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 (non-urgent)
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)