A student swipes his id card to enter his Penn State residence Hall.

Safety and Security

Penn State Housing and Food Services is committed to offering safe and secure buildings for resident students.


Fire Drills

In accordance with state and local fire regulations, fire drills are conducted on a monthly basis in all residence areas. Every person present in the building during an emergency drill must participate by vacating the building according to instruction. Rooms may be checked during the fire drill to ensure compliance. Failure to vacate the building during any fire drill will result in disciplinary action.

Fire Precautions

Students are responsible for taking precautions to prevent fires. Candles, incense, potpourri, and other flame-emitting articles are prohibited. Papering walls and/or ceilings with posters and flammable decorations and putting paper in light fixtures are fire safety hazards and are prohibited.

The following may cause hazardous situations and are prohibited under State Labor and Industry regulations: wood paneling and/or tiles; papering of ceilings, doors, or walls; disguising of doors or exits; and posting of papers, signs, and other combustible materials in hallways or on doors (except bulletin boards).

Multiple outlet adapters present a fire hazard and should only be used with low-wattage devices. A grounded device wattage adapter should be limited to 400 watts total. A grounded 15-amp surge-protective plug-in with built-in breaker is required, and total amperage should not exceed five amps. Residence rooms have limited circuit capacity (one 20-amp circuit for up to four rooms).  Do not hang electric cords around the room or put them under furniture or carpeting. Repositioning outlets by the use of extension cords or splicing is prohibited.

Fire Equipment

Fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and exit signs are located on every floor in each building. Many of the newly constructed residence halls were built with sprinklers installed. In response to student life safety concerns regarding other buildings, the University has developed a project plan that would allow for the installation of sprinkler systems in all residence areas within the next few years. Students should familiarize themselves with the location of the fire equipment on their floors. In some areas, smoke detectors are provided. Tampering with this equipment is a serious matter that could jeopardize the safety of others. Such tampering can result in severe disciplinary and/or criminal action. Federal and state laws apply.


In compliance with University policy, the use of all tobacco products, including smoking, is prohibited in all parts of the residence areas and dining facilities. This includes individual student bedrooms as well. Students must adhere to campus policies regarding the location of outside smoking areas.



Card Access System

Access to North and South Halls is controlled by an electronic card access security system that is maintained 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students need to carry their Penn State id+ Card at all times to gain access to their residence halls. Student access to the residence halls is valid during the normal academic year only. To ensure the security of the building and student rooms, including students’ personal possessions, access is suspended during all breaks and over the summer. Access to each residence hall is limited to students who reside in that building.

Using the System

To use the system, swipe your id+ card down (the picture should be facing to the left) through the card reader. The reader will display a red blinking light before the card is swiped. After the card is swiped, the light will change to either:

  • GREEN = valid entry. The door will temporarily unlock to let you into the building. If the door is held open longer than the set time, an alarm will sound.
  • RED = denied entry.
    The card has been denied access to the building. This may occur for any of the following reasons:
    • The student has not been assigned access to the building.
    • The id+ card has an incorrect issue code.
    • The id+ card is invalid.
    • The student is using the wrong card (such as a credit card or driver’s license).
    • The card was not swiped properly.
    • The student is trying to gain access during a break or over the summer.
    • The system is temporarily offline.

Access Problems

If your card doesn't work in the card reader of your residence area, call a roommate, Residence Life, or Police Services. Then you'll need to contact Housing and Food Services during normal business hours to fix the problem.

Lost Cards

Report lost cards to Housing and Food Services. Your card access will be suspended to prevent someone from using it to get into your building.


For the safety of all residents, outside entrance doors need to be closed at all times. If a door is propped open, an alarm will sound. To shut off the alarm, remove any props and close the door and the alarm will shut off automatically.

Student Responsibility for Security

Do your part to stay safe on campus:

  • Never let strangers into buildings or rooms.
  • Do not let people piggyback into the building.
  • Keep windows locked at all times.
  • Never tamper with exit alarms.
  • Report unauthorized persons to proper authorities.
  • Never lend id+ cards or keys to others.
  • Never prop open a door.
  • Meet guests at the entrance door.
  • Always know where your id+ card and keys are.
  • Report stolen keys and id+ cards immediately.
  • Keep room doors locked at all times – including when you are in the bathroom, across the hall visiting a friend, in the laundry room, or sleeping. It only takes a few seconds for someone to realize that the door is unlocked and no one is in the room.
  • Walk in groups when traveling outside of the residence hall, especially at night. Students may call Police Services at 570-450-3333 to request an escort at any time.
  • Travel in well-lit, heavy traffic areas. 
  • Report suspicious behavior by calling Police Services at 570-450-3333.
  • Know where the emergency phones are located on campus.