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Policies and Procedures

The policies and procedures listed below are incorporated into and made part of the residence and board contract be­tween student residents and Northwestern University. As such, these provisions require compliance by all residents.

Housekeeping and Safety Regulations

Room Inspections

To comply with City of Evanston housing codes and to ensure the general safety and welfare in the residence halls, the University reserves the right to enter and inspect rooms for health or safety reasons, for fire safety, during an emergency, to look into a potential violation of policy, to protect life or property from imminent threat to health or safety or reasonable belief of a policy violation, or to provide repair or maintenance services. Absent an emergency or imminent threat to health or safety, no search of the contents will be made without either consent of a resident of the room or a search warrant, except as otherwise permitted by law. Closets that are part of the room may be opened and inspected. Any hazardous conditions or violations noted during any safety inspection must be corrected upon notification of the residents.

Fire Alarms, Sprinklers, Extinguishers, and Other Device

Fire alarms, automatic sprinklers, extinguishers, and other devices are provided for the safety of residents in case of fire. Exiting through an alarmed security door (except in case of emergency) or propping open, disabling, or tampering with a fire door is prohibited. Tampering with these devices or using them for other purposes is prohibited. Fire exit drills for residence halls are required by Illinois and Evanston law. All occupants of a residence hall must leave the building during a fire alarm or exit drill. Sounding a false alarm is a violation of city and state law and University regulations. Persons found to have sounded a false alarm, misused security or fire doors, or tampered with extinguishers, smoke or fire detection devices, or automatic sprinklers may be fined, and other disciplinary sanctions may be applied up to and including removal from University housing. When responsible individuals cannot be identified, residence hall governments may be assessed.

Aggravated Arson

Under Illinois law, a person commits aggravated arson when, by means of fire or explosive, he or she knowingly damages, partially or totally, any building, and he or she knows, or reasonably should know, that one or more persons are present therein. Aggravated arson is a Class X felony; imprisonment of not less than six years, without probation, must be sentenced upon conviction.

Heat Producing Appliances

The Evanston housing code forbids the use or storage in sleeping rooms of microwaves, hot pots, toaster ovens, or any appliances for cooking or heating food or beverages. In addition, other heat producing appliances may not be used in sleeping rooms, and refrigerators with interiors larger than 3.2 cubic feet are prohibited.


In conjunction with Student Code of Conduct Policy 11f, smoking, including but not limited to cigarettes, ecigarettes, and hookas, is prohibited in all areas of all university housing buildings, including but not limited to sleeping rooms, lounges, suite living rooms, dining rooms, corridors, stairwells, courtyards, washrooms, and within 25 feet of any entrance, open window, ventilation intake, or similar feature of a university building.

Room Decorations (interior and exterior)

Room decorations are permitted except for hanging blankets, tapestries, rugs, or fishnets, provided the decorations do not cover more than 50 percent of the wall or window space. Combustible decorations must not be put on the ceiling, in the entryway, on the door, or near heat sources such as radiators or light bulbs. Any method of affixing decorations that puts holes in or mars walls, woodwork, doors, or furnishings is prohibited. 

Candles, live holiday trees, incense, and open flames are prohibited. Students who have religious needs to burn candles are encouraged to speak to their Resident Director for accommodations.  

No decorations, flags, banners, or other items may be hung on the exterior or draped from a window or doorway of any residence hall. Signs or posters in windows or on doors must have the approval of all roommates and are subject to the approval of the University. 


Firearms and Weapons

The possession or use of firearms or other weapons of any description and for any purpose is prohibited.


Bicycles and motorized vehicles (bicycles, scooters, mopeds, etc.) may not be stored in any area of a university housing building other than in areas specifically designated for such use. Bicycles and motorized vehicles parked in stairwells or on ramps, attached to handrails, or otherwise impeding egress from a building will be removed at the owner’s expense. Bicycles and motorized vehicles inappropriately parked in the common areas surrounding residential facilities may also be removed. No motorcycle or other motor vehicle, including hoverboards, or electronic self-balancing scooters, may be charged, operated, stored, or used inside any university housing facility, including dining facilities, or any other Northwestern University building. 

