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, Cannabis, 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.
Destruction of Property
Northwestern welcomes the expression of ideas, including viewpoints that may be considered unorthodox or unpopular. The University encourages freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry, freedom of dissent, and freedom to demonstrate in a peaceful fashion. Regardless of their own views, community members share a corresponding responsibility to welcome and promote this freedom for all. They also share a responsibility to maintain an atmosphere conducive to scholarly, creative, and educational pursuits and to respect the safety and rights of all individuals. In order to promote these interests and to ensure the safe and effective operation of University business, this Policy establishes the parameters community members are expected to adhere to when engaging in free expression and peaceful demonstration.
To allow for freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration on campus while also respecting the University’s operations, the following guidelines for demonstration are in place:
A. Rights of others.No community member may prevent or obstruct (or attempt to prevent or obstruct) the speech or other expression of another community member, except that Northwestern Police or other University officials may act consistent with this Policy to ensure the speech or other expression of community members is consistent with the guidelines in this Policy. Similarly, no community member may deprive (or attempt to deprive) others of participation in a University activity, threaten use of force against any community member, or otherwise interfere with the function of others within the University.
B. University operations.No community member may prevent or obstruct (or attempt to prevent or obstruct) (i) the regularly scheduled activities of the University, such as classes, research, learning, meetings, interviews, ceremonies, emergency services, or University business; (ii) co-curricular activities; (iii) University or public events; or (iv) medical center access or business. Similarly, no community member may use or occupy campus facilities so as to impede the carrying forward of such activities or events. Groups may occupy space but not in a manner that blocks movement around the campus (including but not limited to entrance to or egress from any campus building, campus facility, or University-owned and -maintained roadway or pathway) unless authorized by a University official.
C. Research areas.Demonstrations cannot take place in research areas where the presence of participants would compromise individual safety or violate laws, regulations, or Northwestern policies relating to research safety. Northwestern Student Handbook.
D. Signs. Placards, banners, and signs may not obstruct the view of those assembled or endanger other community members.
E. Police and other officials.The role of Northwestern Police during a demonstration is to maximize the safety and security of community members as well as University property. When enforcing this Policy, other Northwestern policies, or applicable law, Northwestern Police or other University officials may request community members to identify themselves and/or instruct community members to remove placards, banners, or signs or to leave a University location. Community members are expected to follow
F. Facilities.All events are subject to the requirements and limitations of the event’s location, including room occupancy. All events must comply with applicable building safety codes.
G. Other laws and policies.Participants in demonstrations or protests are subject to other Northwestern policies, city ordinances, and state and federal law in addition to this Policy.
Event Notification and Other Advance Arrangements
A. Student events. To facilitate advance planning of an event and to help protect the community, students and/or student groups are encouraged to notify Student Organizations and Activities in advance of any demonstration (see “Contacts” below for additional information). Notification should be submitted at least 48 hours before the start of the event. Whenever possible, students and/ or student groups should give additional advance notice, ideally two weeks or more, to best facilitate planning. When conducting such events, student organizers are expected to promote a safe environment and, to the best of their ability, ensure participants adhere to the Student Code of Conduct.
B. Event Support Team (EST). Once notified of a planned demonstration, typically involving students, the University will convene the EST, which provides on-site support to assist with management of the event. The EST will actively attempt to preserve open discourse surrounding and during the event.
C. Resources for risk assessment. Occasionally an invited speaker or event will raise a credible likelihood (based on prior incidents or communications of intent) that the speaker or event may prompt a demonstration or become the target of threats or violence. In these circumstances, community members planning an event are encouraged to notify Student Organizations and Activities and/or Northwestern Police as soon as is feasible to consult and conduct a risk assessment (see “Contacts” below for additional information).
D. Reserving space. Community members are expected to follow applicable guidelines for seeking permission to use University space to conduct demonstrations. All outdoor events and activities are subject to the requirements outlined in Northwestern’s Outdoor Event Request Portal.
E. Security. Community members planning an event may need police presence or security, especially if there is a possibility of protest or dissent. Northwestern Police will assess and determine the safety and security needs for the event. Their assessment may result in the presence of police officers, security officers, and processes such as bag-check, event ticketing, and other steps to maximize the safety of attendees and the broader community.
F. Media. Faculty or staff planning to invite journalists other than Northwestern student journalists to cover an event should contact Global Marketing and Communications in advance of the event.
A protest, demonstration, or event on campus may cause further dissent, resulting in a counter demonstration. The guidelines in this Policy also apply to counter demonstrations. When such an occasion arises, it is the responsibility of the University as well as all involved to allow for freedom of expression from all individuals. University officers may designate a separate area for counter demonstration.
