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Missing Student Notification

  • Responsible Office: Student Affairs, Office of the Provost
  • Current Approved Version: 04/22/2020
  • Policy Type: Administrative

Policy Statement and Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish a missing student notification policy and accompanying notification procedures and to comply with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.

Noncompliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any employee who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question, or participates in an investigation is prohibited.

Who Should Know This Policy

All VCU employees (including faculty) and students are responsible for knowing this policy and familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions.

Definitions

Emancipated Individual

A person less than 18 years of age who has been declared by a court to be independent of their parents.

Missing Student

A student will be deemed to be missing when there has been no contact with the student, through regular or normal contacts, for more than 24 hours.

Student

A person enrolled in one or more courses at Virginia Commonwealth University, including employees of Virginia Commonwealth University or the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System.

Contacts

The Division of Student Affairs officially interprets this policy and is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct policy questions to the Division of Student Affairs at dsa@vcu.edu.

Policy Specifics and Procedures

Missing Student Notification Contact

VCU’s Residential Life and Housing will provide every student residing in an on-campus student housing facility with the opportunity and means to identify a contact person(s) whom the university will notify if the resident student is determined to be missing by Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department (VCUPD) or another applicable local law enforcement agency. 

The resident student’s missing student notification contact will be:

1. Registered confidentially;

2. Accessible only to authorized campus officials; and

3. Disclosed only to law enforcement personnel in furtherance of a missing person investigation. 

Missing Student Determination

Any individual who believes a student may be missing should contact the VCUPD. Upon receipt of a complaint, report, or expression of concern about a missing student, VCUPD will:

● Attempt to contact the student through all reasonable and available means; 

● Investigate the validity of the missing person report and manage the information according to established investigative standards;

● Notify the associate vice provost and dean of students, the vice president for administration, and if the student resides in on-campus student housing, the director of Residential Life and Housing to seek their aid in the investigation, and; 

● Contact any other appropriate law enforcement agencies as necessary to further its investigation.

The responding VCUPD officer(s) will establish whether the student has been physically on VCU property or in an area within the scope of the VCUPD jurisdiction rather than in the jurisdiction of another law enforcement agency. If the student was last seen in another jurisdiction, the complainant shall be assisted in contacting the appropriate law enforcement department in order to file a report.

VCUPD will intervene within 24 hours after regular contact with the student has ceased when:

● There is evidence of possible criminal activity in connection with the student’s disappearance; 

● The student, regardless of age, has a known or suspected physical/mental disability or condition or is otherwise compromised and there is thought to exist risk of an immediate danger to their safety or the safety of others; 

● The student, regardless of age, is believed to be in the company, voluntarily or involuntarily, of another person under circumstances indicating that their physical safety is in danger; or

● The student possibly poses a threat of harm to self. 

Notification Procedures

If, within 24 hours of the missing student report, VCUPD is unable to locate the missing student and the student is not known to have returned to University property or not otherwise located, VCUPD will notify the appropriate University personnel (Division of Student Affairs and/or Residential Life and Housing) to take the following action(s): 

● Notify the individual(s) the missing student has designated as their missing student contact and document the date and time of the notification.

● Notify the custodial parents or legal guardian, if the missing student is under the age of 18 and not emancipated, and document the date and time of the notification. 

When the missing student is located, VCUPD and appropriate University personnel will contact the student to offer any appropriate support, as well as the emergency contacts and/or parents to confirm the student has been located. If the initial investigation is unsuccessful in locating the missing student, VCUPD will continue to investigate according to established law enforcement procedures.

Notification of this policy must be referenced in the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report [https://police.vcu.edu/media/police/assets/documents/facts--reports/CampusSafetyReport.pdf)] and the Guide to Residential Living [https://housing.vcu.edu/media/housing/documents/GTRL.pdf].

Forms

There are no forms associated with this policy and procedures.

Related Documents

1. Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Section 485(j): https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-110publ315/html/PLAW-110publ315.htm

2. VCU Police Annual Security and Fire Safety Report

3. Guide to Residential Living

4. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?rgn=div5&node=34:1.1.1.1.33

5. Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act: http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=20+USC+1092%28f%29&f=treesort&fq=true&num=45&hl=true&edition=prelim&granuleId=USC-prelim-title20-section1092 

Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

Approval/Revision DateTitle
09/08/2010 Missing Student Notification Policy
06/24/2013 Missing Student Notification Policy
04/22/2020 Missing Student Notification [4/22/2020: minor revision to clarify scope of policy]

FAQ

There are no FAQ associated with this policy and procedures.