Office of Global Citizenship

Working with Students Abroad

Leaders' Responsibilities

Faculty must assure that the group has a designated contact on duty at all times, including during excursions, and other program activities. Faculty directors should not leave the city to attend a conference or have a weekend away during the official program dates unless there is a second individual approved to serve as the program contact during that time period who will be in the city where the program is located. An approved emergency contact could be a second faculty member co-directing the program or an on-site employee of an affiliate program provider or partner institution.

Seasoned group leaders report that the biggest challenges abroad are the result not of emergency situations, public transportation strikes, fluctuating currencies or language barriers, but student behavioral problems. Those who have successfully traveled with students for many years advocate discussing appropriate student conduct and behavior-related problems in the pre-departure orientation as well as upon arrival.
Reinforce the message that study abroad is an academic experience, and that academic responsibilities take priority over personal interests. Planting this idea helps to combat the occasional notion that study abroad is a vacation for credit. Also, refrain from referring to the experience as a “trip,” but instead use the word “program” as it denotes a difference between study abroad and a vacation.
Undescore the concept of students as “cultural ambassadors” and emphasize that their conduct will be seen as representative of the United States, as well as the state of Tennessee and Sewanee Students. While the consequences of poor behavior while on campus or in Sewanee usually reflect solely on themselves, misconduct abroad will be attributed to the entire group. In addition, be honest with your students about how poor behavior reflects poorly on you, as the program leader, and to your local colleagues.

Codes of Conduct

The greatest risk while on a study abroad program is use (and abuse) of drugs and alcohol. Risks to health and well-being are far greater due to substance abuse than those associated with terrorism, political violence, or natural disaster, so it is imperative that every program leader plan for how to manage students' consumption of alcohol and use of drugs. Every student who goes abroad on a Sewanee-run program must sign an agreement with a code of conduct or a separate code of conduct. Acceptable conduct, in part, depends on the norms and laws of country(ies) visited on a program, although underlying principles for defing appropriate conduct are likely similar. Program leaders are encouraged to consult with the Office of Global Citizenship. The Office has written a Sewanee Study Abroad Programs’ Expectations for Student Behavior on study abroad programs and encourages leaders to adopt it or a modified version of it for the programs that they lead.

Misconduct Resolution Process

Due to both the short duration of student abroad programs and the far-reaching implications of student behavior occurring outside the US, different procedures are necessary for dealing with student misconduct occurring in foreign countries.

For this reason, the Dean of the Office of Global Citizenship, or staff of that office acting in these situations as his/her designee have authority to take immediate disciplinary action, as dictated by this document, for misconduct occurring during Sewanee international experiences, though cases of student misconduct may also be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students for the imposition of additional sanctions.

The disciplinary process contained in this document will be initiated when a student is suspected of violating any of the following rules, laws, or policies:

  • The University’s expectations for conduct as dictated by the Honor Code,
  • A provision included in the above Office of Global Citizenship’s Study Abroad Code of Student Expectations,
  • Any rule, regulation or expectation for conduct established by the Host Institution,
  • Any municipal, regional, or country law and/or statute applicable to the program’s location.

Verbal Warnings

Many behavior issues can be resolved with a frank discussion of expectations and consequences, emphasizing the aforementioned Code of Conduct, as well as the consequences for repeat violations of these rules, which can include expulsion from the program.

Whether the behavioral problems are minor or significant, we urge you to make a written record of all of your observations and discussions with the student and to notify OGC. Notifying OGC allows us to begin a written record of events and provides documentation of early warnings, should the behavior persist or worsen. OGC can also coordinate the involvement of the Dean of Students, as appropriate. Notifying the OGC as soon as possible allows for a more efficient and effective response.

Written Warnings

In cases of student misconduct, the faculty director or leader may report an incident as a written warning to the student, copying the Office of Global Citizenship, including:

  • Student name
  • Date and time of incident
  • Location of incident
  • Description of undesired behavior and why it was considered inappropriate
  • Clear articulation of expectations and consequences for the student for the rest of the program.
  • Indication that this is a final warning and that continued misconduct will result in dismissal from the program.


If a student fails to change behavior after a warning, or engages in misconduct warranting immediate dismissal, the program leader or director will report this to OGC and request authorization to dismiss the student from the program.

If the program leader decides to dismiss a student, he or she will notify the student in writing that he or she is no longer considered to be part of the program and must leave the program site by a designated date and time. The program leader should have the student sign a statement indicating that he/she understands that he/she is no longer a participant in the program. If the student refuses to sign the statement, the Program Representative should have a witness sign a statement indicating that the student has been verbally informed of the dismissal but refuses to sign the statement.