Air Conditioners

The installation of air conditioners by residents is prohibited.


The removal or opening of window screens, or of stops designed to limit the opening of the window, by residents, either permanently or for a short period of time, is prohibited.

Room Furniture

The use of water beds is prohibited. The building or installation of “lofts,” furniture, or other structures of any kind or size, including but not limited to cinder block or wooden platforms, is prohibited.

All university furnishings and fixtures must remain in the room at all times. Furniture in lounges and common areas must not be removed.

Wiring Systems

Additions to, modifications of, and unauthorized connections to existing wiring systems are prohibited and will be removed at the student’s expense; such systems include electrical, telephone, data, and television/radio signal wiring and distribution systems. Residents are prohibited from installing additional wiring or distribution systems, including satellite dishes. Any such unauthorized wiring will be removed at the owner’s expense. Only the jacks and outlets provided in a resident’s room may be used for obtaining electrical power or for connecting telephone and data transmission equipment. Use of unapproved wireless access points to transmit data to or from the university’s or a private network is prohibited. No cameras or recording devices may be installed in any area of a university housing building.

Commercial Usage

A resident may not use any facilities or areas of university housing, including the room assigned to the resident, for any commercial purpose or activity without a permit from the Executive Director of Residential Services. No one is permitted to place materials on, at, or under resident room doors unless for official University business or communication between known acquaintances. At no time and under no circumstances will door-to-door solicitation be permitted within university housing.

Room Damage and Sanitation

Rooms must be maintained in good sanitary condition and must be returned in as good repair as when possession was taken, ordinary wear and tear excepted. Damages to students’ rooms, including costs for replacing missing furnishings, will be charged to the last known student occupants of that room. Damages to the public areas of a residence hall, including costs for replacing missing furniture and other furnishings, that cannot be attributed to specific individuals or groups, will be charged to all residents of the smallest applicable area of the hall, the total being divided equally.

Pets and Animals

No pets or animals of any kind (except for documented and approved service animals) are permitted in university housing at any time for any reason. Unapproved animals, including unapproved emotional support animals, will need to be removed from campus within 48 hours. 

Residence Keys

All keys are the property of Northwestern University. Residents are prohibited at all times from giving and/or loaning their keys to anyone for any reason. Any duplication of University keys is strictly prohibited. Replacements for lost keys must be obtained from the area or front desk. If a room door key is lost, the door lock is automatically changed, for which the charge (including a new key) is $181. The charges for replacing other keys are as follows: front door keys and security door keys, $25 each; mailbox keys, $6 each. If a key is broken, it will be replaced without charge, provided the portion of the key with the identification numbers is returned to the area or front desk.

Any student vacating university housing for any reason — including but not limited to withdrawal from the University, moving to a different university housing building, and vacating the building at the end of the academic year in June — must return all keys within 24 hours. Failure to return any key within this time limit will be cause for the assessment of damages as specified in the residence and board contract and an improper checkout charge.


No surface of any room may be painted except in accordance with the University’s room painting policy.

Roofs, Balconies and Fire Escapes

Residents are prohibited from entering onto roofs, balconies, or fire escapes for any purpose except in case of an emergency.

University Policies, Rules, and Regulations

To aid students in awareness of their responsibilities as members of the North­western community, the following policies also govern or cover different aspects of student life here at Northwestern; this is not a comprehensive list. Violations of these regulations, policies, and rules may be resolved within the University by staff members in the Division of Student Affairs, other appropriate University offi­cials, the University Hearing and Appeals System, the Sexual Assault Hearing and Appeals System, or other designated resolution procedure. Violations of federal, state, and local laws may also be adjudi­cated by the appropriate federal, state, or local legal system.


It is the responsibility of the student to keep the University informed of up­to­date permanent and local address and tele­phone information as well as emergency contact information. All changes should be reported promptly through CAESAR under personal portfolio. Changes to parent addresses must be reported to the Office of the Registrar, Room 1­621, Rebecca Crown Center.


