Skip to main content

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:

  • 1201 Davis Street
  • 847-491-3456 (24 hours)

Chicago Campus:

  • 211 East Superior Street
  • 312-503-3456 (24 hours)

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: 

  • Seeking medical attention
  • Counseling
  • Legal options, including seeking civil no-contact orders or protective orders
  • Options under University administrative procedures

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

Whom to contact

The University encourages reporting of sexual misconduct. Members of the University community who believe they have experienced sexual misconduct have the right to choose whether or not to report the incident to the University, law enforcement, or both, and have the right to choose whether to engage with the University once the University receives a report. Upon receipt of a report, an Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance staff member will contact the person who may have experienced sexual misconduct. The outreach from the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance will include information regarding medical and confidential counseling and support resources; options for pursuing a complaint and/or reporting the incident to law enforcement; how to request a protective order or no-contact directive; how to request supportive measures from the University; how to preserve evidence; and where to access more information. The outreach will also include an invitation to meet with or provide additional information to an Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance staff member.

You can learn more about help, support, and resources on the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance website.

Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance
1800 Sherman Avenue, Suite 4-500, Evanston Campus
Phone: (847) 467-6165

Other Reporting Options


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.