The residence hall community is home to thousands of students. It is important for you and other residents to be safe and secure in the residence halls. All community members must be actively involved with creating a safe and secure environment, to ensure all students can focus on academic success and building lasting friendships.
Northern Illinois University is committed to the safety and wellness of all our community members. This includes managing the complexity of public health concerns and the spread of diseases like the COVID-19 virus.
We expect that all members of the NIU Housing community—residents, staff and visitors—act in a manner that demonstrates respect and consideration for those around them, including respect and consideration for the health and safety of all community members. All residential students are prohibited from creating a health or safety hazard that puts other members of the community at risk. Housing and Residential Services and other university staff may request or require a resident to leave an area if their continued presence and/or activities present a hazard to others. Persistent or reckless behavior that threatens the health and safety could be considered a violation of Housing Policy.
Residential students are required to comply with health and safety laws, orders, ordinances, regulations and health and safety guidance adopted by the University as it relates to public health crises, including COVID-19. This guidance will evolve as the public health crisis evolves and may include, but is not limited to, social distancing, limitations on mass gatherings, wearing a face covering, COVID-19 diagnostic and surveillance testing (including before or upon arrival to campus), contact tracing, disinfection protocols, limitations on guests into residence halls and apartments, and quarantine / isolation requirements (including before or upon arrival to campus).
Adherence to health and safety requirements applies to all residents, staff and visitors and extends to all aspects of university housing facilities, including bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, community kitchens, lounges, computer areas, game rooms, courtyards, and other common spaces. Students should not congregate in hallways, elevator landings, stairwells, lounges, or other areas where safe physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Any students who have COVID-19, been tested for COVID-19, are showing symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 must call the COVID-19 helpline (815-753-0444) immediately to answer a series of screening questions. This information will be shared with the DeKalb County Health Department (DCHD). They should also contact their health care providers. Students whose health care provider is the Northwestern Medicine Student Health Center at NIU (815-306-2777) should not go to the health center without first calling. The students should self-quarantine until further guidance is given by their health care providers or the DCHD.
For the safety of our community, it is the expectation that students who have COVID-19, been tested for COVID-19, are showing symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 will follow the guidelines listed above. The Dean of Students will email those students who fail to do so to reiterate their role in maintaining a healthy community. If the behavior is pervasive or the student is combative, the university will respond through the conduct process as it is a disruption or a failure to comply with rules/directive of a university official. The hope is that the conduct process will not be utilized but is available if needed.
Face masks are required to be worn in all public spaces of the residence halls and NIU apartments. This includes shared living rooms in New Hall and Stevenson, elevator landings, hallways, lobbies, stairwells, and lounges. Face masks should always be worn when physical distancing cannot be followed. Face masks are not required while in a student’s room, or restroom area. Persons who may need an accommodation for this requirement may reach out to the Disability Resource Center. While visiting residents from your community in their room students should practice safe distancing and are encouraged to wear face masks.
For residential students who are notified of COVID-19 exposure, the best course of action is to move that student to a designated quarantine area where there is ideally a ratio of one student per room and restroom. However, if NIU is unable to provide separate quarantine space, students can be allowed to quarantine in their current residential rooms if they have access to private restrooms, meal delivery and other needs. With approval of the DCHD and appropriate oversight/controls, students may be allowed to quarantine in pairs or groups of like-exposed individuals and share restroom facilities. This quarantine should remain in place for 14 days (per current CDC guidance) to monitor symptoms which can present for up to 14 days after the exposure. Release from quarantine will be given by DCHD in consultation with the student’s health care provider.
If a student cannot quarantine in their current space, the student will have two options. The student may quarantine at their home residence. If a student elects to return to their home residence they must notify the DCHD and the Housing and Residential staff of their building of their intentions. If that is not possible or preferred, then the student will be relocated to an NIU staff monitored facility.
While separate quarantine facilities are highly recommended by the CDC and the American College Health Association (ACHA) and considered the best possible option, if campuses are unable to provide separate quarantine space, students may be allowed to quarantine in their current residential room. However, that student must have access to a private restroom, meal delivery and other needs must be provided to the student. Students may quarantine together with roommates if it is established that both students have been exposed and require quarantine. Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) consider residence hall roommates to be a family unit for the purpose of COVID-19 response.
