Missing Student Policy

The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for the university’s response to reports of a missing student, as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. This university policy applies to students in the BUILD program who reside in university-operated residence halls and apartments.

For purposes of this policy, a student may be considered to be a “missing student” if the person’s absence is contrary to his/her usual pattern of behavior and unusual circumstances may have caused the absence. Such circumstances could include a reasonable/reliable report or suspicion that the missing student may be endangered. Examples include, but are not limited to, a possible victim of foul play, expression of suicidal thoughts, alcohol or other drug abuse, a life-threatening situation, or recent contact with persons who may endanger the student’s welfare.

Official notification procedures for missing students:

  1. Any individual who has information that a student may be missing must notify the Office of Safety and Security as soon as possible.
  2. The Office of Safety and Security will work with campus offices, the reporting person(s), and the student’s acquaintances to gather all essential information about the student (description, clothes last worn, where the student might be, who the student might be with, vehicle description, information about the student’s physical and mental well-being, an up-to-date photograph, class schedule, etc.). Appropriate campus staff will be notified to aid in the search for the student.
  3. When a missing student report is made to the Office of Safety and Security, the following people are notified:
    1. The Director of Security Operations or Director of Risk Management who will immediately notify the Associate Dean for Residence Life. 
    2. The Associate Dean for Residence Life, the Director of Security Operations, or Director of Risk Management will contact 1) the resident director or the appropriate BUILD residential supervisor (or RD/BRS on duty if appropriate); and, 2) the dean of student programs or the housing specialist.
  4. The campus staff will take steps to try to locate the missing student, including but not limited to the following:
    1. Check BUILD sign-out log to determine when the student left campus and other details
    2. Call student’s cell phone
    3. RD/BRS/RA/associate dean for residence life visits student’s room
    4. Contact roommate(s)
    5. Look for student’s car on campus, if applicable
    6. Check student locator report for class schedule
    7. Access reports to determine the last time he or she used a meal card or card access to residence hall
    8. Obtain student’s work schedule 
    9. Contact faculty regarding student’s last date of attendance in class
    10. Call student’s home number
    11. Request Bethel Informational Technology Services staff check electronic logs to determine the student’s last login to Bethel’s computer network systems.
  5. If the above actions are unsuccessful in locating the student or it is apparent immediately that the student may be endangered, the following personnel will meet to determine that the student is missing:
    1. Dean of Student Programs
    2. Associate Dean for Residence Life
    3. Director of Security Operations or Director of Risk Management
    4. Resident Director
    5. BUILD Residential Supervisor and/or Director
    6. Office of Safety and Security
    7. Director of Communications
  6. No later than 6 hours from the time that the student is determined to be missing in accordance with the procedure above, the Dean of Student Programs, the BUILD director, or designee will notify the parent(s)/guardian(s) that the student is believed to be missing.
  7. Within 24 hours after determining that a student is missing, the following will take place:
    1. The Office of Safety and Security will contact the appropriate local law enforcement agency to report the student as a missing person, and the local law enforcement agency will take charge of the investigation. The Office of Safety and Security will assist external authorities with these investigations as requested.
    2. Director of Communications, or designee, will develop a communications plan for the Bethel community, working in collaboration with local law enforcement. 

Campus communications about missing students

In cases involving missing persons, law enforcement personnel are trained to provide information to the media in a manner designed to elicit public assistance in the search for a missing person. Therefore, all communications regarding missing students will be handled by outside law enforcement authorities, who may consult with the university’s Office of Marketing and Communication. All media inquiries to the university regarding missing students shall be referred to the Office of Marketing and Communications. Any individual with information about the missing student shall be referred to the Office of Safety and Security, who shall refer such inquiries and information to law enforcement authorities.

Prior to providing the university community with any information about a missing student, the Director of Communications will consult with the Office of Safety and Security, local law enforcement authorities, and the Office of Student Life to ensure communications comply with FERPA guidelines and do not hinder the investigation.

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