Commitment to Safety and Security
Crisis and Emergency Planning:
BestSemester, the Student Programs division of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, maintains a Crisis Management Team (CMT) to address critical issues involving BestSemester students, faculty and staff at our US and international program locations. In the event of an emergency, appropriate CMT personnel will be mobilized to assess and respond to the emergency.
Decisions and responses regarding student health, safety and security normally are made in consultation with, as appropriate:
- On-site program staff
- Local in-country resources
- Host university
- Sending campus
- US Embassy officials in-country
- US State Department Country Desk Officers
- US State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
- Emergency Services providers
Local Contingency Plans
Each BestSemester Program has a contingency plan which will be activated in the event of a known local condition that requires (a) extra caution, (b) restriction of program travel or activities, (c) relocation of the program to a different site in the same city, same country or a nearby country, or (d) suspension of a program and evacuation of participants. In addition, programs have established plans for dealing with medical emergencies, accidents, personal threats and personal-family crises.
In the Event of a Program Emergency (e.g., political crisis, civilian/natural disaster, large scale civilian protest, imminent threat of terrorist activity):
- The Program Director contacts participants to ascertain participants' well-being and to provide information, instructions, and advice.
- After the on-site director notifies the BestSemester DC office that the group is safe and accounted for, s/he will consult further with the CMT regarding next steps including relocation, suspension or restriction of program activities or evacuation.
- Arrangements will be made for participants to contact their parents, guardians, or emergency contacts as soon as possible.
- The BestSemester DC office normally will send regular email updates to the participants' emergency contacts and home campus officials. Information normally will also be posted on the BestSemester website (www.bestsemester.com) and the BestSemester phone number (202.548.5201) on a regular basis providing current and pertinent status and safety information.
In the Event of a Participant Emergency (e.g., serious illness/injury, emotional problems or victim of a crime involving program participants or staff):
- On-site personnel (director and staff) contact the appropriate local authorities (police, embassy, medical personnel) to begin the local action necessary to handle the situation.
- On-site personnel contact BestSemester DC office to report the situation.
- BestSemester DC office normally will phone the emergency contacts of the persons involved in the crisis to apprise them of the situation, if they have not already been contacted. FERPA rights should be waived for emergency contact situations.
- BestSemester DC office normally will contact the Chief Student Development Officer at the student's home campus to report the situation.
- Necessary action will be taken, such as provision for medical care in country, medical evacuation, etc. In case of serious illness or injury, BestSemester staff and local medical personnel will consult with family as much as reasonably practicable in making decisions regarding appropriate treatment and care for the student, including arranging for medical evacuation if required.
BestSemester program staff consider student safety and security top priority.
Emergency plans are reviewed regularly in light of standards of good practice in the field of off-campus programming, local regional advice, risk management consultations and experience gained through previous emergency events. Program staff are well connected within their local communities with many years of experience and deep networks of resources to draw upon for advice and assistance. The CCCU maintains appropriate insurance coverage for the scope and breadth of off-campus programming activities and conducts regular risk management reviews. However, it is also important for participants, families and campuses to recognize that BestSemester:
- Cannot guarantee or assure the safety and/or security of participants or eliminate all risks from the study abroad/off-campus program environments.
- Cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of participants.
- Cannot prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous, unsafe, or unwise activities.
- Cannot assume responsibility for actions or for events that are not part of the program, or for those that are beyond the control of the sponsor and its subcontractors, or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.
In all emergency situations students enrolled in a BestSemester program are expected to comply with all emergency measures decided and implemented by program staff. If a particular student (parent, campus) elects to enroll independently in a emergency response plan in additional to, or instead of that provided by BestSemester, the student must withdraw (in writing, with notification sent to home campus and emergency contacts) from the program before he/she will be allowed to participate in an evacuation or relocation plan other than that organized by the BestSemester staff or its representatives. Upon notification of withdrawal, the student will be released to the care and supervision of their selected emergency response provider. The student, campus or parent will bear all responsibility for notification of the emergency response provider and compliance with their terms, policies and procedures.