Student Handbook

The Luther College Student Handbook is a collection of student conduct standards, policies, and procedures that define community expectations for students at Luther. It also serves as an important resource for students, highlighting a wide variety of topics related to life on the Luther campus.

It is the responsibility of each student to become familiar with the Student Handbook. Students must also become familiar with other official publications including, but not limited to, the Academic Catalog, Emergency Procedure Guide, and other important documents pertaining to student rights and responsibilities.

The Campus Life Committee, a campus-wide body comprised of students, faculty, and staff. Faculty delegate this group to plan and define college policies about student engagement and welfare on campus. The Campus Life Committee works in conjunction with members of the Student Engagement Office to ensure an effective implementation of college policies and procedures.

The policies and statements included in the Student Handbook are not a contract and the college reserves the right to deviate from the policies and statements as deemed necessary from time to time. 

Questions regarding the Luther College Student Handbook and related policies and procedures should be directed to: Student Engagement Office, Dahl Centennial Union 2nd floor, 563-387-1020, [email protected].

Residence Life Policies and Procedures

Luther College is a residential college and strongly believes that life in the residence halls is an integral part of a total liberal arts education. The Residence Life Office is committed—through the combined efforts of professional and student staff—to help shape a residential environment that supports and stimulates students’ academic, personal, and interpersonal learning and development. We are committed to helping students integrate their learning inside the classroom with their rich experiences in the residence halls. We strive to support the development of true communities in our residence halls, communities of faith and learning that are respectful, supportive, purposeful, and intentionally structured.

The following Residence Life Policies and Procedures help to define the expectations for community living at Luther. It is the responsibility of each student to become familiar with the policies and procedures outlined in this document, as well as those outlined in other documents, including but not limited to: Luther Code of Conduct, Alcohol and Other Drugs Policies and Procedures, College Catalog, and other publications outlining student expectations, rights, and responsibilities.


Residency Requirement
Luther College is a residential college. All full-time students are required to live in college-owned housing unless married, 25 years of age by the first day of classes, or commuting from their legal guardians’ homes within 30 miles of campus. Off-campus living is limited and is permitted for students only when there is a shortage of rooms in college residence halls. Students must receive written permission to live off campus.

Board Plan Requirement
Students who reside on campus are required to participate in the College board plan. Students in Baker Village, Prairie Houses, apartments with kitchens and Sustainability House are not required to be on a board plan. The current board rate can be found under the Office of Financial Services webpage.


Student Move-In and Checkout
Students residing in a residence hall must check in with the Hall Director/Area Coordinator or appropriate residence life staff member upon arrival. Each resident will complete a Room Condition Report (RCR) form indicating the condition of the room and its furnishings. Students are encouraged to be accurate when completing the RCR, as charges can be levied for damages, missing items or lack of cleanliness upon checkout. Students have one week from the date of their check-in to return the RCR to the appropriate residence life staff members. Failure to do so will result in a $25.00 fine for improper check-in.

In order to ensure an efficient and thorough checkout process, students are required to schedule a checkout time 24 hours in advance of their checkout with a residence life staff member. At the time of checkout, all of the student's personal belongings must be out of the residence hall and the room should be in the same state of cleanliness as it was upon check-in. Failure of this requirement may result in a $100 improper checkout fine. The residence life staff member will go through the RCR and note any changes in condition of each item. Damages and missing items will result in fines in order to pay for replacement and repairs.

Housing (Room and Board) Refund Policy
Students who withdraw from all classes at the College will be subject to the College’s policies and procedures for the refund of the comprehensive fee (which includes room and board). These applicable policies and procedures include the Financial Aid Office’s policy statements on Dropping Classes and Withdrawal from Luther, the Financial Aid Refund Policy for Title IV federal financial aid, and/or the Refund Policy for Student Reservists or National Guard Called to Duty.

Students who are suspended or dismissed through College disciplinary processes must vacate their rooms within 24 hours. No room and board will be refunded, unless the student received federal Title IV financial aid and is dismissed prior to completing 60 percent of the semester. In that case, the federal financial aid will be refunded in accordance with the College’s Financial Aid Refund Policy and applicable federal regulations.

Notwithstanding anything in this Policy the contrary, if the College determines it is in the best interest of its students to close the residence halls due to an epidemic, pandemic, riot, civil unrest, insurrection, sabotage, act of terrorism, act of war, rebellion, act of God, or other reason of a like nature that is beyond the control of the College, then all students shall be required to move out of the residence halls pursuant to instructions provided by the College and the College shall not be required refund any portion of a student’s room and board fee, except as otherwise required by law.

