Missing Student Policy

Responsible University Official: Associate Vice President for Public Safety & Chief of Police and University Registrar
Responsible Office: University Police and University Registrar
Origination Date: September 1, 2013

Policy statement

If a member of the University community has reason to believe that a student is missing, he or she must immediately notify University Police (UP).  UP will generate a missing person report and initiate an investigation, and if the person is determined to be missing, will initiate the required notifications as per federal and state laws.

Reason for policy/purpose

Federal law requires that the University establish a policy on reporting a student missing from on-campus student housing, how students can designate a missing person contact person, and how the missing person contact information will be used.

Who approved this policy

Vice President of Student Affairs

Who needs to know this policy

Northwestern University faculty, staff, and students.


If you have any questions on the policy or procedure for the Missing Student Policy, you may:

  1. Call UP at 847-491-3256 or the University Registrar (Registrar) at 847-491-5234, or
  2. Send an email to University Police or NU Registrar


  1. If any person believes or receives notice that a Northwestern University student has been missing, the person must immediately make a report to UP at 847-491-3456.
  2. Students have the option to identify a missing person contact to be notified by Northwestern University in the event the student is determined to be missing for 24 hours.  If a student has identified such an individual, Northwestern University will notify that individual no later than 24 hours after the student is determined to be missing.
    • Students may confidentially register a missing person contact in the student system, CAESAR.  Students may add or update missing person contact information at any time in CAESAR.
  3. UP accepts any report, including a telephone report, of a missing student.  If UP determines that a student for whom a missing person report has been filed has been missing for 24 hours, then, no later than 24 hours after the student has been determined to be missing, UP will:
    • Notify the individual(s) identified by the student in CAESAR to be contacted in such circumstances.
    • Notify a parent or guardian (if the student is less than 18 years old and not emancipated) if a parent or guardian is not identified by the student as their missing person contact in CAESAR.
    • Notify appropriate law enforcement agencies in compliance with all statutory requirements.
    • Notify the Dean of Students or Vice President from Student Affairs.
  4. The student-provided missing person contact information will be registered confidentially and will be accessible only to authorized campus officials (such as UP, the Registrar and Student Affairs) and may not be disclosed, except to law enforcement personnel in furtherance of a missing person investigation.
  5. In the event of a missing student determination by UP, UP will investigate and follow procedural protocols outlined in UP’s internal Missing Persons procedure.
  6. Each fall the Registrar reminds students of the opportunity to register a missing person contact and provides directions on how to do so.  The Registrar may issue additional registration reminders at its discretion.
  7. The Registrar maintains student provided emergency and missing contact information.  The Registrar is responsible for maintaining missing student contact notice documentation in accordance with record retention requirements outlined in the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 USC 1092(f)).
  8. Regardless of whether the student has named a confidential missing student contact person under this Policy, UP will notify any appropriate law enforcement agencies in compliance with all statutory requirements and in no event later than 24 hours after the time the individual is determined missing.
  9. Northwestern University may issue community notice(s), including photograph(s) of the student, to assist in locating a missing student.

History/Revision Dates

Origination Date: September 1, 2013
Last Amended Date: N/A
Next Review Date: September 1, 2017