The California Supreme Court just threw employers a serious curveball with respect to how employers must calculate overtime. And it did so by claiming employers should have known of this calculation method even though the same California Supreme Court declared as void over 20 years ago.
The March 5, 2018 decision of Alvarado v. Dart Container Corp of Cal., fundamentally changes how employers in California must calculate the “regular rate of pay” for overtime purposes when non-exempt employees receive a flat sum bonus that is not explicitly linked to performance/production incentives (i.e., attendance and/or longevity bonuses).
California now expressly departs from federal law on this issue, and has instead dragged up a voided interpretation of how to calculate regular rate, reasoning that “void … does not necessarily mean wrong.”
Federal law requires employers to pay overtime based on an employee’s “regular rate of pay,” which often – but not always – is the same as the employee’s normal hourly rate of pay. However, when an employee works at two different hourly rates during the same workweek (such as with the case of shift differentials) or receives certain types of compensation in addition to an hourly rate of pay (such as a bonus), the employee’s hourly rate and “regular rate” typically will not be the same.
When an employer provides includable bonus compensation1 to an employee, the federal standard calculates regular rate by dividing the total compensation earned by the total hours worked during the relevant time period. This is best understood with a mathematical example:
Consider an employee who earns $15/hour, works 47 hours in a workweek, and also receives a $50 attendance bonus for that week.
Her regular rate is derived as follows: (($15 x 47) + $50 = $755)/47 = $16.06.
To then determine the employee’s total compensation, you then take the $755 earned at the effective hourly rate and add half the “regular rate” for each overtime hour worked (because you’ve already paid the “one” of the “one and a half times” in the first step) as follows: $755 + ($8.03 x 7) = $811.21.
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) opined decades ago that “regular rate of pay” in California for these circumstances must be based only an employee’s “non-overtime” hours, rather than all hours worked in the week, but in 1996, the California Supreme Court found that the DLSE Enforcement Policies and Interpretations Manual provision on this point was a void regulation not entitled to any deference because it was not adopted in compliance with proper legal procedure.
Despite this clear expression, the DLSE nevertheless maintained this interpretation as the proper view of “regular rate” in its Manual. The trial and appellate court rejected the DLSE language on the basis that it was a void interpretation and the prevailing federal approach (outlined above) applied in California. However, the state Supreme Court in Dart Container concluded that even though the DLSE had not acted lawfully in adopting its interpretation, the DLSE view was nevertheless California law and employers should have reasonably known this was the case.
What this means is that “regular rate of pay” – at least in some circumstances – must now be calculated differently in California than anywhere else in the country and that this ruling is retroactive. In California, “regular rate” for certain, flat-sum, non-performance related includable bonuses, now uses only an employee’s non-overtime hours in the denominator and overtime must be paid on the bonus separately from the normal hourly compensation. Using our same example above (and assuming the employee did not work any daily overtime, but only weekly overtime hours), the employee’s total compensation calculated under the “new but retroactive” standard is as follows:
Non-bonus compensation: ($15 x 40 regular hours) + ($22.50 x 7 OT hours) = $757.50
Overtime due on bonus: $50/40 regular hours = $1.14; $1.14 x 1.5 =$1.71; $1.71 x 7 OT hours = $11.97
Total compensation: $757.50 + $11.97 + $50 bonus = $819.47.
Stepping away from the math, what Dart Container means in practical terms is that employers that have paid certain flat-sum bonuses to non-exempt California employees and made adjustments to the regular rate and overtime based on the always-accepted approach (instead of the previously “void” approach) have just been deemed to have paid overtime using an improper method that is less favorable to workers.
Given the wage and hour and class action climate prevailing in California, this sudden change should have employers’ attention, and those that have paid any type of bonus to non-exempt employees in California should seek immediate counsel.
1 Not all bonuses become part of an employee’s “regular rate of pay”; rather, it depends on whether a bonus legally qualifies as discretionary. However, what many understand “discretionary” to mean and what it legally means in the context of calculating “regular rate” are significantly different concepts requiring examination beyond the scope of this article. Employers paying any type of bonus to non-exempt employees would be wise to consult with counsel – regardless of location – to assess whether they are paying overtime consistent with the legally required “regular rate of pay.”
© 2018 Foley & Lardner LLP
Terms, Conditions, and Regulations of the University
Housing and Food Service Contract
2017-2018 Academic Year
The Housing and Food Service (HFS) Contract is a legally-binding contract, obligating the student to on-campus living once it is accepted. A student agrees to these Terms, Conditions, and Regulations, as well as the HFS Contract legal terms, when accepting the HFS Contract.
Table of Contents
Terms and Conditions
Safety and Security
The Pennsylvania State University ("University") strives to provide a residence environment that is both comfortable and conducive to learning and personal growth.
The University assigns housing accommodations without regard to personal characteristics, not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy, or by state or federal authorities. The University does not discriminate against any person because of age, ancestry, color, physical or mental disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy (or pregnancy-related conditions), gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information, political ideas, service in the uniformed services, or veteran status.
All students should familiarize themselves with these Terms, Conditions, and Regulations of living in University housing.
For the purposes of this document, "University housing" refers to University residence halls, Nittany Apartments, White Course Apartments (undergraduate/single-student apartments), and Eastview Terrace.
The term "resident" or "student" refers to the Student who holds a Housing and Food Service (HFS) Contract with the University.
"Assignment", "space", or "room" refers to the space which has been assigned to the Student, including, but not limited to, an apartment, room, or suite.
"Housing", when capitalized refers to the University Housing and Food Services department.
"Residence Life", when capitalized refers to the University's Office of Residence Life.
