New Student Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When do the residence halls open?

A. Please see the Residential Calendar for the dates and times incoming first-year students are allowed to arrive. Also make note of the closing dates and times, so that you can plan your travel accordingly.

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Q. How do I know where I will be living?

A. You will receive your roommate and room assignments from Residential Life by early-to-mid August. We know you are anxious to get this information and work diligently to produce it as soon as we can. Please recognize that during the summer there are many items we have to make certain are correct before sending out the first-year room assignments.

Once you know where you are living, you can check the map of residence halls to see where your residence hall is on campus.

Remember that, as well as calling by phone, you can activate your Brown email and try to contact your roommate(s) that way. You can search for your roommate's Brown email address in the directory on the Brown Home Page. This is a good reason to activate your Brown account if you have not already done so - your roommate may be trying to email you, too.

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Q. What is my mailing address?

A. Your mailing address will be your box number at Brown. All actively-enrolled undergraduate students, whether living on campus or off campus, are required to maintain a mailbox at the University mailroom in Page Robinson Hall.

You will receive your campus box number in August. Students will retain the same assigned mailbox for the duration of their undergraduate studies, provided they do not separate from the University (e.g., study away or take a leave of absence). For more information regarding policies and correct formats for postal mail and packages, visit the Brown University Mail Services site.

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Q. How do I get into my room? Where do I get my keys?

A. You will need both your Brown ID Card and a brass key to get into your residence hall at Brown. New students will receive both their Brown I.D. Card and their brass room key when they check in upon arrival on campus. Keys can be picked up from one of the following locations on First-Year Move-in Day.

  • Morriss Lounge on the 1st floor of Morriss Hall (for students living in Morriss-Champlin, Emery-Woolley, East and West Andrews, and New Pembroke #3)

  • Arnold Lounge in Keeney Quad (for students living in Archibald/Bronson, Everett/Poland, Jameson/Mead, North and South Wayland)

Students arriving between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday or students arriving on Sunday between 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. may pick up their keys and Brown cards at the Office of Residential Life in Graduate Center E (42 Charlesfield Street). If you arrive after 8:00 PM on Saturday the Office of Public Safety (401-863-3322) will admit students to their rooms for the evening, and students can then pick up their keys the following day at Residential Life (42 Charlesfield Street, Grad. Ctr. E).

Your Brown ID Card is an all-purpose card, used mainly for identification and to open secure doors on campus. Your Brown ID Card will be programmed to open the exterior doors on your assigned residence hall only. It will not open doors of other residence halls. There are Sabbath doors on some of the residence halls; students who indicate need are issued a brass key for Sabbath door access.

Do not attach anything to your Brown ID Card, such as stickers or key chains. Attaching foreign objects to the physical card or punching holes in it will cause damage to the campus card readers (i.e., the swipe boxes).

Your brass key will open your bedroom door; it will not open any other bedroom door. Depending on where you live, you may have a second brass key to the bike room or other common areas of the residence hall, or your room key may unlock these other areas as well.

The Brown Bookstore sells a variety of small wallets that will hold your Brown ID and have a ring to accommodate a couple of keys.

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Q. I didn't send a photo in for my Brown ID Card? Now what?

A. A representative from the Brown Card Office will be available at the ID card/room key distribution points. This person will be able to answer questions regarding the ID cards. Every year a few students do not mail in a photograph; those students receive a temporary ID card without the photo. They then have two weeks to go to the Brown Card Office on the ground floor of Page-Robinson Hall  to add their picture to the ID.

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Q. What furniture comes with my room?

A. Each student is provided the following Furniture

Q. How much room is there under the bed?

A. There is eleven-and-a-half inches of clearance under all beds. If you are thinking about putting risers under the feet, check that they could accommodate the large legs - or wait until you get here and know what your bed looks like.

The Brown Bookstore and other vendors sell bed risers that will elevate the bed frame about five or six inches while still providing a solid and safe footing on the floor (these commercial products are made of plastic and are less likely to scar the floor).

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Q. What about linens and bedding?

A.You will need to bring sheets, pillowcases, blankets, pillow, a bedspread or comforter, and towels. Mattresses are "twin, extra-long" (36 by 80 inches, about 6 inches thick). Extra-long fitted sheets or twin flat sheets will accommodate the mattress, but regular twin fitted sheets often will not fit. You may also wish to bring a mattress cover or pad.

Residence halls do get cold at night, particularly in early October before the heat is turned on. Many people use comforters instead of bedspreads for extra warmth. If you are having trouble finding twin, extra-long sheets, Brown Student Agencies sells linens and comforters of the appropriate size for our beds.

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Q. May I have a loft bed?

A. Lofted bed frames may be permitted only if  commercially-available products (e.g. a kit) are used. This means you may not build a loft yourself from scratch.

Before putting a loft in your room, contact staff in the Office of Residential Life (401-863-3502) to discuss requirements and restrictions. The main requirements have to do with safety (e.g., material and method of construction) and fire prevention (i.e., treatment of construction materials with fire retardant) and interfering with fire and life safety equipment.

Also, placing bed frames on top of dressers does not meet Rhode Island Fire Code and is not allowed.

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Q. Is smoking allowed in the residence halls?

A. No. All residence halls and dining facilities at Brown are smoke-free; smoking is permitted in outdoor spaces only.


Q. Where can I do laundry?

A. Laundry machines are available in the residence halls for student use. You may swipe your Brown ID Card to pay for the washers and dryers. You may add money to your Brown ID through the Bear Bucks website. For more information on the use of your card, please contact the Brown Card Office (401-863-2273).

You will need to bring laundry supplies (hamper, detergent, softener, dryer sheets, etc.) if you decide to do your own laundry. Brown Student Agencies also offers a laundry service.

