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New student travel policy to be implemented

January 7, 2003

Faculty and staff gathered in the University Center Dec. 11-12 for the first of several planned sessions to discuss the University's student/group travel policy, set for implementation in spring.

Dr. Jennifer Meningall, vice president for student affairs, is spearheading the effort to develop and implement the policy. Meningall says experiences at other universities demonstrated a clear need for a formal, comprehensive policy.

"Two van accidents at sister institutions—and litigation springing from student travel incidents—alerted administrators to the need to examine the policies and procedures regulating student travel," she says.

Meningall also noted an incident in which traveling college students were on board two separate planes. One plane was diverted. One crashed. "Because no student travel policies and procedures were in place, no one knew who was on the plane that went down and who was on the plane that was diverted."

In addition to requiring documentation on who is traveling where, the new policy requires the appropriate authorization by the president or the appropriate representative. It also calls for creation of a "pool" of drivers whose licenses have been verified and who have undergone special training and completed the necessary paperwork.

"To simplify paperwork, license verification forms for drivers can be completed and filed in the motor pool once a year," Meningall says. "Students may be able to complete liability waiver forms once per semester."

Meningall said she and the committee members plan to put all forms online.

New policies and procedures would not apply to students traveling on their own to a course-related event, according to Meningall, but to travel initiated and organized by a representative of the University. "If two students ride together, their insurance is in effect. APSU has no responsibility in that instance," she says.

Meningall emphasizes that the new policy is not intended to create a bureaucracy or to burden those who are trying to create a learning experience for students. The goal is to safeguard students and minimize the University's liability. "Once everything is in place, compliance should be relatively easy," she says.

To find out when the next information session on the policy will be held, call student affairs at 7341.