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Reports and Initial Inquiry

Reports of Alleged Misconduct

The University encourages anyone with knowledge of an alleged violation of University policy to report the information to the University. Reports can be submitted in the following ways:

The OCS also commonly receives incident reports through University entities including, but not limited to, Residential Services, Northwestern University Police Department (NUPD), and Fraternity and Sorority Life, as well as the other law enforcement agencies.

While anonymous incident reports will be reviewed by the OCS, the University’s ability to address alleged misconduct reported by anonymous sources is significantly limited; therefore, anonymous reports are discouraged.

Initial Inquiry

When a report is received, an administrator designated by the Office of Community Standards will gather information regarding the alleged incident in order to determine the appropriate means of resolution. Gathering information could include meeting with the reporter, witnesses, and others who may have knowledge of the incident. During the initial inquiry, the administrator will review all available information related to a report. Based on the information available, the level of detail known about an incident, the interest/willingness of a reporter to participate in the student conduct process, and whether the report is related to a University policy, the administrator will determine the appropriate path for each case. The available paths include:
  • Close the Case: The OCS may close cases when insufficient information exists to move forward or when the alleged misconduct—even if substantiated— would not be a violation of policy. The OCS may, in its discretion, reopen a case in the future if additional information becomes available.
  • Informal Resolution: Informal resolution involves action taken by the University in response to a situation or report of violation of University policy when formal resolution is not desired by the reporter or when there is not enough information to proceed with a formal resolution process.
  • Formal Resolution: The conduct administrator may determine that there is reasonable information to suggest a policy violation may have occurred. In these cases, the OCS will refer the case to formal resolution for further investigation and formal resolution.
  • Summary Resolution: Summary resolution involves administrative action taken when exigent circumstances require immediate action to protect the welfare and safety of the University community.

Additionally, the OCS will determine whether interim actions should be taken while the case is pending. Interim actions may include measures taken prior to the formal resolution to ensure the safety and security of the campus community.