Residence Life

Housing requirements

Bluffton University seeks to create a residential community built on the four enduring values of discovery, community, respect and service. New or readmitted students enrolling in a traditional undergraduate academic program at Bluffton University must be at least 16 years of age and under the age of 25 at the time of initial enrollment to qualify to live in university undergraduate housing. Returning students who are already living in or approved to live in university undergraduate housing at the time of their 25th birthday qualify to remain in university undergraduate housing until they graduate from Bluffton University or separate from the university.

Bluffton University requires all traditional students enrolled full-time to live on-campus in one of our residence halls. The following exceptions exist:

  • A student commuting from the primary home of a parent (within 50 miles driving distance to Bluffton University.)
  • A part-time student, taking less than 12 hours during the current semester
  • A student who is married.
  • A student who is 23 years of age or older prior to the start of the semester. 
  • A custodial parent.
  • A full-time off-campus internship or student teaching more than 80 miles from campus.
  • Fifth-year senior
  • A student who is transferring to Bluffton and who is at least 21 years of age by the first day of class and has an associate’s degree or more than 60 credit hours college level credit. 

Approval for off-campus residency is granted by the director of residence life and must be requested by filling out the “Request To Live-Off Campus form” found on under the student life or admissions tabs. Students need to complete the form each academic year. Once granted, permission to live off-campus is only valid so long as the reason for the original approval exists. Any change of status, during the period of off-campus approval, may nullify the decision, thus requiring that student to be invoiced for room and board. Students supplying false information to obtain off-campus residency will be held accountable through the Bluffton University conduct process.

Living successfully in a residence hall environment requires a certain amount of understanding and responsibility on the part of each person. It is understood and expected that students are responsible for their own actions and the activities that occur in their rooms. The guidelines for living in the halls have been developed in order to foster a pattern of living on the part of all individuals within the residence halls that stresses respect and consideration for others.

Meal plan requirements
All students living in Bluffton residence halls are required to pay for meals served in Marbeck. No refunds will be made for occasional absences. Meal plan selections can be changed prior to the start of the upcoming semester. Changing a meal plan mid-semester is not permitted.

Hall directors

These staff members live in an apartment in the residence hall and have the responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the residence hall. The primary goal of the hall director is to maintain a residence hall that is conducive to the pursuit of academic interests. In support of this goal, the hall director has specific responsibilities, such as supervising the resident advisors, maintaining safety procedures, supporting the objectives of Bluffton and responding to student concerns and crisis.

Resident advisors

These staff members are undergraduate students employed by Bluffton who live on floors in the residence halls. Each is responsible for implementing the programs of the student life office and maintaining a floor that is conducive to the pursuit of academic interests. This responsibility includes responding to student concerns, assisting prospective students, helping to establish safety procedures and supporting Bluffton’s objectives.


Basic facilities in the residence halls are as follows:

Laundry facilities are provided for each residence hall. Irons can only be used in designated areas in the halls.

Kitchenettes are provided in most residence halls. The residents are responsible for keeping their kitchenettes in order. Custodians will only clean the floor and empty the contents of the kitchenette wastebaskets. Kitchenettes are subject to community billing.

Storage facilities have been provided for use by residents. Students may store suitcases, trunks or boxes in these storage areas. All items are to be in sealed containers labeled with the resident’s name and address. Items such as couches, chairs, refrigerators, carpets and lofts may not be stored in the residence hall. The storage rooms will be locked at all times; if a student needs an item in the storage room, the hall director or resident advisor will unlock it upon request. Bluffton will not assume responsibility for items stored.

Vending machines are provided in most residence halls for use of residents. The profit from these machines is used by the hall governing organizations to provide for extra facilities and services for the residence halls. If a machine is out of order, it should be reported immediately to the hall director. Any tampering with the machines could mean the machines would be taken out of the residence halls and possible legal action might be brought against the violator.

