Prohibited & Restricted Conduct

The following behaviors are prohibited or restricted by this Student Code of Conduct. Violations of these policies, or assisting or encouraging others in the violation of these policies, may lead to disciplinary action. An attempt to commit any of these acts, as well as assisting or willfully encouraging any such act, is considered a violation of University policy.

Click on each item below to see the full details of each.

Alcohol and Other Drugs

A caring, safe, and well-informed community fosters an environment in which we can all live and learn. To that end, the Northwestern community shares responsibility for promoting healthy behavior. In supporting each individual's health and wellbeing, we assist students, staff, and faculty in understanding the risks associated with consuming alcohol and other drugs while seeking to minimize the harm to self and others caused by the misuse and abuse of these substances.

The following are the primarily policies related to alcohol and other drugs that apply to Northwestern Students.Northwestern's full Policy on Drugs and Alcohol can be found here.

Alcohol

Misconduct related to alcohol and alcoholic beverages, including the following:

  1. Use or possession of alcohol, or containers that previously contained alcohol, by individuals under the age of 21 (or the age of majority in the jurisdiction);
  2. Manufacturing alcoholic beverages on University property, premises, or facilities (except as specifically authorized by the University) or by individuals under the age of 21;
  3. Providing or distributing alcohol to individuals under the age of 21;
  4. Severe intoxication resulting in disruptive behaviors or concern for the student's well-being, regardless of age;
  5. Driving under the influence of alcohol or while intoxicated;
  6. Possession of open containers of alcohol in public buildings, parks, beaches, highways, streets, alleys, sidewalks, parkways, and public parking lots (except as specifically authorized by legal authority) and
  7. Violations of other laws pertaining to alcohol.

The following is considered misconduct related to alcohol when a student is on campus or at an event affiliated with Northwestern or Northwestern organization (including student organizations).

  1. Possession of kegs or other large storage devices, quantity dispensing containers, or common sources of alcohol (except as specifically authorized by the University), regardless of age;
  2. Drinking practices or games that encourage participants to consume alcohol or promote intoxication and any paraphernalia that supports such activities are prohibited, regardless of age;
  3. Use or possession of alcohol, regardless of age, in any dry or alcohol free spaces on campus including, but not limited to all fraternity/sorority houses, and designated areas in the residence halls and academic buildings;
  4. Possession of open containers of alcohol on University property, in University facilities, or in University vehicles or transportation (except as specifically authorized by the University). Approval for alcohol in outdoor spaces can be obtained through the Events Planning Office at Norris University Center; and
  5. The sale of alcohol on campus without explicit permission from the Events Planning Office at Norris University Center and an Evanston liquor license.

Students who live in University housing must also abide by the Residence Hall and Housing Policies related to alcohol.

Resources for students experiencing alcohol related concerns or who have alcohol related questions can be found here.

Other Drugs

Misconduct related to illegal drugs and controlled substances (including marijuana, medical marijuana, narcotics, cocaine, heroin, prescription medication, synthetic cannabinoids or other drugs, and any chemical substantially similar to a controlled substance), including the following:

  1. Possession, use, or misuse of illegal drugs or controlled substances (except as expressly permitted by all levels of legal authority);
  2. Possession, use, manufacturing, or distribution of drug paraphernalia;
  3. Manufacturing or distribution of illegal drugs or controlled substances;
  4. Driving under the influence of any illegal drug or controlled substance;
  5. Being in the presence of the use or misuse of illegal drugs or controlled substances on campus; and
  6. Violations of other University drug policies or federal, state, and local laws pertaining to illegal drugs and controlled substances.

Additional Information Regarding Drugs: Although Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (H.B. 1) allows patients to possess and consume limited amounts of marijuana for certain medical conditions, this state law conflicts with federal laws governing marijuana. Northwestern is subject to the federal Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments, which mandates campus communities be free of controlled substances (including marijuana). Therefore, the use, possession, manufacture, cultivation, dissemination, or being under the influence of medical marijuana on University property or at University related activities is and shall remain prohibited.

Amnesty through Responsible Action

At Northwestern, the wellbeing of students is of primary importance. Each student plays a critical role in creating a community of care, focused on the wellbeing of themselves and their peers. When students/groups believe that assistance for an intoxicated/impaired individual (including themselves) is needed to ensure the student's wellbeing, it is critical that they take responsible action and seek that assistance.To encourage students to take responsible action when necessary, the University will not hold students who take such action (for themselves or for others), or for whom such action is taken, accountable for violations of the University's alcohol or other drug policies (with the exception of driving under the influence).

