Off-Campus Study Program Crisis Management Guidelines
  • Crisis Management Guidelines for Faculty and Staff on Study/Tour Programs

    This information is adapted for Capital University and is used by permission from St. Olaf College, which sends over 500 students abroad every year - many of whom are on short-term faculty-let programs. Some of the material is a summary of their extensive guidelines and other material is directly used. 


    No faculty advisor needs to feel alone in handling an emergency - there are local personnel (medical, security) who may be called upon to assist. The Office of International Education (OIE), as well as others in the university, may also need to be involved. It is important to determine the level of severity of the emergency and then decide upon appropriate action. Three levels are described below:

    Level One

    Major Emergency (extremely urgent, volatile, life-threatening)

    • Death or life-threatening injury or accident which may require evacuation
    • Behavior posing a danger to self or others
    • Student reported missing (determine before departure the guidelines of absences)
    • Criminal acts by members of the group or others (physical assault, rape, property, damage in excess of $20,000)
    • Political uprisings, natural disasters with potential or real need to evacuate

    Appropriate Action

    Call Director of International Education as soon as possible, day or night, so that the full range of emergency responses can be set in motion. OIE will make the necessary contact with president, provost & parents. If the emergency involves a single or small group of students, OIE may ask the faculty advisor to directly telephone the parents.

    Level Two

    Serious, but not life-threatening in which Advisor delivers assistance/consultation is necessary:

    • Injury or illness requiring hospitalization
    • Depression needing professional intervention
    • Student charged with minor offense which may require legal counsel
    • Property damage of at least $500


    Appropriate Action

    Call the Office of International Education (OIE), which will be the primary conduit of information for university personnel and parents. 

    Level Three

    Minor Incidents (minor medical event or a worrisome pattern of behavior that is not an emergency, but should be related to OIE for future reference.)

    • Injury requiring emergency room treatment and release
    • Signs of dysfunctional personal or interpersonal behavior, significant student conflict
    • Suspicion of alcohol or drug abuse


    Appropriate Action

    At earliest convenience, document the situation in an email or fax to OIE and keep a copy for your in-country log.


    • Always put safety first - attend to immediate needs such as contacting medical personnel and then contact OIE
    • Have ALL pertinent information available (phone numbers, names of witnesses and people directly involved, name of doctors/hospital, timing of events, location and measures already taken) After contacting OIE, complete written report (Incident Form)
    • Contact others who may be impacted: site coordinator host institution, travel agents
    • Contact U.S. Consulate or Embassy if help needed
    • Keep a log of initial events, action taken and ongoing circumstances
    • Answer questions of other students and make certain they know where you (the advisor) is and if you have to leave the group, designate someone to be "in charge"

    Missing Student

    • Ask other students for information, speak with host family or someone at student's residence (apartment, student housing)
    • Notify authorities - ask them to check hospitals, police files, etc.
    • Contact OIE and keep office informed
    • If student not located within 24 hours - file a missing person report
    • Do necessary follow-up (medical/police) once student is located

    Death of a Student

    • Verify identity and gather all facts - keep notes in a log for future reference
    • Contact OIE which will contact the appropriate people on campus, who will take the necessary action - including contacts with parents/family, campus and media
    • Contact U.S. embassy/consulate
    • If contacted by media - do NOT give name of student - refer all media to university
    • Contact all appropriate people on site and develop network for support, such as access to counseling
    • Contact insurance for repatriation

    Political and Natural Emergencies

    • Safety is first concern and then begin writing a log of events
    • Contact OIE
    • After determining safety of ALL students, caution them against speculative communication sent home
    • Make certain students know how to reach advisor (you) 24 hours a day
    • If there is potential for anti-American feelings-remove any signs that indicate U.S. affiliation or citizenship
    • Contact U.S. Embassy/Consulate
    • If situation warrants, develop an exit strategy and time-line (in writing for students and OIE)

    Rape or Sexual Assault 

    • Ensure physical and emotional needs of student(s)
    • Urge student to go to hospital or doctor; if student declines, make certain someone is with the victim
    • Gather information about assault from (offender, victim, witnesses)
    • Know legal ramifications; (in host country, at Capital University (if offender is a Capital student) and ask victim how he/she wants to proceed after having all legal information-remember that Capital's policies on sexual harassment will be applied to this incident)
    • Contact OIE
    • With victim's permission, inform others in the group and/or respect confidentiality
    • Make arrangements for counseling if needed
    • Keep a log of events

    Crimes Against a Student Other than Sexual Assault

    • Ensure physical and emotional needs of student(s)
    • Begin writing a log of events
    • Gather ALL information (event, people involved, location, time)
    • Report the crime - contact U.S. Embassy, credit card companies, etc. NOTE: having a clear photocopy of the passport information page available can help expedite the re-issuance of the document.
    • Contact OIE

    Crimes Committed by a Student on the Program

    • Determine all of the details (who, what, where, how and why)
    • Begin writing a log
    • Immediately contact U.S. Embassy/Consulate and ask for names of lawyers to give student legal help. Consular Office will also work to ensure that the student's human rights are not violated
    • After consulting with OIE on issues of confidentiality, call a meeting of the group and tell them measures being taken to resolve issue. Listen to concerns of group
    • Visit and reassure student (if being held) and continue to work with U.S. consulate
    • Do not give media any information - refer to OIE

    Potentially Serious Mental Health Problems

    • If you suspect problems (clinical depression, eating disorder, alcoholism, drug use, etc.) begin to gather information such as class attendance and changed behavior
    • Contact OIE for suggestions which may include advice from Capital's health services
    • Monitor situation, keep a log
    • If fear student may harm self or others, immediately contact OIE and identify people (friends/roommates) who may persuade student to seek counseling
    • Depending on severity and procedures in host country, it may be possible to involuntarily commit student to hospital
    • If student needs to return home, OIE and Capital University officials will work closely with faculty advisor - most insurance companies will require a medical diagnosis for medical evacuation