Off-Campus Conduct

What Are the Expectations Pertaining to Off-Campus Conduct?

Northwestern undergraduate students are also members of the Evanston community. As Evanston neighbors, students are expected to treat long-term residents with respect, civility, and consideration. As Evanston residents, students are expected to comply with federal, state, and local laws and ordinances (in addition to University rules and policies). The most common off-campus conduct issues include:

  1. Off-Campus Parties
    • Student parties and social gatherings can create large disturbances throughout the neighborhood (often larger than students might assume)
    • Particularly disruptive are: stereos and amplified music, people being outside or on porches, and the noise created by groups coming and going from the party
  2. Being Loud and Disruptive while Moving through the Neighborhood (especially late at night)
    • Yelling & screaming (even loud talking), particularly after dark, is very disruptive
    • Traveling in packs and large groups often adds to the noise and nuisance level
  3. Use and Abuse of Alcohol
    • Use or possession of alcohol by underage students
    • Providing or distributing alcohol to underage students
    • Carrying open containers of alcohol on public property (side-walks, parks, beaches, etc.)
    • Possession or use of fake ID's
    • Also: Use of alcohol generally contributes to excessive noise and disruptions
  4. Trash and Litter
    • Cups, bottles, cans, and other debris should be put into trash cans or recycled
  5. Other Inappropriate Behavior
    • Urinating in public
    • Vandalism and damage to public and private property
    • Parking cars on sidewalks or in yards

What Are the Implications of Off-Campus Misconduct?

Students who engage in off-campus misconduct may face both legal and University ramifications for their actions.

The Northwestern University Police Department and the Evanston Police Department each have overlapping jurisdiction both on campus and in the areas around campus. Both departments can issue citations or arrest students for violations of state laws or local ordinances. (Alcohol citations in Evanston, for example, carry a fine of $500 to $1,000). The Evanston Property Standards division enforces local laws (through fines and summons) regarding occupancy, trash, and other health issues.

Students are also subject to the University's disciplinary policies and procedures for incidents that occur off-campus, and copies of Evanston and Northwestern Police reports that pertain to students are forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution (formerly Judicial Affairs). Thus, a student may be required to complete and satisfy both University actions and legal requirements as a result of off-campus misconduct.

What Can I Do to Avoid Engaging in Misconduct Off-Campus?

For all students:

  • Please be courteous and respectful at all times to all Evanston residents, both students and longer-term residents.
    • This brochure (pdf) from the Evanston Neighborhood Association outlines community expectations in the off-campus areas around Northwestern
  • Evanston has a very strict noise ordinance, which is in effect 24 hours a day and prohibits "any loud, unnecessary or unusual noise which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, convenience, health, peace or safety of others...." In addition, there are special restrictions (quiet hours) in place between 11 pm and 7 am on weekends and between 10 pm and 7 am on weekdays. Thus, always be mindful if you or your friends are creating a disturbance or disruption, particularly during the quiet hours.
  • Avoid engaging in actions that often result in police involvement: underage (or excessive) alcohol consumption, possession of open containers of alcohol in public, public urination, littering, and vandalizing/damaging the property of others.

For students visiting off-campus:

  • Please be quiet when journeying off-campus, particularly after dark.
    • Don't travel in large packs
    • Don't yell or scream
    • Use the Shuttle Service and SafeRide to get to and from many off-campus locations (and be quiet while waiting for your ride)
  • Be mindful of your public image: don't urinate outside and don't carry open containers of alcohol (cups, cans, bottles, etc.).
  • Put garbage in trashcans or recycling bins; don't litter.

For students living off-campus:

  • Review this handbook (pdf), which was produced by NU several years ago, for some good tips about living off-campus.
  • Be thoughtful and prepared when hosting parties and social gatherings.
    • Review the Plan for Peaceful Neighborhood Living (pdf) for advice in planning your event
    • Notify all your neighbors of the event, give them a start and end time (and keep them), and provide them with a contact number in case things get noisy
    • Keep the guest list to a manageable size, and make sure you monitor the door
    • Advise guests to be quiet and respectful when coming and going
    • Monitor your party (both inside and outside) for excessive noise
    • Clean up your yard and any other litter by 10 am the following morning
    • Don't be scared to contact the police for assistance if things begin to get out of hand
  • Carefully consider how you will deal with alcohol at your event
    • Will you provide alcohol? If so, how will you make sure only legal-aged individuals are drinking? How will you make sure no one drinks to excess?
    • Students need a liquor license to sell alcohol (or collect money for cups, even if for a "charitable" reason).
  • Be aware of Evanston's occupancy law
    • No more than three unrelated individuals may live in a single dwelling unit. That means if your house is divided into two units, only six people total should be living there (even if there are more bedrooms than that and even if your landlord seems OK with it).