Brothel Law To Target College Kids

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 11:15am

Law prohibits more than three people living together; may cut down on wild college parties.

Students at Northwestern University are petitioning against a "brothel law" that might force hundreds of co-eds out of their off-campus residences this summer.

More than 400 students and a handful of Evanston, Illinois residents crowded into an auditorium at Norris University Center Tuesday night for a meeting with city and school officials.

The meeting was billed as an "Off-Campus Town Hall," but students were there to talk about one specific zoning ordinance that would bar more than three people who aren't related from living together in Evanston.

About 40 percent of Northwestern undergraduates live off campus, according to Assistant Dean of Students Betsi Burns. That's about 4,000 students.

City officials will start actively enforcing the rule on July 1, even though it has been around for decades.

The push comes because Evanston residents have "run out of patience" for parties, noise and excess garbage.

The City of Evanston inspects rental properties every two years.

In addition to these routine inspections, the city also responds to specific complaints.

Jeff Murphy, the division manager of Building and Inspection Services in Evanston, told students that residents have recently "grouped together" to protest student behavior.

Evanston resident Lisa Pildes, who supports enforcing the rule, said she has heard about students passing out on lawns near campus.

Murphy said the city receives complaints on a weekly basis.

Students at Tuesday's forum said they were concerned about the safety and affordability of living in smaller groups farther from campus.

The university student government posted a petition on its website shortly after the meeting.

It does not call for a complete repeal of the ordinance.

"We are calling on the city council to stop the increased enforcement of the ordinance, and to amend the ordinance to reflect contemporary student needs and circumstances," reads the attached letter, written by student body president Claire Lew and other members of the organization.

The petition will be presented to the Evanston City Council and Northwestern officials.
 

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