Safety and Security

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.

Health and Safety during COVID-19 Recovery

Northern Illinois University is committed to the safety and wellness of all our community members. This includes managing the complexity of public health concerns and the spread of communicable diseases, like the COVID-19 virus.  

We expect that all members of the NIU Housing community—residents, staff and visitors—act in a manner that demonstrates respect and consideration for those around them, including respect and consideration for the health and safety of all community members. All residential students are prohibited from creating a health or safety hazard that puts other members of the community at risk.  Housing and Residential Services and other university staff may request or require a resident to leave an area if their continued presence and/or activities present a hazard to others. Persistent or reckless behavior that threatens the health and safety could be considered a violation of Housing Policy.  

Residential students are required to comply with health and safety laws, orders, ordinances, regulations and health and safety guidance adopted by the University as it relates to the current public health crises.  This guidance will evolve as the public health crisis evolves and may include, but is not limited to, social distancing, limitations on mass gatherings, wearing a face covering, vaccination requirements, diagnostic and surveillance testing (including before or upon arrival to campus), contact tracing, disinfection protocols, limitations on guests into residence halls and apartments, and quarantine / isolation requirements (including before or upon arrival to campus).

Adherence to health and safety requirements applies to all residents, staff and visitors and extends to all aspects of university housing facilities, including bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, community kitchens, lounges, computer areas, game rooms, courtyards, and other common spaces. Students should not congregate in hallways, elevator landings, stairwells, lounges, or other areas where safe physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

Face Masks during COVID-19 Recovery

Fully Vaccinated Individuals*

Fully vaccinated students and employees are not required to wear masks or practice physical distancing indoors or outdoors but may do so if they prefer. Limited exceptions to this include healthcare settings such as our Northwestern Medicine Student Health Center, public transportation and in-person courses scheduled for the summer where masks remain required.

Unvaccinated Individuals

Students and employees who are NOT fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask at all times indoors unless alone in their private work or living space. Students with in-person summer courses who are not fully vaccinated must participate in NIU’s surveillance testing program. Non-compliance with masks and testing could result in disciplinary measures including being removed from a residence hall or classes.

*The term “fully vaccinated” is defined as someone who is now past the two (2) weeks following their second injection (Pfizer or Moderna) or single injection (Johnson & Johnson).

Quarantine Plan

For residential students who are notified of COVID-19 exposure, the best course of action is to move that student to a designated quarantine ​area where there is ideally a ratio of one student per room and restroom. However, if NIU is unable to provide separate quarantine space, students can be allowed to quarantine in their current residential rooms if they have access to private restrooms, meal delivery and other needs. This quarantine period will be established by NIU in consultation with health officials, and a release and return to campus activities date will be provided to the student.

If a student cannot quarantine in their current space, the student will have two options. The student may quarantine at their home residence. If a student elects to return to their home residence they must notify the Housing and Residential staff of their intentions. If that is not possible or preferred, then the student will be relocated to an NIU staff monitored facility.

While separate quarantine facilities are highly recommended by the CDC and the American College Health Association (ACHA) and considered the best possible option, if campuses are unable to provide separate quarantine space, students may be allowed to quarantine in their current residential room. Students may quarantine together with roommates if it is established that both students meet quarantine and vaccination criteria as established by local health officials.

Isolation Plan

For students living in the NIU residence halls and apartments who have tested positive for COVID-19, the student will have two options. The student may isolate at their home residence. If that is not possible or preferred, then a determination will need to be made if appropriately configured space is available in our university housing system for isolation purposes. Meal services will be provided through Campus Dining Services and delivered to students in isolation at NIU residence halls. If the student requires supplemental supplies for courses, arrangements will need to be made to have those items delivered. If a student elects to return to their home residence they must notify Housing and Residential staff of their intentions.  

Following guidance from the DCHD, isolation may be discontinued when:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or if asymptomatic, since date of the positive test results.

Another option to evaluate a student’s readiness to be released from isolation, per the DCHD and CDC guidelines, is

  • Resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), and
  • Negative results of PCR testing from at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected ≥24 hours apart (total of two negative specimens).

Clearance for a student to return to their residence hall or NIU apartment will be given by the DCHD in consultation with the student’s health care provider. 

PLEASE NOTE:  If possible, students should drive themselves to the hospital, testing or quarantine sites.  If transportation is not available, students should call the COVID-19 helpline (815-753-0444) for assistance.