Northwestern University policy prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by its students and employees on University property, as part of any University activities, in vehicles owned or operated by the University, or at any work site or other location at which University duties are being performed by Northwestern employees.

Students are subject to Illinois law and University policy, which prohibit the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages by any person under the age of 21 years. In addition, it is illegal to sell or provide alcoholic beverages to any person under the age of 21 years. Furthermore, there are penalties for individuals who rent hotel or motel rooms for the purpose of or with the knowledge that such room shall be used for the consumption of alcoholic bev­erages by persons under the age of 21 years. More detailed information about policies related to  alcohol and illegal drugs and controlled substances can be found in the Student Handbook (PDF).

Federal law permits a student’s par­ent(s) or legal guardian(s) to be informed regarding the student’s use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if there has been a determination by the University that the student’s use or posses­sion of alcohol or a controlled substance constitutes a violation of a University rule or regulation and the student is under the age of 21 at the time of disclosure to the parent(s) or legal guardian(s). See FERPA guidelines at the Office of the Registrar’s website

The University also regularly publishes a Policy on Drugs and Alcohol pursuant to federal mandates under the Drug­Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug­Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, which mandate the creation and maintenance of academic and working environments free from illicit drug use and alcohol abuse. Northwestern fully supports the objectives of these laws and their companion regulations.

Undergraduate Residence Halls and Fraternity and Sorority Houses

Students living in undergraduate residence halls, residential colleges, special interest communities, or fraternity/sorority houses who are 21 years of age or older may consume alcohol in the privacy of their rooms with other of ­age individuals so long as the event does not become public and the number of individuals present does not exceed double the occupancy of the sleep­ing quarters (e.g., four people in a double room). Students who are 21 years of age or older and living in a fraternity/sorority house are also subject to their national risk management policies and any restrictions related to a chapter’s “dry” or alcohol-­free status. Students living in healthy living units are not permitted to consume alcohol in their residence regardless of age.

Students under the age of 21 may not consume, possess, or be in the presence of alcohol in undergraduate residence halls, residential colleges, special interest communities, and/or fraternity/sorority houses. If a frater­nity house is permitted to have registered parties with alcohol, the chapter must adhere to federal, state, and local law and their respective risk management policies. 

Kegs and other large ­storage devices, quantity ­dispensing containers, and com­mon sources of alcohol are prohibited from all student rooms and public areas in all undergraduate residence halls and fraternity/sorority houses. No alcohol is permitted in any residence hall, residential college, special interest community, or fraternity/sorority house at any time during new student orientation (see the official University calendar for those dates).

Graduate and Professional Residence Halls

Graduate and professional students living in graduate and professional residence halls who are of legal drinking age may consume alcohol in their private living spaces as long as they do not create a disturbance to the community. “Progressive parties” involving multiple rooms or multiple floors are not allowed. Large events involving alcohol must be coordinated through the Residential Services Office.

Kegs are permitted in the graduate residence halls as long as they are pur­chased through University catering in conjunction with an event planned through Residential Services and a licensed, approved bartender is present.

University Housing Policies

Commercial Activity

Residents are not permitted to run a busi­ness, including those conducted online or via the Internet, from their university housing room or building without the direct con­sent of the executive director of residential services.

Movies, Videos, and DVD Viewing

Federal copyright laws restrict showing movies and videos outside of a private home. For more information, see “Public Showing of Copyrighted Videos and Material” on page 61 of the Student Handbook (PDF).

Moving Out and Damages

Residents are responsible for following Uni­versity and Residential Services rules and procedures when moving out of a room. In addition, residents may be responsible for damage to their room and residence facilities, including lost or unreturned keys and access devices. Failure to comply with these procedures may result in charges.

