720 Missing Residential Student Notification
Approved by President
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division: Student Affairs
Responsible Office: Housing and Residential Life
Responsible Officer: Director, Housing and Residential Life
This policy establishes policy and procedures in compliance with Section 488 of the Higher Education Act of 2008 for the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) community regarding the reporting, investigation, and required emergency notification when a residential student is deemed to be missing.
While the scope of this policy and these procedures are directed primarily to residential students and the staffs of the Division of Student Affairs and University Police, 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. A student who resides in any on-campus student housing facility that is owned or controlled by the University and is currently enrolled at the University.
B. Missing. 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 or individuals, 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, will be maintained separately from other information, and will be accessible only to authorized campus officials. Housing and Residential Life officials may disclose the missing person contact information only to University Police and only for the purpose of implementing the procedure outlined in this policy.
B. Residential students, who are under eigheen (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, no later than twenty-four (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 University Police when it receives information that a residential student may be missing.
V. Procedures for Reporting and for Investigating Missing Students
A. Any individual, including those not affiliated with the University, who receives a report that a student is missing, or has independent information that a student is missing, must immediately report the information to University Police (615-898-2424, 1412 East Main Street). A notification may also be made to any Learning Community Assistant, Desk Assistant, Resident Assistant, Resident Director, Area Coordinator, or administrative staff member of MTSU Housing and Residential Life (615-898-2971, 303 KUC).
B. When University Police is 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 contacted, they will immediately notify University Police. If the student is not a residential student, University Police 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.
1. A staff member will attempt to contact the student via the contact information listed in the official student record.
2. If the student cannot be reached by telephone, Housing and Residential Life staff will contact University Police to assist with a welfare check. Housing and Residential Life staff and University Police 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 University Police 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 University Police, 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.
5 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 student (if not already on file) and use them to initiate contact.
6. At any step in the process, staff members will immediately report any suspicious findings to University Police.
7. 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, University Police will take over the investigation.
8. Once it is determined that the student is missing, University Police will contact the Murfreesboro Police Department or other appropriate law enforcement agencies as soon as possible and no later than twenty-four (24) hours after the student is determined to be missing.
9. If the missing student is determined to be under the age of twenty-one (21), University Police 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 twenty-one (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.
10. If the missing student is determined to be under the age of eighteen (18), and not emancipated, Housing and Residential Life staff will notify University Police who will contact the student's custodial parent or guardian within twenty-four (24) hours of being deemed missing. In all cases, University Police will notify the student's designated confidential contact within twenty-four (24) hours after the student is determined to be missing.
11. 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. University Police will be notified that contact has been made with the subject student.
Last Reviewed: June 2017.
References: Section 488 of the Higher Education Act of 2008; Suzanne’s Law, 42 U.S.C. §5779.