Other Considerations

The Division of Student Affairs will coordinate the detailed planning for serving students moved to quarantine and isolation housing.  This will include the delivery of meals, cleaning supplies, and other items deem appropriate.  Housing and Residential Services will engage campus partners to work out these details and items as appropriate to ensure a seamless support plan as cases emerge.  

Change in Room Assignments to De-Densify during COVID-19 Recovery

Residential students are required to comply with any de-densifying efforts needed on campus due to COVID or other public health emergency, including, but not limited to, the relocation of all or some residential students to alternative housing. Relocation does not constitute a termination of a residential student’s housing contract. In the event Housing and Residential Services must relocate students as part of a de-densifying strategy, the quarantine/isolation plan, or other public health concerns for an extended period of time and alternative housing is not available, NIU will offer impacted students fair and reasonable reimbursement as appropriate and based on information available at that time. After the first day of classes for the term, if a student contracted for housing elects to commute from home for e-learning purposes then all fees will follow university guidelines for prorated refunds and forfeitures.

Cleaning and Building Services during COVID-19 Recovery

NIU Building Services will continue to implement and modify cleaning protocols to address any health and safety guidance or other public health instructions that helps to minimize the possible spread of diseases.  In certain areas community members will be expected to use available hand sanitizer and when available, disinfectant supplies to clean surface.  It is important that all community members follow proper personal hygiene recommendations. 

Visitors and Guests During COVID-19 Recovery

Visitors to the residence halls and apartments are prohibited while the State of Illinois is in any phase of the Recovery Plan short of Phase V.  Only residents assigned to their residence hall, or apartment are permitted in the building.  Dining locations inside residence halls are exempt from this requirement and will follow their own occupancy and operation guidelines as outlined by the State of Illinois.  Persons coming to a residence hall to meet a resident may safely distance in the lobby area while waiting for their student but are not permitted to leave the lobby area.  Residents may interact with other residents in their hall provided they are following physical distancing guidelines and face coverings are worn in all public spaces.  It is recommended that persons visiting in a residence hall room also wear face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.  Guest and residents may safely congregate in outdoor locations provided they are following distancing guidelines. 

Each student will be required to present their OneCard ID at the entrance to their assigned residence hall entry area and signal the proximity reader at the reception desk or entry point to verify they are a resident of the residence hall. 

Building and Lobby Security

The main entrance and all outside doors to each building are secured. Proper identification of all residents will be required to gain entry to the building. In addition to main desk staff, Access Control attendants help monitor resident and guest entries into the residence halls during the evening hours. Residents who do not have proper identification may be documented and this information could be used through the student conduct process. It is each resident’s responsibility to help maintain a safe and secure environment.

  • Persons are not permitted to prop open community access doors or exterior doors.
  • Current residents must show their NIU OneCard to gain entrance into their residence hall and present their NIU OneCard at the front desk.
  • Residents are required to show proper identification to Housing and Residential Services staff when entering a building and 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.
  • Guests to the residence halls that are not NIU students may be asked to show a valid photo id to be properly registered as a guest.

Room Security

  • Residents are expected to lock their rooms and always carry their keys (if applicable) and NIU OneCard with them.
  • 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 window coverings may be placed directly over the windows, except for the blinds or drapes provided. Aluminum foil, cardboard, tape, newspaper, computer paper, garbage bags, contact paper, posters, flags, etc., may not be used to cover windows.
  • 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 a resident is locked out of their room or cluster:

  • A resident may request a loaner key or temporary Onecard at the front desk of their residence hall/apartment complex. The key/card may be kept a maximum of 1 hour as a loaner key/card. If the key or card is kept past one hour, it will be reclassified as a "temporary key or Onecard". A $5 charge will apply for temporary keys and cards when not returned in the first hour.
  • Staff will confirm a resident's identity using a picture ID or OneCard before issuing a loaner key or temporary Onecard.
  • Residents are provided four loaner transactions as a courtesy when loaners are returned within the first hour.  Upon the fifth time and beyond, the resident will be charged for each subsequently issued loaner key or Onecard at $10 per transaction. 
  • Residents who lock themselves out between the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. are subject to a $25 inconvenience charge.

Temporarily Lost or Misplaced Key or NIU OneCard

Residents have seven days from the date and time of temporary key or card checkout to return the temporary key or door access card back to their residence hall/apartment complex front desk

If a resident does not return the temporary key within the allotted seven days, they will be charged for a key core change to their room door. Any lockout charge associated with the current temporary key will be waived if a recore is initiated.

