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Reporting Incidents

Sexual assaults are one of the most under-reported crimes on college campuses. A survivor has the right to choose whether to file a police report.

Reporting an incident of sexual violence to police or University Police does not mean a survivor is obligated to take the offender to court (i.e., prosecute). Individuals are strongly encouraged to report incidents of sexual misconduct to University Police or local law enforcement officials. Timely reporting to the police is an important factor in successful investigation and prosecution of crimes, including sexual violence crimes, and may lead to the arrest of an offender or aid in the investigation of other incidents.

Evanston Campus:

Chicago Campus:

Police process

We have officers who are specially trained to work with individuals reporting sexual misconduct and sexual violence.

First, we’re going to make sure you’re safe —we’ll attend to any medical needs you have. It’s also important to know that you are in control of the police investigation, and we will move at whatever pace you’re comfortable with unless we need to act to prevent harm to another.

Our highly-trained and sensitive officers will do an initial interview to better understand what happened.  Then, we’ll collect evidence from you, which may include the clothing you were wearing at the time, bedding (if applicable), etc. — a detective will be called to assist with the investigation.  With your permission, we’ll take you to the hospital for a private SANE exam (Sexual Assault Nurse Exam) with a medical professional. This will assist us in obtaining forensic evidence as well as assuring your medical well-being.  Officers will not be present during the exam, but you’re welcome to bring a friend or family member to help make you feel more comfortable. A victim advocate will be called to meet you at the hospital for additional support and help with understanding your rights. The advocate’s presence is completely up to you and you have the option to deny this service. Once the SANE exam is complete, officers will collect all of the evidence and transport it to the State of Illinois Crime Lab for analysis.

It is never easy going through a traumatic experience, and individuals respond in various ways. If you would like, we would be happy to connect you with Northwestern’s Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE: 847-491-2054) for confidential support or advocacy services. Once you’re well rested, a detective will contact you for a second interview to discuss your options and how you wish to proceed with the case.

Furthermore, University Police has a guarantee for sexual violence survivors that reflects its primary concern for survivors and emphasizes sensitivity, privacy, and the need for trust and confidence.

University Police can also assist in reviewing options with survivors and identifying and facilitating support resources related to: 

Reports of all sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking made to University Police will automatically be reported to the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator regardless of whether the complainant chooses to pursue criminal charges. 

Whom to contact

An individual who reports to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator, University Police, the Dean of Students Office, CARE, or the Women’s Center that they have been a victim of sexual assault, stalking, or dating or domestic violence, whether the offense occurred on or off campus, will be provided with a written explanation of the student or employee’s rights, options, and resources, including a link to all of the information contained in this policy.  This includes the right to be assisted by University officials to notify law enforcement, if the complainant so chooses, or to decline to report the incident to law enforcement for investigation.

The offices identified below are specially trained to work with individuals who report sexual misconduct, and have knowledge about on- and off-campus resources, services, and options – including possible interim actions and accommodations.

Title IX Coordinator and Director of the Office of Sexual Harassment Prevention

(Reports about all forms of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment)

Colleen Johnston, Title IX Coordinator, Office of Equity
1800 Sherman Avenue, Suite 4-500, Evanston Campus
Phone:  (847) 491-3881
Report Form:


Office of Equal Opportunity and Access

(Discrimination and harassment complaints, including Title IX sex discrimination complaints)

Sarah M. Brown, Senior Director, Office of Equity

Phone:  (847) 467-4335

Office of Student Conduct

(Student-to-student discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual violence complaints)

Tara Sullivan, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for sexual misconduct complaints against students
601 University Place, Lower Level, Evanston Campus
Phone:  847-467-5078

Other Reporting Options


NUhelp (for reports about students):

Reporting incidents involving minors

As stated in the Minors at Northwestern Policy, all University community members are obligated to report to DCFS and University Police any suspected abuse and neglect of a child. This includes any and all incidents of sexual misconduct involving minors.