Posting Policy and Campus Publicity

All postings in and around residence halls, residential colleges, special interest communities, and graduate housing must be approved by Residential Services. Our full posting policy is available on this website

Quiet Hours and Noise

Unreasonable noise is never acceptable in university housing. All residents are expected to be courteous with regard to noise at all times and to respond appropriately to requests for quiet. In addition to courtesy hours, quiet hours are established and enforced as published in the student handbook. 


Room Change Information

  1. Housing freeze. A housing freeze, a time when no students are permitted to move from their assigned spaces, is in effect at the beginning of each quarter. The freeze typically lasts three to five weeks and permits staff to ensure that all residents have returned and to account for any vacant spaces. The residence hall staff is notified when the freeze has been lifted.
  2. Room changes for first-year students. First-year students are not eligible to change rooms until winter quarter unless otherwise directed or authorized by the University. The first date that freshmen may request a room change is the first day of classes of winter quarter. Forms are processed in the order that they are received, according to their time stamps. Resi­dential Services opens at 8:30 a.m.
  3. Room changes for transfer students and upperclassmen. Transfer students and up­perclassmen who did not make a room change request when they signed their housing contract may make one starting on the first day of fall quarter classes. Residential Services opens at 8:30 a.m.
  4. Waiting lists for room changes. Students can add themselves to waiting lists for up to three buildings and can specify what type of room (i.e., a single or a double) they seek. If a specified roommate is de­sired, the students should turn in their room change paperwork together. A resident should fill out a waiting list request form even when seeking to change rooms within the same building or when planning a mutual room swap with another student.

    In general, to be competitive for space in a residential college, the student must either already live in that facility or be a nonresident member of that residential college and have a room change form verifying that fact signed by Residential Services. Spaces in residential colleges will be filled first by nonresident members of the college in the order they sign up for the waiting list and then, if space is still available, can be offered to anyone interested in living in the building.

    A student who is added to a wait­ing list remains on that waiting list for fall, winter, and spring quarters. As always, room changes are predicated on availability, and there are no guarantees that requests will be accommodated, regardless of the number of spaces that may open up in a building. If a student’s request is accommo­dated, the student will be asked by email to pick up room change paperwork from Residential Services. Typically, complet­ing and returning the paperwork takesa few days, after which the move is approved and a schedule for tenancy in the new room and vacancy of the old assignment is worked out.

    Residential Services will notify the residence hall mail services that a student has changed rooms so that the necessary arrangements can be made to have mail forwarded to a new campus address. The online stu­dent directory updates automatically with a new address and phone number about seven days after the room change paperwork is completed and submitted.


Residential Services will work closely in conjunction with housing assignments to resolve roommate conflicts. Please contact a resident assistant or resident direc­tor with any questions or concerns.

Common Areas and Lounges

Residents or guests may not occupy or sleep in common areas of university housing. Students may not store room furniture or personal belongings in common areas of university housing. Students may not remove furniture or other items from common areas or lounges, including moving items into an individual room.

Miscellaneous Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations are Subject to Change

These rules and regulations are subject to change as the University may deem appropriate. The University then will notify students under a residence and board contract of any revisions as soon as practicable.

Rights of Roommates and Other Residents

A resident may not unreasonably interfere with a roommate’s or any other resident’s rights under a University housing contract. This includes the right to a reasonable degree of quiet, and each living unit, under the supervision of its elected student executive board, is expected to determine its quiet-hour policy at the beginning of each academic year. Playing musical instruments in any resident’s room and engaging in physical games of any kind in the residence halls is prohibited. Infractions that cannot be resolved by Residential Services staff will be referred to the Director of Residential Community & Support or designee, who will have discretion to resolve such problems through administrative/disciplinary action. 

Inviting Others to Reside in Your Room

Only residents assigned by Northwestern University may reside in their assigned rooms; residents may not invite or permit any other person to reside in their assigned room or in any other area of the residence hall.

Refusing a Roommate

If any resident unreasonably refuses to accept a roommate or hinders the University in the assignment of or occupancy by a roommate, the University may, at its discretion, require that resident to be responsible for the total rent for the room.

