Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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EDITORIAL: Police expansion serves all; citation reporting doesn’t

The decision to expand University Police jurisdiction this year to include most of north Evanston was a prescient move that has clear benefits for both nonstudents and Northwestern officials. Students, on the other hand, probably aren’t aware of the policy’s finer implications.

Although UP had jurisdiction over some off-campus areas in the past, the new boundaries include Sherman and Ridge avenues — areas with high student populations. Now more police officers will be available to crack down on disturbances — a legitimate use of their resources. This expansion is a direct and just response to the large number of gripes residents lodged in response to off-campus parties last fall.

At the same time, the policy move gets NU officials off the receiving end of the stream of complaints and helps uphold the university’s reputation.

The expanded patrol area should also be a boon for students — especially in light of a recent off-campus assault. A stronger police presence could improve student safety on heavily trafficked streets.

But the change in jurisdiction also brought a questionable new policy that allows UP to refer its cases to administrators or the University Hearing and Appeals System, a community-based discipline program. NU expects its students to uphold a certain standard of behavior laid out in the Student Handbook’s code of conduct — and they have every right to. Still, the policy of reporting all student offenses to NU promotes an inappropriate level of scrutiny. The police are not expected to report violations of the law to employers, clubs or other organizations that the offender is associated with. Why is NU any different?

When students receive $75 noise violation tickets from UP, they now can face an appearance in front of UHAS, which has sat nearly idle for some time. Students who have been cited would meet with a board of faculty members, students and Student Affairs staff members, who can issue sanctions including fines or suspensions. The effects already are evident: As of Oct. 2, UHAS is handling three cases that have occurred since Sept. 19 involving nine students, according to Mary Desler, associate vice president for Student Affairs.

NU is a private institution after all, so officials can enforce any standard of behavior they decide to set — within reason. But expanded jurisdiction doesn’t negate that students who violate order off campus are doing so off university property. And if NU wants to know about them or punish them, the university should not simply be handed this information — no other entity receives such a privilege.

Changing the UP reporting policy will have repercussions, most significantly for the Sexual Assault Hearing and Appeals System, which responds to student allegations of sexual assault. The system handles such allegations on NU’s Evanston and Chicago campuses or other university property, at an NU event, in a student’s off-campus residence, on any street or area adjacent to these locations, or on premises subject to UP jurisdiction.

If UP reports are no longer sent to Student Affairs, sexual-assault victims would have to report allegations directly to SAHAS if they desire university hearings. Student Affairs could also be proactive in making students aware of SAHAS’ purpose.

SAHAS and UHAS should still exist as regulatory bodies, just without the direct channel to UP citations.

With these changes, students can truly benefit from the expanded UP patrols.

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EDITORIAL: Police expansion serves all; citation reporting doesn’t