I. OBJECTIVE AND PURPOSE
The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for the University’s response to reports of missing University residential students, as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.1
For purposes of this policy, a University residential student may be considered to be a “missing person” if the person’s absence is contrary to his/her usual pattern of behavior or 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.
II. PROCEDURES FOR DESIGNATION OF EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION
Designated emergency contacts under this policy shall remain confidential and are only available to University administrators on an as needed basis.
a. Residential students age 18 and above and emancipated minors2
Students falling in this category may designate emergency contacts separate from those listed as their emergency contacts in their official University records. For purposes of this policy, students should designate an emergency contact through the myWings portal during each semester’s registration for classes, or at any time thereafter, to be contacted by the University no more than 24 hours after the time that the student is determined to be missing in accordance with the procedures set forth below. Emergency contacts designated under this policy will remain in effect until changed or revoked by the student. In the event a student fails to designate an emergency contact for this Missing Person policy, the student’s emergency contact listed in their official University records will be considered the student’s designated contact.
b. Residential students under the age of 18
In the event a student falling in this category is determined to be missing pursuant to the procedures set forth below, the University is required to notify a custodial parent or guardian no more than 24 hours after the student is determined to be missing in accordance with the procedures set forth below.
III. OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION PROCEDURES FOR MISSING PERSONS
a. Any individual on campus including a student or an employee who has information that a residential student may be a missing person must notify the University Police Department at (904) 620-2800 as soon as possible to enable a search to begin for the missing student.
b. The University Police will work in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Residence Life to gather all essential information about the residential 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.) to initiate a search for the missing student. Appropriate University staff will be notified to aid in the search for the student.
c. If the above actions are unsuccessful in locating the student or it is apparent immediately that the student is a missing person (e.g., witnessed abduction), the University Police will contact the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Florida Crime Information Center (FCIC) as well as any other appropriate law enforcement agency to report the student as a missing person and request assistance as needed.
d. No later than 24 hours after determining that a residential student is missing, the Office of the Vice President for Student and International Affairs will notify the emergency contact (for students 18 and over) or the parent/guardian (for students under the age of 18) that the student is considered to be missing.
IV. UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS ABOUT MISSING STUDENTS
All communications regarding missing students will be handled by law enforcement authorities, who may consult with The Office of Public Relations. All inquiries to the University regarding missing students, or information provided to any individual at the University about a missing student, shall be referred to the University Police.
Prior to providing the University community with any information about a missing student, The Office of Public Relations shall consult with the University Police to ensure that communications do not hinder the investigation.
The University adopted a substantially similar Missing Residential Student procedure within the Division of Student Affairs on October 28, 2010 to be in compliance with the requirements of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. This Missing Residential Student procedure was utilized from the date of its implementation by the Department of Housing and Residential Life and the University Police Department until the adoption of this policy.
An “emancipated minor” is a person under the age of eighteen who has been declared by a court to be free of the control of their parent or guardian.