To establish policy and procedures in compliance with Section 488 of the Higher Education Act of 2008 for the MTSU community regarding the reporting, investigation and required emergency notification when a Residential Student is deemed to be missing.
While the scope of policy and procedures is directed primarily to Residential Students and the staffs of the Division of Student Affairs and Department of Public Safety, all members of the academic community, students, faculty, staff, and administrators, share the responsibility of reporting to designated university officials when they believe that a student is missing.
A. Residential Student - For purposes of this policy, a Residential Student is a student who resides in on-campus housing under a housing license agreement who is currently enrolled at the University.
B. Missing - For purposes of this policy, a Residential Student will be considered missing if he/she is overdue in reaching home, campus or another specific location past his/her expected arrival, additional factors lead University staff to believe he/she is missing, and a check of his/her residence supports that determination.
IV. Notification to Residential Students
A. Residential Students are to be informed that, in addition to providing an emergency contact, they have the option to confidentially identify an individual, and his/her telephone number(s), to be contacted by the institution not later than 24 hours after the time that the student is determined missing. Students will be expected to provide contact information when checking into their on-campus housing facility and are responsible for ensuring that the contact information is up-to-date and accurate. The missing person contact information will be considered confidential, releasable only to authorized campus officials including Public Safety, for the purposes of implementing the procedure outlined in this policy.
B. Residential Students who are under 18 years of age and not emancipated individuals, are to be informed that the University is required to notify a custodial parent or guardian in addition to the confidential missing person contact, not later than 24 hours after the time that the student is determined to be missing.
C. Residential Students are to be informed that the University will immediately notify Public Safety when it receives information that a residential student may be missing.
V. Procedures for Reporting and for Investigating Missing Students
A. Any University employee who receives a report that a student is missing, or has independent information that a student is missing, must immediately report the information or evidence to Housing and Residential Life or Public Safety. If Public Safety is initially contacted, they will notify Housing and Residential Life, whose staff will determine whether the student is a Residential Student. If Housing and Residential Life is initially contacted, they will immediately notify Public Safety.
B. If the student is not a Residential Student, Public Safety will make a determination if additional action is needed.
C. If the student is a Residential Student, the Housing and Residential Life staff will conduct a preliminary investigation in order to verify the situation and to determine the circumstances which exist relating to the reported missing student.
A staff member will attempt to contact the student via his/her residence hall telephone and/or cell phone.
If the subject student cannot be reached by telephone, Housing and Residential Life staff will contact Public Safety to assist with a welfare check. Housing and Residential Life staff and Public Safety will visit the room of the Residential Student in question to verify his/her whereabouts and/or wellness, and, in some cases, deliver a message to contact a parent or family member who is searching for him/her.
If the Residential Student is not at the room, but the room is occupied, Housing and Residential Life staff will attempt to gain information on the student's whereabouts and/or wellness from questioning the occupants.
If there is no response when the staff knocks on the door of the room or there are occupants who do not know of the subject student's whereabouts, Housing and Residential Life staff along with Public Safety as back-up will enter into the room in question, by key if necessary, to perform a health and safety inspection. Housing and Residential Life staff under the observation of Public Safety will take note of the condition of the room and look for visible personal property (wallet, keys, cell phone, clothing, etc.) which might provide clues as to whether the subject student has taken an extended trip or leave from the residence hall.
If the student is not found in the room, Housing and Residential Life staff will attempt to gain information on the student's whereabouts from roommates, other members of the residential community, or other friends. Housing and Residential Life staff will also attempt to acquire additional phone numbers for the subject student (if not already on file) and use them to initiate contact.
At any step in the process, staff members will immediately report any suspicious findings to Public Safety.
If all of these steps do not provide Housing and Residential Life staff with an opportunity to speak with the missing resident or to learn his/her whereabouts, Public Safety will take over the investigation.
If the If the missing student is determined to be under the age of twenty-one, Public Safety will follow the reporting requirements set forth by Suzanne’s Law, 42 U.S.C. §5779. This requirement provides that, “In general, each Federal, State, and local law enforcement agency shall report each case of a missing child under the age of 21 reported to such agency to the National Crime Information Center of the Department of Justice.” A TBI missing child report will also be completed as part of the reporting process.
If the missing student is determined to be under the age of eighteen, Housing and Residential Life staff will notify Public Safety who will contact the student's custodial parent or guardian within 24 hours of being deemed missing. In all cases, Public Safety will notify the student's designated confidential contact within 24 hours after the student is determined to be missing.
If these steps provide Housing and Residential Life staff with an opportunity to speak with the missing Residential Student, verification of the student's state of health and intention of returning to campus is made. If needed, a referral will be made to the MTSU Counseling Center. Public Safety will be notified that contact has been made with the subject student.