Hall governments are expected to follow all University policies, rules, and regulations. The policies listed here are not an exhaustive list of policies for financial and event planning, but are certainly noteworthy. It is important that the hall governments partner with their Area Coordinator when planning events or programs for their hall.
Tax Exempt Status
Northwestern University is a nonprofit organization. This means that we do not pay Illinois sales tax. Some cities may implement additional taxes such as an entertainment tax that NU does pay. When working with vendors outside of the University, make them aware of our tax exempt status. If they require a state issued tax exempt letter, email Purchasing and request a copy be emailed or faxed to the organization.
When making purchases for your hall, you will need to use a tax exempt letter. This is a special one-time use letter that you may get from the Student Organization Finance Office, University Residential Life (URL) or your area coordinator (AC). If you do not use a tax exempt letter on a purchase, then the sales tax will not be reimbursed. If you do not use a tax exempt letter with a cash advance, you must pay the taxes yourself.
Any glass that is solely used for alcohol beverages will not be approved for purchase or reimbursement through any hall government account (e.g. shot glasses, snifters, martini glasses, and wine glasses). Exceptions may be made for pint glasses, glass mugs, or other glasses commonly used for non-alcoholic beverages. This is strictly a URL policy put in place to discourage underage alcohol use among its predominantly underage student population living within the halls.
"The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code) governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be used. Neither the rental nor the purchase of a videocassette carries with it the right to show the tape outside of the home." Regardless of the number of people in the room and the cost of entry to the movie, unless you are in the privacy of your own home you may not show a rented movie.
The display of a copyright-protected film for entertainment purposes in a residence hall lounge will require a public performance license. No group, individual, or organization may plan any movie-viewing program or event without paying for the rights to show the movie.
"Slush fund" is a colloquial term used to describe an auxiliary money account or reserve funds. Hall governments may not create or maintain slush funds. If at any time, the hall government collects cash and/or checks written to the hall government (e.g., for ticket or t-shirt sales), it is essential the treasurer deposits this money into SOFO.
If your hall government is planning to hold a raffle you must secure a permit from the City of Evanston. An application and the requirements to hold the raffle are available on the City of Evanston's website. ACs will not approve any receipts for raffle purchases unless they receive a copy of an approved raffle permit from the City of Evanston.
It is Northwestern University policy that any event that suggests University endorsement of gambling is not permissible. Given the broad definition of "gambling" under Illinois law, any "game of chance or skill" is an act of gambling when played "for money or other thing of value." This definition encompasses blackjack, poker and euchre, as well as any other card game, craps, roulette, and other comparable games when these games are played for money or any other thing of value (including prizes). If prizes are awarded at an event where games of chance or skill are being played, there is still a strong possibility that the event could be construed as a gambling event in violation of Illinois law. As long as the event is not marked as a Vegas Night, Casino Night, or Poker Night and nothing of value, including money and/or prizes, exchanges hands, then the game and/or card nights may be allowed for hall governments. Events featuring bona fide games of skill, such as darts or billiards, at which prizes are awarded, may be permissible, but betting will not be allowed. Any requests for events at which games of skill will be played must be approved by URL and the Center for Student Involvement. Speak to your AC if you wish to plan an event of this nature.
URL requires that hall governments use community assistants as chaperones at some large, off-campus events. ACs will determine which events require the use of chaperones. Criteria for this decision include, but are not limited to, number of residents and government officers attending the event, distance from the Evanston campus, type of transportation to be used. If it is determined your hall government event requires a chaperone then the hall government will be responsible for paying for the chaperone’s ticket to the event. For most events the chaperone to student ratio is 1:40, however, the number of chaperones needed for an event will ultimately be determined by your AC.
Many hall governments decide to raise money for charitable organizations by having a fundraiser. Here are the general guidelines for holding fundraisers:
- All fundraising activities must be pre-approved by your AC before advertising or holding them in the residence halls.
- If the hall government is going to use hall government funds to donate to an organization, the decision must be approved by the hall government according to the constitution. If no provision for donating funds is indicated in the constitution, two-thirds of the building must vote by paper or electronic ballot to approve the expenditure.
- Fundraising activities cannot conflict with Sodexo activities (e.g. birthday cake deliveries or care packages).
- Fundraisers can only be held for charities that are recognized as not-for-profits by the Internal Revenue Service.
- Hall governments must keep track of their donations and submit a copy of their collection methods to their AC. Fundraisers collecting loose change (e.g., penny wars) are exempt from this policy.