Frequently Asked Questions

For topic specific FAQs, select from the list below:

Initial Appointment Letters and Hearing Process

I received an initial appointment letter, what should I do?

You should make sure to follow the directions in the notice. Typically this means attending the meeting that has been scheduled with a University official. If you receive an Acceptance of Responsibility Letter you will not have to attend a meeting as long as you accept responsibility for the alleged policy violation. If you do not accept responsibility, you will have to contact the University official and schedule a meeting with them.

How should I prepare for my meeting?

Be prepared to have a conversation regarding the incident as well as the alleged policy violations that were in your initial appointment letter. If you would like to prepare a written statement you are welcome to, however, that is not an expectation. If you would like an advisor for your meeting you are welcome to bring one, however, please remember that your advisor cannot be a witness and must be a member of the University community and/or a Victim Advocate. An advisor also cannot be a member of the bar or a family member of either the reporter or respondent.

How does a conduct administrator decide if I am found responsible for violating a policy?

All University officials hearing a case use a standard called “preponderance of the evidence.”  This means that the person hearing the case (investigator(s), conduct administrator(s), a panel) must determine that it is more likely than not that an alleged violation occurred. This is not the same standard as a court of law, which is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Can I be found responsible for violating a University policy if the incident occurred off-campus?

Yes, you can be found responsible for violating a University policy off-campus and, in fact, anywhere in the world.

Sanctions and Outcomes

What outcomes might I receive if I am found responsible for violating a University policy?

There are a variety of possible outcomes you may receive if you are found responsible for violating a University policy. These outcomes are typically called “sanctions” and range from disciplinary sanctions to educational sanctions to interventions. All University officials meeting with students over alleged policy violations seek to administer sanctions that are intentional and educational for the specific incident. For more information and examples of sanctions please visit our sanctions page LINK.

Can I have sanctions from more than one University official?

Yes. For instance, if you reside in University Housing, are a member of a Greek organization, or are an athlete, you may have consequences from Residence Life, Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, or the Athletic Department along with your sanctions from a conduct administrator.

What if I fail to complete my sanctions?

If you fail to complete your sanctions a hold will be placed on your student account disallowing you from registering for classes until you complete the sanction. Furthermore, you could also be found responsible for further violating University policy such as failure to comply.

What if I do not agree with the outcome of my meeting?

If you had an administrative hearing and would like to ask for an administrative review of your outcome you may do so based on at least one of the following three criteria: a) new information discovered after the administrative hearing that could not have reasonably been available at the time of the hearing and is of a nature that could materially change the outcome; b) procedural errors within the hearing process which may have substantially affected the fairness of the hearing; c) an outcome (findings or sanctions) that was manifestly contrary to the weight of the information presented during the case. If you participated in a panel hearing you may ask for an appeal based on one of the same three criteria listed in the administrative review above.

For more information on administrative reviews and appeals, please visit our administrative review and/or appeals webpage (LINK).

Privacy

What happens if a student received a police citation or was arrested and charged with a crime?

The student will have to resolve the issue through both the University Hearing and Appeals process as well as the legal system.

The University’s conduct system is completely independent of legal or criminal proceedings. Because of this, incidents may go through both the University conduct system as well as the legal system concurrently. Because the University is not a court room or legal proceeding, the University is also not bound by decisions or outcomes made in a legal venue when determining whether or not a student is responsible for violating a policy. For instance, if a student is cited for noise off-campus, while the citation might not be upheld in court, the student could still be found responsible for a noise violation through the University.

What goes on my official transcript?

No disciplinary outcomes are noted on your official transcripts.  However, you do still have a conduct record that the University will keep on file during your time at Northwestern and seven years after. Furthermore, for Deans Certifications and background checks the University will share outcomes that are suspension level or higher. For more on conduct records please visit: LINK

Will my parents or guardians be notified?

Depending on the incident you were involved in and the policy violation(s) you were found responsible for, your parents or guardians might be notified. If you are under 21 years of age and were found responsible for violating an alcohol and other drug policy your parents or guardians will be notified. For first time violations a letter is sent to your parents or guardians, for second time violations and beyond a letter is sent home to your parents or guardians and they are expected to call the conduct administrator. There are also other times that it may be necessary to contact your parent or guardian, specifically when it is necessary to protect your health or safety in connection with an emergency or contacting your parent or guardian is authorized by law and University policy.

Reporting

How can I report or express concerns about the conduct of a student or student group?

You can report concerns in a variety of ways. You can send an email to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution at: student-conduct@northwestern.edu. You can also come to the OSCCR office (Scott Hall, Room 35) to talk to a University official, or you can provide information to any University Hearing Officer. Incident reports are also commonly received through University entities including, but not limited to: Residential Services, Northwestern University Police Department, and Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, as well as the Evanston Police Department.

You can also submit a concern online at: LINK

Anyone is welcome to submit an incident report to the OSCCR describing alleged student misconduct. Incident reports should contain the following:

  • Date, time, and location of the incident
  • Names of individuals involved
  • Email addresses and phone numbers for individuals involved – where available
  • Narrative/description of the incident

If I call for help because my friend is really drunk but I’ve also been drinking, what happens to me?

If you follow the University’s Responsible Action Protocol, you will not face disciplinary action. However, you may be asked to meet with a University official and possibly complete an educational intervention. Furthermore, if this becomes habitual disciplinary action will be taken. For more information on our Responsible Action Protocol, visit: LINK

How do I get a dean certification or other background checks as requested by a graduate or professional school, future employer, or other?

Please visit the Dean Certifications and Background Checks portion of our website for more information regarding this (click here to go to the site).