I. OBJECTIVE & PURPOSE
The purpose of this policy is to outline the University’s response to reports of missing University residential students, as required by the Higher Education Act.
II. STATEMENT OF POLICY
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 student.
No later than 24 hours after determining that a resident student is missing, the Office of the Dean of Students will notify the student’s designated emergency contact(s).
If the student has designated multiple emergency contact persons and the first person contacted confirms that the student is not missing, the Dean will contact each additional contact person in turn, unless the student in question has been contacted by the institution or contacts the institution.
For purposes of this policy, a University residential student may be considered 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, or the student 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.
III. DESIGNATING EMERGENCY CONTACTS
The names of emergency contacts are confidential and are only available to University administrators on an as needed basis.
a. Residential students age 18 and above and emancipated minors:
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.
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.
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.
b. Residential students under the age of 18.
In the event a student falling in this category is determined to be missing, 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 addition to notifying any additional contact person designated by the student.
IV. PROCEDURES FOR ADDRESSING MISSING PERSONS REPORTS
a. 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.
b. 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.
V. UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS ABOUT MISSING STUDENTS
All communications regarding missing students will be handled by law enforcement authorities in coordination with the Office of Public Relations. All information provided about a missing student to any individual at the University, to include the Office of Public Relations staff, shall be shared with the University Police.
Prior to providing the University community or general public 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.