Missing Residential Student Policy


The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for Columbia College's response to reports of missing residential students, as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act's Missing Student Notification Policy and Procedure, 20 U.S.C. 1092(j).


This policy applies to students who reside in campus housing. 


For the purposes of this policy, a residential student may be considered a "missing person" if their absence is counter to their usual pattern of behavior and unusual circumstances have caused the absence. Such circumstances could include, but are not limited to, a report or suspicion that the missing residential student may be the victim of foul play, has expressed suicidal thoughts, is drug dependent, is in a life-threating situation, or has been with persons who may endanger the student's welfare.

Designating Emergency Contact Information

Residential students age eighteen (18) or older and emancipated minors: At the start of each semester, residents will designate an individual or individuals to be contacted by the College at which time the student is determined to be missing in accordance with the procedures set forth below. Students designate a contact specifically for this purpose using the emergency contact card which is collected and maintained by the Department of Residential Life. Contact information will be registered confidentially, will be accessible only to authorized campus officials, and may not be disclosed, except to law enforcement personnel in furtherance of a missing person investigation.

Residential students under eighteen (18) years of age and not emancipated: In the event a residential student is determined to be missing pursuant to the policies set forth below, the College will contact a parent and/or guardian as noted on the housing contract, in the students' College record, or on the residential student's emergency contact card within twenty-four (24) hours.

Notification Procedures

Any faculty member, staff members, student or community member who has information that a residential student may be missing must notify the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Safety as soon as possible. It is important that both notifications are made. The Division of Student Affairs bears responsibility for notifying Campus Safety immediately and vice versa. The number for Campus Safety is (573) 875-7315. The number for the Division of Student Affairs is (573) 875-7400. To reach an on-duty Residential Life staff member after hours, call (573) 875-7402.

The Division of Student Affairs and Campus Safety will immediately meet to determine who is going to gather information which will include information about the residential student's history in the halls, information from acquaintances and faculty, and information from advisors and other key members of the campus community. The following information will be collected:

  • A description of the student's last known attire;
  • The student's possible location;
  • A list of the student's current friends or acquaintances;
  • The student's vehicle description and registration information;
  • Information regarding the student's psychological and physical state; and
  • A current photograph, class schedule, etc.

This information must be gathered within a twenty-four (24) hour timeframe.

If the College staff members are not successful in locating the student, Campus Safety will notify the Columbia Police Department and file a report regarding a missing student. This notification should occur within twenty-four (24) hours of receiving the missing student report.  

The Dean of Student Affairs or designee will contact the "missing" residential student's designated emergency contact or parent/guardian.

At the point the decision is made to contact law enforcement and the "missing" residential student's emergency contact, the President's Office should be informed about the impending notifications.

Communication with the Campus Community Regarding Missing Residential Students

If law enforcement should determine the situation involves a potential missing person, communication with the media will be handled by the appropriate law enforcement agency. The law enforcement agency will consult with Campus Safety, the Division of Student Affairs and Public Relations. Prior to releasing information to the campus community about the missing student, the appropriate College staff members will consult with the law enforcement agency to ensure communications do not hinder the investigation.

Any campus information collected after the case has been turned over to law enforcement should be submitted to Campus Safety. Campus Safety will submit that information to the investigating law enforcement agency.

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