Policy SY42 - MISSING STUDENT POLICY

Policy Steward: Assistant Vice President for Police and Public Safety

Contents:

  • Purpose
  • Background
  • Definitions
  • Policy
  • Initial Response
  • Investigations
  • Communications
  • Provisions
  • Notifications
  • Registering and Notifying Student Missing Contacts
  • Notifying Law Enforcement
  • University Contacts for Missing Students
  • Further Information
  • Cross References

  • PURPOSE:

    To provide guidance for responding to reports of missing students, including: the use of student emergency contact information; notification procedures; and University procedures to follow after a determination is made that a student is missing.

    Penn State faculty and staff, in collaboration with campus and local law enforcement, will be guided by this policy and related operating procedures to locate missing students.

    BACKGROUND:

    Effective August 14, 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires any institution participating in a Title IV federal student financial aid program that maintains on campus housing facilities to establish a missing student notification policy and related procedures (20 USC 1092 (j) Section 488 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008).

    DEFINITIONS:

    Student- The University defines a student to be any person enrolled in any class or program of the University, full or part time.

    Missing Student- For purposes of this policy, a student is defined as "missing" once the campus police or security department is notified and campus, regional or State Police initiate a formal missing person investigation.

    AVP - For this policy, “AVP” refers to an Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at University Park assigned to respond to student emergencies or the Director of Student Affairs at a Penn State Commonwealth campus.

    POLICY:

    If a member of the Pennsylvania State University community has reason to believe that a student is missing, all possible resources and efforts will be made to immediately locate the student to determine his or her state of health and well-being.

    Although the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires this policy be established for residential campuses, within legal limitations, this protocol may also be applied to Penn State non-residential campuses within the boundaries of those campus communities. Although campus police or a security department does not have the primary responsibility to investigate a missing student incident involving a student living off campus, certain protocols within this policy may be applied to certain situations involving non-residential students. For example, we would expect that University staff and campus police would assist local authorities in their investigation of an off-campus Penn State student.

    Effort to locate a student will be directed through collaboration of Student Affairs staff, campus police or security department, local/state authorities, and friends and family members of the missing student. When information is received by the University regarding a missing student, there will be no waiting period before an investigation is initiated.  All investigative procedures will be governed by Student Affairs policy and procedures and federal, state, and local law.

    Initial Response

    The first step in the process will be for staff to seek information related to the circumstances around the missing person allegation, then inform the campus police or security department.  Typically, the initial response will be coordinated by staff in Residence Life, other Student Affairs staff, and the campus police or security department. Staff should document the situation and create a factual written report while obtaining as many details as possible from persons reporting the incident. Initial staff investigations, prior to any formal police investigation, will include a thorough review of the student’s recent activity on campus which may include, but not be limited to, questioning the student’s roommates and friends, visiting the student's room or apartment, and a review of the student’s recent use of his/her ID card. While speaking with persons who reported the disappearance, staff should verify the accuracy of information previously provided. Understanding that in these types of incidents time is critical, the creation of a written report by Student Affairs staff should not deter them from "verbally sharing" important information with the campus police or security department.

    Investigations

    The campus, regional or State Police, who are the investigative agency, will decide when to dispatch officers to conduct a formal investigation. Formal police investigations and community notifications will typically take place after the initial staff investigation on the whereabouts of the student. Although the formal investigation of a missing student is the responsibility of the police, University staff will have a role in supporting the police investigation by providing valuable report information to them. University staff should only record pertinent facts (see above) and not include speculative information.

    The responding officers will be apprised by staff of all information and the police will obtain a photograph of the student. Unless special circumstances apply, the students photograph will be obtained from the campus ID office. Securing the student’s photo ID will require the designated Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at University Park, or the senior Student Affairs administrator at the campus (herafter referred to as "AVP"), to request in writing (through email) a copy of the photo ID from the Manager of the ID Office and Director of Information Systems for Auxiliary and Business Services. The Director of Information Systems for Auxiliary and Business Services or the Manager of the ID Office will send an electronic copy of the photo ID to the AVP, who will forward a copy of the photo ID to the campus police.