"eLiving" refers to the University's online housing portal for students who hold an HFS Contract with the University, and is available at www.eLiving.psu.edu.
The HFS Contract is a legally-binding contract that details the obligations between the resident and the University, and it is effective once the resident accepts the HFS Contract. Residents are required to abide by these Terms, Conditions, and Regulations, which are incorporated into the HFS Contract, and includes assuming financial responsibility of all room and board fees for the entire HFS Contract period.
HFS Contracts are available only on a combined room-and-board basis unless otherwise noted. The HFS Contract cannot be transferred or assigned to another student except as outlined below in Contract Transfer of Obligation.
If a student-resident is under the age of 18, the student must acknowledge that his or her parent/guardian has read and also agrees to these Terms, Conditions, and Regulations, and that wrongful acknowledgement of his or her parent/guardian’s agreement could result in a penalty of perjury.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
1. Housing Deposit
A Student accepting the offer of admission to the University through the MyPennState process will be required to submit a $100 non-refundable housing deposit in addition to University fees. If the student enrolls at the University, the housing deposit will be applied to the student's fall semester bill, available through the student's Bursar account, as a $100 credit against the room charge. The housing deposit will not be refunded if the student does not attend the University during the student's HFS Contract period.
2. Contract Term Periods
There are four HFS Contract periods for assignments to University housing, including residence halls, Nittany Apartments, White Course Apartments (undergraduate/single-student apartments), and Eastview Terrace (collectively referred to as "University housing"). The four HFS Contract periods are:
- Academic Year (Fall and Spring semesters)
- Break Access/Holiday Housing (includes Fall (late-November), Winter (late-December to early-January), and Spring (early-March) Breaks when the University residence halls are closed)
- Spring Semester Only
- Summer Semester Only (Maymester, Summer Session I, and/or Summer Session II)
Specific occupancy data for the HFS Contract periods can be found at the Arrival site. The University reserves the right to not offer a particular housing option during a HFS Contract period.
Break Access/Holiday Housing
A Break Access/Holiday Housing HFS Contract is available for any student currently with a HFS Contract who wishes to stay in University housing during the University-scheduled closedown/break periods. First-year students may indicate Break Access/Holiday Housing as a Special Living Option preference prior to executing the HFS Contract. Upper-class students can select Break Access/Holiday Housing before accepting the HFS Contract. Break Access/Holiday Housing is offered for the entire academic year, and is not available for semester-only use. There is an additional fee for Break Access/Holiday Housing, which is charged to the student's Bursar account for fall and spring semesters. This fee will not be refunded if a student elects to not stay on campus during the closedown period. A student who requested to add Break Access/Holiday Housing contract period to his or her HFS Contract will be assigned to a designated building that remains open during the closedown/break periods. Food Service options may be limited during these periods, as residential food service operations are closed. Access to a kitchen within the residence area will be provided during the closedown/break period.
3. First-Year Residency Requirement
First-year students enrolled and attending the University's University Park campus are required to live in University-provided housing and obtain a Campus Meal Plan during his or her first academic year at the University according to the following timeline:
|Semester Enrolled||Residency Requirement|
|Summer Session||Summer session, Fall semester, and Spring semester|
|Fall Semester||Fall semester and Spring semester|
|Spring Semester||Spring semester|
4. Reasonable Housing Accommodations
If a student has a disability that requires an accommodation related to the housing environment, the student has the right to submit a Reasonable Accommodation Request Form for Housing to the University. The form may be submitted at any time; however, if a student has indicated preferences on the HFS Contract, the form should be submitted by the deadline indicated on the Medical Accommodations website and on the form to allow the University sufficient time to consider the preferences for the assignment process.
A student must have a valid, accepted HFS Contract before the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form for Housing can be submitted. Once the form is received and reviewed, the determination that is made will take effect immediately, and may impact a student's current room assignment. If the form is received after the deadline, contract preferences for area, building, Special Living Options, and/or roommate requests will be reviewed but only taken into consideration if space permits. If the form is received after room assignments are posted, the University reserves the right to reassign the student to a space that will accommodate the student. If a student is offered a change to the housing environment, an additional cost may be associated with the resulting assignment or requests.
The determination for the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form for Housing will remain on file and will be referenced to for processing room assignments for future HFS Contracts. Students are not guaranteed on-campus housing because a Reasonable Accommodation Request Form for Housing has been submitted.
Questions regarding the process related to the HFS Contract and assignment should contact the Assignment Office. Questions related to special assistance for academic activities should contact Student Disability Resources.
Temporary Medical Condition
Room changes for temporary medical conditions are valid only for the academic year in which the request is submitted. If a student needs to request a temporary housing accommodation, the student's attending physician must complete the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form for Housing. If the determination is made that requires a room change, the student will be reassigned to a space that will best accommodate his or her need until the accommodation is no longer required, or until the end of the contracted period should the original room assignment be assigned to another student with a HFS Contract.
5. Eligibility for University Housing
To be eligible to reside in University-owned housing, a student must be at least 16 years of age during the period of occupancy.
To be eligible to reside in University-owned housing, a student must be scheduled for University Park courses as a degree-seeking student. The student is responsible for full payment of room and board charges for the contracted period. Room and board charges will be applied to the student's Bursar account. The Bursar will generate bills on a monthly basis, with an identified due date. Failure to pay the bill by the due date will result in late fees being applied to the account.
Room and Board Charges Payment Due Dates
- August 30: due date for a student who is not enrolled in the University's Installment Plan
- October 31: due date for a student who is enrolled in the University's Installment Plan
If a student has an outstanding balance for room and board charges after the appropriate deadline, an email notification will be sent to the student's University email account. The notification will outline the consequences if payment is not received. Consequences include, but are not limited to, having a negative service indicator placed on the student's University account; vacating University housing; cancelation of the HFS Contract; and/or having amount owed sent to a collections agency for processing.
