Frequently Asked Questions



What is an advocate?

An advocate is someone trained to provide confidential support and assistance to individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct. Advocates can help you file an order of protection, go with you to the hospital or to make a report, and help you get accommodations. An advocate is available through Safe Passage or NIU (the confidential advisor).

What is an accommodation?

If you've experienced sexual misconduct, you can confidentially request accommodations. These may include changes to your academic, living, transportation or work situations. Examples of accommodations include:

  • Transferring to a different section of a class, or withdrawing and taking a class at another time.
  • Moving to a different room or residence hall.
  • Changing your work hours.
  • Parking in a different location or getting a safety escort.

You don't need to file a formal complaint to NIU or the police in order to request accommodations. The NIU confidential advisor or Safe Passage can help you request accommodations.

Should I get a rape kit?

The collection of physical evidence may be necessary for criminal prosecution and may be helpful in obtaining an order of protection. If possible, don't bathe, wash your hands, use the restroom, drink, smoke, change clothes or brush your teeth before seeking medical attention.

The nurses at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital (1 Kish Hospital Dr., DeKalb) are trained to collect evidence (a rape kit) at no cost if you've been sexually assaulted or abused. The NIU police can take you to the hospital if you need a ride. When you arrive, an advocate from Safe Passage will be there to tell you what to expect and answer your questions.

Filing a Police Report

How do I file a police report?

To file a police report, call 911 to speak with local police. You can also go to the police department where the incident occurred.

What happens after I file a police report?

After you file a police report, an officer may ask you about what happened to see if there's an immediate safety risk to you or the community. A detective may be assigned to your case. They'll interview you, the accused individual and other witnesses. They'll ask you if there is any physical evidence, such as clothing or bedsheets, or documentary evidence, such as text messages or other communications with the accused individual.

Can someone go with me to file a police report?

Yes, someone can accompany you to file a police report. NIU’s confidential advisor or an advocate from Safe Passage can go with you and tell you what to expect.

Your friend or roommate can also be with you. However, if they witnessed the incident, they may have to leave when you speak with an officer or detective about what happened.

What if I file a police report and change my mind?

You have the right to file a police report and change your mind. If you no longer want the police to investigate the incident, you'll be asked to sign a termination of investigation. This document will explain what terminating the investigation means and your option to open your case at a later date.  

Filing a Title IX Complaint

What happens after I file a Title IX complaint?

After you submit a complaint, an investigator from the Ethics and Compliance Office will contact you within the next business day or two. They'll meet with you in a private setting to talk about what happened. You may have a support person, such as an advocate or friend, present.

The investigator will then interview the accused individual. You won't be present during this interview, but will be made aware of what they say during the investigation process. The investigator will also collect witness statements and other evidence (pictures, texts, etc.).

What is the difference between a Title IX investigation and a criminal investigation?

A criminal investigation determines if an individual violated criminal law. If they're found guilty at the end of the investigation, they may face criminal penalties. They must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt during a criminal trial.

A Title IX investigation determines if an individual violated university policy. If they're found guilty at the end of the investigation, they may face university sanctions, which differ from criminal penalties. To be found guilty in a Title IX investigation, the evidence must show that the accused is more than 50% likely to have violated the policy.

NIU may conduct its own Title IX investigation while a criminal investigation is taking place.

What if I file a Title IX complaint and change my mind?

You have the right to file a Title IX complaint and change your mind. However, some circumstances may require NIU to continue the investigation, despite your request to stop it. For example, if the accused used a weapon or is a repeat offender, the university may decide to continue the investigation in the interest of community safety.

Sexual Misconduct/University Policy

What is sexual misconduct?

Sexual misconduct is one or more acts of sexual violence, sexual abuse, stalking, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence, sexual or gender-based harassment, or sex or gender harassment.

Can I get in trouble if I was drinking or using drugs?

The university wants to remove barriers that could prevent you from reporting an incident of sexual misconduct. If you report an incident of sexual misconduct, you can be granted amnesty, or pardoned, for a separate university policy violation (such as underage drinking) that's revealed in the report.

However, if the separate policy violation was especially harmful, including actions that place the health or safety of another person at risk, amnesty may not be granted. In this case, you may face disciplinary action for the separate policy violation.

What happens if the alleged offender is not affiliated with NIU?

The university’s response depends on the level of control the university has over the alleged offender.

For example, if an athlete or band member from a visiting school sexually assaults a student at NIU, then NIU may not be able to discipline or take other direct action against the offender. However (subject to confidentiality provisions), NIU may conduct an inquiry into what happened, report the incident to the visiting school, and encourage them to take appropriate action.

NIU will also notify the student of any right to file a complaint with the alleged offender's school or local police. NIU may also decide not to invite the visiting school back to its campus. Even though NIU's ability to take direct action against a particular offender may be limited, the university will take appropriate steps to provide remedies for the victim and the broader university community.

Does the university’s policy protect against retaliation?

Yes, if an individual reports sexual misconduct, it's against university policy to take harmful actions against them for making the report. Therefore, if an individual complains formally or informally about sexual misconduct, or participates in an investigation or proceeding related to sexual misconduct, the university is prohibited from retaliating. Retaliation includes intimidating, threatening, coercing or in any way discriminating against the individual.

What is an interim protective measure?

The university has the right to take interim protective measures to protect the rights and safety of a victim, offender or community member. Such measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Changing class schedules.
  • Providing an escort to and from classes or work.
  • Modifying living, dining or work environment.
  • Transportation accommodations.
  • Obtaining or enforcing campus or state orders of protection or no-contact orders.

The person receiving an interim protective measure may appeal the measure to Student Conduct or the Title IX coordinator.

An interim protective measure is not the same as an accommodation. An interim protective measure is in place during a Title IX investigation. An accommodation does not require an investigation to be occurring.

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