Decorations and Posting Guidelines

Columbia Housing encourages students to personalize their assigned room. However, students must not damage the space and must uphold satisfactory sanitation and safety standards as they will be held responsible for any damage and health and/or safety violations.

In addition to the guidelines below, residents are responsible for adhering to the Prohibited Items section of the Guide to Living. Housing and Residential Life will confiscate and remove any illegal and dangerous items.

Individual Rooms

  • With the exception of blue painter’s tape, the use of adhesives and other hanging hardware is not permitted. 
  • The painting of student rooms is prohibited.
  • Items should not be hung from or placed on ceilings, fire safety equipment, or overhead lighting.

Common Areas

  • Common Area decorations are subject to approval by Columbia Housing and Residential Life. Please speak with your Residence Hall Director or email housing@columbia.edu with the details of your request.
  • Where possible it is encouraged that decorations, other than University-approved posters, be made of non-combustible materials. Refrain from the use of curtains, hangings, and draperies.
  • Bulletin boards are provided on each floor for use by Residential Life staff. Coverings should be limited to posters and decorations.
  • In hallways, coverings on walls should not occupy more than 20% of the surface area. General wall decorations should be limited to the approved bulletin board locations and individual residents’ doors.
  • In lounges, coverings on walls should not occupy more than 20% of the surface area. General wall decorations should be limited to the approved bulletin board locations and doors. Posting on student room doors should not occupy more than 50% of the surface area.
  • With the exception of blue painter’s tape, the use of adhesives and other hanging hardware is not permitted. 
  • The painting of common areas is prohibited.
  • Items should not be hung from or placed on ceilings.

Power Sources and Decorative Lighting

  • The use of extension cords is not permitted in the residence halls except for UL-approved surge-protected power strips.
  • Interior power strips should not be routed through doorways, under carpeting, or across hallways as these are both a fire hazard and tripping hazard.
  • Only UL-approved lights should be used as decorative lighting inside the residence halls.
  • Decorative lights should be kept away from combustible materials (i.e., curtains, paper, etc.) at all times.
  • Decorative lights should be turned off when the area is unattended and should not be strung from the ceiling.
  • Metal staples or nails should not be used as fasteners for lights as they can damage the protective insulation covering the wires.
  • The installation and removal of decorative lights must not cause damage to the building.
  • Interior lights should not be strung along walls, across hallways between rooms, or around fire safety equipment.
  • Use of candles, incense, or halogen lamps is strictly prohibited.

Fire Safety Equipment

  • Decorations must be kept away from fire protection equipment to allow for emergency access to these devices. Fire Protection Equipment includes exit signs, fire alarm devices (pull stations, smoke and heat detectors, etc.), fire extinguishers, and emergency and normal-use light fixtures.
  • At no time may any items be attached to or hung from sprinkler heads or sprinkler system piping.

Holiday Guidelines

  • Live trees, wreaths and decorations are prohibited.
  • Artificial trees are permitted, provided the placement does not create an obstruction to emergency exits and must not exceed 6 feet in height.
  • See the Decorative Lighting guidelines above for holiday lights.

Cleaning & Painting

  • Removal of decorations is the responsibility of the student posting the decorations. Students will be billed for any additional cleaning as per the Damage/Vandalism section of The Guide to Living.
  • Damaged walls due to the improper use of adhesives or fasteners will be billed to the student as per the Damage/Vandalism section of The Guide to Living.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can students use to hang posters and/or decorations?

Students may hang posters and/or decorations on their walls using Plasti-Tak or blue painter's tape, but Housing asks students to avoid nails, adhesives, single- or double-sided tape. Students will be held responsible for damages when they check-out. In rooms with molding installed (McBain, Ruggles, and Wien), students may also hang decorations from the molding with the use of molding hooks.

Where can students hang decorations?

Students may hang posters and/or decorations on their wall as long as they do not install banners, flags, nets, cable wires, hangers in such a way that interferes with the operation of any fire safety equipment (i.e. sprinkler heads or smoke detectors). Students are prohibited from suspending decorative materials from the walls and ceilings. Students are also not allowed to hang signs, posters, lights or decorations on the exterior of buildings or attached to windowpanes. Non-flame-resistant decorations are also prohibited on room/suite doors and hallway bulletin boards.

During the Holidays, can students decorate their rooms with wreaths or other holiday decorations?

Cut trees, wreaths, potted plants, and all other “live” decorations are prohibited in the residence halls at any time. 

Can students decorate their rooms with candles?

Candles are not allowed in residence halls even if they are strictly decorative. Halogen lamps and incense are also illegal even if the student only uses these items for decorative purposes.

How much will it cost to repair any painting or plaster damages?

It costs $600 per wall to repair plaster and re-paint. Please visit Damages/Vandalism for more information.