At committee meeting, NU emphasizes commitment to city in mitigating spread of COVID-19


Source: Northwestern Office of Government Relations

Dave Davis. At a Northwestern University-City Committee meeting, Davis said Northwestern encourages students to work in partnership with Evanston residents to combat coronavirus.

Rayna Song, Reporter

The Northwestern University-City Committee met Tuesday to discuss collectively slowing the spread of COVID-19 as students return to the area.

With Northwestern set to welcome students back to campus for Fall Quarter, some Evanston residents have expressed concerns related to health and safety.

Every member of the Northwestern community, including students, faculty and staff, will be expected to adhere to a set of core responsibilities, such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings, according to Dave Davis, NU executive director of neighborhood and community relations.

“We’re certainly going to do our part in partnership with the city to reach out to our students to remind them the role that they’re playing as active citizens and members of the Evanston community is to slow the spread (of COVID-19),” Davis said.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) said some Evanston residents have asked whom to contact should they see Northwestern students hosting parties or not wearing masks.

Davis said the residents should continue with the standard process the University has put in place for years.

“If there’s an incident off campus, which potentially could jeopardize the safety and wellness of our neighbors, that they first call the Evanston Police Department,” Davis said. “They can certainly call NUPD as well.”

When it comes to University properties within the Evanston residential neighborhood, such as Foster-Walker, NU Vice President for Facilities Alex Darragh said student residencies have been de-densified in light of COVID-19.

“Washrooms and shower facilities have all been reduced in terms of their utilization, so you can maintain six feet social distancing,” Darragh said. “We have tried to make sure that the public areas and the common spaces are all set up to support our social distancing requirements.”

Darragh added the State of Illinois allows for double occupancy, so students were given the choice of having a roommate in their dorm rooms.

Davis said there is a COVID-19 website constantly updated by the University based on information from public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that this information is given to students.

According to that website, Northwestern requires all students living on campus or in the Evanston area to participate in “Wildcat Wellness,” a two-week quarantine period between Sept. 6 and Sept. 20, during which students are expected to leave their residences only for essential activities. The Wildcat Wellness weeks are intended in part to allow the University to coordinate testing as students return to campus.

When Fiske expressed concerns over sororities and fraternities, whose houses may be owned by the chapters instead of the University, Davis said the rules would apply to any student in the area, regardless of where the student lives.

“The goals of (Wildcat Wellness) are to really try to keep not only our student population and our University community safe, but also keep the broader Evanston community safe, and to be responsible members of our neighboring community,” Davis said. “We are in this together.”

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