Bulletin boards are provided in the residence halls for posters and announcements. The hall director will give permission for items posted on the main bulletin boards. Items are not to be posted on the walls or doors but only on the bulletin boards. Please look over the publicity policy information if you have questions.

Furnishings and care

Residents of the halls should be aware of the following:

  • Each resident should bring blankets, linens, a pillow, a wastebasket, trash bags, an alarm clock and for most residence halls, a desk lamp. Students may want to provide throw rugs, bedspreads and room decorations. (Reminder: Carpets must be removed at the end of the year.)
  • Radios, CD players and TV sets are permitted in residence hall rooms. However, they must be turned down so that other residents will not be disturbed and roommates must agree to the time they are used. Cable TV is provided in each hall. Students are responsible for providing their own cable cord. Any problems with the cable service should be reported to the hall director.
  • No electric irons, hot plates, toasters, indoor grills, waffle irons, space heaters, halogen lamps or other electrical appliances are to be used in the residence hall rooms with the exception of microwave ovens and coffee makers. Any questions residents may have about the safety of an appliance should be checked with the hall director. Because of the serious fire hazard, excessive use of extension cords is prohibited. In no case should electrical cords be connected to the overhead light. Cords are not to be fastened to the walls with nails or staples. Items may not be attached to the sprinkler heads in the residence hall rooms or the piping leading to the heads. Outdoor grilling should be done only in connection with hall programs or as an activity of a campus organization; the storing of charcoal and lighter fluid in student rooms is a fire hazard and is not permitted.
  • Window exhibits that display items relating to alcohol and other drugs are prohibited, as are displays in windows, on room doors, in hallways, etc., which are deemed offensive or in poor taste by the hall director in conjunction with the director of residence life and dean of students.
  • Animals and pets are not allowed in the residence halls.

Requests for repairs in the residence hall should be made to the hall director. Damage and needed repairs should be reported immediately.

Hall furniture
No furniture may be removed from a room. No furniture attached to a wall may be removed from the wall. Closet doors are not to be removed. Lofts may be built, but they may not restrict easy access in and out of the room. Personal lofts are not permitted in Neufeld Hall as the university-provided furniture already has the capability to be lofted. Waterbeds may not be used in the residence halls.

Window screens are designed to serve as protection from insects and animals. The student is responsible for any damage to the screen in her/his room. Screens may not be removed at any time; a charge may be assessed to those students who remove their screens.

Students may bring their own refrigerators not exceeding 4.3 cubic feet.

Air conditioners
Window air conditioners are not permitted in the residence halls unless pre-approved by the student life office. Free standing air conditioning units that do not require the removal of a university windowpane or window screen may be permitted. If air conditioning is required for medical purposes, students must provide medical documentation to the counselor for disability services. All housing accommodations for air conditioning will be made through disability services.

Air conditioning units are not permitted in residence halls that have centralized air conditioning provided. In residence halls that do not have centralized air conditioning, floor units are allowed but must be removed from the windows completely once the heat is turned on in the buildings.

Hallways must remain clear at all times to ensure safety of students to have a clear route of egress in the event of an emergency. This also includes decorative items such as pumpkins, Christmas trees etc., as these add an extra level of concern for cleanliness and possible fire hazards.

Security deposit and charges

A room damage deposit of $100 is paid by new students moving into a residence hall. It is returned (less damage charges) upon completion of a students academic career or final departure of campus housing. The deposit is nonrefundable after July 1. Costs for replacement parts and labor for repairing any damage in a student’s room are added to the student’s bill. These costs will be deducted from the room damage deposit if the student has left the university. Unless evidence indicates otherwise, students who live in a room are held responsible for any damage done to their room.

When a student moves into a room, he/she must complete a room check-in form. This form is signed by the resident advisor and filed with the hall director. When the rooms are examined for damages, the actual damage is compared with the damage reported on the check-in form.