Sample acknowledgement statement:

I understand that due to my inappropriate behavior in violation of the agreement that I signed upon acceptance into the program. I am no longer eligible to participate in this program. I understand that effective immediately I am no longer a participant under the sponsorship of Sewanee.

Consequences of Dismissal:

Once a student is dismissed, he or she must immediately absent his or herself from the program activities and premises and arrange for return to the US at his or her own expense.

A participant once dismissed is still required to fulfill his or her financial obligation to Sewanee and/or the program provider, and is not eligible for a refund of fees paid.

Dismissal from the program will result in grades of F being assigned to all coursework associated with the program.

Managing Risk Abroad

All opportunities bear some risk, and we offer the following general advice on how to reduce risk and to manage in challenging situations. Please recall that you will be visiting another culture with different norms of behavior and another political system with different laws and institutions. A lengthier document with advice may be found on the Live Safe application to be downloaded to your phone or Android device.


Advice on Managing Risk Abroad

Food and Water

  • Advise students to always use bottled water (even to brush their teeth) unless they are assured the tap water is safe.  Also, if tap water is not safe, neither is ice, and students should be wary of salads.
  • Stay away from raw foods, dirty restaurants and “street” food.
  • Avoid Western food establishments as the locals may not know how to cook or prepare Western foods in a safe manner.
  • Have students wash their hands regularly or use hand sanitizer.
 Medical Well-being
  • Should a participant become significantly ill while abroad, help the individual, complete the health incident report, and inform the Associate Dean for Global Citizenship and the participants’ emergency contacts.
  • Help the student to contact the international health insurance provider and utilize their tools to find a doctor or pharmacy near you.  If this is a non-life threatening medical condition that requires visiting a doctor, help the student to call the doctor's office. First state the medical issue, and then ask if they are accepting patients, can accept your health insurance and what their billing or payment options are.  Schedule an appointment once all of the questions have been answered.
Physical Security
  • Check the U.S. Department of State website for government-sponsored information regarding travel abroad, individual country profiles, travel alerts, travel warnings, and worldwide cautions.
  • Be sure that students register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to provide the Department of State with information that can be used to better assist you in the case of an emergency.
  • Avoid hanging out in crowded places and tourist areas where pickpockets may operate and that may be sites of attacks.
  • Do not allow the group members to participate in political events as they may turn violent or anti-U.S.  Observe from a distance or in the news.
  • Encourage participants to avoid dangerous and poorly lit areas, especially at night. When traveling at night, have students walk in pairs or small groups.
  • Try to defuse participants’ altercations and avoid participants getting into heated arguments.
  • Take any immediate actions necessary to protect your partipants’ safety and/or welfare.
Terrorism or Mass Violence
  • If your program participants encounter a situation that involves terrorism, a crime of violence or other potential crimes, contact law enforcement. For international trips, also notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in cases of assault or other crimes of violence.
  • As soon as practicable, notify and stay in touch with Sewanee officials, as appropriate (the Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Risk Management; Associate Dean of Global Citizenship; Dean of Students), and follow directions from such officials.
  • In an emergency situation, account for all participants using your communication plan.
  • In the case of a terrorist or mass violence event, account for your participants and contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for advice. If you need help – and even if you are secure – notify the Office of Global Citizenship.
  • For international trips where medical, political, or natural disaster evacuation may be required or advisable, work with contacts in your host country and collaborate with Sewanee officials and the University's global insurance provider (contact information provided on insurance card), as appropriate.
General Travel Advice
  • Have students make copies of their passports and credit cards to leave with their families and to keep in their luggage or a secure place. You may wish to collect copies of students’ passports in your possession.
  • If a participant loses a passport, report it immediately to the U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Do not take unmarked taxis.
  • Take extra caution when traveling on trains or buses to secure your belongings.
  • If participants leave the program for a personal trip, make sure that they inform you of their travel plans and have them complete an Student Independent Travel Form.
Sexual Violence and Harassment
  • Warn participants to avoid situations in which they are at greater risk of sexual harassment or violence including hitchhiking, dancing or partying with unknown persons, inviting persons to their rooms or going to unknown persons’ rooms/apartments, or becoming under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • If something happens to a participant, tell him/her that is NOT his/her fault.  Know that there are people and resources at Sewanee here to help the affected participant. Provide support and gather information about the incident as soon as possible.
  • In cases of sexual assault, follow basic sexual assault procedures, including not to shower, eat or drink, smoke, douche, change clothes, or anything else that might destroy important physical evidence in the event of a prosecution, and to take precautions to treat sexually transmitted diseases or to prevent pregnancy.
  • Clarify with the participant the degree to which s/he wishes to involve law enforcement and/or other authorities. Obtain and communicate to the individual as much information as possible about the specific laws that may apply so that s/he can evaluate how to proceed. The U.S. embassy or consulate should be able to clarify the laws of the host country for you.
  • Assist the individual in reporting the incident to local authorities and to Sewanee’s Dean of Students or Title IX Coordinator, if s/he wishes to do so.
  • Incidents of crimes and sexual misconduct need to be reported to the Sewanee police department using the Incident Report Form.
Emergency contact information
  • Scott Wilson, Associate Dean of the Office of Global Citizenship: (O) 931-598-1173, (C)  931-636-4255,
  • Shawnee Scissom, Office of Global Citizenship: (O) 931-598-3551,
  • Eric Hartman, Vice President for Risk Management and Institutional Effectiveness, 931-598-1443,
  • Sewanee Police: 931-598-1111
  • Marichal Gentry, Dean of Students: 931-598-1229,
  • University Counseling Services: 931-598-1325

