The following material endeavors to anticipate the questions posed by students and families involved with off-campus study.
1. In emergency situations, how will a decision be made about whether or not to continue a program?
For the programs managed by St. Lawrence University, President Daniel F. Sullivan will make such a decision, if necessary, on the advice of a committee that will meet daily to evaluate circumstances. The committee will hear the counsel of on-site directors as well as government sources. Several of the programs offered to St. Lawrence students are managed by other colleges, and the leadership of those colleges will determine the status of those programs.
2. How will students be notified if a program is suspended?
They will be notified immediately by program directors. Students have been advised to keep cell phones on at all times other than when they are in class, to facilitate fast communication of emergency information.
3. How will parents be notified if a program is suspended?
Staff of the Center for International and Intercultural Studies (CIIS) and program staff in host countries have contact information (e-mail rosters, fax and telephone numbers) for parents, and students have been advised to remain in close and frequent contact with their parents, so that they may be reached in the event of an emergency.
4. What will the procedures be for returning students, if a program is suspended?
The Director of the program in country, in consultation with the emergency planning group on campus, will be responsible for evacuation planning and coordination. St. Lawrence has taken steps to assure that all directors have sufficient funds to evacuate students as quickly as circumstances suggest will be necessary.
5. Will tuition and fees be refunded if a program is suspended?
No refund would be necessary if the student is able to complete the semester.
If students cannot complete the semester because the program has been suspended, they will be able to repeat the semester at a future time paying only the difference in tuition over the time period, subject to government regulations regarding federal financial aid. Room and board would be prorated and they would be refunded what wasn't used, and have to pay full room and board when they came back. (Please note, if the semester is less than eight weeks old, there is partial refund of tuition, calculated by the Business Office staff, consistent with regulations related to federal financial aid.)
6. Do you have any advice for parents who are concerned about their son's or daughter's safety abroad?
We urge parents and students to remain in close contact with one another throughout the semester, and to make sure each is informed of any travel plans and contact numbers where parties may be reached.
7. Can a student withdraw from the program if s/he feels unsafe? Can s/he return home independently, if s/he does not feel safe, even if the program is not suspended? What are the consequences of doing so?
If St. Lawrence University determines a program can be safely continued and a student decides to withdraw, the student will not be able to complete the semester, will not make normal progress toward graduation. This contingency was addressed in orientation sessions held on campus last December. However, the refund policies described in question 5 will apply.
8. If a program is suspended, will it ever be re-instated? When? How is that decision made?
We would expect that our decision would be to suspend a program until we believe circumstances allow us to reinstate the program. We'd make such a decision after consulting with our faculty and staff on site and with the US State Department, among others.
9. What safety and risk management plans does the University have in place?
Providing thorough information to students prior to their enrollment in an international program, especially during orientation during the preceding semester, is a first step in helping students understand the risks inherent in study abroad opportunities. We have a thorough safety and risk management plan that applies to all programs abroad and covers details such as in-country contacts with safety, service and financial organizations; relationships with United States government agencies; communication and coordination with students, parents and St. Lawrence officials and advice to students for safe behaviors during an emergency. In-country program directors will make daily reports to the Associate Dean for International and Intercultural Studies and an on-campus committee that will meet as often as daily to make sure decisions are made efficiently and carefully. We will use the St. Lawrence Web site to provide regularly updated information.
10. What can I expect from the University in terms of communicating emergency information?
Our CIIS office maintains addresses of students' family members in several forms (email, fax and/or phone), and will communicate regularly and frequently with families. We maintain a high priority in communicating directly with families in the event of a program change or emergency. We encourage families to contact our CIIS office to confirm that we have current contact information.
11. If a program is suspended, what effect will it have on a student's academic record?
It depends on the timing of the suspension. If early in the semester (within the first two weeks), it's possible that a student could make arrangements for an alternative academic plan. If the suspension happens later in the semester and a responsible academic plan cannot be developed, the student does lose momentum in his or her progress to graduation. Please also refer to questions 5 and 7 for details about financial arrangements.
12. What happens if students are traveling independent (such as during spring break) when an emergency erupts?
As always, if students chose to travel independently, they do so by making their own decisions and their own arrangements. Directors can mandate limitation to travel if circumstances warrant this as the most advisable decision supporting safety. If independent travel is allowed, students are asked to keep parents and on-site program directors informed of any arrangements, and to provide contact information for emergencies when they travel.
13. If a program is suspended and students return to the United States, do they go to their homes or return to campus and continue classes there?
It depends on the time of suspension. If the program is cancelled more than two weeks into the semester, it would be impossible to create a way for students to return to campus for continued study in an academically sound program.
14. From where does the University receive its information and/or advice about safety and risk management?
First, we have a comprehensive safety and risk management plan that applies to all programs abroad and covers details such as in-country contacts with safety, service and financial organizations; relationships with United States government agencies; communication and coordination with students, parents and St. Lawrence officials and advice to students for safe behaviors. In addition, we stay in contact with other colleges that maintain programs abroad, to share information and seek advice. All information is then shared with an on-campus committee that will advise the President on the status of programs abroad. Several of the programs offered to St. Lawrence students are managed by other colleges, and the leadership of those colleges will determine the status of those programs.
15. If a program is suspended, but a student wishes to stay abroad, are they allowed to do that, or are all students required to return?
It is the University's preference and counsel that in the event of a program suspension all students return to the United States and that they do so pursuant to the arrangements made by the University. However, we cannot compel a student to return from an abroad program under the circumstances described. A student who does not wish to travel home through the coordination of the director will need to discuss other options with the appropriate parent or guardian, communicate the alternative early, document arrangements with the director and execute a release form so that the University no longer has responsibility for this student.