538-2304 (Public Safety and Service). 

Fire Doors

Keep fire and smoke doors closed. These doors prevent the spread of smoke and fire, saving lives and minimizing damage to the building and personal property.

Fire Safety Inspections

In order to keep the residence hall free of fire hazards, fire safety inspections are performed four times a year: at the beginning of each semester, in November, and over the summer. Residential Life staff will follow up on any fire safety violations that are discovered during these inspections.

Flyers and Other Postings                                                                                                             

Flyers and other wall postings make the spread of fire much quicker and easier. To increase the safety within the residence halls, the College asks that students post flyers and announcements in designated areas only. This is typically the corkboard on the room door and a community events board on the main floor of the residence hall lobby. Flyers placed on walls, glass of fire doors, or on entryways will be removed. 

Gasoline and Other Combustibles                                                                                                   

Any item with a gasoline engine is prohibited in residential buildings. Gas barbecue grills, charcoal and lighter fluids are also prohibited. Grilling on the campus grounds is prohibited. Students or groups wishing to host a barbecue should contact the catering services via the Willits-Hallowell Conference Center. They will review the cost and offer options. 

Hazing Policy

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 at https://www.mtholyoke.edu/policies/anti-hazing-policy.

Room Furnishings                                                                                                                          

State law prohibits the use of upholstered furniture in student rooms. Futons, waterbeds, lofts, beanbag chairs, upholstered storage ottomans, and hanging chairs are prohibited in College-provided housing. Decorations may not be hung from the ceiling or sprinkler pipes. All decorations throughout the building must be flame-resistant. 

Approved Decorations  

The following describes decorations that are approved under the conditions specified:                                                                                                                  

  • Only fireproof artificial trees may be used in College buildings. Massachusetts law prohibits natural trees and other natural decorations.
  • If a holiday tree is set up in a residence hall, decorations must be made of flameproof or fireproof glass or metal. Items must be labeled as fireproof, not assumed to be fireproof. Only UL-approved lighting sets may be used to decorate a tree. 
  • Balloons (filled with nonflammable gas).
  • Aluminum foil and other metal decorations.                                                                                              
  • Posters made of heavy cardboard, or paper that has been treated with flame-resistant solution (check label for this information). 
  • Window decorations must be limited to the glass area and must remain completely inside the room. Only watercolor paints may be used. The steel or wooden frames of the windows are not to be painted or taped with any kind of tape. Windows must be cleaned at the end of the event or holiday season. 

Prohibited Decorations

The following describes decorations that are prohibited:

  • No decorations of any kind are allowed in corridors, stairwells or any means of exit. Doors (except for bulletin boards on doors) may not be decorated with cards, ribbons, wrapping paper or natural wreaths.
  • Nothing may be posted or hung on the outside of a window, whether affixed to the glass or affixed inside the room. This includes but is not limited to signs, window paints, flags, birdfeeders, etc.
  • No fires are to be lit in the fireplace when the mantel is decorated. Fireplace mantel decorations should be kept to a minimum.
  • Cornstalks, hay, straw and related items are prohibited.
  • Cut or live trees, wreaths and sprays may not be used in the building. 
  • Items that may damage the interior paint or wallpaper of any building are prohibited. 
  • Paper lanterns are prohibited.
  • Plastic film and coverings are prohibited. 

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.

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.

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.

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.