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Minors at Northwestern Policy

Members of the Northwestern University community have a shared responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of youth in Northwestern programs. The procedures and requirements outlined in our Minors at Northwestern Policy will help us achieve that goal.

View the full policy

Policy overview

Northwestern engages in a wide range of academic, recreational, and service programs that involve minors. Through this policy, the University explains its minimum standards and expectations for each program.

Key requirements for Northwestern youth programs

  • All programs involving youth must be registered with the University through the new website;
  • All faculty and staff engaging with minors in the course of a program covered by the policy must undergo a background check prior to participation; and
  • All faculty and staff involved in these programs are expected to complete a new online training module, which will be available through myHR Learn.

Entities/individuals covered by this policy

  • All schools, departments, and units of the University
  • All members of the University community, including, but not limited to:
    • Faculty
    • Staff
    • Students
    • Volunteers
  • Non-Northwestern organizations that operate programs for minors in Northwestern owned/controlled facilities

Key definitions

Minor: any person under the age of 18. However, for purposes of this policy, the term does not include a person under the age of 18 who is either (i) enrolled in a Northwestern undergraduate or graduate program as a full-time student or (ii) employed by Northwestern (including interns)

Covered Programs: all programs involving minors (whether for academic, educational, pre-collegiate, experiential, athletic, artistic, recreational, or other purposes) that are operated either (i) on campus or (ii) off campus under the direction and authority of the University.

However, for purposes of this policy, Covered Programs do not include:

  1. Single events on campus (such as festivals, convocations, or athletic events) that are generally open to people of all age groups at which children may be present;
  2. Campus tours or visits attended by prospective students who are minors; or
  3. Faculty-led, research studies subject to the review and approval of an Institutional Review Board (IRB), as these programs are governed by separate standards and oversight. This exception does not apply to ongoing group programs that may undergo IRB review.

Program Staff: administrators, faculty, staff, students, post-doctoral researchers, volunteers, independent contractors, and third-party operators who work directly with, supervise, chaperone, or otherwise oversee minors in Covered Programs. This term does not include temporary program participants (such as guest speakers) who have no direct contact with minors other than short-term activities supervised by Program Staff. 

Please refer to policy for complete list of Definitions.