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Safety and Security

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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.

Table of Contents

Building and Lobby Security

The main entrance and all outside doors to each building are secured from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. each night. During this time, exterior doors will be locked, building access will be restricted, and proper identification of all residents and their guests will be required to gain entry to the building. In addition to Main Desk staff, Access Control will also provide security during the night. Residents who do not have proper identification may be documented through the conduct process.

  • You are not permitted to prop open community access doors or exterior doors.
  • Current residents must show their current Hall Entry Card and NIU OneCard to gain entrance into their residence hall.
  • Guests of current residents must have one of the following forms of identification to gain access into the residence hall with their host: Current NIU OneCard, State issued Driver’s License, State issued ID, Passport, Military ID, or F.O.I.D. card.
  • Residents and guests are required to show proper identification to Housing and Residential Services staff upon reasonable request. Without proper identification, residents and guests may be asked to leave the building.
  • Video recording may occur in some areas of the residence halls.

Room Security

  • Residents are expected to lock their rooms and carry their keys and OneCard with them at all times.
  • Residents of Grant C and D Towers, New Hall, and Gilbert Hall should not hang things from the inside door handle of any door that has a proximity reader on it (room doors, and New Hall cluster doors) as this will drain the battery on the lock.
  • Engaging in acts that may endanger the safety of others (blocking a person in a room, dangerous "pranks," etc.) is prohibited.

Appropriate Window Usage

  • Entry and/or exit from residence hall windows is prohibited.
  • No object should be thrown, released, or dropped from the window.
  • Do not remove window screens.
  • Windows should be closed when residents are not in the room or during harsh weather conditions. Residents are responsible for damage to the room or personal property caused by an open window (ex. pipes freezing). The damage and cleaning costs may not necessarily be limited to a single room, hallway, or floor.
  • Do not hang or place anything on windowsills or ledges.

Your Keys and NIU OneCard

Do not:

  • Give possession of your room key to another person.
  • Give possession of your NIU OneCard to another person.
  • Have possession of a residence hall room key not issued to you by the university.
  • Allow your room key or NIU OneCard to be duplicated or modified.
  • Use a key or NIU OneCard to gain entry to a floor/building other than your current building or residence.

Getting Locked Out

If you are locked out of your room or cluster:

  • You may request a loan key or temporary card at the main desk. The key/card may be kept a maximum of 1 hour as a loan key/card. If the key or card is kept past one hour, it will be reclassified as a "temporary key or door access card" and a $15 charge will apply for keys and a $10 charge will apply for cards if applicable.
  • Staff will confirm a resident's identity using a picture ID or OneCard before issuing a key or temporary door access card.
  • After the first courtesy transaction, you may be charged for each subsequently issued replacement key, temporary door access card, or room escort. If residents are locked out four or more times, they may be referred to a staff member for consultation and disciplinary sanctions may be assessed.

Temporarily Lost or Misplaced Key or NIU OneCard

You have seven days from the date and time of temporary key or card checkout to return the temporary key or door access card. If you do not return the temporary key within the allotted seven days, you 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 you do not return the temporary door access card within the allotted seven days, you 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 fourth temporary key or door access card checkout, you will be referred to a staff member and possible disciplinary sanctions may be assessed. For every fourth temporary key or door access card thereafter you will be referred to a staff member.

Annual Lockout Charges and Referrals

  • First time through fourth time: no charge
  • Fifth time and thereafter: $5.00

Bent or Broken Key/OneCard

There is no charge for bent or broken keys, but you must return all parts of the key to a staff member or charges will be accrued. Learn about replacement charges for damaged NIU OneCards.

Dropping Keys or NIU OneCard Down Elevator Shaft

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

  1. Scheduled Elevator Shaft Search (typically scheduled near beginning of the month): You must check out a temporary key or door access card, which is issued for seven days, and will be charged the temporary key/card fee if applicable. There is no charge for elevator personnel to search for keys during scheduled pit search times.
  2. Immediate Elevator Shaft Search
  3. (Mon. - Fri. 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.): You are charged the current labor rate for elevator personnel to check pit during non-scheduled dates. Minimum of $80.00 and subject to overtime charges when work extends beyond regular workday. (Elevator personnel will NOT come in nights/weekends to search for keys.)

