Prohibited Items

The following items are prohibited in all Columbia owned and operated residence halls and brownstones. If prohibited items are discovered by Residential Life, Housing, or other staff, residents will typically be given 48 hours to remove them from the residence hall. Illegal items or ones considered dangerous will be confiscated immediately.

  • Air conditioners (both window and portable units) shipped to the Columbia Student Mail Center will not be accepted and will be returned to sender at the sender's expense.
  • Banners, flags, nets, holiday lighting, cable wire, and hangers installed in such a way as to interfere with the operation of any fire safety equipment (i.e. sprinkler heads or smoke detectors). No items may be installed on/suspended from the ceilings.
  • Candles, even if the item is strictly decorative
  • Cut trees, wreaths, and all other “cut” decorations (potted plants, succulents, etc. are permitted)
  • Deep fryers
  • Electronic cigarettes, vape pens, and Juuls 
  • Extension cords (only UL-listed surge protectors with shut-off safety functioning are allowed)
  • Fog Machines
  • Grills
  • Halogen lamps
  • Hookahs
  • Hot plates
  • Hoverboards, self-propelled scooters, and similar devices
  • Illegal drugs and/or paraphernalia
  • Incense, even if item is strictly decorative
  • Immersion coils
  • Lofts
  • Non-flame-resistant decorations hung on room/suite doors or hallway bulletin boards.
  • Pets (only fish in a half-gallon or less tank are allowed)
  • Signs, posters, lights, or decorations on the exterior of buildings or attached to window panes.
  • Space heaters*
  • Thermometers containing mercury**
  • Water beds
  • Weapons (see Weapons and Fireworks for more specific information)

The following items are only allowed in Suite/Apartment or corridor-style kitchens. These items may not be used or stored in bedrooms or other common area lounges:

  • Coffeemakers/Electric kettles
  • Countertop Grills (George Foreman-style grills and/or panini makers)
  • Crockpots/Instant pots or similar cooking applicances
  • Knives (bread knives, a cooking set)
  • Microwave ovens (Microfridge Rentals may be stored in an individual room)
  • Rice cookers
  • Toasters/Toaster ovens

Refrigerators used in individual rooms must not exceed 2.5 cubic feet in volume. Refrigerators and microfridges must be plugged directly into wall outlets and cannot be plugged into power strips/extension cords of any kind. Student-purchased refrigerators (those not provided with a suite or a residence hall kitchen) cannot be kept in common areas and must be kept in the student's room.

Please note the University assumes no responsibility for items removed from common area and/or kitchen lounges.

*Residents may purchase and use approved space heaters only after following approved guidelines set forth by Fire Safety.

**New York State Law prohibits the sale of mercury-containing fever thermometers. Accordingly, Columbia University Housing prohibits students from possessing these mercury-containing devices in their campus residence. To facilitate the removal of these hazardous, mercury-containing thermometer from University student residences, any student in possession of an intact mercury-containing temperature thermometer may exchange it for a digital thermometer, for free, at Columbia Health. The mercury thermometer must be transported in a sealed bag and preferably inside a rigid container.