Safety and Security

Risk Management and Crisis Protocol

During an emergency, contact:

Rhodes College Campus Safety
(901) 843-3880 - Staffed 24 hours/day

Buckman Center for International Education
(901) 843-3403 - Staffed from 8:30am until 5:00pm Monday – Friday CST.

Is This an Emergency?

An emergency in an overseas program is any event that poses a genuine risk to, or has already endangered, the safety and well-being of program participants and/or the program leader.  This includes, but is not limited to, the following types of incidents:

  • natural disaster 
  • acts of terrorism 
  • serious accident, injury, or illness (physical or emotional) 
  • hospitalization for any reason 
  • lost documents 
  • political unrest 
  • civil disturbance 
  • missing participant (over 24 hours) 
  • student arrest 
  • robbery 
  • physical/sexual assault or rape 
  • death of participant

You are expected to follow the procedures outlined below and to discuss the procedures with your students during your on-site orientation.

How To Deal with an Emergency

  1. See to the safety of all group members.

  2. DOCUMENT YOUR ACTIONS!  Submit an Incident Report Form to the Buckman Center as soon as possible.

  3. Contact Rhodes College Campus Safety, who will then contact the appropriate Rhodes official.  

  4. If a student is involved, have the student call their emergency contact person.  If the student is not available to communicate, the Buckman Center will call the emergency contact for them.

  5. Communicate with the nearest American Embassy, State Department, or Consulate for advice on how to respond to the situation.  Diplomatic channels are an alternative way to get information to the Buckman Center if public or conventional methods of communication systems fail.

  6. Discuss emergency plans with your group members.  This may include change of location, change in program schedule, cancellation of the program, or a shift in emphasis in the program.

  7. Keep in touch with the Buckman Center for International Education.

Emergency and Crisis Support

In the event that an on-site program leader cannot fulfill his or her duties toward the group as a whole, a member of the Rhodes administration or faculty will be sent on-site to assist with the emergency situation.  The task of this relief person/unit will be to attend to the individual or individuals in need of special attention so that the program leader can carry out his or her responsibilities to the group.  The program leader may be asked to make arrangements for an interpreter to work with the relief person on site.

Disruptive Behavior

Rhodes reserves the right to enforce appropriate standards of conduct and specifically reserves the right to terminate participation in the program by anyone who fails to maintain these standards or for any action or conduct which Rhodes considers to be incompatible with the interests, harmony, comfort, and welfare of other participants.

Due to circumstances of off-campus programs, procedures for notice, hearing and appeal applicable to student disciplinary proceedings at Rhodes (SRC hearings, Honor Council hearings) do not necessarily apply.  If expelled, the student will be sent home at his/her own expense with no refund of fees.

Safety and Tort Liability Issues

Tort law covers civil suits involving wrongful acts that result in injury, loss, or damage.  Negligence is the most common tort litigation.  In study abroad, the most common example of negligence is a failure to counsel students sufficiently about risks and dangers-natural, social, political, cultural and legal-inherent in living in or visiting a foreign country. 

A legal judgment of negligence must prove duty, breach of duty, proximate cause, and actual injury.  Duty is defined as an obligation recognized by the law.  A duty is determined when the risk in question is deemed to be foreseeable through the objective eyes of “a reasonably prudent person in a similar situation”.  Once a duty has been determined to exist, a standard of care is established.  Disregard of this standard of care is a breach of duty and can result in a lawsuit.  For example, a faculty leader who takes a group of students into a known war zone has breached his or her duty.

With a breach of duty established, a litigant must determine proximate cause.  Proximate cause is proof that the breach of duty resulted in the injury, loss, or damage in question.  Finally, successful litigation requires proof that an actual injury, physical or mental, occurred.

It is important to note that the expected standard of care in off-campus programs is higher than at a home campus because students are in unfamiliar environments without the support networks to which they are accustomed.  In addition, students may be operating in non-English speaking populations.  You must be conscious of this fact during pre-departure preparations and on-site management of the program.


Program and Site Familiarity

You must be thoroughly familiar with the program; providers of services; and the cultural, political, and social conditions of the site.  Investigate the security of all accommodations and the safety record of all transportation providers.  Research the security of all destinations and the areas through which the group will travel using ground transportation.  Monitor State Department Travel Advisories and Consular Information sheets on the U.S. Department of State’s website.  Send country-specific links/copies to your students.  