    Staff will work with the police to obtain from friends or acquaintances any notes, records, recordings of telephone communications pertaining to the student. As University protocol would require, the campus police or security department will be present with the Student Affairs staff when they search the missing student’s room.  The search will be initiated to obtain academic, housing, foods service, and general student record information that will help support the police in their efforts to locate the missing student. At different points in the investigation, the police may invite other individuals or authorities into the student search process (i.e. canine-aided search teams, air patrols, etc.)

    Communications

    If the student is not located within 24 hours, the AVP will be notified, and in collaboration with the police, will contact the person(s) listed on the student’s Emergency Contact record or the student’s parent or guardian to inquire about his/her whereabouts and/or alert that person that their student may be missing. Once this occurs, a University official, family member, or other appropriate person will make an official missing person report to the law enforcement agency within jurisdiction.

    The campus police or a security department will keep the AVP apprised of the investigation as it continues. As the investigation progresses, the AVP will ensure that pertinent details are appropriately relayed to staff and will make notifications to supervisors and the University administration in accordance with established policies and procedures.

    In accordance with Policy SY03, the AVP will also act as a liaison to the family. Through this role, the AVP will coordinate on-going communication with the family and friends of the missing student and help to provide additional support services that may be needed.

    PROVISIONS:

    Notifications

    In accordance with general institutional emergency notification procedures, Penn State has provided a list of titles of persons and offices to which students, employees, or others, can contact if they have reason to believe a student who lives in on-campus student housing has been missing for 24 hours. It is the intent of this policy to direct individuals who believe a Penn State student is missing to immediately notify specific staff in the University administration, University Police, and local law enforcement. Likewise, the AVP will notify other areas, as appropriate, in accordance with policy SY03.

    Specifically, staff in the Office of Residence Life, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Student and Family Services, University Police Services and Public Safety, and the senior Student Affairs professional at a campus, should be contacted so that they can coordinate efforts to locate the student. The list of positions, offices, and contact information to be utilized if a student goes missing from the campus is included in the University Contacts for Missing Students section at the end of this policy.

    In addition to contacting these specific offices, anyone who has a concern that a student may have gone missing should alert any Penn State employee who they think will aid in the investigation of a student disappearance. Beyond notifications made by campus employees to University staff or campus police or campus security, in the absence of a campus police or campus security department, any missing student report must be referred immediately to the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction in the geographical areas around the specific campus location.

    Registering and Notifying Student Missing Contact

    In accordance with this policy, students will be notified annually that each residential student of the University has the option to identify an individual to be contacted by the Penn State administration no later than 24 hours after the time that it is determined the student is missing.

    Penn State provides each student with the means and opportunity to register their confidential missing student contact information by logging into the University’s Elion system and filling out the Address and Contact Information form. This missing student contact person can be anyone. This option is provided to students even if a student has already registered an individual as a general emergency contact. The student also has the option to identify the same individual for both their general emergency contact and missing student contact.

    Missing student contact information is registered confidentially. This information is private and only accessible to Penn State employees who are authorized campus officials. This information will not be disclosed to others with the exception to law enforcement personnel in the furtherance of a missing student investigation.

    In accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 and this policy, Penn State will notify the missing the student’s parents or guardian in addition to the person identified as the missing student contact person of any student who is under 18 years of age and not an emancipated individual. This contact will be made no later than 24 hours after the time that the student is determined to be missing.

    Notifying Law Enforcement

    Penn State will also notify the appropriate local law enforcement agency of the missing student unless the local law enforcement agency was the entity that made the determination that the student was missing. This notification will include any missing student who lives in on-campus housing regardless of age or status, and regardless of whether he or she registered a confidential missing student or general emergency contact person. This notification will be made no later than 24 hours after the time that the student is determined missing.

    If the campus law enforcement personnel or campus security department has been notified that a student has gone missing, and makes a determination that a student who is the subject of a missing person report has been missing for more than 24 hours, Penn State staff will initiate emergency contact procedures as outlined in Penn State’s policy and protocol.

