A fire safety class with students gathered outside watching an instructor showing how to extinguish a fire.

Ensuring a safe, secure living and learning environment on and around campus is our highest priority. Our residence communities have all the safety features you would expect, including full fire protection systems and 24-hour security. The front doors to each hall are locked and residents are responsible for checking in guests and escorting them at all times. 

Public Safety is available on campus 24/7. They offer the Bearcat Guardian mobile app that allows you to turn your cell phone into a safety device. They oversee NightRide, an on-demand service within one mile of campus from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. In addition, they offer safety notifications, fire prevention and safety tips, and bicycle registration

Public Safety responds to emergency calls via 911, and offers assistance from Help Phones located throughout campus.

Safety Tips

  • Keep your room door locked whenever you are out of the room, sleeping, or otherwise unable to pay attention to what might be going on in the room.
  • Don’t allow unknown persons to follow you into the building; don’t check in people who aren’t legitimately your guests. If you check in someone, you are assuming responsibility for their actions.
  • Lock up items that are particularly valuable, such as credit cards, cash, laptops, jewelry, and so forth.  Don’t keep large amounts of cash on hand.
  • Personal items will not be replaced if damaged.  Renter's insurance/homeowners insurance is recommended.
  • Engrave valuables with an ID number and keep a record of serial numbers.
  • Protect personal information such as ID numbers, bank account records, and phone numbers.
  • Report suspicious people or activities to the hall staff or to the University Police at 556-1111. Anonymous tips can be reported to 556-2677 (6-COPS).
  • Familiarize yourself with the locations of all stairwells for fire evacuation.  Don’t tamper with any of the smoke detectors, sprinkler heads, extinguishers, or other safety equipment.
  • Familiarize yourself with your hall’s designated shelter locations for severe weather.
  • Travel in pairs or groups, especially at night.
  • Avoid unlawful or excessive use of alcohol or other drugs. These impair judgment and leave you more vulnerable to harm or manipulation.
  • For more information, consult Public Safety or your area coordinator (AC), community coordinator (CC) or resident advisor (RA).

If your room smoke detector sounds and there is no evidence of smoke or fire, notify the front desk of your hall for assistance in resetting the detector. Sometimes detectors can be activated by nearby steam, hairspray, or other airborne substances.

It may be possible to extinguish a very small fire in a microwave or trashcan by smothering it with a pan lid on non-flammable substance like baking soda or water (do not use water on an electrical or stovetop fire).  If there is an extinguisher nearby, use it only if you have been trained to do so. 

Every fire, even if extinguished easily, must be reported to Public Safety.

If the fire is too big to put out with a single extinguisher or if you have any doubts about your ability to put it out, leave your room, closing the door behind you. 

Report the fire’s location to emergency personnel in the lobby as you leave the hall.

In the event of any general fire alarm, evacuation is required. Always evacuate for every fire alarm.  Failing to evacuate or hiding is very dangerous, as a fire may not always be evident.  In addition, staff will check all rooms after a fire alarm has ended to assure compliance.  Failing to evacuate may result in criminal and judicial charges and only forces your neighbors to stand outside even longer.

  • When a general alarm sounds, quickly get a coat, shoes, and your keys and ID. 
  • Look through the viewer of your room door to check the hall for smoke or fire. 
  • Feel your room door with the back of your hand. 
  • If the door is cool and you do not see any smoke or fire in the area, exit your room, lock your door, and leave the building using the nearest stairwell. 
  • Never use elevators in a fire alarm. 
  • Proceed directly outside. 
  • There is no guest check-out conducted during fire alarms; guests and hosts undergo a re-check upon re-entry following the alarm.

If you are unable to evacuate your room because of smoke or fire in the hallway, follow these steps.

  • Close your room door. 
  • Call 911 and report your location. 
  • Follow any instructions from the dispatcher. 
  • Otherwise, stay in the room and low to the ground, where air is fresher. 
  • Block the gap under your door and vents with wet towels or other cloth. 
  • Open your room drapes or blinds. 
  • If you are on the ground floor, evacuate through the window. 
  • If you are on any other floor, hang an item like a sheet or towel from your window to draw attention to yourself and wait for further assistance from the fire department.
  • In Campus Rec Center Hall, you should evacuate to the nearest area of rescue assistance, typically marked on a stairwell landing. You should familiarize yourself with these locations in advance.

Being safe is everyone's responsibility

Safety and security are a shared responsibility between the staff and the residents of the halls. We provide safety features, but there’s no substitute for everyone in the community taking responsibility for not allowing unescorted persons to enter and roam the hall, for being alert to suspicious activity, and for keeping your room door locked whenever you are out, sleeping, showering, or otherwise unable to monitor who is coming and going.

All halls are locked 24 hours per day and require a key or key card to enter. On weekends, IDs of all entering persons are checked and all non-resident guests (including parents, guardians, and other family members) must be checked in. Guest check-in requires both the host and guest to leave a state- or college/university-issued picture ID at the check-in point.

We provide some kind of personal lockable space for each person (you may need to bring a padlock or bike lock to use the space effectively) but you still need to be cautious with your credit cards, bank cards, cash and so forth. We also encourage you to keep a record of the serial numbers of your valuables and to engrave your property. The #1 crime in residence halls is opportunity theft, which far outpaces all other crimes reported in the halls. Again, keeping your room door locked appropriately and not leaving valuables unattended go a long way to deterring crime.

Your UC ID

Your UC ID is your identity, your access, your meal plan, your purchasing power if you have Bearcat Card funds, and more.

You should report lost cards immediately by logging into the Bearcat Card website and deactivating your card. Click Account Management & Deposit. Sign in using your central login. Click Card Services then deactivate or reactivate your card. 

Replacement cards can be purchased at the Keys & Badges Office, 4 Edwards Center at a cost of $35.00.

You must report your lost card to PNC bank if your card is linked to your checking account. Go online at or call 800-531-1648. Bearcat Cards are updated every 30 minutes. All information and monies will be transferred to your new card at that time.

Policy on entering student rooms

Rooms may be entered by the staff without notice as needed if there is imminent threat of harm to people or property or a substantial disruption to the community (such as a loud stereo left playing). In these cases, staff members leave a note explaining their presence. Our maintenance staff also enters rooms where repairs have been requested via a “work order” at the front desk.

Rooms are entered monthly by technical staff from Public Safety for fire safety inspections and equipment tests, in accordance with local ordinances. Otherwise, we give advance notice, generally at least 48 hours, of room entry.

Residents are responsible to open their door upon request of the staff in cases related to enforcing University policies such as but not limited to quiet hours. Rooms are entered over each break period for health and safety inspection and to assure the readiness of any vacancy for new arrivals.

Fire safety in residence communities

Our residence halls include smoke detectors and sprinkler heads in student rooms, smoke detectors and sprinkler heads in every common area, and extinguishers in common areas of the halls.

Our alarm systems (and you) will generally be tested with monthly drills, but you should assume any and every fire alarm is real. You should familiarize yourself with the locations of pull stations, extinguishers, and areas of rescue assistance (if applicable) in your hall.

To help minimize the risk of fire, residents are expected to comply with prohibitions of smoking, candles, incense, and various appliances that are disallowed, especially toaster ovens, hot plates, grills, and George Foreman grills as well as others (see What should I bring? for more information).

Rooms are entered monthly by the Public Safety staff for inspection of fire safety equipment and code compliance. In the event of any fire alarm, evacuation is required.