If a student withdraws or leaves the University prior to the end of the semester without paying room and board charges, an invoice will be sent to the student for the amount owed during the time the student was in University housing and/or used services. Failure to pay the outstanding balance will result in a negative service indicator placed on the student's University account; cancelation of future HFS Contract(s); and/or having amount owed sent to a collections agency for processing.
Change of Campus Registration
An upper-class student attending a University campus who is planning a change of campus (COC) to University Park may submit a request for a HFS Contract through eLiving during the established contract process timeline. The student must initiate the change of campus process at his or her current campus. If the change of campus to University Park is not approved, it is the student's responsibility to contact the Assignment Office to cancel the University Park HFS Contract. There is no penalty fee to cancel a HFS Contract if the student is not eligible for a change of campus.
If a student's University academic records reflect a campus other than University Park after July 1, his or her room assignment will be changed to "Space Reserved" until the change of campus is approved. The student will then be assigned to either a regular or supplemental housing room, whichever is available. If the change of campus to University Park is not approved, and the student does not notify the Assignment Office prior to arrival day, the student's HFS Contract will be canceled and the student will forfeit the $100 housing deposit.
6. Checking Into a Room
Information about the arrival process and when students can check-in will be announced in advance for each semester on the Housing Arrival website. Each student should plan on arriving on the appropriate scheduled arrival day, unless prior arrangements have been made for a special group to arrive early. If early arrival is available, it will be announced on the Arrival website. If a student arrives prior to the official opening day of the semester during the "early arrival" days, the student will be responsible for an additional nightly charge for housing that is required to be paid at time of check-in.
The student must be present at check-in; a parent or other family member may not check-in for the student. The student must present his or her Penn State id+ Card or other valid photo identification to receive a room key. Each student will receive one room key at the time of check-in, and will sign an acknowledgement of receiving the room key. Information about the student's mailbox will also be provided.
Unless a student requests an extension of the arrival period by contacting the Assignment Office, the University is not obligated to hold a specific room assignment later than 5:00 p.m. on the first day of classes. If a student arrives after that time, the student must accept other available accommodations, whether in regular or supplemental housing, and will remain obligated to the HFS Contract and for paying for the full room and board charges if enrolled at the University.
7. Checking Out of a Room
A student who is ready to check-out of the room should review the Moving Out instructions. All rooms, regardless of the date or circumstances, should be clean and in good condition at the time that a student checks-out. The student should contact the Housing Office regarding the check-out date and schedule a room inspection.
The student must return the room key to the area commons desk upon check-out. If the student does not return the room key, the cost to change the lock will be charged to the student's Bursar account.
Any items that a student leaves in the room will be considered abandoned and handled in accordance with the University's Lost and Found Policy.
For Summer and Fall Semesters, University housing closes at 4:00 p.m. on the day following the last scheduled examination for official University courses, as announced by the University Registrar. For Spring semester, University housing closes at 4:00 p.m. two (2) days following the last schedule examination for official University courses, as announced by the University Registrar. The exception for Spring semester would be University housing identified by Housing that will be used for Maymester. Those buildings will close at 4:00 p.m. on the day following the last scheduled examination for official University courses, as announced by the University Registrar. Every students assigned to this residence hall will be notified in advance that he or she will not be able to stay for an extra day.
8. University Break Periods
University housing is closed during the three (3) official University breaks. A student who has added Break Access/Holiday Housing to his or her HFS Contract will be assigned to a designated University housing building that remains open during the break periods. The student will not be required to vacate the room during the break periods and can remain in the room until the end of the contracted period. Housing will announce the closedown schedule for when University housing will close and reopen for each break period.
9. Room Changes
Direct Room Exchange
A direct room exchange is a change of assignment with another student of the same gender with a compatible HFS Contract. A student interested in a room assignment change can use the Room Exchange eBoard available in eLiving to post, search, and process a direct room exchange during the available timeframe.
There are some restrictions to room exchanges, depending upon either the HFS Contract or room type, such as Break Access/Holiday Housing, Special Living Options, or Sororities. If a student has a medical accommodation, a direct room exchange cannot be processed unless the change is a similar type of room.
Emergency Room Change
An emergency room change will be arranged only when all other options to resolve differences between roommates have been thoroughly explored by the guidance of Residence Life. If a student feels that an emergency room change is necessary, the student must discuss his or her need for the change to the room assignment with a Residence Life staff member. If the staff member determines that an emergency exists and space is available, the Residence Life staff member will either process a temporary change in room assignment or will contact the Assignment Office to process a permanent change in assignment.
Spring Semester Room Change
Towards the end of Fall semester, students will be notified by the Assignment Office when Spring semester room vacancies will be available. If a student is interested in changing his or her room assignment for Spring semester, the student will be able to view the vacancies and select a room in eLiving. Once a student has processed a room assignment change, the student will be responsible for fully vacating the Fall semester room assignment and returning the room key prior to leaving the University at the end of Fall semester. If a student does not return the room key, the student will be assessed a charge for core change and key replacement. The amount will be charged on the student's Bursar account. Housing is not able to guarantee that the room the student selected for Spring semester will be accessible at the end of Fall semester to store items, due to current occupancy. Housing can verify whether temporary storage is available.
Room Changes Processed By the University
The University reserves the right to change the assignment of a student in specific locations in the event that (1) the location is needed for other programs or purposes; (2) the student's room is specially equipped to provide for a medical need and such need arises; or (3) conditions in a specific location require such reassignment to ensure a proper educational environment or the health and safety of individuals. The student will be given area assignment preferences after reassignments are completed.