    University Contacts for Missing Students

    University Park Campus

    Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
    Penn State University
    129 Boucke Building
    University Park, PA 16802
    814-863-4926

    Director, University Police
    Penn State University
    25 Eisenhower Parking Deck
    University Park, PA 16802
    814-863-1111

    Senior Director of Residence Life
    Penn State University
    University Park, PA 16802
    201 Johnston Commons
    814-863-1710

    Dean of Student Services
    Dickinson Law School
    Lewis Katz Building
    University Park, PA 16802
    814-865-9035

    Commonwealth Campuses

    Penn State Abington
    Director of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management
    106 Sutherland Building
    Abington, PA 19001
    215-881-7600

    Penn State Altoona
    Director of Student Affairs
    103 Slep Student Center
    Altoona, PA 16601
    814-949-5053

    Penn State Beaver
    Director of Student Affairs
    101 Administration Building
    Monaca, PA 15061
    724-773-3957

    Penn State Berks
    Director of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management
    14B Perkins Student Center
    Reading, PA 19610
    610-396-6066

    Penn State Behrend
    Director of Student Affairs & Institutional Research and Planning
    115 Reed Building
    Erie, PA 16563
    814-898-6111

    Penn State Brandywine
    Director of Student Affairs
    25 Yearsley Mill Road, Commons 209
    Media, PA 19063
    610-892-1270

    Penn State Dickinson School of Law
    Director of Student Services
    333 W. South Street
    Carlisle, PA 17013
    717-240-5247

    Penn State DuBois
    Director of Student Affairs
    106 Hiller Building, College Place
    DuBois, PA 15801
    814-375-4766

    Penn State Fayette
    Director of Student Affairs
    2201 University Drive
    Lemont Furnace, PA 15456
    724-430-4248

    Penn State Great Valley
    Director Enrollment Management and Student Services
    30 East Swedesford Road
    Malvern, PA 19355
    610-648-3275

    Penn State Greater Allegheny
    Director of Student Affairs
    112 Student Community Center
    McKeesport, PA 15131
    412-675-9163

    Penn State Harrisburg
    Director of Student Affairs
    C120 Olmstead Building
    Middletown, PA 17057
    717-948-6180

    Penn State Hazelton
    Director of Student Affairs and Student Enrollment
    76 University Drive
    Hazelton, PA 18202
    570-450-3159

    Penn State Hershey College of Medicine
    Director of Student Affairs
    500 University Drive
    Hershey, PA 17033
    717-531-5665

    Penn State Lehigh Valley
    Director of Student Affairs
    2809 East Saucon Valley Road
    Center Valley, PA 18034
    610-285-5021

    Penn State Mont Alto
    Director of Student Affairs
    211 Conklin Hall
    Mont Alto, PA 17237
    717-749-6138

    Penn State New Kensington
    Director of Student Affairs
    112B Faculty and Admin. Bldg
    New Kensington, PA 15068
    724-334-6062

    Penn State Schuylkill
    Director of Student Affairs
    209-C Health & Wellness Building
    Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972
    570-385-6114

    Penn State Shenango
    Director of Student Affairs
    103 Sharon Hall
    Sharon, PA 16146
    724-983-2838

    Penn State Wilkes-Barre
    Director of Student Affairs
    Hayfield Building
    Leman, PA 18627
    570-675-9225

    Penn State Worthington Scranton
    Director of Student Affairs
    Study Learning Center
    Dunmore, PA 18512
    570-963-2691

    Penn State York
    Director of Student and Enrollment Services
    19 Ruhl Student Center
    York, PA 17403
    717-771-4045

    FURTHER INFORMATION:

    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact University Police & Public Safety.

    CROSS REFERENCES:

    AD74 - Compliance With the Clery Act

    SY03 - Emergencies Involving Students


    Effective Date: October 10, 2012
    Date Approved: October 10, 2012
    Date Published: October 10, 2012 (Editorial changes- May 11, 2016)

    Most Recent Changes:

    Revision History (and effective dates):

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