I. GENERAL POLICY STATEMENT
Western Carolina University (“WCU”) regards the safety and security of the members
of our Campus Community as the highest priority. This policy contains the official
notification procedures for WCU concerning missing students who reside in on-campus
housing, in accordance with the requirements of the Higher Education Opportunity Act
of 2008 (HEOA). The purpose of this policy is to promote the safety and welfare of
members of the university community through compliance with HEOA requirements and
should be adhered to by all WCU faculty, staff, and students.
II. INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED TO STUDENTS
A. Required Notices to Students. The following information will be provided to students
who reside in on-campus housing by publication on the University Police Department
web page, the Division of Student Affairs/Residential Living web pages, as well as
other appropriate WCU web pages and printed materials:
Confidential Contact Registration. In addition to registering emergency contacts,
students residing in on-campus housing have the option to register a different individual
to serve as the confidential contact who will be notified by WCU no later than 24
hours after the student is determined to be missing. Students may register the name
of their confidential contact as provided in Section III of this policy.
Information to Students under the Age of 18. If a student who is under the age of
18 and not emancipated is determined to be missing in accordance with this policy,
WCU is required to notify a custodial parent or legal guardian no later than 24 hours
after the student is determined to be missing.
UPD Notification of Confidential Contact. Missing persons reports will be immediately
referred to the WCU University Police Department (“UPD”) for investigation. If UPD
has been notified and makes a determination that a student in residence has been missing
for more than 24 hours and has not returned to campus, WCU will initiate the missing
persons contact procedures in accordance with the student’s designation.
III. REGISTRATION OF CONFIDENTIAL CONTACT
Students who wish to identify a confidential contact can do so by completing the appropriate
registration forms during Residential Living check-in procedures. Registration will
be accomplished through MY CAT on the WCU Student Information System (“Banner”). Students
will be responsible for updating confidential contact information in Banner.
IV. INVESTIGATION AND OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION PROCEDURES
A. Definition of “Missing”. A student may be considered "missing" when his or her
location is unknown and unexplainable for a period of time that is regarded by knowledgeable
parties as highly unusual or suspicious in consideration of the student’s usual behavior
patterns, plans or routines. B. Report to UPD that a Student is Missing / Investigation.
In the event that a member of the university community has reason to believe that
a student who resides in on-campus housing is missing, he/she should immediately notify
UPD. UPD will generate a missing person report and initiate an investigation. In addition,
UPD will report the alleged missing person to Residential Living if such information
has not already been conveyed. The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the Student
Crisis Response Team Coordinator, and the Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration
will be notified that a student has been reported missing and that an investigation
is under way.
The UPD will have primary investigative responsibility for students residing on campus.
In the event a missing person report involves a student who does not reside in on-campus
housing, UPD will assist the primary law enforcement agency having jurisdiction. During
the course of the investigation, UPD will determine if the student has been missing,
as that term is defined in this policy, for more than 24 hours. UPD will conduct the
investigation utilizing law enforcement best practices including but not limited to:
Interviews of friends, family, faculty, staff, and classmates;
Entry of missing person information into state and federal databases of missing persons;
Notification to other local law enforcements agencies;
Physical searches of the WCU campus; and
Inquiries to local hospitals.
In an attempt to obtain lead information, family members may also be interviewed by investigators to assist in locating the missing student. C.
Official Notification of Confidential Contact. In the event UPD determines through
its investigation that the subject student has been missing for more than 24 hours,
UPD must notify the student’s confidential contact. If the missing student is under
the age of 18 and is not an emancipated individual, UPD must immediately contact the
student’s parent or legal guardian. If a missing student, over the age of 18, has
not identified a confidential contact, UPD will inform the appropriate law enforcement
agencies that the student is missing and may notify others as appropriate, including
the student’s emergency contact listed in BANNER. Notwithstanding the foregoing, UPD
may inform appropriate law enforcement agencies at any time when circumstances warrant.
Also, in certain circumstances, UPD may contact a student’s family, friends, and/or
the confidential contact prior to expiration of the 24 hour period.
V. PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS
WCU’s Office of Public Relations is responsible for coordinating any media releases
or campus wide notifications in coordination with the Chief of Police and the Vice
Chancellor for Student Affairs. When a student has been located, law enforcement authorities
will determine the circumstances surrounding the student’s absence. Family members,
reporting individuals, the confidential contact, and the campus community will be
advised of the student’s well-being. Absent any criminal matters the student’s current
location will only be released with their consent and at their request.