10. Campus Meal Plan
The HFS Contract includes the Campus Meal Plan for residents living in University housing that does not include a personal kitchen. All students residing in University housing without a personal kitchen are required to purchase the Campus Meal Plan for each semester/session the student is living in University housing. Students are responsible for paying the total cost of the Campus Meal Plan, based on the level selected, for every semester of the HFS Contract. Depending upon the level selected, the available dining dollars used to make actual purchases may not be enough to cover all meals during a semester/session.
Campus Meal Plan Account Balances
The Campus Meal Plan offers three (3) levels, with varying dining dollars available to purchase meals. When the student accepts the HFS Contract, the Campus Meal Plan is defaulted to level two (2). To adjust the level, the student can log in to eLiving and select a different level. The Campus Meal Plan level can be adjusted higher or lower as permitted during the semester until seven (7) days before the end of the semester. Additional dining dollars can be added directly to the student's Campus Meal Plan account online, or the system can pull available funds from the student's LionCash+ account to cover transaction amounts at the same discounted rate. Remaining dining dollars at the end of summer session will carry over to fall semester, and from fall semester to spring semester, provided the student has an active Campus Meal Plan. Even though dining dollars may be carried over to the next semester, the student is still required to purchase the Campus Meal Plan and pay the total semester board rate for the level selected. If a student has a large amount of dining dollars at the end of fall semester, the Campus Meal Plan level should be lowered for spring semester. Any remaining dining dollars at the end of spring semester are forfeited - no refund will be offered.
Campus Meal Plan Account Transfer
The Campus Meal Plan cannot be transferred or assigned to another student. The Penn State id+ Card is used as the meal access card and may be used only by the student to whom the card is issued.
A student with special dietary requirements (religious, medical, personal, dietary preference, etc.) that cannot be fulfilled by individual selection from the dining commons menu choices must contact the Residential Dining Office prior to signing the HFS Contract. If the University is unable to provide reasonable accommodations (including housing reassignment), the student may be exempted from the Campus Meal Plan for the student's required residency only. Should the student pursue living in University housing for any period after the first-year residency requirement, the exemption will not apply.
If the student has signed the HFS Contract and subsequently develops a medical condition that requires a special diet, the student may submit a Reasonable Accommodation Request Form for Housing for review. If the determination is made that the University is unable to accommodate the student's need, the student may request that the Campus Meal Plan will be canceled for the remaining days of the semester/session with a prorated credit processed. The student may also be offered an alternative housing option where the student is not required to purchase the Campus Meal Plan.
11. Damages and Liability
- Room occupants will be held responsible for the condition of the room and furnishings and for any damages or losses that may occur during occupancy.
- Individuals identified as responsible for damage, theft, or losses in common areas of the building (such as corridors, elevators, stairwells, recreation rooms, dining commons, study rooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms, work rooms, and lounges) will be billed for the cost of repair or replacement. Amounts billed are additional charges under the HFS Contract and will be charged on the student's Bursar account. Students will be held collectively responsible for damages, theft, or losses in common areas of the building that may occur during occupancy when the individual(s) responsible cannot be identified.
- For the purpose of damage, theft, or loss assessment, occupancy shall be inclusive from the date of check-in to the date the student properly checks out of the room. Charges will be applied to the student's Bursar account. Residents must pay a damage assessment when billed.
- Students are not permitted to make damage repairs or arrange for them to be made directly with another person or vendor. In an emergency, a staff member on duty should be contacted. Any student who leaves the University at the end of the contracted period or earlier due to withdrawal from the University or other termination of study, or who fails to return the room key at the time of check-out, will automatically be assessed a charge for a core change and key replacement. The amount will be charged on the student's Bursar account.
- The University is not liable for any loss or damage to a student's personal property, including any loss or damage that results from the University's effort to eradicate bed bugs.
- Given that the University does not provide property insurance, each student is strongly encouraged to obtain property and/or rental insurance.
12. Contract Cancelation and Release
Failure to Enroll
A HFS Contract submitted to the University is legally-binding and holds the student to the financial obligation of the entire contract period. A student can be released from that obligation should the student formally cancel his or her enrollment with the University.
The University may release a student from the HFS Contract if the student submits a timely Contract Cancelation Request in eLiving and, on a case-by-case basis, the University finds that extreme circumstances warrant a release. If the student is released from the HFS Contract under this provision prior to the first day of the University classes, as announced by the University Registrar, for the HFS Contract period term, the student will be charged a penalty fee equal to twenty percent (20%) of the applicable room and Campus Meal Plan rates. If the student is released from the HFS Contract under this provision after the first day of the University classes, as announced by the University Registrar, for the HFS Contract period term, the student will be charged for room and Campus Meal Plan charges incurred up to the date of the cancelation or when the student has removed all personal belongings from the assigned housing and returned the room key, whichever occurs last. Charges are calculated by multiplying the number of days of occupation as determined above for the applicable academic semester by the computed daily rate, which rate is determined based on a truncated eight (8) week term (for Fall and Spring semesters), or a truncated four (4) week term (for Summer session). All unused Campus Meal Plan dining dollars in excess of $5.00 remaining at time of release will be refunded at face value to the student's Bursar account. If a student seeks a release from the HFS Contract after the eighth (8th) week of the Fall or Spring semester, or after the fourth (4th) week for Summer session, the student will remain responsible for the payment of the entire applicable semester's room and Campus Meal Plan charges.
