Actions, Progress and Updates
Following our commitment to transparency and accountability, this webpage will include regular updates on Northwestern University’s commitment to improving public safety and the progress made by the Community Safety Advisory Board (CSAB).
CSAB Proposals & Leadership Commitments
Through mid-March 2021, the CSAB convened with an initial focus on evaluating the findings and recommendations from the external review of the Department of Safety & Security. The first round of ideas from the CSAB, for which there was a reasonable level of consensus by the advisory board, are listed below to provide an initial response to recommendations from the external review and to initiate early change.
University leadership agreed to take action on these proposals and developed the milestones listed below. Meanwhile, the CSAB will continue to evaluate the external review’s findings and to offer additional ideas that would improve campus safety.
1. Student Mental Health Response
CSAB Proposal: Evaluate the response to student mental health incidents and wellness checks on campus, including the extent Safety & Security should be involved, to ensure the appropriate professionals respond and that students receive the care they need. This should include identifying the best method to transport students experiencing mental health distress to the hospital safely instead of using a marked security vehicle.
- Additional note from CSAB: The CSAB’s expectation is to emphasize de-escalation, have no involvement of uniformed security personnel, and have responses conducted by licensed mental health professionals (e.g. psychologist, social worker, etc.). If the responding licensed mental health professional determines that transport to the hospital is necessary, the expectation is to ensure the student is able to give informed consent prior to transport occurring.
- University leadership commitment: Northwestern will examine and then determine the role that Safety & Security should have, if any, in student mental health responses. We anticipate implementing any resulting changes in the role of Safety & Security over the summer. This timing allows us to ensure that we will have the right resources in place for a smooth transition.
- By the end of June, we will also identify and implement alternative transport options to the hospital for students experiencing distress instead of a marked security vehicle. (Note that rides back from the hospital, with presumably a low risk of harm to the student and driver, are covered with ride-share vouchers.) This work will center the safety and dignity of all those involved, especially for our BIPOC students.
2. Safety & Security Work Analysis
CSAB Proposal: Analyze how Safety & Security spends time and resources, and what services it offers. Then, determine the services or functions which should be offered by alternative methods or cease altogether.
- University leadership commitment: Northwestern will complete a strategic work analysis of Safety & Security activities to determine which services should be performed by alternative methods or cease altogether. As the external reviewers and advisory board noted, this analysis is necessary to understand the need for security and how it could look different.
Potential changes identified through this analysis would be implemented beyond the first three months. As with student mental health, it is imperative that any changes be handled smoothly with a clear alternative identified in order to ensure continuous campus safety.
3. DSS Complaint Reporting Process
CSAB Proposal: Reroute complaints about security services to a separate and independent party to increase accountability with a more transparent reporting process.
- University leadership commitment: Northwestern will reroute complaints about campus safety services outside of Safety & Security. To meet the desire for additional transparency, we will also publicly share the revised process.
4. Racial Identifiers in Campus Notices
CSAB Proposal: Evaluate if and how racial identifiers in campus incident notices should be used.
- Additional note from the CSAB: The campus incident notices should continue to meet legal requirements, but to the extent possible, racial identifiers should be avoided.
- University leadership commitment: Northwestern will review and revise our practices on when racial identifiers are used in incident alerts (“Crime Notices”). We will also implement standard language for these notices to reduce the level of discretion exercised in each instance.
News and Updates
View news and more updates on the public safety review and Northwestern’s progress in reimaging campus security and creating a more inclusive safe environment.
Under the leadership of Dr. Clyde Yancy of the Feinberg School of Medicine, the Community Safety Advisory Board (CSAB) was charged last winter with reimagining the campus safety model at a time when impassioned discussion continues nationwide about the role of security personnel in society.