Rights & Responsibilities of Students and Authority & Responsibility of University Police

A civil, open, and interactive community is an essential characteristic of a vital university. It is fundamental to the free exchange of ideas that is at the core of an environment that cultivates learning and discovery. Yet universities throughout the nation are experiencing serious challenges to achieving this desired, indeed necessary, sense of community. At Northwestern University we must vigorously pursue an academic, work, and social environment that is civil, fair, and founded upon mutual respect and trust. All individuals within the broad University community should share this aspiration and its attendant responsibilities. As members of the Northwestern community, its faculty, staff, and students are expected to deal with each other with respect and consideration.

Student status at Northwestern is a privilege earned by meeting standards of academic performance and adherence to regulations governing conduct. As a private institution, Northwestern University has created policies and regulations defining, among other things, who may be a part of or visit the University and who may have access to the property and facilities of the institution. The University also expects students to follow federal, state, and local laws.

Student Rights

Within this framework, students have guaranteed rights, but the exercise of those rights may not interfere with the rights of others in the University community.

  1. The right to pursue academic and other goals without being subject to discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship, veteran status or genetic information;
  2. Protection against unlawful searches and seizures;
  3. Freedom to communicate, assemble, and peaceably demonstrate;
  4. Freedom to join organizations, to speak freely, and to exercise the civil rights to which any citizen of the United States is entitled, as long as the student does not claim to represent the institution;
  5. The right to a fair and impartial hearing, either through administrative procedures or through the University Hearing and Appeals System/Sexual Assault Hearing and Appeals System, regarding allegations of violations of institutional rules.

In the exercise of these rights, students may file reports of incidents with the University Police with the expectation that such reports will be investigated in a timely and thorough manner. Similarly, students may initiate formal complaints about University Police conduct or services as provided below.

Student Responsibilities

The responsibilities of individual students include

  1. Compliance with University regulations as set forth in the Student Handbook, other official University publications, and federal, state, and local laws. These regulations and laws include, but are not limited to, assaults, theft, damage to personal or University property, sexual assault, sexual or other forms of harassment, alcohol offenses, drug-related offenses, gambling, motor vehicle violations, unauthorized access to buildings or property of the University, and resisting or obstructing a police officer in the performance of his or her duties.
  2. Cooperation with University officials, including University Police officers, acting in their official capacity within established guidelines. While retaining their rights against self-incrimination, students are required to provide identification when asked and surrender, upon request, their University identification card until the incident under investigation is resolved.

Authority of University Police

Under state law (Illinois Compiled Statutes, chapter 110, section 1020/1) and through the authority conferred by the Board of Trustees of the University, University Police officers have the authority, while enforcing state and local laws both on and off University property, to

  1. Investigate alleged violations of the law;
  2. Detain or arrest individuals alleged to have violated such statutes;
  3. Establish the legitimacy of a person’s actions or presence on University property through requests for identification;
  4. Issue criminal trespass warnings and escort individuals from the campus who do not have a legitimate reason to be on the property;
  5. Use the appropriate force, while acting in an official capacity, that is reasonable and necessary, under established guidelines, to enforce the law.

As University officials, University Police officers also have the authority to

  1. Ensure compliance with University regulations, including reporting alleged violations to the appropriate administrator for action;
  2. Refer students to the Division of Student Affairs for disposition of alleged minor legal infractions or alleged violations of University rules or regulations.

Responsibilities of University Police

The University Police Department is responsible for crime prevention, law enforcement, parking control, enforcement of University regulations, special-event security, and emergency-incident management. All University Police officers are expected to carry out their duties in a professional and courteous manner.

  • Evanston campus:1819 Hinman Avenue, 847-491-3456
  • Chicago campus: 211 East Superior Street, 312-503-3456