If a resident does not return the temporary door access card within the seven days, they will be charged $25.00 for the replacement temporary card. These charges are in addition to any charges assessed by the OneCard office related to replacement of a student's OneCard.

Bent or Broken Key/OneCard

There is no charge for bent or broken keys, but residents must return all parts of the key to their front desk or charges will be accrued. Learn about replacement charges for damaged NIU OneCards

Dropping Keys or NIU OneCard Down Elevator Shaft

When a student requests a loaner key/card due to the item falling down an elevator shaft there is a process to try and recover the item. However, the student will incur a fee for the search. There is no guarantee that elevator personnel will find a resident’s 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): Residents 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
    (Mon. - Fri. 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.): Residents 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.)

Permanently Lost or Stolen OneCard

If an NIU OneCard is permanently lost or stolen, a OneCard may be requested from the NIU OneCard Office during regular business hours. If the OneCard is lost or stolen during non-business hours, it should be suspended immediately to prevent any possible misuse. Residents are responsible for reporting the lost or stolen card immediately.

Temporary door access cards are issued free of charge up to four times a semester. There is a $5.00 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 the OneCard on Blackboard. Login to Blackboard and click the "MyOneCard" tab. Residents must also go to the front desk in their residence hall to arrange for staff to suspend door access on their 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 door access if the resident lives in Grant C or D Towers, New Residence Hall, or Gilbert Hall. The resident must go to the front desk in their residence hall to arrange for staff to suspend door access on a lost or stolen card.

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
  1. Repairs and Inspections by Physical PlantEnvironmental Health and Safety, and Department of Information Technology Technicians.

Residents 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 rooms; however, efforts will be made to notify a resident before and/or after entry.

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  1. Entry by outside contractors/non-NIU personnel

NIU contracts out for certain services such as pest control, appliance repair, etc., and permits contracted personnel to enter student rooms for contracted services when services are needed.

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. While we are in COVID-19 Recovery students may only visit other students living in their assigned residence hall and should wear a face mask.

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 a room.

  • Typically acceptable appliances (UL approved) include: computers, gaming systems, TVs, 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 in Gilbert, Grant, Neptune, New Hall, or Stevenson, and 20 gallons or less in Northern View Community.
  • 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 residents 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.
  • If a fire extinguisher is discharged, please let the main desk staff know immediately.

Cooking safety comes with great responsibility in general but especially when living in Northern View Community. If cooking is a new experience for you, or you need to brush up on your safety knowledge please reach out to the Work Request Office (WRO) for training tips and opportunities.

General Cooking Tips

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or under the influence, refrain from cooking.
  • Don’t leave your kitchen when you turn on a burner. If you need to leave your kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the burner.
  • Check your food regularly as you are cooking and set a timer as a reminder that you are cooking.
  • Make sure items such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, towels, etc., are away from your stovetop. Don’t have any combustible items hanging from your cabinets or stove hood.

Safety Considerations for Cooking With Oil

  • Always stay in the kitchen when frying/and or cooking with hot oil on the stovetop.
  • Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner, cover the pan, and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
  • Do not cover the pan while you are heating up the oil. Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
  • Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
  • Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire. Remember, there is a fire extinguisher in your apartment.
  • If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your apartment and call 911.

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, residents must complete and submit the Premise Alert Program Form. Please direct any questions about this program to the Hall Director, Complex Coordinator, or the Coordinator of Residential Facilities. Those students who need assistance are shown the appropriate areas of refugee in their residence, and staff work with emergency responders to safely evacuate those students when necessary.

Tornado Emergencies

In the event of a tornado or other severe weather emergency, residents may only have minutes (or fewer) to get to safety. Residents should become familiar 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. Residents should remain alert for approaching storms and 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, residents should seek shelter in the designated area of their 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 residents 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. Residents should plan to seek shelter at the start of a tornado warning and not wait until they hear the sirens.
  • When seeking shelter during a tornado or other severe weather emergency, residents should move quickly using the stairwells to the designated area. Residents should not use elevators, as they may become trapped if the power goes out. Tornado and severe weather shelter areas are 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.
Northern View Community First floor residents: go to the restroom, jump in the bathtub and put a mattress over your head. Second and third floor residents: Go under the stairwell on the first floor; if possible, if you know someone on the first floor, knock on the door and ask to use their bathtub/mattress for shelter.

Contact Us

Housing and Residential Services
Neptune East 101

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