Contract Transfer of Obligation
If a student of third (3rd) semester standing or higher who is enrolled and attending the University's University Park campus has accepted the HFS Contract and is interested in cancelling the HFS Contract, he or she may transfer the obligation of the HFS Contract to another eligible student by processing a HFS Contract Transfer of Obligation through the Assignment Office within the identified timeframe and according to the following conditions.
Conditions of a HFS Contract Transfer of Obligation
- The Assignment Office will provide the time period for when HFS Contract Transfer of Obligations can be performed. Once the deadline has passed, requests may not be submitted. In the case where there are limited vacancies, the option of the HFS Contract Transfer of Obligation may be suspended prior to the deadline without advance notice.
- The student wishing to cancel the HFS Contract is responsible for locating an eligible replacement student.
- The replacement student accepting the HFS Contract Transfer of Obligation must be an upper-class under-graduate student (third semester or higher), of the same gender, and be in good standing with the University. First-year students may not perform a HFS Contract Transfer of Obligation.
- The replacement student cannot have already signed a HFS Contract for the same contract period.
- The replacement student must acknowledge that he or she understands that the HFS Contract offer will be for supplemental housing space. The replacement student will not receive the transferring student's HFS Contract type or room assignment. The replacement student will have the ability to add his or her name to a Waitlist for other housing options.
- The replacement student must accept the HFS Contract through eLiving. If the semester has already begun when the transfer is completed, room and board charges will be prorated for both students as necessary.
- If the replacement student does not take occupancy or withdraws from the University before taking occupancy, the student initiating the HFS Contract Transfer of Obligation remains liable for the financial obligation of the HFS Contract.
- It is a violation of University policy to sell or attempt to sell a HFS Contract. The replacement student cannot offer, and the transferring student cannot accept, any form of compensation for the HFS Contract Transfer of Obligation. Any student who is found to have sold or purchased a HFS Contract will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.
- The Assignment Office may deny a HFS Contract Transfer of Obligation request if is determined that the transaction is not in the best interests of the University or the students requesting the transfer.
- The Assignment Office will determine the time period that HFS Contract Transfer of Obligation requests may be processed, and may elect to not accept requests after the submittal deadline.
University-Sanctioned Academic Activity (e.g., Practicum, Student Teaching, Internship, Co-Op, Study Abroad)
If a student will be away from the University for a University-sanctioned activity, such as practicum, student teaching, internship, co-op, or study abroad, for one or more semesters during the HFS Contract period, the student should submit a HFS Contract Cancelation Request through eLiving. Upon verification of the student's status in LionPATH, the HFS Contract will be canceled for the period of time that the student will be away from the University Park campus. The HFS Contract will remain active for the period of time that the student is physically present on campus and the student remains financially liable for that portion of the HFS Contract.
Withdrawal or Academic Drop
If a student is no longer eligible for University housing due to voluntary withdrawal from the University or an academic drop from the University, the HFS Contract may be canceled. If a student withdraws from the University or is academically dropped by the University before the eighth (8th) week term of any given academic semester, or the fourth (4th) week of summer semester, the student is responsible for payment of Housing and Campus Meal Plan charges incurred during the time period in which the student occupied the assigned housing. Charges are calculated by multiplying the number of days of occupation as determined above for the applicable academic semester by the computed daily rate, which rate is determined based on a truncated eight (8) week term (for Fall and Spring semesters), or a truncated four (4) week term (for Summer session). All unused Campus Meal Plan dining dollars in excess of $5.00 remaining at time of withdrawal or academic drop will be refunded at face value to the student's Bursar account. If a student withdraws from the University or is academically dropped by the University after the eighth (8th) week of the Fall or Spring semester, or after the fourth (4th) week for Summer session, the student will remain responsible for the payment of the entire applicable semester's room and Campus Meal Plan charges. Once a student has withdrawn, the student must officially check-out of University housing within 24 hours.
13. HFS Contract Termination
The University may terminate the HFS Contract or change the housing assignment of a student under the following circumstances:
- Violation. If the student violates the HFS Contract (including the TCRs), the Student Code of Conduct, or any other University rule or policy.
- Poor Conduct. If the student engages in conduct which (1) disregards the rights of other students; (2) jeopardizes the safety and/or well-being of him or herself or other students; or otherwise (3) disrupts the residential environment.
- Criminal Conduct. If the student's conduct and/or proven criminal record indicates a potential threat or danger to the University community, including students, faculty, and staff.
- Eligibility and Financial Holds. If the student is no longer in "registered status" or has a financial hold placed on his or her student account for room and board charges incurred during previous semesters.
In certain circumstances, the student may be entitled to a fair and equitable hearing by the Senior Director of Residence life prior to HFS Contract termination. In the event of termination, the student is liable for room and Campus Meal Plan charges incurred through the date of HFS Contract termination and for any damages or losses resulting from the student's violation of the HFS Contract. Rather than an HFS Contract termination, the student may be offered the opportunity to work with Residence Life and/or the Office of Student Conduct to resolve the issue. Outcomes may include, but are not limited to, educational sanctions, administrative sanctions, change of housing assignment, or other action with a nexus to the conduct concern. Guidelines and procedures for this process are provided by Residence Life.
14. Refund Policies
End of HFS Contract - Campus Meal Plan
Refunds for unused dining dollars will not be given at the end of the contracted period. A student has the ability to modify the Campus Meal Plan level in eLiving until the last day of class. Refunds for unused dining dollars are not given if a student schedules classes that conflict with the meal schedule or if a student chooses not to eat in the University facilities.