To be eligible for Amnesty through Responsible Action you must:

  1. CALL for help: In medical emergencies, immediate action should be taken by calling 9-1-1 from either on or off campus. You may also activate a University Blue Light emergency phone anywhere on campus. In non-emergency situations, help can also be sought by contacting NUPD (847-491-3456) or, for students in residence halls, your Resident Assistant on-duty (phone number varies by building) or the Community Service Officer (CSO) in your building.
  2. STAY with the person until help arrives and you have been told your assistance is no longer needed.
  3. COOPERATE with responding staff or emergency personnel, including all requests for information and assistance.

In a situation where a student takes responsible action (for themselves or for others) and calls, stays, and cooperates, or has such action taken for them, the responding party (e.g., NUPD, Resident Assistant) will fully document the incident. Students will be asked to provide their name, ID number, and contact information to the responding party(ies). Students will receive a notice from the Office of Student Conduct and are expected to attend a meeting with a staff member regarding the incident.

If it is determined through this meeting that the student followed all required steps to be eligible for Amnesty through Responsible Action, the student will not be found responsible for an alcohol or other drug related policy violation (with the exception of driving under the influence).  The student may still be asked to complete an alcohol or other drug intervention and to complete educational activities.  For example, a student may be required to participate in BASICS or alcohol and other drug education group through Health Promotion and Wellness or may be required to seek an evaluation for substance abuse and to follow treatment recommendations.  Amnesty through Responsible Action applies only to alcohol and other drug related policies.  If other policy violations occurred, or may have occurred, the student will participate in the student conduct process related to those policies and may be found responsible. 

In order for Amnesty through Responsible Action to apply, the student must agree to timely completion of any recommended assessment, educational assignment, and/or treatment. Serious or repeated incidents will prompt a higher degree of medical concern and action.  In the event that a student who receives medical assistance fails to complete the required course of action, or exhibits a pattern of problematic behavior with alcohol, that student may be subject to formal disciplinary action.

As with any incident involving alcohol, parents of students under the legal drinking age will be notified. A group that facilitates the acquisition of alcohol may also be required to notify its advisor, provide an educational program for its members, and/or change its processes for hosting events.

Should the student be found responsible for a subsequent violation of University policy, the University Hearing and Appeals System (UHAS) panel or hearing officer(s) will be informed of any Amnesty through Responsible Action the student has received for the purposes of determining an effective outcome.

Destruction of Property
  1. Destroying, damaging, defacing, or vandalizing property. 
  2. Urinating or defecating in public view, in a public space, or in a space not designated for such purpose.
Discrimination and Harassment

Northwestern University does not discriminate or permit discrimination  by any member of its community against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national  origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information, or any other classification protected by law in matters of admissions, employment, housing, services, or in the educational  programs or activities it operates.


Harassment, whether verbal, physical, or visual, that is based on any of any of these characteristics is a form of discrimination.  This includes harassing conduct affecting tangible job benefits, interfering unreasonably with an individual’s academic or work performance, or creating what a reasonable person would perceive is an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. Prohibited sex discrimination includes sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Examples of discrimination and harassment may include:

  • Refusing to hire or promote someone because of the person’s protected status
  • Demoting or terminating someone because of the person’s protected status
  • Teasing or practical jokes directed at a person based on the person’s protected status
  • Jokes or epithets about a person’s protected status
  • Displaying or circulating written materials or pictures that degrade a person or group
  • Verbal abuse or insults about, directed at, or made in the presence of an individual or group of individuals in a protected group 

The University’s full Policy on Discrimination and Harassment and Title IX Statement can be found as well as a brochure with all of this information can be found and printed here.

Disruption and Demonstration

Northwestern University supports freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry, freedom of dissent, and freedom to demonstrate in a peaceful fashion. University community members have a corresponding responsibility to welcome and promote this freedom for all, even in disagreement or opposition. Students also share a responsibility to maintain an atmosphere conducive to scholarly pursuits, to preserve the dignity and seriousness of University ceremonies and public exercise, and to respect the rights of all individuals.

