Missing Student Policy/Investigation

This online policy content is provided as a resource for the students, faculty, staff, and administration of Dickinson College. Content is subject to change. Please contact the appropriate person or office to obtain the most current information.  

As a requirement of the Higher Education Opportunity Act and in an effort to assist in ensuring the safety of our residential students, Dickinson College has established a missing student notification policy that requires the college to alert an emergency contact designated by the student and/or the student’s parents as well as local law enforcement if the student has been missing for more than 24 hours.

All students signing into the gateway for the first time are prompted to provide the name and phone number of an emergency contact person for this purpose. This information is accessible to authorized campus officials who have the responsibility of notification and law enforcement officers in furtherance of a missing person investigation. The following procedures apply to all notifications:
  • If a member of the college community becomes aware that a student is missing, they should immediately notify the Department of Public Safety at 717-245-1111, whether or not the student resides on campus. Public Safety will then notify the Dean On-Call, the Chief of Public Safety and other appropriate personnel to initiate actions to locate the student. All possible efforts will be made to locate the student to determine his or her state of health and well-being through the collaboration of Public Safety and the Office of Residence Life & Housing. If the student is an on campus resident, Public Safety, working with Residence Life & Housing personnel, may make an entry into the student’s room to check on their welfare. If the student is an off-campus resident, Public Safety will informally enlist the aid of the neighboring police agency having jurisdiction.
  • Concurrently, college officials will endeavor to determine the student’s whereabouts through contact with friends, associates, and/or employers of the student. Whether or not the student has been attending classes, labs, recitals, and scheduled organizational or academic meetings, or appearing for scheduled work shifts, will be established. If located, verification of the student’s state of health and intention of returning to the campus is made. When and where appropriate, a referral will be made to the Health Center.
  • If not located, notification of the emergency contact and local law enforcement within 24 hours of receiving the initial report will be made to determine if they know the whereabouts of the student. The notification of the emergency contact will be made by the Dean of Students of his/her designee. If the student is an off-campus resident, appropriate family members or associates are encouraged to make an official missing person report to the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction.
  • Local law enforcement will be notified in all cases even if the student has not provided an emergency contact and the college will provide the necessary information to assist in locating the missing student.
  • If the missing student is under the age of 18 and is not an emancipated individual, Public Safety will notify the student’s parent or legal guardian also.

If the circumstances related to a student’s disappearance appear to be related to foul play, i.e., kidnapping or other criminal acts, then the appropriate notifications and actions will be initiated immediately.

Individuals who are concerned about someone who has not been missing for 24 hours but has failed to return to his/her residence are also encouraged to contact Public Safety.

Public Safety will cooperate, aid, and assist the primary investigative agency in all ways prescribed by law. If the student is an on-campus resident, Public Safety will open an official investigation and retain status as the primary investigative unit. Upon closure of the missing person investigation, all parties previously contacted will be advised of the status of the case.