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Missing Person Policy

The purpose of this policy is to establish protocols for Bridgewater College’s response to reports of missing students, as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. This policy applies to students who reside in on-campus student housing facilities. For purposes of this policy, a student may be considered to be a "missing person" if the student's absence is contrary to his/her usual pattern of behavior and there is reason to believe that unusual circumstances may have caused the absence. Such circumstances may include, but not be limited to, a report or suspicion that the missing person may be the victim of foul play, has expressed suicidal thoughts, is drug dependent, is in a life-threatening situation, or has been with persons who may endanger the student's welfare, or is overdue to return to campus and is unheard from after giving a specific return time to friends or family.

Students will be given the opportunity during the Fall and Spring semester registration process to designate an individual or individuals to be contacted by the College no more than 24 hours after the time that the student is determined to be missing in accordance with the procedures set forth in this policy. A designation will remain in effect until changed or revoked by the student.

Contact information provided by students will be registered confidentially, will be accessible only to authorized campus officials, and will not be disclosed, except to law enforcement personnel in furtherance of a missing person investigation.

Any individual on campus who has information that a residential student may be a missing person must notify a member of the Campus Police and Safety Department (ext. 5609) as soon as possible. The Campus Police and Safety Department will gather all essential information about the residential student from the reporting person and from the student's acquaintances (description, clothes last worn, where student might be, who student might be with, vehicle description, information about the physical and mental well-being of the student, an up-to-date photograph, class schedule.) The Department of Student Life will be notified and residence life staff will be alerted to aid in the search for the student.

No later than 24 hours after determining a student is missing the Campus Police and Safety Department will contact local law enforcement regarding the missing student. No later than 24 hours after determining that a residential student is missing, the Chief of Police or Dean of Students will notify the emergency contact (for students 18 and over) or the parent/guardian (for students under the age of 18) that the student is believed to be missing.