Crisis Management

All group leaders are required to prepare and distribute in writing to students an Emergency Action Plan that includes protocols for different types of emergencies, as well as contact information for program leaders, the US Consulate, and acceptable medical facilities near all program locations. This section offers guidelines to help international program leaders you think through how you would navigate difficult situations abroad.

Crisis Management Protocol

Natural Disasters

If there is a natural disaster, an act of terrorism or a high-level alert with regard to either of the preceding which would affect the country in which a study abroad/international program is being conducted or a country into which the program is about to travel: 

  1. The on-site program director or representative will encourage students, if able, to contact their parents.  
  2. Whether or not the students contact their parents, the on-site program director or representative will attempt to contact the study abroad office (or designated individual who will contact the study abroad office) at Sewanee as quickly as can be arranged.
  3. After being notified, the study abroad office at Sewanee will attempt to send a message to other officials in the College and to all parents, based on the lists provided by program directors before the beginning of the program session.  
  4. The program director should contact the local US embassy for information and advice.

Hospitalization & Medical Concerns

A student is involved in an accident or has a physical or mental condition requiring treatment

  1. Assist the student with seeking medical care if needed. The on-site program director or representative will encourage the student, if able, to contact his or her parents.  
  2. Whether or not the student contacts his or her parents, the on-site program director or representative will contact the Office of Global Citizenship (or other designated individual who will contact the OGC) at Sewanee. The University will attempt to contact the parents as well.
Disciplinary/Honor Code Infraction

A student has a disciplinary/honor code infraction while abroad.

  1. The on-site program director or representative will notify the study abroad office at Sewanee when initiating a disciplinary case and will, within two working days, notify that same office of any decision (positive or negative) and the nature of any sanction.
  2. Parents will be notified by way of sanction letters when the cases are of a serious nature (drug/alcohol policy, harassment, violence, etc.).
  3. The Dean of Students or the Associate Dean of the College may be needed to advise or assist in implementation of policies (e.g., by recommending outcomes comparable to those on the home campus, advising in the event of an Honor Code infraction, answering questions about suspension status, etc.).  Sewanee students are under the Sewanee Honor Code at all times, including when they are on study abroad program.  The study abroad office can serve as a channel for communications about disciplinary/honor situations.  
Arrests & Violations of Law

A student is arrested.

  1. In serious arrest cases—e.g., those involving imprisonment for more than a few hours or requiring legal counsel—the on-site program director or representative will notify the study abroad office at Sewanee (or other designated individual who will make contact with the study abroad office). The program leader should contact the local US embassy.  
  2. If the arrest is minor—e.g., a student receiving a citation—but requires an official program review to determine potential sanctions, then the on-site program director or representative will notify the study abroad office at Sewanee.  
Sexual Misconduct

A student is sexually assaulted

  1. The on-site program director or representative will encourage the student, if able, to contact his or her parents.  
  2. Whether or not the student contacts his or her parents, the on-site program director or representative will contact the Office of Global Citizenship at Sewanee about the situation.  
  3. Given that laws may vary in different countries with respect to assault (and even harassment issues), program directors may want or need to develop program protocols for dealing with these and other situations. The program leader should contact the local US embassy for information and support.
Unanticipated Departures

A student leaves a program unexpectedly and without satisfactory reason.  

  1. The on-site program director or representative will notify the student’s the Sewanee study abroad office.  
  2. The student’s record should reflect the same sort of academic outcome that would be in place should a student leave a term at Sewanee without satisfactory reason.  Refunds should be established based on written program policies.  
  3. The student should understand that leaving a Sewanee program constitutes failure to continue in enrollment at Sewanee.  Terms of re-enrollment should be established by the Standards Committee, as is the case when a student withdraws from the College during term or between terms.