Guidelines

To allow for this freedom while also respecting the University’s operations, the following guidelines for student disruption and demonstration are in place:

  • An individual, group, or organization may not cause or allow to continue any loud, unnecessary, or unusual noise that disturbs the peace of others, including violations of residence hall quiet hours or Evanston noise ordinances. All outdoor events/activities are subject to requirements outlined in Northwestern’s Outside Events protocol, norris/events/event-management/outdoor-event-requests/.
  • An individual, group, or organization may not deprive others of peace or comfort, participation in a University activity, threaten use of force against any community member, or otherwise interfere with their function within the University.
  • An individual, group, or organization may not disrupt the regularly scheduled activities of the University, such as classes, research, learning, meetings, interviews, ceremonies, emergency services, University business; co-curricular activities; University or public events; or the use of campus facilities that would impede the carrying forward of any of these activities.
  • An individual, group, or organization may not obstruct movement around the campus, including but not limited to, the entrance to or egress from any campus building, facility, or pathway.
  • All events are subject to the requirements and limitations of the event’s location, including room occupancy, www.northwestern.edu/fm/campus/classroom-catalog/. All events must comply with building safety codes, www.northwestern.edu/risk/services/building-inspections.html.
  • Placards, banners, and signs are usually allowed. However, if they obstruct the view of those assembled or if a University official finds these items to be endangering other members of the community, the carrier of the item will be asked to relocate or remove their item.
  • While the University recognizes the right to voluntary assembly, members of the university community must recognize that pickets, demonstrations, mass assemblies, and protests shall be confined to campus areas. Private property adjacent to university campuses is not appropriate for such activities and may be subject to other restrictions by third parties and/or police (e.g. Medical Center facilities, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, residential property, etc.).

Furthermore, all individuals, groups, and organizations have an obligation to leave a University location when instructed to do so by the Dean of Students or designee, the Dean on Call, and/or University Police. Students have an obligation to identify themselves when requested by the Dean of Students or designee, Dean on Call, and/or University Police in connection with enforcing the guidelines above.

Individuals, groups, or organizations that violate the guidelines set forth above will be subject to discipline or educational invention under the University Hearing and Appeal System. In addition, violations of law or city ordinances may result in legal action or criminal proceedings.

Event Registration & Oversight

For registration of a demonstration, protest, or similar event, notify the Dean of Students Office, lower level of Scott Hall, dos@northwestern.edu, 847-491-8430). Student organizations must follow event guidelines and register their events, norris/events/event-management. All participants in such events must adhere to the Student Code of Conduct.

The Dean on Call generally assumes the responsibility of ensuring that all events are properly managed and run smoothly. Furthermore, the Dean on Call will actively attempt to preserve open discourse. The Dean of Students Office, or Campus Life, are in place to assist individuals, groups, or organizations in planning events. The University advises students to utilize these resources in order to increase the effectiveness of their event and decrease the likelihood of disruption disciplinary violations.

Counter-Protest

A protest, demonstration, or event on campus may cause further dissent resulting in a counter-protest. When such an occasion arises, it is the responsibility of the University as well as all involved to allow for the freedom of expression from all individuals. Please note that a separate protest area may be designated by the Dean of Students Office or designee. In order to ensure the safety of all participants, University Police may require the attendance of one or more officers. University Police presence at events is aimed at ensuring the safety and security of all participants, including those exercising their right to protest and dissent.

Endangering Self or Others

Any action (or threat of action) that endangers or threatens to endanger the health, safety, or wellbeing of any person (including oneself).

Failure to Comply

Failure to comply promptly with the reasonable request or instruction  of a University official or emergency personnel acting in an official capacity, including, but not limited to, refusing to provide identification, refusing to dispose of or turn over to University authorities  prohibited items, failing to respond, or leaving the scene of an incident.

Fire Safety

Acts that jeopardize the safety or security of the University, the University community, or any University facilities, building, or premises, including

  1. Intentionally damaging or destroying property by fire or explosives;
  2. Creating or maintaining a fire or fire hazard (except as specifically authorized), including burning candles or incense or use of unauthorized (or misuse of authorized) appliances or heating devices, including toasters, microwaves, hot plates, and space heaters;
  3. Tampering with or misuse of emergency or fire safety equipment,  including emergency call devices, fire alarms, fire exits, firefighting equipment,  smoke/heat detectors, or sprinkler systems;
  4. Failing to immediately exit any facility or building when a fire alarm or other emergency notification  has been sounded, or hindering or impairing the orderly evacuation of any University facility, building, or premises;
  5. Smoking in any enclosed University facility, in any designated outdoor areas, or within 25 feet of an entrance,  open window, ventilation intake, or similar feature of any enclosed University facility; and
  6. Violations of state or local fire and fire­related ordinances.
Guests and Visitors

Knowingly allowing one’s visitors or guests to violate this Student Code of Conduct or other University policies, or failing to monitor the behavior of one’s visitors or guests to assure their adherence to such standards.

