In accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEAO) of 2008, higher education institutions with on-campus housing must have a missing person notification policy for on-campus students that informs students residing on campus that they have an option to identify an individual to be contacted by a St. Mary’s University official no later than 24 hours after the time that a student is deemed or determined through investigation to be missing.
An on-campus resident student may identify one or more individuals to be a contact strictly for missing person purposes. A student may identify the same individual as both their general emergency and missing person contact. Under this policy, St. Mary’s University may not assume that a general emergency contact is also the student’s preferred missing person contact. HEOA indicates that a student’s contact information and the identified contact person, for missing persons purposes, should receive greater privacy protections than FERPA provides. Under Section 485(j)of the HEA, only authorized campus officials and law enforcement officers, in furtherance of a missing person investigation, may have access to the confidential contact information.
The Office of Residence Life is responsible for maintaining the contact record information for all on-campus residents. This missing person contact information will be registered confidentially and kept separate from a student’s emergency contact information. This additional contact information may be accessed only by authorized campus officials. Students under 18 year of age who are not emancipated are required to register the name of at least one custodial parent or guardian as a missing person contact with the University and the Office of Residence Life.
Under the university’s missing student procedure, a student missing for 24 hours without any knowledge of their whereabouts is deemed missing and requires immediate notification of the University Police Department at 210-431-1911/emergency services or 210-436-3330/nonemergency services. However, as soon as a university official has determined or believes that a resident student is missing, they must immediately contact the University Police Department. Any missing person’s report about a resident student will be investigated by the University Police Department. This requirement does not preclude St. Mary’s University from making a determination that a student is missing before the student has been missing for a full 24 hours, or from initiating notification procedures as soon as it determines that the resident student is missing.
St. Mary’s University community members may report a missing student to the following individuals or offices:
David Ott, Executive Director and Chief of Police, University Police Department – 210-431-1911/emergency or 210-436-3330/nonemergency
Dr. Tim Bessler, Vice Provost for Student Development and Dean of Students – 210-436-3331
James Villarreal, Director of Residence Life – 210-431-4312
If the student missing for 24 hours is under 18 years of age and is not emancipated, the student’s custodial parent(s), guardian(s), and any other designated contact person(s) will be notified immediately by an appropriate University official.
Regardless of whether the resident student has identified a contact person, is above the age of 18 or is an emancipated minor, University officials will inform the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction in the area within 24 hours after the student is deemed missing. The University Police will determine if other law enforcement agencies are needed to assist in an ongoing missing student investigation.