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Reminders About Northwestern Campus Safety

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

We welcome you back to campus for the 2022-2023 academic year. As we look forward to opportunities to support your safety and well-being, the Department of Safety & Security offers these important safety reminders and updates on our current priorities.

Safety Reminders

Please remember that safety is a shared responsibility, and you are our key partners in reducing the opportunities for crime to occur. Being mindful of yourself, those around you and your surroundings can truly make a difference.

  • The most common crime on campuses is theft of property such as wallets, laptops and cell phones. Please do not leave your personal belongings and valuables unattended.
  • You can visit the Student Affairs website to learn more about Safe Ride as well as NUGuardian, the recently launched peer-to-peer smartphone application to enhance your personal safety.
  • Receive a free helmet and light when you register your bike. Also, please review our bike resources.
  • Be aware that phishing emails offering part-time jobs and other financial investment opportunities are often sent to defraud you.
  • If you become aware of someone displaying threatening behavior, call the University Police Communications Center at 847-491-3456 or 911, or submit a Wildcats Aware Reporting Form.
  • The Safety & Security website further describes our services for the University community, including free shuttles between campuses and across the Evanston campus late into the night. 

Next week, Northwestern will test AlertNU, its emergency alert system, which sends messages during campus emergencies to students, faculty and staff via text message, email, phone and social media. The test also will include a reminder to review and update personal emergency contact information so the University can reach you in case of a critical situation. Look for a community message later this week for further details.

Updates on our current priorities

Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of all Northwestern community members. We have listened to your feedback and, as our campus safety approach evolves, we are committed to continued engagement with you to create programs and improve operations that ensure quality service delivery for our diverse community.

Alternative mental health crisis response

We are collaborating with Student Affairs and other University partners to create an alternative approach to respond to students experiencing mental health crises after hours. With the help of experts in the field, we are developing guidelines and defining responsibilities for a new mobile team of trained mental health professionals who will respond to immediate mental health needs of students during non-business hours and collaborate with existing mental health structures on campus for student care.

Safety ambassador program to serve you

Through careful analysis of calls for University Police service, we learned there is an opportunity to redefine the criteria for scenarios that require police response. As a result, we are establishing a program that will expand our non-armed community service team by adding safety ambassadors who will address low-risk events on campus, reducing police response to these situations. Once this program is fully implemented, it will better align our response levels to your needs.

Training to strengthen community engagement

University law enforcement personnel have had extensive training in protection of civil liberties, cultural competency, implicit bias, anti-racism, and procedural justice to strengthen our engagement with the campus community. In addition, our personnel recently completed coursework in de-escalation and mental health crisis intervention that emphasized effective communication with those who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.

Opportunity for continued dialogue

We have worked with our colleagues in Student Affairs to create a new forum to ensure ongoing dialogue with you regarding safety and wellness. This group will discuss trends and recommendations and will monitor important changes already in place, including private ambulance transports to hospitals due to mental health crises, descriptors in crime notices that in almost all cases do not refer to race, and the routing of complaints to EthicsPoint to increase accountability. The first meeting of the group will occur this fall and include representatives from undergraduate and graduate student groups, faculty, and staff.

Upgraded security measures for Chicago campus parking garages

In recent months, we have engaged with representatives of the Chicago campus and healthcare communities who frequently use the parking garages and a security system design consultant on plans to provide a higher level of safety in the garages. When the security enhancements are complete, we will have greater monitoring through expanded technology, including electronic access control for parking garage elevator lobbies, additional security cameras, and improved lighting.

Thank you for your partnership in keeping Northwestern safe and secure for learning, working, and living. We welcome your feedback, which can be shared with us at