RISK MANAGEMENTFOR STUDY ABROADPROGRAMSEric Miller & Matthew CreasyDecember 7, 2011
Goals• Highlight key issues• We will cover some scenarios/case studies• Cover some key things to do/not do• Cover basics of insurance/Red24 coverage• Hopefully not to scare you
Scenario 1• You have 15 students with you on your study abroad experience.• A few days into your trip you start receiving complaints from female students about male students’ behavior on the trip and harassment• Half-way through the trip, all 6 female students on the trip come to you as a group to complain about the male students’ behavior and allege sexual harassment.• How do you respond?
King et. Al. V. Board of Control of EasternMichigan University• 6 female students on a study abroad trip to South Africa made several complaints to faculty coordinators about male students’ behavior and sexual harassment.• Professor leading the trip and his assistant did neither resolved the dispute, nor addressed the concerns with the male students.• Female students left the program nearly 2 weeks early (5 week program) and sued.• Take away: If a study abroad is faculty led/institutionally sponsored, American legal protections apply (Title IX)
Scenario 2• You are leading a study abroad trip in South America. You are housed in a major city, and are taking a 4 day excursion to a small town.• While you are in the small town, riots erupt in your host city, and the Education Abroad office informs you that the State Department is urging Americans to leave the country ASAP.• Some of the students still have personal belongings & passports in the major city, and getting to the airport would require you to return to the city and possibly face the riots.• What do you do?
2003 Duke Andes Program• 15 Duke students and additional professors were studying in Bolivia when riots & political instability erupted.• The Home office at Duke was able to arrange for “Authorization to Travel” letters to be issued for all the participants by a consulate, regardless of where their passport was.• Participants stayed in Santa Cruz until it was safe to travel, then returned to the USA.• Student belongings were packed up & shipped to them when the University was able to get access to the belongings.
Scenario 3• During your time abroad you find a student is absent from class.• Your students are living with home-stay families and this particular student is by themself with a family.• Your attempts to contact the student yield no results• You contact the host family and they do not know where the student is.• What do you do?
Missing Student• Student in Spain did not show up for class one morning.• Home stay family was contacted – did not know where student was• Phone was off/going straight to voicemail.• In this instance the local school took the lead and contacted hospitals and police• Student ended up crashing at a friend’s apartment. When she turned on her phone she realized people were looking for her, she contacted the study abroad coordinator.• How long do you wait?
Types of problems• Medical health• Mental health• Disciplinary problems• Personal issues/culture shock/homesickness• Natural disasters• Political crisis/terrorism• Traffic safety• Drugs/alcohol• High-risk activities• Missing students• Kidnapping/Virtual Kidnapping• Theft, loss of student or faculty money, passports
Key resources• U.S. State Department Travel Pages• Centers for Disease Control• Your on site contracts• Education Abroad office• Student Affairs/Student Conduct• University Police
Prior to departure• Collect paperwork from students and turn in to Education Abroad• Turn in insurance enrollment form• Give students emergency contact and insurance cards• Check safety and security updates• Orient students • Reminder of community codes of conduct • Avoid confrontational situations and political rallies • General & country-specific safety guidelines • General & country-specific health guidelines • How to respond to an emergency • Manage expectations • General logistics—packing, money, etc.
