Online Social Networking Policy

As representatives of the Northwestern University Department of Athletics and Recreation, student-athletes should remember that they are held to a high standard of behavior.  This includes any activities conducted on any social networking websites (e.g., Facebook, MySpace) or any other online site (e.g.,  While we support and encourage individuals' freedom of expression and First Amendment rights, we are concerned about your safety and the well being of all of our student-athletes.

Educating and protecting our student-athletes are our primary concerns, so please keep in mind the following guidelines as you participate on social networking websites:

  1. Before participating in any online community, understand that anything posted online is available to anyone in the world.
  2. Do not post your home address, local address, phone number(s), birth date or other personal information (e.g., class schedule, social plans).
  3. Do not post any information that would violate Northwestern University, Athletics Department or student-athlete codes of conduct and/or state or federal laws.
  4. Do not post any information, photos or other items online that could embarrass you, your family, your team, the Athletics Department or Northwestern University. This includes, but is not limited to information, photos, quotes and other items that may be tagged to you from another user.
  5. Do not add a "friend" unless it is actually someone you know.  Many people are looking to expose student-athletes (e.g., and/or gain information about your team that will assist in gambling activities or provide material for unsportsmanlike behavior from opposing fans.
  6. You must provide full access to members of your coaching staff and/or selected members of the Athletics Department for any and all personal online networking pages.
  7. You must fully participate in any system developed by your coaching staff to assist in self-monitoring your teammates' personal online networking pages (e.g., buddy system).
  8. If you discover any inappropriate information on the networking page of any Northwestern student-athlete you will immediately contact one of the following people:  the student-athlete, the student-athlete's coach, the student-athlete's captain, the Purple Mentor(s) from the student-athlete's team, the Director of Athletics and Recreation, or any other member of Athletic Department's senior staff.

Social networking websites may be regularly monitored by a number of sources within Northwestern University (e.g., Athletics Department, Student Affairs, University Police) as well as sources outside of Northwestern (e.g., potential employers, internship supervisors).  In addition to potential employers, an increasing number of graduate programs and scholarship committees also search these sites to screen candidates.

Northwestern student-athletes should be very careful when using online social networking sites and keep in mind that sanctions may be imposed if these sites are used improperly or depict inappropriate, embarrassing or dangerous behaviors. Those sanctions can include, but are not limited to public or private reprimand, suspension from practice or competition, dismissal from the program, and loss of athletics aid, if applicable. 

The following information was developed to provide you with some guidance as to what type of behavior is appropriate relative to online social networking.  These guidelines are not all inclusive; rather, they are intended to be used as a foundation for sound decision making.

Text Guidelines - words and/or phrases not permitted anywhere on your networking page, regardless of who posted them, include (but are not limited to) the following:

  1. Any words or phrases considered to be harassing and/or discriminatory in nature on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation.
  2. Any demeaning statements about or threats to any third party.
  3. Sexually explicit language.
  4. Curse words not permitted over the airwaves (e.g., George Carlin's 7 words).
  5. Words or phrases to describe excessive social activities (e.g., partying, boozing and smoking are not appropriate hobbies for student-athletes who maintain a leadership role in the community.)
  6. Words or phrases you would not want attributed directly to you should they be released publicly (e.g., newspaper, television story).

Photo Guidelines - examples of inappropriate or offensive behaviors posted on social networking sites may include (but are not limited to) depictions or presentations of the following, regardless of who posted them:

  1. Hazing, an activity that violates the Northwestern Student Code of Conduct.
  2. Use of alcohol and drugs, regardless of age.
  3. Lewd or lascivious behavior including sexually explicit pictures.
  4. Photos meant to demean the individuals included in the photo.
  5. Any photos you would not want publicly released on television or in a newspaper.


Sanctions for failure to agree and adhere to this policy and the guidelines set forth above may result in actions including, but not limited to, public or private reprimand, suspension from practice or competition, dismissal from the program, and loss of athletics aid, if applicable. It is the Athletics Department's intention to achieve a level of behavior that reflects positively on all of us. 

*Please refer to the social media decision tree before posting anything online.