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.

Students and student organizations who wish to plan an event for undergraduate students at which alcohol is available for individuals over the age of 21 should consult the Policy regarding Alcohol at Events for Undergraduates. Any undergraduate event, at which alcohol will be served, is expected to prioritize the safety and welfare of all guests, at minimum, following the provisions noted in the policy.

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. Northwestern encourages students and student groups to ensure the well-being of others by taking responsible steps to seek assistance for individuals who are intoxicated/impaired individual (including themselves). When this occurs, the University honors that care by prioritizing educational and supportive responses. The University will not hold students or student groups 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 or student group 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 and if applicable, student groups 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 or student group followed all required steps to be eligible for Amnesty through Responsible Action, the student or student group 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.  Student groups may be asked to participate in educational activities. Amnesty through Responsible Action applies only to alcohol and other drug related policies.  If other policy violations occurred, or may have occurred, the student or student group 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 or student group 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 student 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 or student group 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 appropriate outcome.

Destruction of Property
Destroying, damaging, defacing, or vandalizing property. 

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.

Demonstration Policy

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.

General Guidelines

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
these requests.

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.

Counter Demonstration

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

Disorderly conduct or disruptive acts, including the following:

  1. No member of the University community may 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.
  2. No member of the University may impede (or attempt to impede) others from participating in a University activity.
  3. 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.

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 before instructed to do so.

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 may result in student conduct action for the host (s).

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 Campus Life 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

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, 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.