Contract Cancelation and Release - Housing and Campus Meal Plan
If an HFS Contract cancelation is approved by the University, a student may be entitled to a refund of the paid housing and Campus Meal Plan charges. Refunds will be based on the date of contract cancelation or the date in which the student has removed all personal belongings from the room and returned the room key, whichever occurs last. No refunds will be made for the housing charge or the Campus Meal Plan base cost if the contract is canceled, or the student does not remove their personal belongings and return the room key, after the eighth (8th) week of the applicable semester (or after the fourth week if it is a summer academic semester). Any remaining Campus Meal Plan dining dollars at the time contract cancelation or release in excess of $5.00 will be refunded at face value.
Any amount that is refunded will be applied to the student’s Bursar account, minus any outstanding charges on the account. If the student’s Bursar account is not available to process charges and/or refunds, the student will be responsible for making payment directly to the Assignment Office.
15. Maintenance of the Room
Room Inspection Form
The student is responsible for completing a Room Inspection Form in eLiving within seven (7) days of check-in. The Room Inspection Form is used to identify any damages or missing items in the room and will be verified when the student checks out of the room. Any damages or missing items not indicated on the Room Inspection Form will be charged as a damage fee on the student's Bursar account.
Maintenance needs, problems, or questions regarding a student's room or residence hall should be submitted online through the University's FixIt system.
Once a student has submitted a request for a repair to an item in his or her room, he or she can expect the repair to be completed during regular business hours. For the safety and security of residents, it may be necessary to reassign the occupants to a different room to perform certain types of maintenance.
Maintenance personnel may enter a student room to perform preventative maintenance, needed repairs identified during a room inspection, or an emergency repair. If an employee enters a student room when the student is not present, the employee will leave a form stating the date, time, and reason for entering the room. Although a student may ask to schedule an appointment for a repair, it will be determined by the University, on a case-by-case basis, if the situation needs an immediate response or can wait to be scheduled at the convenience of the student.
Each student is expected to maintain his or her living space in an orderly and sanitary condition. Students who occupy a room, apartment, or suite with a bathroom are responsible for cleaning the bathroom. Cleaning supplies are available for check-out at the Commons Desk. Each student is responsible for removing trash from the room, apartment, or suite and placing in the designated disposal area. If the University becomes aware of unsanitary conditions resulting from a student failing to maintain the room, apartment, or suite, Housing will clean the space. The student will be charged a cleaning damage fee, which will be applied to the student's Bursar account. Depending upon how the University and/or other students are affected by the persistence of disorderly and unsanitary conditions in a student's room, the University reserves the right to cancel the student's HFS Contract and refuse an assignment for future contract periods.
16. Inspection and Searches
A room inspection is not a search. Student rooms are inspected during each semester and at the time of check-out. Routine inspections will be announced in advance, and the student may choose to be present during the inspection. These inspections are conducted 1) to evaluate the condition of the room and furnishings; 2) to identify needed maintenance and repairs; and 3) to check for fire and safety hazards. If damages are noted, the cost for repairs or replacement will be charged to the student's Bursar account. The University reserves the right to make non-routine, emergency inspections to protect the health and safety of all students.
Should University staff observe the presence of unapproved appliance or objects in the room or notice objects attached to the facilities in an unapproved manner, this will be recorded on a Notice of Room Check form. A copy of this form will be left in the room for the student, who will be expected to correct the situation. In the case of noncompliance, the University reserves the right to have the items removed at the expense of the student(s) in the room.
There are no routine room searches. A room search is conducted only when there is strong reason to believe that the student(s) in the room are in serious physical or psychological distress, or that the room contains items that are contrary to University regulations (which include federal, state, and local laws). In most cases, an act of misbehavior will precipitate this concern. Room searches are conducted exclusively by Residence Life staff. When there is a potential search situation, the Residence Life staff must obtain approval from the Assistant Vice President of Housing, Food Services, and Residence Life. Approval is only granted after the reason for the search, the person(s) who is to search the room, and the object(s) being sought are clarified. Searches are usually conducted in the presence of the students living in the room, and only in unusual cases would the room be searched in their absence.
When it is necessary for a member of University Police to search a room, the search will be performed according to constitutional and criminal procedures. If time and circumstances permit, Residence Life will be notified in advance of an impending search. Items seized will be taken (as authorized by law) and inventoried, and a receipt listing each article will be given to the student or left in the room.
1. Alcohol and Illegal Substances
a. The possession or use of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in all University housing, including Nittany Apartments and Eastview Terrace, for students of any age.
b. It is a violation of Pennsylvania state law and University policy for a student under 21 years of age to attempt to purchase, consume, possess, or transport alcoholic beverages. It is unlawful to sell, furnish, or give to any minor, or permit that alcoholic beverages be sold, furnished, or given to any minor.
c. It is against University policy for there to be any tailgating activities held within the residential quad areas or residence hall parking lots where alcoholic beverages are being served on any football game/event weekend, including all home football games, Football Eve, 4th Fest, Arts Festival, and Blue and White Weekend. Students tailgating with alcoholic beverages in these defined areas will be confronted and will likely be charged with "open containers in an unauthorized area" violation.
d. A student will be held responsible for activities that occur in his or her room and will be referred to Residence Life, the Office of Student Conduct, and/or University Police if guests are violating the on-campus alcohol policy in this provision.
e. Failure to comply with the direction given by or the request to present identification, or supplying false information such as name, age, etc., to a University official acting in the performance of their job duties is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, and will result in a referral to Residence Life and/or the Office of Student Conduct.
It is a violation of Pennsylvania state law and University policy to possess, use, distribute, manufacture, sell, or be under the influence of illegal drugs. If a student violates this policy, he or she will be referred to Residence Life, the Office of Student Conduct, and/or University Police.