January Term Housing Information
Luther College students that are registered for classes and housing during the fall or spring semester may live in the residence halls during January term if they meet one of the following criteria: 

  • are enrolled in a January term class with Luther College
  • are working on campus for six or more hours a week
  • are participating on an athletic team that has in-season practices and competitions
  • are participating in rehearsals under the supervision of a Luther College faculty/staff member
  • are an international student
  • or live 350 miles from campus and resided on campus during the winter break 

In order to best preserve and ensure the safety of the community, students will be asked to register for on-campus January Term housing on the Residence Life Office's website. Students who have not registered and thus not approved to be in campus residential facilities will be asked to leave campus. Students may also be referred for a violation of the Luther College Student Code of Conduct. If a student withdraws from their registered course or discontinues their engagement with any of the other above listed experiences, they will be expected to vacate their campus housing for the duration of the January Term. Only students who need to be on campus during January term should be residing on campus.

Common Area Standards
All students residing in the residence halls are responsible for respecting all common spaces within the building. Common areas include, but are not limited to: lounges, kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, etc.  

The following is a list of common area expectations:

  • Hallways must remain unobstructed; items must not be left in hallways to ensure a clear path for exit in case of a fire.
  • Bikes are not allowed to be placed or stored within hallways, lounges, or stairwells.
  • Kitchen must remain clean, including cleaning and removing all dishes from the common space along with cleaning up after oneself. 
  • Any damage to furniture or college-owned items, beyond normal wear and tear, is the responsibility of the residents of the community.
  • All college-owned furniture must remain in their designated areas.
  • Residents of each room are expected to keep their room and residential common areas clean and neat. Necessary cleaning materials may be obtained from the hall’s Service Center. Disregard will result in assessments billed to the responsible individual or prorated to the residents who use that space.

Community damage charges may need to be assessed at times to cover the costs of replacement of damaged items, repair of damaged items, or cleaning of the common area. If the individual(s) responsible for damage cannot be identified, charges will be divided among the students of the community.

Room Decoration
Students are encouraged to decorate their rooms to provide a comfortable and personal atmosphere. Consideration for safety and respect for college property must be regarded.

  • No college owned furniture may be removed from a student room.
  • Painting of student rooms is not permitted.
  • Nails, adhesive stickers, decals, self-adhesive Velcro strips/squares, and other devices or materials which cause damage may not be used on room interior, woodwork, or doors. The two-sided adhesive pads are particularly damaging to woodwork and paint. Masking tape, poster putty, and 3M Removable Strips and Hooks are recommended for hanging room items.
  • Tampering with electrical systems (e.g., installing dimmer switches, ceiling fans, etc., or altering wiring) is prohibited for the safety of all residents and the general upkeep of the building.
  • No dry erase boards on residence hall room doors.
  • All fixed room furnishings and accessories, such as built-in closets and storage units, lights and other permanent structures, may not be removed or altered by residents. If such alterations occur, Facilities Services will be asked to return it to its original condition and residents will be charged.              


Room Draw Process
The room draw process occurs late in the spring semester and provides students the opportunity to select a room and roommates for the upcoming year. The room draw process assigns priority for housing based on class standing; the process is designed to give next year’s senior class first priority, the junior class second priority, and sophomore class third priority. Class standing is determined by the Registrar based on credit hours earned. In order to participate in room draw, students must be registered for the following fall semester.

It is the responsibility of each returning student to find his/her own roommate(s). To select a room at room draw, students must have the capacity number of people to fill the room.

Choice is Binding
A student is entitled to one housing choice each academic year. Room and roommate(s) choice is binding unless the student officially withdraws from Luther College. Any changes would incur a $100 penalty.

If at any time after room draw the occupancy of the room drops below capacity, the remaining resident(s) can expect that the vacated space(s) will be filled. Effort will be made to allow the remaining resident(s) a choice in filling the vacancy. The Residence Life Office has the right to assign a student to a room without prior consent of the person(s) currently living in the room.

Room Changes
Room changes are permitted for students if and when roommates are having adjustment problems and for other special circumstances. Prior to a room change being approved, students are expected to have made a good faith effort toward resolving the roommate situation. This includes discussing the situation with the Resident Assistant or professional staff member, and completing a roommate conference if requested. Four basic criteria must be met for a change to occur: 1) student(s) involved have attempted to resolve roommate situation, 2) vacant space is available, 3) students affected have consented to the change, and 4) the Residence Life Office has approved the change.