Prior to departure continued…• Develop plan to cover any program-specific risks• Discuss emergency procedures with students: • Who is responsible if you are unavailable? • Emergency meeting point?• Make sure Education Abroad has: • Emergency contact numbers for ALL group leaders • Contact information abroad for students if applicable • Detailed and up-to-date itinerary, including hotel contact information• Register with the embassy• Consider CPR/First aid training
Remind students to:• Discuss medical conditions with health professionals• Alert you to any health or personal issues*• Make passport copies and turn one in to you• Collect flight itineraries if not part of a group travel• Turn in emergency contact forms• Carry emergency contact and CISI insurance cards at all times• Alert you to any problems or concerns• That you are available 24/7 for emergencies• Check in for program updates prior to departure
Carry with you• Emergency response procedures• Emergency contact card• Student emergency contact information• CISI insurance information• CISI claim forms• List of hospitals in your destination areas• Contact information for students while abroad• Copy of flight itineraries• Cell phone• Back-up source of money
Cell phones• All group leaders should arrange to have a cell phone where practical• Ideally, students should be given or encouraged to purchase cell phones
While abroad• Communicate incidents to Education Abroad (EA)• Communicate program changes to EA• Update student contact information and inform EA• Test communications plan with students• Request students to inform you of independent outings/travel• Remain aware of health, safety and political climate in host country• Be aware of surroundings• Exercise more caution than when at home
Key things to do• When in doubt, contact us!• Communicate early• Have back-up leader or plan to bring in a back-up• Make sure students have hotel and group leader contact information• Establish emergency meeting point(s)• Acquire a cell phone in country• Overreact to student concerns and health problems• Have ability to access emergency cash
Things to not do• Worry more about legal implications than safety of students• Drink with students*• Leave a student behind• Leave a problem unaddressed, especially if heading to the outback• Compromise on safety for sake of budget• Downplay potential risks
Tone for group• Set high group expectations. Be firm and explicit that the group is expected to follow instructions and that there may not be warnings and second chances.• If you set a rule and consequences, you will need to carry that out.• Short-term programs are highly-structured. It is important to explain that this is not because students are not adults, but because of the nature of the program.• Address potential health and safety concerns.• Have students sign program-specific waiver.
Dealing with situations• Do the right thing—what is best for student. Do what will ensure student health and safety, and what makes moral and ethical sense to you as a professional.• Do something. What would a rational person do? Then do it.• Keep everyone as fully informed as possible.• Remember that student has right to privacy.• Health and safety of student(s) overrides other concerns.• While safeguarding privacy, keep group and families informed so as to avoid rumors.
Dealing with situations• FERPA• Real or perceived emergencies must be addressed• Faculty are VT representatives abroad and must be responsive• Be familiar with general response plan• Response will vary for real verses perceived emergencies• Response will vary by event• First priority is to get students to safety• Communicate with EA when possible before making decisions• Communications • When major events occur even far away, have students contact families • Do not speak with media—advise students of the same • Parents will hear bits and pieces of situations very fast. Contact EA with details as soon as possible.
Incident Reporting• When contacting EA about problems, prepare: • Names of students involved • Details of the situation • Telephone number where you can be reached • What assistance is needed from VT• In the event of death, disappearance, or very serious medical crisis, also contact the American Citizen Services section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If unavailable, contact the U.S. Dept. of State at 202/647-5225.• In event of major national crises, please contact EA to confirm group is safe and all are accounted for. Ask students to contact family and friends as soon as possible even if the event is thousands of miles away.
Mental Health• Stress exacerbates conditions and travel abroad involves stress• Some students opt to stop taking medications or are tempted to combine them with alcohol• Warning signs: • Inability to communicate clearly • Changed patterns of interaction (avoiding participation, anxious when called upon, dominating discussions when this was not normal before) • Extreme fluctuations in behavior • Depressed or lethargic mood • Excessively active or talkative (very rapid speech) • Swollen or red eyes • Marked change in personal dress and hygiene • Sweating (when room is not hot) • Falling asleep inappropriately
CISI and Red24• Call CISI as soon as possible once situation is stabilized enough• CISI can provide triage, emergency transport, and identify quality providers or English-speaking providers• Note that they can provide direct payment with specified providers• Claims can be presented afterwards—no pre-approval is required• If payment is needed it is best for students to pay—they will tend to feel that VT should pay• If there are problems with international support, CISI representatives can be contacted to intervene• Red24 will coordinate evacuations in case of natural disaster or security problems—faculty should purchase insurance in order to be evacuated with students
Disciplinary Situations• Be familiar with university codes of conduct and the Education Abroad waivers• Define program-specific expectations clearly in advance• For mild problems: • Verbal warning • Written warning • Removal from program• For severe situations, no warning is required. Don’t allow students to test limits.• Keep detailed records of incidents