Missing Student Policy

Bowdoin College will actively investigate any report of a missing student and take appropriate action to ensure all notifications and actions comply with legal mandates.  Investigation of such reports will be initiated immediately and procedures will be governed by federal, state, and local law, as well as internal Office of Safety and Security standard operating procedures.

1. Policy Administration

a. Emergency Contact Designation
Each matriculated Bowdoin College student must pre-identify an emergency contact for any situation deemed an emergency with respect to a student’s well-being. Prior to the start of each semester, all Bowdoin College students are required to complete the emergency contact fields when submitting the online enrollment form, found at the Office of the Registrar. At any time during the school year, students may update this information by obtaining and submitting a form at the Registrar’s Office in Moulton Union. This form may also be downloaded through links found on both the Registrar and Office of Safety and Security’s web page. 

For the purposes of this policy, the emergency contact would be notified in the event that a determination is made by campus or local authorities that the student is “missing” for a period of more than 24 hours. Not later than 24 hours after the time that the student is determined to be missing, the College is legally required to notify a custodial parent or guardian of any student who is under 18 years of age, and not an emancipated individual. Emergency contact information will be held confidentially for use by the institution, and shared only on a need to know basis in the best interest of the student’s welfare. 

b. Inter-Departmental Coordination
Due to the need for data collection, timely communications, student management, and individual and campus-wide safety and security, the procedures for implementing this policy require close coordination among the Office of the Registrar, the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, and the Office of Safety and Security.

2. Policy Procedures

a. Investigation/Determination of Missing

Without delay, the Office of Safety and Security will initiate an extensive missing person investigative process, as outlined in the Department’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual, Section D-8. The SOP contains checklists and investigative strategy to gather all pertinent report information to ascertain the gravity of the situation and further investigate. 

Engaging non-College authorities and resources in the investigation of a missing student report will be at the discretion of the Director of the Office of Safety and Security. While the Director will work closely with all appropriate Departments, and, when appropriate, law enforcement agencies, to investigate the students’ whereabouts, the final determination of a student as “missing” will be made by the Director, who will then ensure that the appropriate internal and external notifications are made.

b. Notifications Upon Determination of “Missing”
Upon the Director’s determination that a student is missing, the appropriate law enforcement agencies will be notified of the missing person status within 24 hours, if not sooner. Also during this timeframe, the Director will coordinate with the Dean of Student Affairs to ensure that notification is made to the student’s designated emergency contact.

If, at any point during this process, a potential real threat to campus constituencies is identified, the Director will initiate the dissemination of appropriate information and actions necessary to safeguard the campus community. Procedures outlined in the Campus Emergency Management Plan will be employed. 

c. Action by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs
When the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs is made aware of a concern that a student may be “missing” or non responsive to attempts to be contacted, appropriate action will be taken to assist with locating the student, including coordination with the Office of Safety and Security and other College resources.