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Safety and Security

Safety Policy for Cross-Cultural Programs

The safety and welfare of Eastern Mennonite University’s students and leaders participating in cross-cultural programs is always our priority.

Pre-travel preparedness

Our cross-cultural leaders are experienced EMU faculty who accompany students in all their academic travel. During independent travel, students follow additional safety precautions.

Students receive instruction on safety, cultural norms, behavioral expectations, and legal considerations as part of orientation activities.

Students receive identification letters from EMU to be carried on person to assist them in case of emergency.

Students (and parents) receive a detailed itinerary with contact information and emergency contact numbers. The faculty leaders and director of cross-cultural programs maintain regular communication at all times. Periodic updates are sent to parents. 

Geopolitical monitoring

EMU carefully monitors the regions of all cross-cultural programs. Sources include U.S. Department of State advisories, consultants, travel agents, regional media sources, field contacts, local area partners, churches, and expatriate mission personnel. The intimate understanding of on-site field experts is invaluable for evaluating situations.

  1. EMU cross-cultural groups register with the U.S. Department of State or directly with embassies and consulates to receive assistance in case of emergency.

Health precautions

Students complete a Health History, Medical Permission, and Emergency Information form, including verification of international health insurance coverage, to assist faculty leaders and the director of cross-cultural programs to arrange for appropriate medical care while traveling. Immunization recommendations for each program are communicated to students in advance. For students under the age of 21, a parent/guardian provides written permission for student participation in a cross-cultural program. Faculty leaders identify health professionals and facilities for all locations of their program to assist in case of illness or accident. 

EMU cross-cultural groups embrace an ethic of care for each other.

Mental Health Precautions

A student with concerns or identified need will be seen by the Director of Counseling Services to assess safety for travel and the implication of lack of access to resources.

  1. If the student is a current client on campus, the Director of Counseling Services will rely on records and the in-person assessment.
  2. If the student already has a community counselor, the Director of Counseling Services will request a release to consult with the provider.
  3. If the Director of Counseling Services assesses no threat to safety, recommendations to allow the travel will be made to the student, parents, faculty and administration as appropriate.
  4. If the Director of Counseling Services feels further evaluation is needed, recommendations will be made to the student, parents, faculty and administration as appropriate and may include requests for further assessment by an outside provider which can include a psychiatrist or psychologist.

In consultation with the Cross-Cultural Director, the Director of Counseling Services, and VP for Student Life, the university may reserve the right to consult with parents or guardians and refuse permission to travel with an EMU program.

Contingency plans

EMU faculty leaders take care in planning programs, and design contingency plans in case of emergency. Contingency plans may include, for example, relocation to a nearby country in order to complete studies.

Any decision to evacuate, relocate, or cancel a cross-cultural program rests with the president of the university in consultation with the provost, undergraduate academic dean, director of cross-cultural programs, and faculty leaders. The director of cross-cultural programs calls for such a meeting. While traveling, faculty leaders are authorized to withdraw to a safe location or return home if:

  1. there is a complete breakdown of communications systems making it impossible to contact the university; or,
  2. the danger is so immediate that there is insufficient time to contact the university.

Should it be necessary leave a cross-cultural program location prematurely, the cross-cultural leaders will:

  1. make every effort to complete the program in a similar locality or region; or,
  2. return to campus to complete the program with alternative learning experiences.
  3. If it is impossible to satisfactorily complete the program, arrangements for reimbursement and academic credit will be determined in consultation with the faculty leaders, director of cross-cultural programs, undergraduate academic dean, and university registrar according to university policies.

Responsible Party: Responsibility for this policy lies with the Director of Cross-Cultural Programs.
Policy Review: This policy is to be reviewed every five years.
Distribution: This policy is distributed via the Cross-Cultural Leaders Manual, Faculty/Staff Handbook, and Student Handbook. 
Revised by Cross-Cultural Committee, Feb. 06, 2014
Approved by Academic Cabinet, April 9, 2014
Approved by President’s Cabinet, Sep. 9, 2014