Crowds huddle on Hillcrest

By David Tomas

It was 10:30 p.m. Saturday night and large crowds of students walked toward Hillcrest Drive expecting a fun night ahead.

Some were pre-drinking before they left or were drinking as they walked toward Greek Row.

A group of young men and women carrying large cases of beer walked out of Thirsty Liquors, 1039 W. Hillcrest Drive. One hundred feet away, a black car avoided being hit by another driver that ignored a stop sign at the intersection of Greenbrier Road and Hillcrest Drive.

Students could be seen standing on Hillcrest and Fotis drives chugging beer out of cups.

Meanwhile, many police cars were driving by, some of them pulled over drivers and some were on their way to shut down disorderly houses.

This was a typical weekend night around Hillcrest Drive.

Recent reports of violence and vandalism in this area have made some wonder if Hillcrest is a safe place to party.

There has not been a recent increase of police officers on duty in the Hillcrest area, said DeKalb Police Lt. Jim Kayes.

Arrests also often lead to disciplinary action by the university.

“We can govern behavior outside of campus; it is our role to monitor,” said Terry Jones, associate director of the Judicial Office. “We have a good relationship with area police departments.”

Depending on how serious the situation is, police will decide whether to report a crime to the judicial office, Jones said.

Minor incidents are often not reported.

“If someone is arrested on a fairly serious offense we’re going to report it,” Kayes said. “But we can’t make a report for every single underage drinking arrest or … open container violation.”

Homecoming weekend is one of the times in the semester when many students party at night.

During Homecoming weekend, officers will do double shifts, so there will be twice as many officers patrolling the streets, between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., Kayes said.

Students are still advised to be careful while out at night.

Most crimes reported occur after midnight, said NIU Judicial Director Larry Bolles.

Bolles said students should keep an eye out for trouble.

“Even if you’re of age, don’t drink on the sidewalks because you are violating the city ordinances,” he said.