Disorderly conduct or disruptive acts are prohibited, including the following:
- Engaging in behavior that objectively prevents a student or group of students from benefiting from a class, program or activity.
- Significantly interfering with the functioning of the University.
- Causing or allowing excessive or disruptive noise, including but not limited to violations of residence hall quiet hours or Evanston noise ordinances.
- Urinating or defecating in public view or public space, or in any space not intended for such purpose.
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). Severity and/or persistence may be considered. Conduct that can amount to endangering self or others, but is not limited to:
- alcohol, cannabis or other drug use resulting in assessment for hospitalization or transport for hospitalization;
- alcohol distribution resulting in Severe Intoxication;
- acts that endanger human life, or threaten physical injury;
- unwanted physical contact with any person that reasonably places that person in fear of physical injury or danger (e.g., physical restriction, fighting, pushing, punching, slapping, spitting on, and/or kicking any person).
Failure to Comply
The Student Code of Conduct and all other University policies are designed with the safety and well-being of the University community in mind. As such, students are expected to comply with the request or instruction of a University official when they are addressing policy or student code of conduct violations or concerns. This includes, but is not limited to, the following prohibited conduct:
- Failure to comply promptly with the reasonable request or instruction of a university official or emergency personnel acting in an official capacity;
- Refusing to provide identification;
- Refusing to dispose of or turn over to university authorities prohibited items;
- Failing to respond; and,
- Failing to follow temporary expectations or guidelines imposed for the purposes of safety and welfare, such as those associated with COVID-19.
Students encountering requests to comply with a University official that they believe exhibit demonstrable signs of being rooted in bias can report the incident via the Respect NU: Bias Report Form. You may learn more about how the University defines bias and the Bias Incident Reporting Process on pg 94 of the Student Handbook.
Acts that jeopardize the safety or security of the University, the University community, or any University facilities, building, or premises, including
- Intentionally damaging or destroying property by fire or explosives;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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
- Violations of state or local fire and fire-related ordinances.
Guests and Visitors
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/student 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. Acceptance of or consent to an activity on the part of a new member or individual does not justify an individual, organization, or group's sponsorship of the activity.
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; 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.
An individual who makes a timely good faith report of hazing and/or participates in good faith in an investigation will not be subject to disciplinary action by the University for conduct or policy violation(s) related to and revealed in the report or investigation (i.e. underage consumption of alcohol or use of drugs), unless the University determines that the violation was serious and/or placed the health or safety of others at risk. The University may follow up with good faith participants in an informal manner. This provision may also apply to student organizations/groups making a report of hazing involving individual members.
Failure of an individual in a leadership role or position of power to address and/or report an act of hazing committed against another individual may also be considered an abuse of power and a violation of this policy. Silent participation in the presence of hazing are not neutral acts; they are violations of this policy.
Any violation of this policy should be reported to the Dean of Students Office (847-491-8430), the Office of Community Standards (847-491-4582), or online.
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 Campus Life at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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?
Misconduct related to University computer, network, or telecommunications systems or resources, including the following:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- Use of computing facilities and resources in violation of copyright laws (including unauthorized downloading or sharing of copyrighted files); and
- 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 Equity investigation, including the following:
- Failure or refusal to appear upon request or to cooperate in the investigation, hearing, or administration of cases of alleged offenses as outlined in Respondent Rights and Responsibilities in UHAS.
- Falsification, distortion, or misrepresentation of information in the investigation, hearing, or administration of cases of alleged policy violation;
- Institution of a frivolous or malicious student conduct proceeding (including an appeal);
- 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;
- Unauthorized release or disclosure of information related to a student conduct proceeding;
- Failure to comply with the sanctions or outcomes imposed for violations of this code or other University policies; and
- 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.
Misconduct Related to Unrecognized Student Organizations or Groups
Acts of fraud, misrepresentation, or dishonesty, including the following:
- Forgery, alteration, or misuse of University documents, records, or identification or other materials;
- Knowingly furnishing false, forged, or inappropriately altered information to the University, any University official, or emergency response personnel;
- Intentionally misrepresenting the University, any University official, your status at the University or utilizing the University’s brand without permission; and
- 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.
- Intentionally initiating or causing to be initiated any false report, warning, or threat emergency or crisis.
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, fireworks or explosive devices, or dangerous substances and materials (see listing at www.northwestern.edu/up/docs/Weapons-on-Campus-Policy_5-14-15final.pdf), 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.