This page presents general principles and resources for responding to difficult situations while studying off-campus.  In addition specific links are provided with protocols and resources.

General Principles: 

  • Be prepared – Work to keep yourself informed on where emergency services are located (e.g. hospital, ambulance, etc) and how to contact them.  Creating a Risk Management Plan is essential – please see section entitled “Creating a General Risk Management Plan.  Follow through on the protocols listed below. 
  • Think Prevention: Always look to avoid potential dangerous situations before they have a chance to happen. 
  • Stay Calm: Your demeanor will set the tone for how others will respond.  Present a sense of outward calm. 
  • Care for Student(s): Your first responsibility is for the safety and well being of all those involved.
  • Communication with Calvin: Reach out to your resources QUICKLY.  You are not alone; use the Calvin infrastructure that is in place.  Communicate with the Crisis Response Team or with other appropriate offices at Calvin – Off-Campus Programs Office, Health Services, Broene Counseling Center, Student Life, etc. 
  • Communication with Parents: Remember the primary link between you (as a representative of Calvin) and the parent is through the student.  Please remind students to keep parents informed.  However, in cases of hospitalization or illness, off-campus directors are encouraged to keep the college and parents informed.  If you have questions or concerns about communicating with parents (or responding to parental concerns) contact the off-campus programs office.  As always, use the Calvin resources already in place to work through situations.
  • Communication with the Media: Whenever possible, avoid communication with the media and direct all media inquiries to the Off-Campus Programs Office at Calvin.  If contacted by the media, try not to respond to questions with “no comment” because this answer can imply a lack of cooperation, an attempt to hide something, or a lack of concern.  Possible responses to media inquiries include:
    • We’ve just learned about the situation and are trying to get more complete information now. 
    • All of our efforts are directed at bringing the situation under control, so I’m not going to speculate on the cause of the incident
    • I’m not the authority on that subjectLet me have Mr. X call you right back
    • We are preparing a statement on that now.  Can I contact you when the statement is completed? 
    • Keep a log of media contacts and return calls as promptly as possible.  A log can help you keep track of issues being raised by reporters, and gives you a record of which media showed the greatest interest. 
  • Follow-Up: Throughout the process, keep accurate notes.  Be sure to fill out relevant paperwork (accident report, incident report, etc).  Direct students (and others involved) to appropriate follow-up resources.  Address any changes in policy or procedures that should be implemented as a result of what has been learned.

General Resources:

Important Phone Contacts at Calvin:

    • Don DeGraaf, Director of Off-Campus Programs:
      616-526-6225 (office) – 616-558-7245 (cell)
    • Broene Counseling Center – 616-526-6453
    • Calvin Campus Safety (24/7 line) – 616-526-6452
    • Calvin Health Services – 616-526-7076
    • Calvin Off- Campus Programs Office – 616-526-6382
    • Student Academic Services – 616-526-6113
    • Student Life – 616-526-6453


Please click on any of the following situations for specific protocols & resources.

Risk Management Template

Medical Situations:
1.) Medical Treatment

2.) Student Hospitalization
(major accident or illness)
3.) Students Experiencing
Mental Health Issues

4.) Student Death
5.) Director Illness or Inability to Fulfill Leadership Responsibilities
6.) Travel Resources Related to Health & Security

Student/Family Issues:
1.) Crisis in Family of Traveling Student
2.) Responding to Parental Concerns and Issues
3.) Personal Conflict With/Between Students
4.) Legal Infraction Committed by Traveler in Host Country

Victim of Crime/Natural Disaster/Terrorist Activity:
1.) Dealing with Traumatic World Events (e.g. in-country or global terrorist attacks) or Natural Disasters (e.g. in-country or international)
2.) Victims of Crime while Studying Abroad (e.g. loss of personal possessions)
3.) Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault and Addressing Sexual Assault While Abroad

Academic/Disciplinary Concerns:
1.) Student Academic Issues(e.g. poor performance, student missing classes, etc.)
2.) Student Life Violations/Student Misconduct(e.g. alcohol, drugs, cheating, etc.)

Travel Issues:
1.) Independent Student Travel(before, during, and after the academic experience) and Independent Travel Form
2.) Travel to Countries with a State Department Travel Alert/Travel Warning
3.) Lost Passport


Other Resources:

Staying Safe Off-Campus

Identifying students at risk (depression/suicide)