Supervision and Backup

Make sure that someone is always in charge.  It is advisable that an assistant leader be designated in case the faculty or staff leader is unable to function.  Students should always be accompanied during group travel.  Someone (faculty leader, assistant leader, host institution staff, or student leader) should be available to handle emergency situations at all times according to an agreed-upon procedure. 


Students participating in Rhodes programs and Rhodes exchange programs must be covered by a comprehensive international insurance plan mandated and paid for by Rhodes.  This plan provides adequate coverage for accident, illness, hospitalization, accidental death and dismemberment, emergency medical evacuation, and repatriation while outside the United States.  HTH Worldwide handles claims in various languages and from medical providers around the world.  A schedule of benefits can be obtained from the Buckman Center.   

As Rhodes does not insure students’ property while they are abroad, students should investigate their parents’ homeowner’s insurance to verify if all the items to be brought on the trip will be covered by their policy.  It is recommended that all valuable items (e.g., laptop computers) be insured for the entire duration of the stay abroad.

Similarly, the Buckman Center recommends that students consider trip cancellation insurance.  Trip cancellation insurance is effective in the case of a sudden illness or injury that necessitates canceling or interrupting a trip.  Most policies also provide coverage due to a wide variety of unforeseen events.  


Refund Policies

The Bursar′s Office will bill each student through the student’s Rhodes student account for the amount of the program UPON ACCEPTANCE.  

In the event that a student chooses to withdraw from the program after being accepted, the student will be responsible for the entire cost of the program.  Refunds will be considered only in cases of serious illness or emergency and the amounts of refunds will be determined individually on the basis of recoverable costs by Rhodes at the time of the withdrawal.

In the event of cancellation of an entire session of a Rhodes program before commencement of the program, all monies paid to Rhodes prior to that time will be refunded. Should an unavoidable event such as epidemic, civil unrest, or threat of terrorist activity result in a partial cancellation, a prorated refund of all fees, together with an appropriate evaluation of academic credit, will follow. These actions will terminate any further liability on the part of Rhodes.



One of the best ways to ensure the safety of students and minimize the occurrence of litigation over negligence is to provide a thorough pre-departure orientation.  The Buckman Center provides students with an online Pre-Departure Handbook which includes information on cultural adjustments, health issues, and student conduct and safety.  However, it is not a substitute for a program-specific pre-departure orientation session(s).  An orientation should include:

  • Cautions about alcohol and drug abuse and a warning not to carry, buy or sell illegal drugs 
  • A warning that students are subject to local-not U.S.-laws and that little can be done by Rhodes College or the U.S. Embassy to help students who are caught breaking the law 
  • Region-specific health information such as the nature, prevention, and treatment of region-specific diseases; required and recommended vaccinations; water and food risks; and descriptions of persistent and epidemic diseases.  You may wish to distribute health information from the Center for Disease Control
  • Advice to prepare a customized medical kit including prescription medications in labeled bottles, generic prescriptions for refills, and an extra pair of eyeglasses and contact lenses (if needed) 
  • Information about the physiological and psychological consequences of jet lag, culture shock, homesickness, loneliness, changes in diet, lack of exercise, and so on 
  • General instructions for emergency medical situations-using an emergency telephone system (like 911) calling an ambulance, a hospital or doctor, or an embassy or consular office 
  • Prudent advice on how to minimize the possibility of being the victim of a crime 
  • Advice to avoid local political activity 
  • Local diet and eating patterns, including ways to accommodate students with special nutritional needs or preferences 
  • How to locate routine and emergency professional medical help 
  • Facts on crime and the political situation.  Students are provided the State Department’s Travel Advisories and Consular Information Sheets in their Pre-Departure materials from the Buckman Center 
  • Cards that include daytime and evening telephone numbers and addresses for the program.

As a faculty or staff leader, you should also retain a photocopy of the information pages in students’ passports.


Contractual Liability

This form of liability stems from not providing the services or quality of services that are promised.  In order to avoid contractual litigation, you should do the following:

  • Be honest about travel, prices, housing, food, etc. 
  • Include disclaimers- e.g. prices may vary; services may change-in program literature.  For example, “all costs are subject to change because of unanticipated increases in airfares or other program elements or fluctuations in monetary exchange rates” 
  • Provide equivalent services when changes are made 
  • Obtain clear, written contracts with service providers that include services, costs, and a refund or alternate plan if first-choice services cannot be provided.