Hazing

It is the responsibility of all students/student organizations to encourage an atmosphere of learning, social responsibility, and respect for human dignity and to provide positive influences and constructive development for members and aspiring members. Students/organizations are expected to use good judgment to determine the abilities of individual students as they relate to organization activities and requirements. If a healthy team or organization is being created and the values and purpose of the organization are being upheld, chances are the organization will not have to worry about whether or not an activity is hazing. Hazing leads to dysfunction within the organization and is ineffective at creating teamwork, respect, and unity, and it is an unproductive and hazardous custom that is forbidden by the University. 

Hazing is defined as any action taken or situation created, intentionally or unintentionally, whether on or off University premises and whether presented as optional or required, to produce: mental, physical, or emotional discomfort; servitude; degradation; embarrassment; harassment; or ridicule for the purpose of initiation into, affiliation with, or admission to, or as a condition for continued membership in a group, team, or other organization, regardless of an individual’s willingness to participate. 

Such actions and situations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any physical abuse expected of or inflicted upon another, including paddling, tattooing, or branding in any form;
  • Any strenuous physical activity expected of or inflicted upon another, including calisthenics;
  • Creation of excessive fatigue, sleep deprivation, or interference with scholastic activities, including late night work sessions, meetings, or sleepovers;
  • Physical and psychological shocks, including line­ups, berating, verbal abuse, threats, and name calling;
  • Sexual violations or other required, encouraged, or expected sexual activity, whether actual or simulated;
  • Prolonged exposure to severe or inclement weather;
  • Periods of silence or social isolation;
  • Kidnapping, road trips, abandonment, scavenger hunts, or any other involuntary excursions;
  • Wearing of uniforms or apparel that is conspicuous and not normally in good taste;
  • Engaging in degrading or humiliating games, activities, stunts, or buffoonery; including requiring, encouraging, or expecting individuals to carry, possess, or maintain objects or items;
  • Requiring or compelling the consumption of liquid (including alcohol), food, drinks, or other substances;
  • Servitude or placing another in a position of servitude, including requiring, encouraging, or expecting a new member to do the tasks of, or to do tasks for, an experienced member, or to address members with honorary or formal titles;
  • Taking, withholding, or interfering with an individual’s personal property;
  • Falsely leading an individual or individuals to believe that they will be inducted or initiated by participating in particular activities;
  • Depriving an individual of any privileges of membership or affiliation to which one is entitled;
  • Removing, stealing, taking, or damaging public or private property; and
  • Requiring, encouraging, or expecting individuals to participate in activities that are illegal or unlawful or are not consistent with the group’s mission or values or the policies of the University, including the Student Code of Conduct.

Acceptance of or consent to an activity on the part of a new member or individual does not justify participation in or sponsorship of the activity. Any violation of this policy should be reported to the Dean of Students Office (847­-491-­8430), the Office of Student Conduct (847­-491-­4582), or online via NUhelp at www.northwestern.edu/nuhelp

Individuals, as well as groups of students and student organizations, may face disciplinary sanctions (up to and including removal from the University) for acts of hazing. Hazing activities may also violate the Illinois Hazing Act, 720 ILCS §5/12C­50, which carries criminal penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment and a $25,000 fine. 

If you have questions about what could be hazing or would like to discuss tradition/practices or need assistance in improving the effectiveness of your organization’s new member orientation process, please contact the Center for Student Involvement at hazingprevention@northwestern.edu.

The University is committed to removing hazing, and to that end it encourages students/student organizations to review their traditions/practices with a staff member without fear of retribution or adjudication. 

