The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for the college’s response to reports of missing housing students, as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.
This policy applies specifically to students who reside in campus housing. Reports of missing non-housing commuter students should be made to local law enforcement officials, not College Police, unless extreme circumstances warrant otherwise (e.g. witnessed abduction on campus). Should College Police be notified of a missing commuter student, College Police will contact the appropriate local law enforcement agency, and the local law enforcement agency will take charge of the investigation.
For purposes of this policy, a housing student may be considered to be a “missing person” 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, but not be limited to, a report or suspicion that the missing person may be the victim of foul play, has expressed suicidal thoughts, is drug dependent, is in a life-threatening situation, or has been with persons who may endanger the student’s welfare.
I. Procedure for designation of emergency contact information.
a. Housing students age 18 and above and emancipated minors
Housing students will be given the opportunity during the housing application process to designate an individual or individuals to be contacted by the college no more than 24 hours after the time that the student is determined to be missing in accordance with the procedures set forth below. The designation will remain in effect until changed or revoked by the student. If no designation is made, the emergency contact on the housing application will be notified.
b. Housing students under the age of 18
In the event a housing student under the age of 18 who is not emancipated is determined to be missing pursuant to the procedures set forth below, the college is required to notify a custodial parent or guardian no more than 24 hours after the student is determined to be missing.
II. Official notification procedures for missing housing students
a. Any individual on campus who has information that a housing student may be a missing person must notify College Police as soon as possible.
Note: In order to avoid jurisdictional conflicts when an off-campus and/or commuter student is believed to be missing, the reporting person should immediately notify local law enforcement authorities. TSTC College Police will assist external authorities with these investigations as requested.
b. College Police will gather all essential information about the housing student from the reporting person and from the student’s acquaintances (description, clothes last worn, where student might be, who student might be with, vehicle description, information about the physical and mental well-being of the student, an up-to-date photograph, class schedule, etc.). Appropriate campus staff will be notified to aid in the search for the student.
c. If the above actions are unsuccessful in locating the housing student or it is apparent immediately that the student is a missing person (e.g., witnessed abduction), College Police will contact the appropriate local law enforcement agency, and the local law enforcement agency will take charge of the investigation.
d. No later than 24 hours after determining that a housing student is missing, College Police will notify the individual designated by the housing resident or the emergency contact on the housing application if no designation was made (for students 18 and over) or the parent/guardian (for students under the age of 18) that the housing resident is believed to be missing.
III. Campus communications about missing students
In cases involving missing persons, law enforcement personnel are best situated to provide information to the media that is designed to elicit public assistance in the search for a missing person. Therefore, all communications regarding missing housing students will be handled by outside law enforcement authorities, who may consult with the Office of the TSTC President. All inquiries to the college regarding missing housing students shall be referred to the President’s Office, who shall refer such inquiries and information to law enforcement authorities. All information provided to any individual at the college about a missing housing student shall be issued from the President’s Office.
Prior to providing the TSTC community with any information about a missing housing student, the President’s Office shall consult with College Police and with local law enforcement authorities to ensure that communications do not hinder the investigation.
Approved August 2010