When a student moves out of a room, it is expected that the room will be clean. If the room is not clean, a cleaning charge will be assessed to the student(s). Representatives of buildings and grounds and the office of student life may check for damage in each room during and at the end of the academic year. Students are billed for room damage after each room check.

If you are dismissed or withdraw, you must vacate your university-provided housing in the time frame directed by the university. When you leave campus due to a withdrawal, suspension, graduation or for extended summer breaks you will need to return your key and fob and remove all of your belongings. Students will continue to be billed for housing until the room key and building fob are retuned. Additional charges may be incurred if any belongings are left in the room.

Room inspections may be made periodically. A member of the residence life staff and/or the buildings and grounds staff has the right to enter a room at any time for the purposes of inspection and maintenance. Specific procedures and rationale for staff members to follow when entering student rooms in residence halls can be found in “entering student rooms.”

A final end-of-year room inspection will be conducted by buildings and grounds; students are responsible for charges related to damages found during this inspection.

Room keys are available from the hall director when moving into the residence hall. Students will be charged $10 for each key or key card that is not returned when leaving the hall. Lost key cards must be reported to the hall director and a replacement will be issued for $10. If it is deemed advisable to re-key a lock because of a lost key, the charge will be $75. Students are encouraged to lock their rooms.

In residence halls that use a key card entry system, a blinking light or beeping sound indicates a low battery and should be reported to your resident advisor. To insure continued entry into your room do not wait for the battery to completely die before reporting.

There will be a $20 charge for key fobs that are lost or not returned.

For any damages found when assessing a resident’s mattress, the resident will be found responsible for those damages. Charges are assessed based on move-out inspections or upon discovery of damages at other times by the buildings and grounds staff. Costs for a replacement mattress is $130 which will be added to the student’s bill after the assessment is complete.

Community billing

Part of the on-campus experience at Bluffton is living in a residence hall community. One aspect of community living involves damage that occurs within your residence hall. Residence hall damage and/or vandalism can be an unfortunate reality in community living. At Bluffton we choose to use community billing as each incident occurs. We believe this encourages a sense of ownership in residents, accountability within the community and improves our ability to control costs. Whenever the responsible individual(s) can be identified, the financial charges are levied to them and they can also be charged judicially.

When damage or cleanliness issues occur in a residence hall, residents are notified via the community billing information notice indicating the type of damage and the amount to be charged to each resident for the damage. Residents are given seven (7) days to assume or report responsibility. If the cause of the issue is not reported the divided amount is charged to each resident on the floor. Damage or cleanliness issues that occurs in a common area (lobby, kitchenette, stairwells, hallways, windows, etc.) is charged to the entire residence hall. Billing rates are determined by repair costs and labor.

Personal trash

Residents are responsible for bagging, tying and disposing of their own trash in the dumpsters located outside of the building. Personal trash is not to be disposed of in the trash receptacles within the building, nor is it to be left in the hallway or stairwells. Personal trash that is disposed of within the building or left in common areas will result in personal or community billing.

Safety policies

Policies for security in the residence halls are as follows:

Fire and tornado instructions and procedures are posted in the residence halls and on all building bulletin boards. Residents should check their parents’ insurance policy for coverage of their personal possessions. Bluffton can not be responsible for items destroyed in a fire, tornado, water damage or for stolen items. All students are expected to leave their rooms when the fire alarm is sounded.

Theft or loss should be reported to the hall director immediately. Residents are responsible for their own possessions. All residents are encouraged to keep their rooms locked and not to keep valuables out in the open.

If you experience theft, please report this immediately to the vice president of student life (ext. 3226.) If you cannot reach either him, please contact the student life office (ext. 3247) or buildings and grounds department (ext. 3236) and they will direct you to the appropriate person. Additionally, an incident report should be filled out on

Hallways are to be kept completely free of all belongings at all times. Fire doors in the halls are to be kept closed. No sport activity of any kind is permitted in the hallway.