For students living in the NIU residence halls and apartments who have tested positive for COVID-19, the student will have two options. The student may isolate at their home residence. If that is not possible or preferred, then a determination will need to be made if appropriately configured space is available in our university housing system for isolation purposes. If this is not available, then residential students who test positive for COVID-19 will be moved to a local hotel and follow DCHD isolation guidelines. Meal services will be provided through Campus Dining Services and delivered to students in isolation at NIU residence halls or local hotels. If the student requires supplemental supplies for courses, arrangements will need to be made to have those items delivered. If a student elects to return to their home residence they must notify the DCHD and the Housing and Residential staff of their building of their intentions.
Following guidance from the DCHD, isolation may be discontinued when:
Another option to evaluate a student’s readiness to be released from isolation, per the DCHD and CDC guidelines, is
Clearance for a student to return to their residence hall or NIU apartment will be given by the DCHD in consultation with the student’s health care provider.
PLEASE NOTE: If possible, students should drive themselves to the hospital, testing or quarantine sites. If transportation is not available, students should call the COVID-19 helpline (815-753-0444) for assistance.
The Division of Student Affairs will coordinate the detailed planning for serving students moved to quarantine and isolation housing. This will include the delivery of meals, cleaning supplies, and other items deem appropriate. Housing and Residential Services will engage campus partners to work out these details and items as appropriate to ensure a seamless support plan as cases emerge.
Residential students are required to comply with any de-densifying efforts needed on campus due to COVID or other public health emergency, including, but not limited to, the relocation of all or some residential students to alternative housing. Relocation does not constitute a termination of a residential student’s housing contract. In the event Housing and Residential Services must relocate students as part of a de-densifying strategy, the quarantine/isolation plan, or other public health concerns for an extended period of time and alternative housing is not available, NIU will offer impacted students fair and reasonable reimbursement as appropriate and based on information available at that time. After the first day of classes for the term, if a student contracted for housing elects to commute from home for e-learning purposes then all fees will follow university guidelines for prorated refunds and forfeitures.
NIU Building Services will continue to implement and modify cleaning protocols to address any health and safety guidance or other public health instructions that helps to minimize the possible spread of diseases. In certain areas community members will be expected to use available hand sanitizer and when available, disinfectant supplies to clean surface. It is important that all community members follow proper personal hygiene recommendations.
Visitors to the residence halls and apartments are prohibited while the State of Illinois is in any phase of the Recovery Plan short of Phase V. Only residents assigned to their residence hall, or apartment are permitted in the building. Dining locations inside residence halls are exempt from this requirement and will follow their own occupancy and operation guidelines as outlined by the State of Illinois. Persons coming to a residence hall to meet a resident may safely distance in the lobby area while waiting for their student but are not permitted to leave the lobby area. Residents may interact with other residents in their hall provided they are following physical distancing guidelines and face coverings are worn in all public spaces. It is recommended that persons visiting in a residence hall room also wear face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Guest and residents may safely congregate in outdoor locations provided they are following distancing guidelines.
Each student will be required to present their OneCard ID at the entrance to their assigned residence hall entry area and signal the proximity reader at the reception desk or entry point to verify they are a resident of the residence hall.
The main entrance and all outside doors to each building are secured. Proper identification of all residents will be required to gain entry to the building. In addition to main desk staff, Access Control will also provide security during day and evenings. Residents who do not have proper identification may be documented through the conduct process.
If a resident is locked out of their room or cluster:
Residents have seven days from the date and time of temporary key or card checkout to return the temporary key or door access card. If they do not return the temporary key within the allotted seven days, they will be charged for a key core change. Any lockout charge associated with the current temporary key will be waived if a recore is initiated.
If a resident does not return the temporary door access card within the allotted seven days, they will be charged $10.00 for a replacement temporary card. These charges are in addition to any charges assessed by the OneCard office related to replacement of a student's OneCard.
On the tenth temporary key or door access card checkout, the resident will be referred to a staff member and possible disciplinary sanctions may be assessed. For every fourth temporary key or door access card thereafter they will be referred to a staff member.
There is no charge for bent or broken keys, but residents must return all parts of the key to a staff member or charges will be accrued. Learn about replacement charges for damaged NIU OneCards.
There is no guarantee that elevator personnel will find resident keys or OneCard during a search; however, charges for looking in the elevator shaft still apply.
Elevator Shaft Searches
If an NIU OneCard is lost or stolen, a temporary OneCard may be requested from any open Residential Dining Center or the NIU OneCard Office during regular business hours. When a temporary card is issued, it suspends the use of the student's lost OneCard. If the OneCard is lost or stolen during non-business hours, it should be suspended immediately to prevent any possible misuse.
