'Brothel Law' has Northwestern Students Upset

By Jason Beahm on January 27, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

What do off-campus student housing and running a brothel have to do with each other? Good question.

Students at Northwestern University are asking the same question due to the enforcement of an old Evanston law regulating the number of people living in a house, which threatens to leave students without a place to leave.

The "brothel law" zoning regulations would bar more than three unrelated people from living in the same house, NBC Chicago reports.

That presents a problem, as 40 percent of Northwestern undergrads live off campus, and most of them live in houses with multiple students. All in all, up to 4,000 students may be affected. City officials say they will begin actively enforcing the ordinance on July 1, 2011. The reason for the sudden enforcement of the brothel law is because of a backlash from Evanston residents who are tired of parties, noise and garbage.

It's a tension that exists in a number of US college towns. Students often rent houses that are mixed in with typical residential neighborhoods, frustrating local residents who say they just want a quiet place to raise a family. Students say they have a right to rent such houses and the three student maximum unfairly and arbitrarily targets them.

"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 a petition drafted by the Northwestern student government. Whether the petition will influence the enforcement of the ordinance remains to be seen.

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