All residence halls are locked 24 hours. Residents are issued a fob which opens the main doors.

Fire safety
  • No partitions of any nature may be erected in a room. Sheets or fabrics may not be hung from the ceilings or walls in student rooms. This does not include posters on walls or other common wall hangings.
  • The burning of incense is not permitted in residence halls.
  • The burning of any object with an open flame (e.g., candles and lanterns) is not permitted in residence halls. Burnt candles are also not permitted. Candles must have a new wick or no wick at all.
  • Live Christmas trees are not permitted in any building on campus.
  • Halogen lamps are not permitted in the residence halls.
  • It is a violation of state law to tamper with smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire alarm systems. Any students involved in this type of activity will be subject to suspension from the university.

Smoke detectors have been installed in each room for the safety of the residents. These should be tested once a week by pressing and holding the test button 1-5 seconds and listening for the alarm. When the battery begins to weaken, a warning chirp will sound at least once per minute for seven days. Hall directors should be contacted when the battery needs to be replaced. Residents will be given a new battery to place in the alarm.

Hours and guests policies

Open hours
Open house hours have been established on a regular basis. Open house hours are as follows:

Sun.-Thurs.: 10 a.m. - midnight
Fri. and Sat.: 10 a.m.-2 a.m.

Men are not permitted in the women's living areas and vice-versa at times other than those designated as open house, except by permission of the hall director.

Lobby hours
Main lobbies are open 24 hours. Overnight sleeping in lobbies is prohibited.

All residence halls are locked at all times. Residents are issued a card which opens the main doors.

Quiet hours
The following hours are established to encourage an environment conducive to studying: 11 p.m.-9 a.m. These hours are to be respected throughout the halls in lobbies, hallways, rooms, etc. There are 24-hour courtesy hours in effect where the volume of your room should not disturb your floor mates. Hall Associations in each hall may amend these hours to be stricter. Students disrespecting quiet hours or courtesy hours can be held accountable through the campus conduct system.

Residential students may have guests of the same gender with the permission of their roommate/s and for periods of time of 3 nights or less for no more than 3 nonconsecutive time periods during a semester. Overnight guests of the opposite gender are not permitted. Guests are not permitted to sleep in lobbies.

Hall closing
Residence halls are closed during all regularly scheduled vacation periods. 

Entering student room policy

The following policy was approved by the community life committee and the administrative officers at Bluffton University:

We respect students’ right of privacy in their rooms. As a general rule rooms are not entered by a Bluffton University staff member without receiving permission from the occupants of the rooms. There are times, however, when it may be necessary for a staff member to enter a room without permission from the occupants. These times are as follows:

  • For purposes of room inspection (inspection for damages) and maintenance when the occupants of the room are not present. Room inspections are made periodically and an attempt is made to notify students in advance as to when the inspection will occur.
  • If, in the judgment of a staff member, it is believed that the activities in a room are an immediate threat to the physical well-being of the students in the room or to other students in the hall, and the occupants do not respond affirmatively to the request to enter.
  • If, in the judgment of a staff member, the activities in the room are disturbing other people in the hall or other people on campus, and the occupants do not respond affirmatively to the request to enter.
  • When, in the judgment of a staff member, it is obvious that the occupants of the room are violating the law and/or standards of campus conduct and they do not respond affirmatively to the request to enter.
  • During fire drills or similar emergencies to ensure that occupants have not remained in their rooms.

There are several guidelines that are followed in entering rooms:

  • Entering rooms without permission is done only in the exceptional cases cited above. If time and circumstances permit, the staff member will consult with the director of residence life or her/his designee to determine if it is appropriate to enter the room without permission.
  • The staff member always knocks on the door and occupants of the room are given an opportunity to answer the door and allow the staff member to enter.
  • Occupants of the room are held responsible for stolen property or illegal activities observed by the staff member who has entered the room, regardless of the reason for entering.
  • Other than the conditions given above, rooms are not entered without permission from the occupants of the room.
  • If it is necessary to enter the room without permission, the staff member must have another person to serve as a witness except in the case of an emergency.
  • Those entering the room must be able to demonstrate that they had reason to do so.
Room assignment change policy

Room assignments for new students are made by the student life office irrespective of race, creed or nationality.

