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Expectations for Meetings and Events


In-person gatherings (on or off campus) of up to 50 people can occur when the primary participants are for Northwestern students, faculty and staff. Gatherings must align with the University’s  Return to Campus Policy as well as local guidance for Evanston and Chicago including limits on room capacity. The 50-person limit on gatherings applies to all University activities except for classes. 

Updated February 15, 2021


  • The audience for in-person on campus events should primarily be Northwestern students, faculty, and staff and should prioritize use of limited available space for student gatherings. 
  • Meetings and events must adhere to Evanston or Chicago guidance, which allow for gatherings of up to 50 people with 50 percent of overall room capacity in Evanston and 25 percent of room capacity in Chicago.
  • Meeting and event organizers should weigh the benefits and risks of holding events in person and are asked to limit the duration of gatherings and to avoid mealtimes.
  • Events that are primarily for people other than Northwestern constituents should transition to remote delivery or be postponed. Northwestern University Athletics recruitment events are exempted from this requirement and may convene individuals that are not primarily Northwestern constituents. Any in-person events must have ticketing or registration to enable collection of RSVPs ahead of events and maintain records attendance for contact tracing for all events.
  • Masks are to be worn at all times, including when social distancing is possible.
  • Event sponsors should limit participants to a number that allows for appropriate social distancing in the event space.
  • Event sponsors also should evaluate whether the planned activities are appropriate given the size of the group and available space.
  • Any catering should be contactless. More information about contactless catering is available through Northwestern Dining.
  • Serving of food and drink should be limited to individually packaged “grab and go” options that limit event participants gathering together to eat.
  • All intercollegiate athletics events will follow NCAA and conference rules and guidelines and expectations of the University’s Department of Athletics and Recreation.

Key Considerations

  • Given on-campus space constraints, events for Northwestern students should be prioritized for in-person events.
  • Organizers of gatherings should consider space constraints, requirements for social distancing and mask wearing, and accessibility.
  • Contingency plans should be in place for emergent issues, such as the need to cancel.
  • Departmental or team meetings, or gatherings that are intended to bring people together to discuss and arrive at a common understanding of academic, work, and/or co-curricular topics, should still be held virtually whenever possible.
  • Meetings should be held fully virtually instead of in a hybrid mode (i.e., with some members together in the same space and others attending remotely) in order to facilitate equitable participation by all participants.

Additional Resources

Review information on the University’s Core Responsibilities including physical and social distancing as well as general health and hygiene rules