It is against University policy for a student to be in a residential area (room, common area, common building, building entryway, or quad area within residence area complex) and in the presence of an illegal substance. If a student is caught in the presence of an illegal substance within those areas, the student will be referred to Residence Life, the Office of Student Conduct, and/or University Police.
a. Canvassing is defined as any effort to influence opinions, gain support, or promote a particular cause or interest, specifically excluding any solicitation or fundraising as defined by current University policy. Surveys are not considered to be canvassing for the purposes of this provision.
b. Students, student organizations, residence hall student government, and outside interests are eligible to canvass in the residence halls.
c. Canvassing may not occur in individual residence areas unless approved by a majority vote of the students living within that area. Residence Life will organize the vote process at the beginning of the Fall semester.
d. Canvassing may occur in the commons buildings with an approved space/table reservation with Residence Life. Canvassing may not occur in the dining areas. Any canvassing that occurs in the commons building must follow the terms and conditions of the space/table reservation, which must be submitted a minimum of five (5) days prior to the canvassing event.
e. Canvassing will be restricted to the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
f. Any canvasser in the residence hall buildings must register with the area Associate/Assistant Director of Residence Life no less than 24 hours prior to the canvass. The canvasser must clearly understand all provisions of canvassing regulations before the canvassing may occur. A canvasser who is not a resident of the building in which the door-to-door canvassing is occurring must be escorted by a resident of the building at all times. The canvasser is permitted to knock on student room doors, and then must identify themselves and announce their specific purpose for contacting the student. The canvasser may only enter a student's room with expressed direct consent of the student, and must leave the room immediately if requested by the student.
g. Canvassers must abide by all University rules and regulations. Violators will be referred to Residence Life, the Office of Student Conduct, and may be subject to civil or criminal prosecution.
(i) A residence hall is a University-owned building that contains rooms assigned to students for sleeping, dressing, studying, and socializing. A residence hall also offers common areas used by all students assigned to the residence hall, including common means of entering and exiting, common lavatories, common study lounges, common laundry facilities, common storage areas, and areas used in common for organized educational and social functions.
(ii) Solicitation is the offer of sale of products or services.
b. Except as hereinafter provided, no person (including a student), firm, business entity, charitable organization, religious organization or other organization may solicit money, sell, or solicit the sale of any product or service anywhere in a residence hall.
c. A student assigned to a room in a residence hall may invite a person, firm, business entity, charitable organization, religious organization or other organization to his or her assigned room to solicit money, sell, or to solicit the sale of products or services with that student only. Such solicitation or sale may only occur in the room of the student who invited the individual. The solicitation of money or the sale or solicitation of a sale of products or services to any other student is prohibited anywhere in the residence hall.
d. Registered student organizations and residence hall student government may solicit money and/or sell or solicit the sale of products or services in a residence hall in accordance with University regulations governing student organizations, as identified in the Student Guide to General University Policies and Rules.
e. Nothing in this provision shall be deemed to preclude any solicitation or sale by mail, email, telephone, or other communication media.
4. Commerical Enterprises
The use of University-owned facilities and/or property for commercial sales activities by individuals or non-University organizations is prohibited. University organizations, within limitations established by University Policy AD27 and other University regulations, and with appropriate approval, may sell materials to support the purpose of the organization.
5. Decorations and Displays
Advertising of merchandise or services for sale or rent is not permitted in University-owned housing unless it is for the sale of personal property of a student living in the housing. Specific bulletin boards are provided and designated for this service. Permitted advertisements, if posted other than on the designated bulletin boards, will be removed.
a. Pictures, bulletin boards, and decorations may only be hung from the picture molding with picture hooks.
b. Nothing may be strung across the room for the purpose of hanging decorations.
c. Darts and dart boards are not permitted.
d. The use of tape, adhesives, glue, paste, nails, tacks, staples, and screws on walls, furniture, doors or other woodwork or glass is not permitted. A student may utilize products, such as Command brand items and poster putty, on walls, but will be responsible for any costs to repair damages that may result from use.
e. Painting or papering of the room or furniture is not permitted.
f. Live trees or greens are not permitted due to fire hazard concerns. Artificial trees may be used in approved lounge locations, as designated by Housing.
g. Bulletin boards in the room and hallways may be decorated; hallways may not have decorations applied.
h. Candles are not permitted. If the use of a candle is required for a religious celebration, the student work with Housing and Residence Life staff to determine if an appropriate location is available for religious observance.
i. Plastic or foam-type material decorations are not permitted. Decorations must be non-flammable, such as ceramic or glass, aluminum foil wrap, fire-retardant treated paper, crepe paper, tinsel, ribbons, etc., may be used.
j. Spray-on snow is acceptable to use on windows.
k. Decorative lights may be used in the student's room. Students are encouraged to consider conserving energy by limiting the use of decorative lights.
A student may decorate the surface of his or her room door facing the corridor, provided that it is done according to the guidelines below. Adhering to these guidelines will protect doors from unusual harsh wear, eliminate potential fire hazards, and ensure free movement/access in the hallway. Decorations may not be placed on exteriors of University housing.
a. If a room sign with a white board and/or cork board are provided, decorations are limited to static cling items.
b. Decorations may only be placed on the upper-section of the room door above the lock mechanism. If the door has louvers, no material may be placed on the louvers.
c. Decorations may not project more than one-half (1/2) inch from the surface of the door. Greeting cards should be fastened shut.
d. Decals and stickers are not permitted.
e. Bunting and streamers are permitted to celebrate special occasions, but must be removed within 24 hours.
f. Memo boards, pictures, signs, and posters should be unframed.
g. Non-flammable materials should be used when possible.
