Spring Term Domestic Travel Guidance for Faculty
Student safety and wellbeing is of highest priority. Neither you nor W&L can guarantee the safety of participants, but you can reduce foreseeable and unnecessary risks and attempt to manage those risks to operate a successful study program.
LOCATION and PROGRAM: Educate yourself and orient student participants about the locations of your programs, including housing, transportation and any particularly risky aspects of the program and/or location. Include any reasonable warnings, restrictions, or unique features about the location of your program. Are there locations that students should avoid or not travel to independently? Provide students with relevant resources about the location, program and any other helpful information in writing. Educate and orient students about your EXPECTATIONS for their participation in the program: the nature of activities, physical (climbing, walking, etc.) and academic requirements, and other specifics. Advise participants of all information you would want to know about the program and the location so they can make informed decisions about whether to voluntarily assume the risks of travel and study in the particular place. Conduct orientation/information sessions with your students prior to departure so that your expectations are clear and outstanding issues may be discussed.
Use diligence in choosing and making arrangements with third-party providers of housing, transportation, and any services during the program. Send housing, transportation and other contracts to the Office of General Counsel for review prior to having them signed on behalf of the University by the Provost or Dean.
Advise participants that they are expected to comply with all university policies while they are on and away from campus. Of particular importance, SEE W&L's Interim Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy at go.wlu.edu/OGC/SexualMisconductPolicy. It is vitally IMPORTANT that you not ignore complaints or circumstances that lead you to believe conduct violating this policy is or has occurred and that you report these circumstances to Lauren Kozak, Title IX Coordinator who can assist you (firstname.lastname@example.org (540-458-4055). If you have an emergency in this regard, contact public safety (540-458-8999) who will then be in contact with Ms. Kozak. For information concerning procedures and dispute resolution options for discrimination/harassment/sexual misconduct complaints by or against students, you may also contact members of the Student Affairs staff or other student advisers identified in the RESOURCES CONTACT list: go.wlu.edu/OGC/ResourcesContactInfo.
Have all students read and sign the University's Agreement of Responsible Travel and Acknowledgement of Risk Form. Students represent that they will abide by University policies and faculty guidelines, failing which they may be dismissed from the program. This is not a guarantee of a full release of W&L or faculty from potential liability; however, it goes a long way to evidence student consent to the program activities and adherence to W&L's policies. SEE examples of these agreements at: http://www.wlu.edu/general-counsel/answer-center/travel-(domestic-and-international)international-visitors.
Student Disabilities: In your program materials, state in detail the types of physical activity that may be required and whether the study sites are generally physically accessible. Note in your syllabi that students have the responsibility to provide faculty with their official disability accommodations letter if they wish to use any of those accommodations during the program. If they have not previously requested accommodations, they will need to do so pursuant to university policy through the Associate Dean of the College, Wendy Price. The University's Undergraduate Disability Accommodations Policy is referenced in the Agreement of Responsible Travel and you should familiarize yourself with it. SEE go.wlu.edu/OGC/ugDisabilityPolicy. W&L is obligated to make reasonable accommodations in its programs, but is not required to eliminate/modify essential program requirements. DO NOT make disability accommodations on your own nor assume that a student with a disability cannot participate in your program - these cases must be coordinated through Associate Dean Wendy Price ahead of time.
Register your travel itinerary and contact information with the Provost's and/or respective Dean's offices in advance, so that you and participants can be notified in case of emergency. Update contact information and change in schedules, as necessary.
Have a communications plan with your students while off campus. Have a cell phone to use during the trip for routine communication or emergencies and be certain all students have your phone number and you have theirs.
Driving: W&L has a Vehicle Use Policy that addresses insurance, as well as student and employee driving. SEE go.wlu.edu/OGC/VehicleUsePolicy. Notably, students and employees driving their own vehicles would have to tap their private coverage before University liability coverage would be triggered. Rental companies will impose age restrictions for student drivers. Any 15-passenger vans that are utilized must be used consistent with W&L guidelines on the same. SEE go.wlu.edu/OGC/VanGuidelines.
Reporting Crimes that occur in W&L leased/rented off-campus space: As leaders of these off campus trips, you are all Campus Security Authorities under W&L's Campus Security Report. This means that you must report to W&L's public safety if any of the specific criminal offenses covered by law (see Guidance linked below) are reported to you, though you do not need to provide names or any personally-identifiable information, merely the nature of the reported offense, date/time, category of location and sufficient information to identify duplicate reporting.
RESOURCES -- YOU ARE NOT ALONE -- You do not have to resolve problems alone -- communicate early and often with the Associate Provost, respective Dean, or Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students about any issues or incidents as they arise. If you are involved in an accident or an incident that raises newsworthy or public relations issues, contact the Provost/Dean or Brian Eckert, Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs (540) 458-8459 (email@example.com) - - refrain from making public statements and seek guidance from Associate Provost/Dean and Mr. Eckert. Your primary concern should be the well-being of the students - rely upon other W&L resources to address the press and others in difficult situations.
THE BOTTOM LINE - - Follow a "reasonable person" standard of care. Ask yourself: Does anything the student or your program do create concerns for safety of participants or others? If so, see how you can mitigate risks in a reasonable way. Bottom line, let your decision making and practices be led by common sense.