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Q. If we arrive at Brown by car, where do we park to unload?

A. Unfortunately, finding parking is often difficult in Providence, even when it's not moving in time. College Hill is full of narrow streets, which are not especially conducive to parking large numbers of cars, vans or U-Hauls. Some streets around Brown are permanently one way only, while others are temporarily designated as such during move-in.

When time comes to unload your belongings, the best game plan is to find a temporary street parking spot adjacent to or near your residence hall, unload, and then move the car. When unloading, please do not leave your belongings unattended, stacked on the sidewalk, or the car unlocked with belongings inside.

Students on the Orientation and Welcoming Committee (OWC) will be stationed by each residence hall in colorful T-shirts to help direct you to key-pick up.

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Q. What do I need to know about computing at Brown?

A. Brown's  IT @ Brown web site contains a Welcome New Students section that has a checklist for computing at Brown.

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Q. What should I bring?

A. Consider bringing the following items: alarm clock, backpack, backrest, bicycle and lock (which you should register in the unlikely case of theft with the Department of Public Safety), a broom or small vacuum, a desk and/or floor lamp, a fan, hangers for your closet, an iron and ironing board, laundry supplies (hamper, detergent, softener, dryer sheets, etc.), linens, pillow, posters and pictures (please use mounting putty, or else you might be billed for wall damages), UL-approved refrigerator and/or microwave (Brown Student Agencies rents out a “microfridge” combination), an area/small rug, shower caddy and flip flops, and surge protectors (extension cords are not permitted and will be confiscated).

Brown does not have storage for student belongings outside of the student room. Please think about what will work best for you: renting storage locally, contracting with a pack-and-store vendor, or taking your belongings home at year's end.

Brown is committed to reducing its impact on the environment, both on and off campus. Environmentally friendly alternatives for most of the items referenced below and more can be purchased locally. We encourage you to choose these or similar products for your room.

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Q. What should I not bring?

A. Certain items are prohibited in the residence halls due to fire and safety codes.

Air Conditioner - Individual air conditioners (window or floor units) are not allowed in residence halls because of the electrical load. You are certainly welcome to bring a fan, which should be sufficient to keep your room pleasantly cool through most of the academic year.

Candles - Candles of all kinds (including birthday cake candles) are a fire hazard and are prohibited in residence halls by Rhode Island fire safety regulations. Candles will be confiscated when found, and the fine is $100 per candle. Please leave candles at home.

Canopies, Tapestries, Large Combustible Wall Covering - While there are many things you can do to personalize your room, there are also some things you cannot do because of the fire and safety hazard they pose to you and to the other students living in your building. Ceiling canopies, wall tapestries and large combustible, unframed wall coverings over 1600 square inches are prohibited in any room or sleeping quarters because of their potential to ignite and burn rapidly. Likewise, do not cover or hide your ceiling light with fabric. Under no condition is any tapestry or cloth covering to be within 12 inches of an electrical outlet.

Car - Due to the significant shortage of parking for faculty, staff and students at Brown, first-year students are not allowed to park in University lots. Overnight parking is not allowed on Providence city streets.

Cooking Equipment - Toasters, toaster ovens, hot plates or burners, electric coils, immersion heaters, and other instruments with an exposed heating element are not allowed and will be confiscated. Items such as rice cookers and table top grills (e.g., George Foreman) are not allowed to be used in resident rooms; their use is allowed in the community kitchen as long as they are never left unattended while cooking or while hot. Residential-style coffee makers are allowed in student rooms - no restaurant-style or commercial coffee makers, or those that keep water perpetually hot and ready for instant use. An "automatic shut off" function is a desirable safety option, so that the coffee maker turns itself off if you forget to do so.

Extension Cords - Home-style electrical extension cords and plug expanders (e.g., octopus plugs and other splitters) are not allowed for residence hall use. Bring a "surge protector" instead.

Halogen Torchière Lamps - These are prohibited from use in college residence halls by fire safety regulations in Rhode Island and will be confiscated.

Mercury Thermometers: Mercury thermometers are not allowed in the residence halls.  Thermometers are available for purchase at Health Services.  

Pets - Pets are absolutely not allowed in the residence halls. The one exception is aquarium fish; tanks and aquariums may be no larger than 10 gallons. This restriction on pets is strictly enforced for public health and safety reasons.

Portable Space Heaters - Again, this is all about fire safety because residence halls have more restrictive fire codes than individual family homes or apartment buildings.

Weapons: Firearms,ammunition,explosive,knives or other weapons - Possession,use, or distribution of firearms,ammunition, explosives or other weapons at Brown is a violation of the Student Conduct Code (see offense VIII).

Items prohibited at Brown, including in the residence halls, include the following:

  • Firearms (defined as any projectile-firing device), including conventional guns or firearms (devices using gunpowder);

  • Air rifles (including paintball rifles), guns using BBs, pellets or darts;

  • Fireworks of all kinds;

  • Incendiary devices, explosives, flare guns, grenades;

  • Any slingshot device;

  • Knives except those that are designed and used for food preparation -- prohibited knives include but are not limited to hunting/fishing knives, martial arts devices, and ceremonial swords.

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Q. What kind of clothing should I bring?

Students say that Brown is, in general, a casual place. There is no official school uniform, but your clothing should be appropriate and prepare you for the range of weather and temperatures commonly found in New England. Weather will be variable and may change quickly. Bring layers and appropriate jackets (hats, gloves, scarves) for the cooler seasons. You might also consider bringing an umbrella and rain boots in the case of rain, and snow boots for snow.    

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Q. What are the summer business hours of the Office of Residential Life?

A. The Office of Residential Life is open from 8 AM to 4 PM during the summer months.

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