A guide to alcohol at Northwestern


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Scott Hall, 601 University Place.

Elizabeth Byrne, Summer Editor

Coming to college marks a significant change in every students’ lives. For many, it’s the first time living away from home for a long period of time and with it, comes freedom. It can be easy to get caught up in all the opportunities to let loose, but make sure to know the alcohol laws and University policies before drinking.

Everyone is different when it comes to their experience with alcohol. Whether you consider yourself a seasoned drinker or have never had a drink in your life, it’s important to understand the rules and the consequences that you will face if you violate them.

It is illegal to possess or consume alcohol in Illinois if you are under 21 years old. You’ve probably heard this one before, as it’s a national law, and NU is no exception.

During Wildcat Welcome, you will meet your resident assistant for your hallway or floor. They are there to help you out and advise you during your time in the residence halls. Under the University Code of Conduct you have to comply with any requests made by University officials, which includes your RA. If your RA thinks you may be engaging in an illegal activity, such as drinking in your room, it’s reasonable for them to ask to come into your room.

Students under 21 may also face misconduct charges if they are found to be consuming alcohol, distributing alcohol to others under 21, having a container that previously held alcohol or manufacturing alcohol. Open containers are also not allowed on University property or in public spaces, like parking lots and sidewalks. If you are found in violation of the University policy on alcohol, and you are not 21 the consequences can vary from a written warning to expulsion.

For students over 21, you may store and consume alcohol in the privacy of your own room, as long as the only person under 21 present is your roommate and your room doesn’t exceed double occupancy. Alcohol is not allowed in any residence halls during Wildcat Welcome, regardless of how old a student is.

Having a fake I.D. or using a I.D. that is not your own to purchase alcohol is a violation of University policy and Illinois state law and can be punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines.

The University also has a policy to keep students safe in difficult situations. NU has an Amnesty through Responsible Action policy, in which students who call, stay and cooperate will not be found responsible for any “alcohol or other drug-related violations.” In order for the policy to apply, the student who calls for help must stay until help arrives and cooperate with all responding staff. Both the student who calls and the student in need will not be found in violation of University policy if they agree to the “timely completion of any recommended assessment, educational assignment, and/or treatment.”

This may include BASICS, or Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students, a program that involves two 50-minute confidential sessions to discuss personal usage of alcohol and drugs.

The University Student Handbook outlines all alcohol and drug-related policies for students. Be sure to reference that handbook if you have any questions about the policies surrounding drinking so you can make decisions you are most comfortable with you arrive on campus.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lizbyrne33

Read more from the 2018 Orientation Issue here.