Room and Suite Access


Residents living in most Columbia Housing owned and operated residence halls and brownstones have access to their rooms/suites encoded on their Columbia University ID (CUID) cards. Residents of Woodbridge and Hartley Halls are given a hard key. 

Most rooms can be accessed electronically using your CUID, but some buildings use hard key locks. Residents living in suites are granted access to the suite entrance and their individual room assignment.   

Visit your building page to learn about your residence hall’s access type.    

Hard Key

Hartley and Woodbridge Halls are hard key buildings. Residents will receive their key when they check in.  

Please note: access to individual rooms is by hard key; access to the building is by CUID.

Electronic CUID Access

Most Columbia Housing buildings use either electronic swipe or tap locks.

Starting Academic Year 2023-2024, a multi-year project to convert all locks to electronic tap locks will begin. Students will be notified if work is scheduled to occur while they are in residence.

Swipe Access 

To use an electronic swipe lock, insert your CUID into the nearest encoder to activate pre-programmed door access. 

Tap Access

To use an electronic tap lock, tap your CUID at the door lock to activate pre-programmed door access.  

If the door does not open, please wait 30 seconds and try again. 

Keys and Locks

Hard keys and CUIDs are intended for use only by the resident to whom the key or ID was assigned. It is every Columbia Housing resident’s responsibility to ensure that housing assignments are accessed only by the assigned occupant(s). As such, Columbia Housing prohibits residents from lending their key(s) to other students or from borrowing other students’ keys. 

Additionally, the duplication of keys or cards by anyone other than University-authorized personnel is prohibited. For security purposes, residents must carry their room and/or suite keys with them at all times. Furthermore, residents must not leave their keys in the room or suite door locks, or other locations outside of their room or suite for the purpose of re-entry. 

Housing prohibits residents from removing, altering, or tampering with a lock mechanism; this includes placing items, such as tape or paper, between the top of the door and the door frame, which could damage the lock. 

Passage Mode

Residents with electronic locks (i.e., CUID access) can set their room doors to remain unlocked within their suites using passage mode. However, passage mode cannot be enabled for doors that open to residence hall corridors. Be mindful that personal belongings will be easily accessible to anyone in the suite when passage mode is enabled. 

Locations where passage mode can be enabled: 

  • Brownstones 
  • East Campus 
  • Carman 
  • Ruggles 
  • 47 Claremont 
  • Hogan 
  • Watt (L and F suite rooms only) 
  • Harmony (102-106 suite rooms only) 

Key Loan

A key loan is a spare key provided to a resident if they are locked out of their assigned room. Residents receive three complimentary key loans per semester. For every additional key loan request, the resident will be charged $10 to their student account.   

Residents have four hours from the time they pick up the key to use the key loan. After the first four hours, the resident will be charged $5 per day to their student account. After four days, the resident will be charged for a lock change: $50 in hard key buildings and $25 for electronic key (CUID card) buildings. 


Key Assist

A key assist is when a representative from Columbia Housing goes to a resident’s assigned room to unlock the door for the purpose of granting the resident immediate re-entry. Key assists are used when a resident is unable to pick up a key loan from the Hartley Hospitality Desk for any reason. Residents receive one complimentary key assist per semester; for every subsequent key assist, residents will be charged $20 to their student account. To request a key assist, call the Hartley Hospitality Desk

Removing a Stuck Hard Key from a Lock

If a resident’s key is stuck in a lock, the key should be turned to an upright position, then pulled out with one hand while the other hand applies pressure to the small core that immediately surrounds the key. If the problem persists or if the key does not unlock the door, the resident should replace the key at the Hartley Hospitality Desk; otherwise the key may break off inside of the lock, requiring a lock change.

Passage Mode

To enable passage mode:

  1. Swipe or tap your room key (CUID) as you normally would to open the door. A green light will blink.
  2. After the door has been unlocked, swipe or tap your room key a second time. A second green light will blink indicating that passage mode has been activated.

To disable passage mode:

  1. Swipe or tap your room key (CUID) as you normally would to open the door. The reader will show a steady green light. If the green light blinks but does not stay on, passage mode has not been enabled.
  2. While the green light is still on, swipe or tap your room key a second time. The green light will blink and the door will lock.
Troubleshooting Passage Mode

If you see a red light, wait 15 seconds and try again. If you continue to see a red light, please contact the Hartley Hospitality Desk at 212-854-2779.