Lost or Stolen OneCard

If your 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:

  1. Online: Suspend your OneCard on Blackboard. Login to Blackboard and click the "MyOneCard" tab. Note that this will not suspend your door access if you live in Grant C or D Towers, New Residence Hall, or Gilbert Hall. You must go to the main desk in your residence hall to arrange for staff to suspend door access on your lost or stolen card.
  2. Contact the NIU Police at 815-753-1212 during OneCard non-business hours. Note that NIU Police will not suspend your door access if you live in Grant C or D Towers, New Residence Hall, or Gilbert Hall. You must go to the main desk in your residence hall to arrange for staff to suspend door access on your lost or stolen card.

To reactivate a suspended OneCard that you later find, 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 your OneCard has not yet been suspended.

Learn more about keys and cards

Room Entry and Room Inspection

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.

Room Inspection by Residence Hall Staff

Residence hall staff will enter student rooms for room inspection under the following circumstances:

      1. In connection with routinely scheduled room inspection as provided in the room agreement.
        • To ascertain damage or conditions potentially harmful to the safety of a university residence hall and the health of residents.
        • During university breaks and at other times to be determined by the hall management staff.
        • As a part of scheduled semester safety inspections, residence hall staff will check for safety hazards including:
          1. Non-polarized extension cords
          2. Non-UL approved equipment
          3. Power strips or multiple outlets without circuit breakers
          4. Multiple power cords connected to each other
          5. Improperly installed microwave/refrigerator/freezer units
          6. Unapproved electrical appliances
          7. Use of non-metal trash cans
          8. Decorations inconsistent with fire safety guidelines, etc.
          9. Clearly observable room damage
          10. Unauthorized furnishings
          11. Obvious violations of university policy
          12. Candles with burned wicks
          13. Tampering with fire safety devices, i.e. smoke detector
      2. Repairs and Inspections by Physical Plant, Environmental Health and Safety, and Department of Information Technology Technicians.

        You 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 your rooms; however, efforts will be made to notify you before and/or after entry.

      3. Residential Facilities may enter rooms for the following conditions.
        • Facility-related issues
        • Room inspection
        • Coordination of repairs and safety issues
        • Furniture inventory
        • To recover university property that has been removed (without permission) from an assigned location
      4. Entry by residence hall staff for purposes other than room inspection. Residence hall staff may enter a room:
        • When there is a clear or apparent emergency, such as a fire, serious illness or injury, or when persons or property are in danger.
        • When a member of the residence hall staff has reasonable cause to believe that a violation of residence hall or other university regulations is occurring in that room.
        • At the request or invitation of the resident of the room. Residence hall staff may not enter a room without knocking (except under the circumstances stated previously) and may not enter to search the resident's belongings not in plain view.

Entry into Resident Rooms by Students

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.

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/or Search by University Police

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:

      1. Entry permitted by policy: A university police officer or other agent of the university may enter a room where there is a clear or apparent emergency, such as fire, serious illness or injury, or where danger threatens persons or property.
      2. Entry permitted by law: A university police officer may enter a room under one or more of the following circumstances:
        • With a warrant for arrest or search.
        • With permission of the resident. If two or more students occupy a room, it shall be understood that, when feasible, permission will be obtained from all residents of the room.
        • In pursuit of an individual who has been observed committing a crime, or if a crime has been committed, and the officer has reasonable grounds to believe the occupant committed such crime.
        • When the officer has probable cause for belief that a crime is being committed.
      3. Search permitted by law: A university police officer may search a room under one or more of the following circumstances:
        • With a search warrant.
        • When it is the area incidental to an arrest.
        • When the officer has probable cause for belief that a crime is being committed.
        • With permission of the resident (or, if more than one, all residents). It is the policy of the university that an officer will explain to the residents their rights to resist such a search.

Electrical Equipment and Appliances

Due to the current residential room electrical configuration, a maximum of 8 amps should be used per electrical outlet in your room.

