Locks and Keys: Morningside Heights Campus Academic and Administrative Buildings

This policy addresses the distribution of keys and the installation, repair and maintenance of locks in academic and administrative buildings managed by Columbia University Facilities on the Morningside Heights campus.  The policy also addresses building and room lockout procedures for all Morningside Heights campus spaces under the jurisdiction of Campus Operations and the Department of Public Safety.

Reasons for the Policy

This policy is intended to help foster a safe and secure work and academic environment by establishing:

  1. Rules for building and room access after standard business hours
  2. Procedures for addressing lost keys, lockouts, lock installation and repairs 
  3. Requirements for centralized distribution of keys.
Primary Guidance to Which This Policy Responds

This policy is guided by standard building management security practices.

Responsible University Officer and Office

The Associate Vice President for Facilities Operations is responsible for the development and the Office of Campus Operations for the administration of this policy. 

Revision History

There is no revision history for this policy.

Who is Governed by This Policy?

Members of the University community including students, faculty and staff on the Morningside Heights campus.

Who Should Know This Policy?

Departmental administrators, Facilities Campus Operations staff, Department of Public Safety staff and all users of campus academic and administrative buildings.

Exclusions and Special Situations

This policy does not apply to undergraduate residence halls, apartments and residential buildings, buildings with computerized access systems, perimeter entrance gates and any spaces that are not accessible to Campus Operations and the Department of Public Safety.


Columbia University Facilities is responsible for managing this policy.  The Associate Vice President of Facilities Operations is responsible for formulating this policy.  The Assistant Vice President of Campus Operations is responsible for administering this policy.  The Services Center is the central point of contact for requests concerning locks and keys.  The Services Center will route requests to the Department of Public Safety, the Lock Shop or custodians as necessary. 

Key Distribution & Lock Installation / Repairs

All requests for new, additional and replacement keys and the installation and repair of locks are made through departmental administrators. Once a departmental administrator has approved a request, he/she will contact the Facilities Services Center (212-854-2222) to implement the request.  The Services Center will, in turn, contact the Lock Shop which completes the order and delivers the keys to the Services Center for pick-up or installs or repairs the locks for the end user.  All services of the Lock Shop are chargeable with the exception of repairs or replacement to locks and door frames due to wear and tear. Keys and locks must not be made or installed by non-University locksmiths or other vendors unless at the request of and under the auspices of Campus Operations.

Authorized Key Holders

Departmental administrators determine who has access to which keys in a given building including internal rooms, restrooms, closets and, with Public Safety approval, exterior entrances and gates.  Administrators are responsible for initial key distribution, requests for key duplication and rules for safe keeping of keys.  Master keys are kept locked in the Lock Shop.  Authorized holders of keys include employees of Campus Operations and the Department of Public Safety during their work shifts, and those authorized by departmental administrators.

Lost or Stolen Keys

Lost or stolen keys are to be reported to departmental administrators.  Departmental administrators are responsible for ordering replacement keys from the Lock Shop and for determining whether the security of the building, floor, or room has been compromised and new lock sets need to be installed.

Lockouts and After Hours Access

Students, faculty and staff who are locked out of their buildings and/or rooms, should call the Facilities Services Center at 212-854-2222.  The Services Center enters this information into a log and alerts a custodian to standby for assistance.  The Services Center then directs individuals to the Department of Public Safety at 111 Low Library to obtain security clearance via review of photo identification.  Once the Services Center receives the approval of the Department of Public Safety, a custodian will be called for assistance.  If the custodian does not have a key to the space then the requester will have to agree to be charged to call in a locksmith on overtime to provide access to the space.  However, if the lockout involves a perimeter entrance gate or computerized access entrance, the Department of Public Safety will provide assistance after identification approval.  Note:  Custodians do not carry keys for all spaces.