Break Housing
The residence halls are closed during the two official college breaks (Christmas Break and Spring Break). Several designated residence halls will remain open to provide housing. Students who have been approved by the Residence Life Office to remain on campus during the break periods will be asked to secure housing in another student’s room in one of the designated break housing buildings.  During all other academic breaks, residence halls will remain locked for student safety, but will be accessible to residents assigned to those buildings with their building access key or ID card.

A student must be enrolled for the next term (January) in order to be eligible to remain on campus during the Christmas break.  Requests for exceptions to this policy will be reviewed by Residence Life in consultation with other campus offices such as Student Engagement, Center for Intercultural Engagement and Student Success, and Financial Aid.

At the beginning of each break, the residence hall staff complete safety and energy checks. With decreased occupancy during breaks, there is greater potential for fires/sprinkler concerns to remain undetected until severe damage has occurred. Inspections include checking for potential fire hazards and electrical problems and observing energy conservation concerns (such as broken or open windows, heat regulation, insulation around windows). Students are expected to meet with hall staff promptly concerning problems found during break inspections. 


Room Keys
At check-in, each resident will receive one room key. Throughout the year this key will be the responsibility of the student. Lost or stolen keys should be reported immediately to the hall director or the Residence Life Office to ensure the safety of the student and his/her belongings. The student will complete a Key/Core Replacement Form to initiate the process. A $35 charge for a lost or stolen key will be assessed to change the lock and cut a new key. A charge of $50 will be charged for failure to return the key at the time of checkout.

Access Keys/Cards
All residence halls except for the college owned houses, Baker Village, and College Apartments are secured by a card access system. Upon check-in, a student’s Luther College identification card is activated to provide 24/7 access to their residence hall. In addition to one's own residence hall, each student has 8:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. access to the other halls on campus.  Students in college owned houses, Baker Village, and College Apartments will be issued an access key that will permit access to their housing unit.  A $35 charge for a lost or stolen key will be assessed to change the lock and cut a new key.  A charge of $50 will be issued for failure to return the key at the time of checkout.

Access Doors
The outside doors of each residence hall will be locked at all times. Anyone found propping open outside doors may be subject to disciplinary action and/or a $100 fine. Emergency phones are located at the main entrance of each residence hall and at several other locations for personal safety and security reasons.

Residents that are locked out of their room should first contact their hall director or resident assistant to open their door. Campus Safety and Security can also assist if a residence life staff member is not available. All students receive one free lockout while additional lockouts are a $5 charge. 


Entering Student Rooms
Entry by unauthorized student or college personnel into student rooms, unless by prior consent of occupant(s), is forbidden. Hall Directors and Resident Assistants are authorized to enter student rooms for purposes of enforcing stated college regulations. Entry of this nature does not require an authorization to search.

Inspection of Student Rooms
Residence hall rooms/apartments and college-owned houses may be inspected in the interest of maintaining or protecting college property at any time by those in charge of the hall/house or by administrative staff and maintenance employees of the institution. Any college property provided for use in lounges or other public places found in rooms may be removed without recourse of search procedures; any room may be inspected at any time for the purpose of locating misplaced property of the college. Disciplinary action may be initiated subsequent to the recovery of the property.

Search of Student Rooms and Personal Possessions of Students
Except under emergency circumstances in which the safety or life of a person(s) is in danger, students’ rooms and possessions of students shall not be searched unless appropriate authorization has been obtained. The Dean of Student Engagement or his/her designee shall provide the searcher written authorization before the search is conducted specifying the reasons and the objects or information sought. The student should be present, if possible, during the search. Students may also be subject to search by local authorities under warrants issued in a court of law.


Personal Property
Luther College does not carry insurance on personal property of students and is not responsible for loss of or damage to such property, including property stored in lockers, storerooms, student rooms, or any storage spaces. Students use these spaces at their own risk. The college will not be held responsible for any property of students left in or delivered to the residence halls. It is strongly encouraged that students check their family insurance for coverage and, if necessary, purchase private personal property insurance from a reliable company.

The safekeeping of student property is the responsibility of each individual. Rooms should be locked at all times and personal property secured. Any theft or vandalism should be reported to the Hall Director/Area Coordinator and to the Campus Security Office immediately.

Lost and Found
Lost and Found collection areas vary by buildings. If an item is lost residents should check with a residential hall staff member or custodial staff member. The Mail Center and Welcome Desk also serve as campus-wide Lost and Found locations.

