Town-Gown relations: GU might be “ghetto,” but Northwestern has “brothels”

Georgetown students may be discouraged by the University’s concessions in the 2010 Campus Plan battle, but students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, know all to well what capitulation looks like: students are facing mass eviction from the area surrounding its North Shore campus.

On July 1, the City of Evanston will begin enforcing an old, largely ignored anti-prostitution “brothel” law that prohibits more than three unrelated persons from living together. The initiative will make renting in the area economically unviable for many Northwestern students, forcing them to move far away from their university community to find housing. Northwestern officials, for their part, appear to have resigned themselves to defeat.

“We don’t feel we need to protect the students from a city ordinance—we need to follow the ordinance,” said Assistant Dean of Students Betsi Burns in an interview with the Daily Northwestern. “It is what it is.”

Northwestern originally had no plans to lobby on behalf of its students to amend the ordinance, but following a contentious town hall with students they plan to “discuss” the issue with the city.

What prompted the city to take this course of action? The answer will sound all too familiar to students who have endured the last few ANC meetings.

“Having so many students concentrated in one area is a problem that’s been identified through complaints with parties and noise and garbage,” Evanston’s manager of building and inspection services, Jeff Murphy, told the Daily Northwestern.

In 1996, neighbors sought a similar provision to limit occupancy in Georgetown and Burleith to four unrelated persons.

However, as Voice writer Kara Brandeisky reported in a post for Greater Greater Washington, the Zoning Commission voted this measure down. They determined that to violated the DC Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against students.

As it currently stands, DC’s current occupancy limit is six unrelated persons, although landlords can petition for special permission to increase the cap at an individual property.

One Comment on “Town-Gown relations: GU might be “ghetto,” but Northwestern has “brothels”

  1. I heard about this from a friend at NU. I feel for the NU kids, but it is good to know that Georgetown hasn’t sold out us out like that.

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