POL-U5620.03 Reporting a Missing Student Who Resides in University Housing

Dates and Approval

Effective Date:

April 4, 2022

Approved by:

President Sabah Randhawa

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to the reporting of a potentially missing student that is a registered resident of University Housing (see definition).


In the event a student may be missing and does not reside in University housing, individuals are encouraged to contact the law enforcement agency in the area where the missing student resides.


Confidential Contact

A contact person identified by a student living in a University Residence that is the person the student wishes to be contacted in the event they are determined to be missing. This contact information will not be used for any other purpose. This contact can be different or the same as who the student identifies as their Emergency Contact.

Emergency Contact

An individual identified by a student and recorded in Western’s Banner system that can be used in the event of an emergency involving the student. This contact can be the same or different from their Confidential Contact.

Emancipated Individual

A person less than 18 years of age who has been declared by a court to be independent of parents.

University Housing

For the purpose of this policy, University housing includes:

  • Main Campus Housing: Three residential housing communities on the main campus in Bellingham, WA referred to as North Campus, South Campus, and the Ridge.
  • Shannon Point Marine Center Housing: Programmatic housing facilities at Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes, WA.
  • Leased Housing: Housing near the main campus that is temporarily leased by the University when additional housing is needed.

Policy Statements

1. University Police Oversees Missing Student Reporting and Investigations

The Chief of University Police Department (UPD), in partnership with the Director of University Residences, the Executive Director of Student life, and the Director of University Communications, is responsible for maintaining a reporting and investigation process in the event of a missing student.

2. Individuals to Promptly Report a Missing Student

To promptly ensure a student is safe, if any individual has reason to believe that a student, who resides in a University Residence, may be missing, they are to promptly follow the Reporting and Investigating a Missing Student Procedures:

Main Campus Residence Halls - PRO-U5620.03A
Shannon Point Marine Center Living Quarters - PRO-U5620.03B

3. University Police to Investigate Missing Student Reports

The University Police Department is the primary authority responsible for:

  1. Leading investigations of missing students residing in University Residences,
  2. Making the official determination that the student has been missing for more than 24 hours.

4. University Police to Enter Missing Student Information into National Database

A record for a missing student must be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). If the student is under the age of 21, this must be done within two hours of official determination that the student is missing

5. University Officials to Initiate Contact with Student’s Registered Confidential Contact(s)

In accordance with procedures (PRO-U5620.03A), the University is to make reasonable attempts to contact with the missing student’s registered Confidential Contact, if one was registered by the student.

6. Director of University Communications is Designated Spokeperson

The Director of University Communications is the designated spokesperson to handle media inquiries concerning a missing student. The Director will first consult with law enforcement in charge of a missing student investigation prior to any release of information from the University so as not to jeopardize the investigation.

Information provided to the media to elicit public assistance in the search of the missing person will also be directed by law enforcement.

7. University Residences Notifies Students of Option to Register a Confidential Contact

The Director of University Residences is responsible for ensuring students are notified upon enrollment for University Residences that they have the option of registering one or more Confidential Contacts. The Confidential Contact information is to be used only to assist the University in locating the student in the event they are reported missing.

The notification to students regarding the option to register a Confidential Contact will:

  1. Clearly differentiate between an Emergency Contact and a Confidential Contact,
  2. Provide an effective means for identifying and updating a Confidential Contact at any time,
  3. Advise residential students that their Confidential Contact will be maintained in a confidential manner meaning that this information will be accessible only to limited authorized campus officials, and that it may not be disclosed, except to law enforcement personnel in furtherance of a missing person investigation,
  4. Inform residential students that if they are determined by University Police to have been missing for 24 hours, a delegated University official will attempt to reach their Confidential Contact(s), if registered, within 24 hours after being informed of the determination.
  5. Advise each student who is under 18 years of age, and not an emancipated individual, that the University is required to notify a custodial parent or guardian not later than 24 hours after the time the student is determined to be missing (in addition to notifying any additional contact person identified by the student).

8. Students May Add or Change Confidential Contacts at Anytime

The opportunity to identify a Confidential Contact and make changes to the contact information, including removing or changing the contact, is allowed at any time while a student resides in University Residences.

9. Confidential Contact Information will be Maintained in Confidential Manner

A student’s Confidential Contact will be maintained and secured in the University Residences housing information system with limited access only to positions determined by the Director of University Residences and the extent permitted by law. Confidential Contact information is to be maintained separate from a student’s Emergency Contact which is stored in the University’s enterprise information system.

Authorized University Residence personnel may only disclose Contact Information to law enforcement personnel and only for the purpose of investigating a missing student.

Policy Information