Abandoned Property
All items left in student rooms after closing are considered abandoned property and will be discarded.


Fire Safety Information
Fire safety policies and procedures are outlined in a number of documents, including but not limited to: the Luther Code of Conduct, Housing and Dining Contract, portions of the Safety and Security website, and related city, state, and/or federal laws. In order to ensure a safe environment, the Residence Life staff will conduct official room inspections during each fall, winter, and spring break. Room inspections may take place during other times as well. During inspections, prohibited items will be confiscated and fire safety fines will be assessed for policy violations.

Any violations to policy will be taken seriously. Sanctions, therefore, may include any or all of the following:

  • $25 minimum fine per prohibited item or for failure to evacuate during an alarm.
  • $250 individual fine for false fire alarm, tampering with fire safety equipment, or setting a fire.
  • $500 community fine (if individuals cannot be found and held accountable for false fire alarm or tampering with fire safety equipment).
  • Administrative conduct hearing with Director of Residence Life.
  • Social probation for the remainder of the current academic year.
  • Possible legal ramifications including prosecution by college officials or outside agencies.

The following activities, some of which can activate fire alarm systems, are prohibited in the residence halls:

  • Throwing balls, Frisbees, and other objects.
  • Shooting water or other objects.
  • Spraying paint, liquids, or other objects.
  • Using power saws and other electrical tools.
  • Tampering with any fire safety equipment.
  • Obstructing door exits or propping open fire safety doors.
  • Hanging items from the ceiling, over light fixtures, or smoke detectors.
  • Placing items within 18 inches of sprinkler heads.
  • Covering more than 50 percent of room walls or 10 percent of room doors with decorative items.
  • Failure to immediately evacuate upon alarm.
  • Placing items within three feet in front of heating/cooling units.

Elevator Safety
Elevators located within the residence halls are provided for use by residents of that building, guests, and department staff.  The following actions are prohibited:

  • Damage or vandalism of the elevators.
  • Use of emergency alarms other than in an emergency situation.
  • Jumping within the elevator to cause damage.

Smoke Free Campus
In accordance to the Iowa Smoke Free Air Act, Luther College is a smoke free campus. This act prohibits smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, inside all buildings, outside all buildings, and on all college property including, but not limited to, sidewalks, parking lots and roads (and inside vehicles located on such grounds), athletic fields, and on any other college property. The possession of pipes, hookahs, and other smoking devices is also prohibited, as is the sale and distribution of tobacco products (see Alcohol and Other Drugs Policies and Procedures).

Prohibited Possessions
For various health and safety reasons, many items are prohibited in the residence halls and college-owned houses. Prohibited items include, but are not limited to:

  • Extension cords, multiple plug adapters, and surge protectors with more than 6 outlets. You are permitted, however, to have one UL-approved surge protector with 6 or less outlets per resident for computer and auxiliary equipment.  Any appliance with a heavy electrical draw, such as a hair dryer, refrigerator, decorative lights, or coffee maker, must be plugged directly into a wall outlet and not a power strip.
  • Wireless Routers.
  • Satellite dishes or powered antenna devices.
  • Candles, candle warmers, incense, oil lamps, halogen torchiere lamps, spider lamps, and open flames.
  • Smoking and illegal drug paraphernalia.
  • Flammable substances such as gasoline, cleaning fluids, lighter fluid and mineral spirits.
  • Motorized vehicles such as motorcycles and mopeds.
  • Hoverboards and similar devices, including Swagways, IO Hawks and Skywalkers.
  • Live Christmas trees, other live holiday greenery, and large decorative bulbs.
  • Fireworks and other explosives.
  • Firearms, ammunition, swords, switchblades and other dangerous knives, bows and arrows, slingshots, pellet guns, paintball guns and all other weapons. Students living in college-owned housing who wish to have a weapon for hunting purposes can store their weapons and ammunition with Chase the Adventure (phone 563-532-9821).  If you are aware that another student or other individual possesses a handgun or other weapon in violation of this policy, you should immediately report the conduct issue to Luther College Safety and Security.

Electrical Appliances
Some electrical appliances create fire or health hazards; other appliances do not, and are permitted in the residence halls (such as air popcorn poppers, coffee makers with automatic shut-off, hot pots, fans, irons with automatic shut-off, refrigerators less than 3.2 cubic feet, and non-halogen lamps). Prohibited appliances include, but are not limited to:

  • Toasters, toaster ovens, hot plates, broilers, pizza ovens, sandwich grills, electric frying pans, electric grills (George Foreman-type grills), NuWave Ovens, deep fryers, and instapots/pressure cookers.
  • Microwaves.
  • Space heaters.
  • Air conditioners.
  • Desktop burners and other appliances with an open heat coil or induction burner.
  • Heated blankets/bedding.

