Clery Compliance Part 1: Missing Student Guidelines

MOUs and policy summaries will help your campus comply with the new Higher Education Opportunity Act requirements.

Identify Who Will Receive Reports of Missing Students

Institutions must designate one or more positions or organizations that people may make a report to when they believe a student living in on-campus housing has been missing for 24 hours. Institutions have great latitude in selecting who would best serve this role in their community and may designate student affairs or housing personnel (students are often comfortable confiding in these officials).

If, however, this report is not made to the institution’s police or security department, it must be immediately referred to them. If the campus doesn’t have a police or security department, the report must be immediately referred to local police, ensuring that law enforcement will play a pivotal role. It is also very important to note that nothing in the guidelines requires an institution to wait until a student has been missing for 24 hours to take action, especially if there is any evidence of foul play.

Once a police or security department’s investigation determines that a student is missing, the institution “shall within 24 hours of the determination” notify an emergency contact identified by the student and local law enforcement. If the missing student is younger than 18 years of age and not an emancipated minor, the institution must notify his/her custodial parent or guardian in addition to the emergency contact person identified by the student.

Have Your Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) Ready

The notification of local law enforcement is intended to work in conjunction with another new requirement designed to encourage cooperative agreements between campuses and local police for the investigation of all crimes. That provision requires all institutions to disclose in their annual Jeanne Clery Act reports whether or not a formal arrangement, such as a written Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU), is in place for the investigation of crimes.

The intention is that campus officials and local law enforcement will work together in a coordinated manner leveraging the unique resources that each side can bring to the process. Local law enforcement will generally have a much broader geographic jurisdiction than the campus and can have their personnel covering a much larger area looking for the missing student.

Notify the Emergency Contact of Missing Student

In addition to notifying law enforcement, it is also critical that the student’s emergency contact, and or parent be notified so that they have a voice in the process. The intention is to give the missing student an advocate in the process who can make sure that local law enforcement, and the broader community including local news media are doing everything they can to help find their missing loved one.

Institutions have to afford all students living in their on-campus housing an opportunity to register a separate emergency, confidential contact for if they go missing. Institutions have wide latitude in how they collect and store this information. They may do so through any number of processes that already exist, such as entering into a student housing contact, signing-up for a meal plan, or registering for classes.

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