Questions one can ask to determine if an activity/process might be unhealthy or even hazing:

  • Would I do this in public? In front of my parents? The university president? For local news or the school paper?
  • Is this required of all members or just new ones? Are expectations of current members less than those of new members?
  • What happens if it is not completed by a new member or a current member? Are the consequences more severe for the new member?
  • What is the purpose of this activity? Is it in line with the purpose of the group? Is it the most effective way to achieve this outcome?
  • Does this separate the new members from the rest of the group or make them feel less important?
  • Could this be potentially harmful?
  • Would I ask a member of my family, such as a younger brother or sister to be a part of this?
  • Does this process truly prepare the new member for what they need to know to be a part of the organization?
Information Technology

Misconduct related to University computer, network, or telecommunications systems or resources, including the following:

  1. Unauthorized use of facilities, services, equipment,  account numbers, or files, including using a NetID or account assigned to another  user or providing another user with access to your NetID or account;
  2. Reading, copying, changing, deleting, tampering with, or destruction  of another user’s files, software, programs, and accounts (including  monitoring  another  user’s data communications) without permission of the owner;
  3. Use of University resources to interfere with the work of another student, a faculty member, or a University official, or that otherwise interferes with normal operation of University systems;
  4. Use of computing facilities and resources in violation of copyright laws (including unauthorized downloading or sharing of copyrighted files); and
  5. Violation of any other University policy regarding computers, networks, or electronic communication.
Misconduct within the Student Conduct Process

Misconduct related to the student conduct process (University Hearing and Appeals System) or a Title IX investigation, including the following:

  1. Failure or refusal to appear upon request or to cooperate in the investigation, hearing, or administration of cases of alleged offenses as outlined in Student Rights and Responsibilities in UHAS.
  2. Falsification, distortion, or misrepresentation of information in the investigation, hearing, or administration of cases of alleged policy violation;
  3. Institution of a frivolous or malicious student conduct proceeding (including  an appeal);
  4. Any action that attempts to retaliate against, intimidate, threaten, coerce, discriminate against, or improperly influence any student for reporting alleged violations of policy or concern for the health  or safety of a Northwestern community member, assisting another  in making such a report, or participating  in an investigation  or resolution of such matters;
  5. Unauthorized release or disclosure of information  related to a student conduct proceeding;
  6. Failure to comply with the sanctions or outcomes imposed for violations of this code or other University policies; and
  7. Failure to comply with the interim actions or informal resolution put in place by a University conduct administrator, including, but not limited to, failure to comply with a no-­contact directive.
Misrepresentation

Acts of fraud, misrepresentation, or dishonesty, including the following:

  1. Forgery, alteration,  or misuse of University documents, records, or identification or other materials;
  2. Knowingly furnishing false, forged, or inappropriately altered information  to the University, any University official, or emergency response personnel;
  3. Intentionally misrepresenting the University, any University official, your status at the University or utilizing the University’s brand without permission; and
  4. Possession, use, manufacture, or distribution of identification cards or devices that are false or fraudulent or that misrepresent an individual’s identity, age, or other personal characteristics, including using another individual’s identification.
  5. Intentionally initiating or causing to be initiated any false report, warning, or threat emergency or crisis.
Sexual Misconduct

Violations of the University’s policy on Sexual Misconduct, including, but not limited to,

  • Sexual penetration without consent;
  • Sexual contact  without consent;
  • Incest;
  • Statutory rape;
  • Sexual exploitation;
  • Stalking;
  • Dating and domestic violence;
  • Sexual harassment; and
  • Retaliation.

The Sexual Misconduct Policy is available here.

Unauthorized Taking

Unauthorized taking of property, including the following:

  • Taking (e.g., stealing, theft) of property or services that do not belong to you without permission from the owner; and
  • Knowing possession, sale, or distribution of stolen property or materials.
University Properties (Use of)

Unauthorized access to, entry to, presence in, or use of University properties, including the following:

  • University facilities, property, systems, or services;
  • Roofs, balconies, or fire escapes of any University building or facility for any purpose except in case of an emergency;
  • Hosting an event in a University-owned or University-operated facility, property, or space that exceeds policies governing that space, including capacity or time restrictions; and
  • Possession, duplication, distribution, or use of keys, access codes, access cards, or other means of entry or access to any University property, premises, or location.
Violations of Other Policies

Actions that violate federal, state, or local laws or ordinances or that violate other University policies are also violations of the Student Code of Conduct.

Weapons and Related Items

Misconduct related to firearms, weapons of any description, explosives, or dangerous substances and devices (including, but not limited to, ammunition, air or pellet guns, paintball guns, slingshots, knives, firecrackers, fireworks, dangerous chemicals, or any other object or substance designed to or used with the intent to inflict a wound or cause injury, or imitations or replicas of any such items), including the following:

  • Possession of any such item on University premises or at University activities or events (except as specifically authorized); and
  • Use or brandishing of any such item, even if legally possessed, in a manner that harms, threatens, causes fear to, or otherwise endangers others.