A student may decorate the window(s) in his or her room and in lounge areas, provided that it is done according to the guidelines below. Adhering to these guidelines will protect windows from unusual harsh wear or damage and eliminate potential safety hazards.
a. Decorations may only be placed on the inside of the window.
b. Decorations must be removable (not permanent). Only water-based poster paint may be used for painted decorations. The use of spray-on snow is permitted.
c. One-half (1/2) of the total window space should remain transparent for emergency situations, such as a fire.
d. Decorations that present a safety hazard due to excessive weight, possibility of breakage, degree of cleanliness, etc. must be modified and or removed if identified by University staff.
e. Decorations must be temporarily removed at the request of University staff for regularly scheduled window cleaning.
Damages and Violation of University Policy
All room, door, and window decorations must be removed prior to the student checking out of the room. Damages to the room, door, windows, drapes, and/or blinds, as well as any extra cleaning required, will be the responsibility of the residents and may result in a damage charge that is assessed to the student's Bursar account. University staff will determine the nature and extent of all damages.
Any room, door, or window decoration that is obscene or in violation of University policy will be referred to Residence Life.
University housing is provided and intended for use by the students assigned to the area and for their invited guests. A guest is defined as a person visiting a student in his or her assigned residence hall at the request of the student. Delivery persons are not considered guests. The University reserves the right to revoke the privilege of a guest policy at any time. Students will be notified if this occurs. If a student violates the guest regulations, including University students who are unescorted in a building, he or she will be referred to Residence Life and/or the Office of Student Conduct.
Overnight guests are not permitted to stay in University housing until after the first day of classes for the current semester, as announced by the University Registrar. This restriction helps ease the congestion of the move-in process and allow roommates the opportunity to get to know each other and decide how to handle overnight guests.
a. The host student has the responsibility to ensure that his or her guest is aware of and understands University policies. A guest will be held accountable for his or her own actions. The host student may be held accountable for the behavior of the guest, and for any damages committed by the guest, unless the guest is also a University student.
b. A student is permitted to have a guest in his or her room only if the student's roommate(s) has granted permission.
c. The guest cannot receive a room key or building access card. The host student is responsible for escorting his or her guest at all times. The host student is not permitted to give the guest his or her room key or Penn State id+ Card to gain access to the room or building.
d. The guest may stay in the student's room for a maximum of three (3) consecutive nights. The guest may not move from one host's room to another host's room in an attempt to extend his or her stay in University housing past the three (3) nights.
e. Only students living in the assigned housing and their invited guests are permitted in the living areas of the building, including individual rooms, floor lounges, and common area spaces. If an individual who is not a resident of the building or a guest of a resident is found in the building, the individual will be considered to be trespassing.
f. The guest may only use the appropriate gender restroom/shower facilities.
7. Quiet Hours
A goal of Housing, Food Services, and Residence Life is to provide students an atmosphere within University-housing that is conducive to sleep and rest. To achieve this goal, it is necessary for all students to understand that the right of students to study and sleep takes precedence over the right of students to make noise. Established courtesy hours and quiet hours are posted in all University-housing facilities. It is expected that all students will maintain a proper study atmosphere during the established quiet hours. These hours may be extended if additional study conditions are required. Residence Life may extend the hours in consultation with the residence hall student government.
Courtesy hours are in effect 24 hours a day. A student's right to study and sleep will be respected at all times. Every student and his or her guests will lower their voices and/or the volume of their equipment (music, TV, computer, musical instruments, etc.) if asked to do so by another student or University staff.
Quiet Hours - all University-housing facilities
- Sunday - Thursday: 8:00 p.m. - 8:00 a.m.
- Friday - Saturday: 1:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Quiet Hours - Schreyer Honors College Housing (Atherton and Simmons Halls)
- Sunday - Thursday: 8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
- Friday - Saturday: midnight - 10:00 a.m.
During finals week, 24-hour quiet hours are maintained. Quiet hours are in effect beginning at 8:00 a.m. the day before finals begin, and continue until the end of the semester for all University-housing facilities. In Schreyer Honors College, quiet hours are in effect beginning at 8:00 a.m. on the Friday preceding the first day of finals.
During quiet hours, students are expected to follow these guidelines:
a. Electronic sound equipment (radios, stereos, TVs, electronic games, computers, tablets, etc.), musical equipment, and room activities will not be heard outside of the room. Such equipment should not be played so loud as to disrupt other students.
b. Amplified sound is not to be directed out of windows by using speakers.
c. Each student has the responsibility to take the initiative and discuss noise concerns with the offending student. If a student is bothered by someone else's noise, the student should ask him or her to reduce the volume level of the offending noise. The student has every right to expect the other student to reduce the volume. Likewise, if a student is requested to reduce the volume level, he or she should do so out of respect for a fellow student. Residence Life will deal with excessive noise. However, staff may not always be aware of every problem.
d. Students and guests should keep their voice levels low while talking in hallways, bathrooms, study lounges, etc., to help maintain a quiet living environment for all students.
e. Student will refrain from participating in sports-like activity within or immediately adjacent to University housing. The University has designated playing areas for these types of activities.
f. If a student persists in creating excessive noise, the student may be referred to Residence Life and/or the Office of Student Conduct.
8. Pets and Service Animals
Pets of any type are not permitted in University housing, with the exception of one small tank that is not more than five (5) gallons (U.S.) for tropical fish or goldfish. Visitors and guests may not bring animals or pets into University housing. An individual with a service animal or service animal in training are permitted in University housing, in accordance with University Policy AD66. A student who has a need for a service animal should contact Student Disability Resources for further assistance.