Residence hall rooms are not equipped for students to safely and sanitarily cook.  For the safety of all residents, cooking is not permitted in standard residence hall rooms.  Cooking is permitted only in college-designated kitchen areas.

Windows and Screens
Residence hall screens are not to be unhooked or removed from windows.  Residents will be charged for the total cost of reinstalling, repairing, or replacing damaged or destroyed screens.  Windows are not to be used for entrances or exits.  Residence hall windows should remain closed during periods of below freezing weather.  No items (including flags, banners, posters, signs, or speakers) may be placed in, hung from, attached to, or hung out of windows.  Standard house plants, fans, and seasonal decorations within three weeks of the holidays are permitted.

Residents are allowed to have one refrigerator under 3.2 cubic feet in size in each room.  Refrigerators may not be placed in closets.  There must be proper circulation behind the unit to allow the heat that is displaced to be circulated.

Recycling and Trash
Blue recycling bins are provided in each residence hall room.  All halls offer larger bins for sorting recyclables.  Residents are responsible for ensuring the community recycling areas are neat and used correctly.  Exterior trash containers are located outside each hall where all residents are expected to properly dispose of their personal trash.  Residents must not leave trash in the hallway or other common areas of the hall. Failure to properly dispose of garbage and recycling may result in charges to the resident. 

Lofts and Construction
Luther College does not allow students to construct their own bed-lofting structures. Personally constructed lofts are not able to be properly inspected for adequate levels of safety in accordance with the college’s liability concerns.  False walls, partitions, or platforms are also not allowed in any of the residence halls.

Pet Policy
Animals present a definite health concern to residence hall living because of disease and allergies and potential damage to the buildings in the form of stains and odor. Pets, with the exception of fish (no piranhas), are not permitted in college housing. Pets are prohibited from entering residence halls even on a visiting or temporary basis. In accordance with the Fair Housing Act, emotional support animals are allowed if deemed necessary after completion of the Emotional Support Animal application through Disability Services.


Students in all residence halls may be on floors assigned to the opposite sex between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on weekdays (Sunday-Thursday). On weekends (Friday and Saturday), the visitation hours (8:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m.) will remain in effect for students living in designated first-year areas. For individuals living in areas not designated for first-year students, open visitation will exist on Friday and Saturday nights.

Although the college has established visitation hours, a student’s right to study, sleep, and exercise control over his/her personal space takes precedence over the right to host guests. The Offices of Residence Life/Student Engagement will actively intervene if conflicts arise between roommates with respect to the intervisitation policy.

In all residence halls, an escort policy will be in effect on weekends, from midnight to 2:00 a.m. in first-year residence spaces and until 8:00 a.m. in other residences. Each host is responsible for escorting a guest on and off the residence hall floors during those times.  Residents are required to inform all guests of Luther College policies.  In cases where the guest of a resident violates a college policy, the hosting resident will be subject to student conduct consequences.

Cohabitation (living together) with persons other than designated roommates is not permitted.

Residents of the college are not permitted to sublease, rent, or share their living space with any individual(s) that are not on the housing roster as assigned by the Residence Life Office.  This includes but is not limited to posting the residence for rent, such as on Airbnb. 

Hosting Guests
Students are encouraged to inform their Resident Assistant/Hall Director of guests of the same sex (if staying for 48 hours or longer). Providing guest information helps to ensure a safe environment in the residence halls and is useful in the event of a hall emergency.

Courtesy and Quiet Hours
Courtesy hours are enforced 24-hours each day. During courtesy hours, residents are expected to act in a manner that demonstrates respect for the rights of others to study and sleep in their rooms. Residents shall not make or allow any improper or disturbing noises in the building, sing or play musical instruments, watch television, or use their radio or stereo in a way or at a time which might be objectionable to other residents.

Quiet hours are from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. each day. During quiet hours, noise should not be audible outside of a resident’s room with the room door closed. In addition, creation of noise disturbances in the corridors and bathrooms is unacceptable. These times ensure a quiet atmosphere conducive to studying and sleeping. The hours may be expanded in either direction, but not shortened.

Last revised August 1, 2018

Last Reviewed: Jul 1st, 2021