Off-campus community conversation sparks talk of city updates and upcoming activities

Lauren Caruba

About 25 members from the Northwestern and Evanston communities met in the Guild Lounge of Scott Hall Tuesday night to discuss neighborhood issues, off-campus safety, upcoming construction projects and new procedures for Dillo Day.

The biannual “Community Conversations” meeting included representatives from both University and Evanston police departments, an Associated Student Government representative and Mayfest executive board members. Aldermen Delores Holmes (5th) and Jane Grover (7th) and members of the Evanston landlord licensing committee were also in attendance.

Dean of Students Burgwell Howard moderated the discussion, which addressed residents’ concerns with neighborhood issues, such as buses transporting students to events that disturb Evanston residents.

The meeting marked the first NU-Evanston discussion for Tony Kirchmeier, the recently appointed director of off-campus life. Kirchmeier, who assumed the newly created position in January, serves as a first point of contact for off-campus students, addressing any issues they have and informing them about city ordinances and policies.

At the meeting, Kirchmeier briefed Evanston residents about recent improvements to the University’s off-campus website, as well as issues related to students moving out of off-campus housing at the end of the quarter. The University and Evanston will work together to station six dumpsters in the surrounding neighborhoods from June 1 to June 20 to accommodate trash associated with end-of-the-year cleanup for off-campus students.

Dan McAleer, deputy chief of University police, updated attendees about the rash of robberies targeting NU students during Fall and Winter quarters, some of which involved weapons.

“That spree has stopped,” McAleer said. “There have been none over the last few months.”

McAleer said several juveniles were arrested in connection with some of the robberies, while other suspects were identified but not arrested. In addition, McAleer talked about how the University is improving traffic safety along Sheridan Road by cracking down more on pedestrian and bicycle violations, as well as adding traffic lights with pedestrian-activated crosswalks.

Special Assistant for Community Relations Lucile Krasnow informed Evanston residents that the construction of the new visitors’ center and new building for the Bienen School of Music will largely affect the bend in Sheridan Road adjacent to Fisk Hall and Clark Street Beach over the next three years. During construction, the bike path next to Lake Michigan will be temporarily removed to help with traffic flow. 

In addition, three members from the Mayfest university relations committee also spoke about changes in Dillo Day policies, which will include a new wristband system for non-NU students and festival attendees under the age of 19 to manage admittance of high school students.. Both NU students and guests will be expected to have identification when going to and from the festival.

The Mayfest representatives also talked about how this year’s Dillo Day festivities will include a beer garden, food trucks and water stations to discourage students from leaving the festival.

“We want students on campus on Dillo Day,” said Weinberg senior and Mayfest representative Tim Barrett. “We don’t want students off campus partying and trashing the city.”

Steven Monacelli, ASG vice president for community relations, discussed the initiatives to improve cleanup efforts the day after Dillo Day, known as ReNUvation. The Communication junior said this year’s cleanup will be a collaborative effort with Evanston, with the city providing materials and disposing of the trash collected by students.

Krasnow said the “Community Conversations” help strengthen the relationship between the University and Evanston residents.

“It gives out the message that Northwestern and permanent residents are neighbors,” Krasnow said. “It’s a great forum to have some communication about various issues. We always learn things on both sides.”

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