      • Typically acceptable appliances (UL approved) include: computers, gaming systems, TVs, CD players, DVD/Blu-Ray players, stereos, razors, fans, etc. Some hairdryers/curling irons/flat irons may require additional power and may need to be used in the public area bathrooms rather than individual resident rooms to avoid tripping circuit breakers.
      • Use surge protectors/power strips for all electronics, particularly computers, gaming systems, televisions, DVD/Blu-Ray players, stereo equipment, and clock radios. Lightweight extension cords and multiple outlet plugs without surge protectors create a safety hazard and are prohibited.
      • Personal routers and/or wireless access points are prohibited. Unmanaged hubs or unmanaged switches may be used to connect more than one device in a room.
      • Open-ended heating elements and electrical appliances that may pose a fire hazard, such as hot plates, hot pots, electric or contact grills, small cooking appliances, and unauthorized space heaters are prohibited. Electrical appliances with an enclosed heating element are permitted in the halls (i.e., popcorn makers and coffeepots) when used under continual supervision.
      • Every room is furnished with a microwave/refrigerator/freezer appliance. Other microwave ovens and refrigerators are not allowed.
      • Personal/room air conditioners may not be brought into the hall or installed in resident rooms.

Prohibited Items

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:

      • Internal combustion engines, acids, automobile batteries, gasoline, torches, lava lamps, and halogen desk lamps.
      • Weightlifting equipment.
      • Animals, birds, amphibians, or pets of any kind (for more information about service and assistance animals contact the Disability Resource Center at 815-753-1303). Fish are welcome, but the fish tank must be five gallons or less.
      • Substances from which potentially offensive/overpowering odors emanate (heavy perfumes, room scents, potpourri, sports/camping equipment, etc.).
      • Charcoal and other fire starter materials. Residents may store grills (but not combustible fuels) in their rooms, but may not use them indoors. Barbecue grills must be located at least 100 feet from any campus building when in use.
      • The use or possession of hoverboards, or any self-balancing transportation device, is not allowed in the residence halls and apartments. The prohibition covers carrying, charging, or other possession of the devices

Fire Safety

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.

Fire Safety Equipment

      • Smoke detectors and sprinkler heads are fire safety equipment, and you are strictly prohibited from:
        • Disconnecting a detector covering.
        • Tampering with the detector or its functioning in any way.
        • Purposely causing an alarm to occur.
        • Hanging objects from or otherwise obstructing the sprinkler head and pipes.
        • Removing sprinkler head cover plates.
      • Tampering with fire safety equipment (which includes but is not limited to sprinkler heads, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and pull stations) subjects the violator to a $50 fine, university disciplinary action, and additional charges for any resulting repairs and/or cleaning including a $100 charge if city fire trucks are called unnecessarily.
      • Disconnecting a smoke detector, failure to report its malfunctioning (including failure to observe that the light is on or not flashing), or other negligence subjects residents of that room not only to Student Conduct charges, but also to civil charges and, in the event of fire, payment for related damages to the building and the persons and property of others.

Emergency Evacuation Assistance

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 you must complete and submit the Premise Alert Program Form. Please direct any questions about this program to your Hall Director, your Complex Coordinator, or the Coordinator of Residential Facilities.

Tornado Emergencies

In the event of a tornado or other severe weather emergency, you may only have minutes (or fewer) to get to safety. Familiarize yourself with the different types of watches and warnings and be prepared to seek shelter when necessary.

      • A tornado watch is issued by the Storm Prediction Center when conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorm and tornado development. Remain alert for approaching storms. Listen to the radio or television for further developments.
      • The National Weather Service issues a tornado warning when a tornado has been sighted, or indicated by weather radar. During a tornado warning, you should seek shelter in the designated area of your building because a tornado is occurring or could occur at any moment.
      • The City of DeKalb has outdoor warning sirens meant to alert people that a tornado has been sighted, and that you should take shelter immediately. While these sirens are very loud, they are intended to alert persons walking outside of the danger and will not be heard in most parts of the buildings. You should plan to seek shelter at the start of a tornado warning; do not wait until you hear the sirens.
      • When seeking shelter during a tornado or other severe weather emergency, move quickly using the stairwells to the designated area. Do not use elevators, as you may become trapped if the power goes out. Tornado and severe weather shelter areas are located in the following areas of the residence halls:

        Tornado and Severe Weather Shelter Areas
        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.

The latest weather information and forecasts for campus are available online at NIU Weather.

Housing and Residential Services
housing@niu.edu
815-753-1525

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