Decorating with Caution: An updated guide for summer dormers

Rules and regulations for dorm décor – don’t get in trouble like I did



My now-regulation-compliant dorm room.

JULIA MESSEGEE, Evergreen reporter

About three months ago, I wrote a brilliant article with tips for dorm décor that follow residence hall regulations. Well, it was brilliant, until I landed in the RED’s office for my décor practices.

A couple weeks following my previous article’s upload, I received an email from WSU Housing and Residence Life, and then a call preceded by a voicemail.

Too intimidated to hear the voicemail, I opened the email, the intro of which read, “Attached you will find a copy of a letter from Housing and Residence Life at Washington State University. Please be sure to read the letter carefully taking note of the dates and deadlines involved.”

I definitely will not quote the entire letter, but here are a few exciting lines: “while performing room checks on December 17th, HRL Staff observed vines, lights, and a powerbox all attached to the ceiling,” “you may have violated the following” and “Hearing Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2023.”

Long story short, the RED explained during our hearing that I, in fact, could not hang décor from the ceiling. Yikes.

My dorm room.

My previous article fails to specify that you are restricted from ceiling décor. In that article’s photo, you see my iconic room with vines, cords, lights and a dreamcatcher, all attached to the ceiling.

According to Chapter 8: Fire Safety of the WSU Safety Policies and Procedures Manual, “Storage shall be maintained two feet (610 mm) or more below the ceiling in non-sprinklered areas of buildings or not less than 18 inches (457 mm) below sprinkler head deflectors in sprinklered areas of buildings.” I could not find the exact rule specifying that décor is prohibited on the ceiling, but my RED explained that it is.

Fortunately, you can still use Command Hooks to hang stylish décor on walls instead. I am in love with Command Hooks, so when my RED assured me I could still harness their power, I was overjoyed.

Those cool drippy sunglasses you ordered from Zumiez? Set them on your wall using a Command Hook. That neon yellow bucket hat? Hang it on your wall, too. I have learned placing accessories on walls spruces them up while making the accessories convenient to reach.

I did not violate any other policies, but I will touch on some of them below.

As vogue as you think an alcoholic bottle to hold your sunflowers is, do not use alcoholic containers as vases or general decorations if you’re a minor.

According to the 2023-2024 WSU Pullman Housing and Dining Policies, “If you are under the age of 21, you cannot have empty alcohol bottles/cans including those used for decorations, display, or have been repurposed in other ways [e.g. used as a vase for flowers, painted as decoration].”

Go get yourself a glass bottle of Piña Colada Fanta instead, or any other branded soda bottle.

If you dislike soda, you can always use real vases, Mason jars or a gorgeous can of chunky beef stew. Of course, you should be done eating the stew and the can should be empty.

You can also buy artificial plants to place in that Fanta bottle. Other items for your containers include makeup brushes, pencils, pens, toothbrushes, utensils, fake candles or those old gummy bears in your pocket.

If you are itching to place a real candle, ask an RA or RED if doing so is permitted. I know for a fact that lit candles are prohibited, but I am unsure if unlit candles are bound to the same rules.

The policies also specify that “Tape, nails, screws, or tacks on or in the walls, furniture, or fixtures are prohibited.”

Personally, I have the beautiful privilege of using thumbtacks because some of my walls are covered in carpet-like material. However, do not be rebellious and stick sharp objects in non-carpeted walls.

Alternatives to sharp objects include wall-safe tape, Command Hooks and mounting putty.

If you have a string of snazzy lights and desperately want to hang them on a wall, do not worry; I have been there.

Ensure you purchase lightweight string lights, so if push comes to shove, you may effortlessly tape them to the wall. Cheap paper decorations like Dollar Tree lanterns, artificial flowers or Party City party décor are also easy to use and look surprisingly dapper.

Before attempting something that may be illegal, ask your dorm’s RAs or RED about specific hall rules.