Returning students may reserve a room by participating in the room draw which is conducted in the spring. Priority in the room draw is established on the basis of class standing (senior, junior, sophomore and first-year) and chance.

Room changes are discouraged; there may be circumstances, however, that cause students to desire a room change. In general, a three-week freeze is in effect when students arrive in the fall. This means that students may not change rooms or roommates during the first three weeks of the semester unless the hall director determines that an exception should be made. Students requesting a room change may be asked to participate in the Bluffton University conflict mediation program. 

The process for completing a room change is as follows:

Students should contact their hall director in regards to any roommate conflicts. If it is determined that a room change should be made, the person with conflict will be asked to move rooms. If both students have agree to needing a room change, the hall director will work with the students to determine the next steps. If both students refuse to move rooms, both students may be asked to move. Next, the room change request form is completed and signed by the present hall director. This form is then sent to the director of residence life and upon approval, the student is able to change rooms.

Consolidation policy

Should vacancies occur in residence halls, hall directors are asked to consolidate these vacancies by requiring the occupants of half-filled rooms on the same floor to move together. This policy has been developed for several reasons:

  • To accommodate prospective students who are considering Bluffton as the possible university of their choice.
  • To make available an increased number of rooms that can be assigned.
  • To conserve on the cost of unnecessary utilities and needless wear and tear on a room.

A student who faces consolidation has several options:

  • Obtain a roommate and keep the room as a double. Students can request a roommate from within the residence hall or from another residence hall. It is preferred that a roommate be chosen from someone who also needs to consolidate and not from someone whose move would create another underassigned room.
  • Move in with someone else in an underassigned room.
  • Sign a super single contract and pay the super single room rate if space is available.
Single room policy

When the halls are under-assigned, a few rooms normally used as doubles might be available as super singles. A super single room is a double-occupancy room that has been reserved for one student. No furniture may be removed from a super single room. Students who choose the super single option are expected to maintain that status for the entire year unless the student life office requests a change.

Any student living alone in a double occupancy room who refuses to accept an assigned roommate and who has not previously asked for a super single shall be asked to move in with another student.

Super singles are available only when space permits. If the need for rooms exceeds the number of available double-occupancy rooms, Bluffton University reserves the right to convert super singles into double-occupancy rooms. Contact the director of residence life for more information about the availability of super single rooms.

Break housing

The university does provide break housing during vacation times in the year. Students are housed in their current room unless other arrangements are requested by the director of residence life.

Summer school housing

Information about summer school housing is announced by the student life office in the spring. Summer housing is provided for students as space permits. Student accounts must be paid in full in order to live in summer housing.

Individuals must be students in current academic good standing to live in campus housing during summer months and may be asked to leave if found in violation of any conduct expectations or not paying room charges.

Housing preference is given to:

  • Student enrolled in summer courses
  • International students
  • Students working on campus over the summer

fifth-year graduate student housing

Bluffton University seeks to continue the residential community built on the four enduring values of discovery, community, respect, and service.  In accordance with the university housing policy, fifth-year students continuing in graduate programs may request to remain in university housing but are not required to do so. There is no married student housing option available. Housing placements will be made as space is available.

The following criteria needs to be met to be eligible to remain in the residence hall for the next academic year.

  • You need to have been a residential student.
  • You need to be enrolled as a degree seeking student.
  • You will need to have been a good citizen on campus regarding campus conduct.
  • You will need to have demonstrated that you were engaged in campus activities (i.e. student organizations, department activities, performance groups, etc.)
  • You must purchase the Basic 10 Plus meal plan each semester you are on campus.