Responding to a Serious Injury of an International Student or Scholar

In the event of a serious injury to a student or scholar, this checklist is to be used as a guide for notifying the proper administrators and any other protocol. These steps are also helpful if the director or assistant director is out of the office.

Our priority is to resolve the situation and provide accurate information to those who need to know in a timely manner, with the first issue being the student’s/scholar’s well-being.

Action Items

Making sure the victim is safe or being cared for is our first concern. Contact the student directly, if possible, or the person who is with them (or medical officials) to confirm their status.

Create a case file, and include the following items:

  • Copies of the student's records from the institution's information systems (contact info, immigration information, advising notes, class schedule, and emergency contact information). In the case of a visiting scholar, print out emergency contact information and department contact information.
  • Contact page (a template in which you can quickly note every individual you contact regarding the case and notes regarding the conversations).

 It is important to know your campus's guidelines with regard to FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and HIPAA. If the injured person is a student, verify whether or not he/she has given consent to release information before sharing with others.

Remember: We cannot automatically give information to just anyone. FERPA allows us to give out information about a student in an emergency situation—when it is “necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals." However, before giving out information about a student to friends or family, confirm with superiors or the general counsel.

Contact your direct supervisor or university/college website for other institutional procedures.

  • Who else needs to be informed about the injury? (Dean of Students, academic departments, Media relations/public affairs, legal counsel?)

Get all details available: Who, what, when, where, parties involved, etc.

  • What is being done to help the victim? Is the situation being rectified, investigated, etc? Have appropriate family members been notified?
  • Where will the victim be staying? Who is caring for the victim?

Get names and titles of any emergency officials on the scene.

Contact campus police for any injury or illness that may occur on campus.

If necessary, contact professors to inform them of the student/scholar’s probable absence.

If necessary, after speaking with the student or scholar, determine whether or not it is appropriate to contact a friend or someone to care for them.

One person should handle all inquiries. This will eliminate run-around and hearsay.

Get names of anyone who comes to ask about what happened to their friend, colleague, etc.

Students/scholars/friends experiencing trauma, grief, or loss may need to seek counseling. Refer to student health/counseling center. If you feel a student or scholar is in crisis and needs to see a counselor as soon as possible, please ask if there is a crisis counselor available.

Refer employees who are in distress to the employee assistance program. Institutional HR departments will have information on their websites.

Gather information concerning health insurance benefits and procedures. Determine if the victim has medical evacuation services, and if deemed necessary, work with insurance provider as much as possible to assist as the liaison for the student.

Any notes in university databases should be professional and unbiased.

SEVIS: We are required to maintain the SEVIS records of F-1 students, J-1 exchange visitors, and their dependents (address, enrollment status, etc). If the injury affects the student’s or scholar’s ability to maintain their immigration status, determine the appropriate options:

  • Examples for F-1 students: Reduced Course Load, Terminate for Authorized Early Withdrawal for departures with procedures for resuming study in a future quarter, etc.
  • Examples for J-1 exchange visitors: Extensions, End Program, etc.

DHS and DOS regulations also contain provisions regarding disclosure of information under certain circumstances. If a government official asks for information beyond what the regulations specify, verify with Assistant Vice President/Provost, Vice President/Provost, or general counsel first. Be aware of your institution’s FERPA protocols, and protocols for responding to subpoenas, court orders, etc. It’s always a good idea to consult in the beginning with superiors.

Refer media inquiries to the campus public affairs or other appropriate department or staff. It is strongly recommended that no staff member speak with the press without prior permission.