Overnight Guests

A resident may have overnight guests, limited to one guest per resident at any one time with approval of all roommates/suitemates. Overnight guest privileges are limited to a maximum of three consecutive nights and a total of seven nights per resident per quarter.  A guest is defined as any person who does not have a contract to live in a given space.

Non-Overnight Guests

A resident may host non-overnight guests at any time with approval of all roommates/suitemates. All guests who are not residents of the building must be escorted by a resident at all times and must be registered with the security monitor on duty.

Telecommunications Services

All telecommunication services in university housing — including but not limited to telephone and data services — are provided exclusively through Northwestern University Information Technology (NUIT). Residents agree to comply with the policies and procedures for NUIT Residence Hall Telephone and Data Services and agree to pay all charges incurred. One data port per resident is provided per room as part of the room rental charge; residents must provide their own computers. Operation of file or web servers is prohibited.

Repairing Telecommunication Wiring

NUIT will repair without charge all interior telecommunication wiring in student rooms, except when damage to ports or wiring is caused by vandalism or tampering with the ports, lines, or equipment. In the case of such damage, NUIT will perform the repair and charge the cost of the repair to the person or persons responsible.

Breach of Contract or Violation of University Housing Rules

When it appears, through reports from Residential Services staff, University Police, etc., that a student has breached the residence and board contract or has violated a university housing rule or other University rule or regulation as specified herein, the University reserves the right to review the case and take appropriate action administratively. The Vice President for Student Affairs will appoint the reviewing administrator. When, in the opinion of the reviewing administrator, a student has breached the contract, the reviewing administrator may remove the student from housing or may apply a lesser sanction such as a required room or hall change or housing probation. The decision of the reviewing administrator will be final. Contract violation cases will not be accepted by the University Hearing and Appeals System or other designated resolution procedure unless additional disciplinary action, such as disciplinary probation, suspension, or exclusion from the University, appears warranted.

Removal from Assigned Room

The Vice President for Student Affairs may act administratively to maintain the university housing living and learning environment by moving a student to a room other than the one to which he or she was initially assigned, by moving the student to another residential building, or, when required in the best interests of the University as determined by the vice president, by removing a student from University housing. The vice president’s decision on such matters is final. Administrative action taken in accordance with this regulation is not — and should not be construed as — a determination by the vice president on the merits of any underlying disciplinary charge filed by or against the affected student(s).

Relocating Residents Without Prior Notice

As deemed necessary, the Vice President for Student Affairs or his or her designee may relocate any resident without cause or prior notice for health or safety reasons or to protect University property, restore operations, or meet the needs of the University community.

Disturbances on Campus Beyond the University's Control

The University shall not be responsible for disruption or nonperformance as a result of a major campus disruption, strike, fire, flood, wind- or snowstorm, or other acts of God, act of terrorism, or other events beyond the University’s control. In the event of such occurrences as described in the preceding sentence or for the convenience of the University for construction or other purposes, the University may at any time, and at its sole discretion, close all or part of any residence hall. If all or a part of any university housing building is prematurely closed, the affected residents shall vacate that hall within 24 hours of such closing and shall be relieved of all subsequent room obligations for that building after the closing date.

Relocating Residents With Prior Written Notice

The University reserves the right to relocate residents with prior written notice for the purposes of consolidation of residents. Such consolidation may be undertaken to promote individual or community health or safety, to reduce costs, or for such reasons as deemed necessary by the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Construction on Campus

At the University’s sole discretion, construction may take place near residential units. No adjustment will be made to any residence charges at any time based solely on that construction.

University Vacation Periods and Summer Months

Only approved residents may remain in the undergraduate residence halls during break periods. Residents not approved must check out of University housing within 24 hours of their last scheduled final exam in the fall quarter. In addition, all residents must check out and remove all personal belongings from housing within 24 hours of their last scheduled final exam in June. Note that scheduled finals are not inclusive of extensions organized with academic departments. Personal items may not be stored in housing during the summer. Northwestern University will not be responsible for any loss due to fire, theft, or other casualty.