Temporary door access cards are issued free of charge up to twice a semester. There is a $10.00 charge for each additional card. Temporary door access cards are issued for a maximum of seven days. There is a $10.00 charge for any misplaced or unreturned temporary door access card. When a temporary door access card is issued, it suspends the use of the student’s lost OneCard.
Suspending a OneCard:
To reactivate a suspended OneCard that is later found, residents should bring to the NIU OneCard office. A OneCard cannot be reactivated online or over the phone.
Temporary meal cards are available at any Campus Dining Services Dining Manager’s office and are for use by residence hall students only. Temporary meal cards can only be requested if a OneCard has not yet been suspended.
Residence halls are the property of the State of Illinois under the control of the NIU Board of Trustees. It is the policy of the university to ensure students’ privacy in their residence hall rooms consistent with its basic responsibilities to fulfill its educational functions and to conduct its day-to-day operations. The responsibilities of the university require the reservation of a reasonable right of entry into student rooms to assure proper upkeep, paint, and repair to provide for the health and safety of residents; and/or to investigate when a reasonable cause exists to believe that a violation of residence hall or other University regulations is occurring in student rooms.
Residence hall staff will enter student rooms for room inspection under the following circumstances:
Residents are not authorized to refuse repairs or core changes. Physical Plant workers and technicians from the Division of Information Technology do not need permission to enter rooms; however, efforts will be made to notify a resident before and/or after entry.
Entry by outside contractors/non-NIU personnel
NIU contracts out for certain services such as pest control, appliance repair, etc., and permits contracted personnel to enter student rooms for contracted services when services are needed.
Students, including student employees may enter the rooms of other residents only at the invitation of, or with written permission of, a resident of that room. While we are in COVID-19 Recovery students may only visit other students living in their assigned residence hall and should wear a face mask.
Students are not authorized to be in residence during times not covered by their residence hall agreement (e.g., university-designated closure periods).
Entry and search of residence hall student rooms by university police officers shall be conducted within the boundaries of law. It is the policy of the university that university police officers will neither enter nor search residence hall student rooms under university management except as follows:
Due to the current residential room electrical configuration, a maximum of 8 amps should be used per electrical outlet in a room.
Items that create danger to persons, damage to university property, a fire/safety hazard, and/or a public nuisance must not be used, possessed, or stored in residence halls (including student rooms). These include:
All residents are expected to evacuate the buildings any time the fire alarm sounds, including during drills. Failure to evacuate the building during a fire alarm will result in disciplinary action. Planned fire drills are conducted in each residence hall once per semester. Participation in fire drills is mandatory.
NIU works with local and institutional emergency responders to operate the Premise Alert Program. As part of this program, these groups maintain a list of individuals who may need assistance during an emergency evacuation situation. In order to be added to this list, residents must complete and submit the Premise Alert Program Form. Please direct any questions about this program to the Hall Director, Complex Coordinator, or the Coordinator of Residential Facilities. Those students who need assistance are shown the appropriate areas of refugee in their residence, and staff work with emergency responders to safely evacuate those students when necessary.
In the event of a tornado or other severe weather emergency, residents may only have minutes (or fewer) to get to safety. Residents should become familiar with the different types of watches and warnings and be prepared to seek shelter when necessary.
When seeking shelter during a tornado or other severe weather emergency, residents should move quickly using the stairwells to the designated area. Residents should not use elevators, as they may become trapped if the power goes out. Tornado and severe weather shelter areas are located in the following areas of the residence halls:
|Gilbert Hall||The second floor interior hallways away from glass and the bathrooms and shower areas away from windows|
|Grant Towers||The basement hallways and under the stairs. If these areas are full, begin filling up the North lower lounge|
|Neptune Central||The laundry rooms, bathrooms, and Trident area for shelter|
|Neptune East and Neptune West||Take shelter on the first floor in the hallways (away from windows) and bathrooms.|
|Neptune North||The basement hallway outside the RHA offices and the other basement hallways away from windows.|
|New Residence Hall||Bathrooms of Community Center and basement of New Hall West and East.|
|Stevenson Towers||The basement hallways and under the stairs. If these areas are full, begin filling up the North lower lounge.|
|Northern View Community||First floor residents: go to the restroom, jump in the bathtub and put a mattress over your head. Second and third floor residents: Go under the stairwell on the first floor; if possible, if you know someone on the first floor, knock on the door and ask to use their bathtub/mattress for shelter.|