Northwestern ASG host off-campus housing forum

Stephanie Haines

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Associated Student Government hosted an off-campus housing forum in Harris Hall on Thursday to offer advice to students currently living off campus or considering it. However, no students unaffiliated with ASG attended the discussion.

Steven Monacelli, Communication junior and ASG vice president of community relations, said it is “hard to say” why more students did not come to the forum.

He said he thinks students either feel less involved now or “feel like there is nothing they can do” about the “brothel law,” the ordinance prohibiting three unrelated people from living in the same Evanston residence.

Monacelli, a former Daily columnist, said some landlords in Evanston have recently sent letters to tenants saying that starting July 1, the landlords will no longer sign leases for more than three people.

He said the city has announced this deadline on a number of occasions, but officials will not explicitly state what will happen on that day.

“It doesn’t seem like a crisis but a looming date of which no one knows what it means,” Monacelli said.

Brandon McNamara, a SESP junior and ASG off-campus senator, also suggested that unlike on-campus housing, where most of the residents live in one central location, off-campus residents are more spread out, making it difficult to reach out to them.

“We want to find out the opinions of students,” McNamara said.

Last January, ASG held a housing forum during which Jeffrey Murphy, an Evanston code and building official, spoke about the three-unrelated-person ordinance. About 500 students inundated the McCormick Auditorium at Norris University Center to express their opinions about this rule.

Recently, Evanston mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl hosted a Twitter town hall, during which she said it was reasonable to cap an individual residence’s occupancy at three people because unlike in a family with parents present, no proper authority member resided with the residents, which was unsafe.

Anthony Kirchmeier, director of off-campus life, said at the meeting about 35 percent of undergraduate NU students live in off-campus housing. The Dean of Students Office also hosted on Thursday a focus group to gauge the effect of off-campus drinking on community morale.

“We are trying to get a good sense of what an NU party looks like off campus and ask the participants what it means to be a good neighbor and how they can be a good neighbor,” Kirchmeier said.

Monacelli said according to ASG research, the cost of living at NU is the highest in the Big Ten. Although the three-unrelated-person rule is not necessarily directly related, Monacelli said basic supply and demand principles suggest it does not help the situation.

The ASG off-campus senators are working to give more support to off-campus living. Jared Cogan, a Weinberg senior and ASG off-campus senator, said he is drafting a proposal about off-campus living that will be finalized next week.

He and other ASG members also contributed advice for students looking to live off-campus. He said the city of Evanston website “311 Online Citizen Support Center” and the Evanston website “About My Place” are places for students to seek information about practical living or pending code violations.

The ASG members also suggested visiting Interfaithhousingcenter.org, where students can read the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance to help clarify their rights as tenants and the rights of landlords.

stephaniehaines2015@u.northwestern.edu

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