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Health, safety and security

General principles

Safety is a prime concern of all who are involved in study abroad. There are risks that are unique to specific settings abroad and, when incidents occur, the impact on participants and their families is often more profound because of the unfamiliarity of the context and the distance that separates participants from their primary sources of consolation and support.

Leaders should start thinking about health and safety while planning their pre-departure orientation program and their on-site orientation program .

To assist with topics for orientation planning and execution, OSA sends Study Abroad Program Leader Memos via email throughout the year that list upcoming events and suggestions for creating high-quality programs. These monthly memos often consist of information pertaining to health and safety, and include a schedule for Emergency Preparedness and Response Seminars which all program leaders are required to attend every other year. The seminars review the information included in this guide as well as practical steps to follow as you prepare and respond to emergencies. A wallet guide that references this information is also be distributed.

If students or parents should inquire about how MSU deals with safety and security issues, please refer them to the page for Health, Safety and Security in Study Abroad.

For information on OSA's refund policy about individual withdrawals or program suspensions for reasons of health or safety, visit OSA Refund Policies and Safety & Security Considerations.

MSU Standards

If you need clarification regarding MSU's general policies or useful MSU safety and security information (related to on-campus needs), access the:

  1. MSU Drug and Alcohol Policy, which includes information on drug and alcohol educational and counseling resources, definition of prohibited behavior and consequences for violations;
  2. University Policy on Sexual Harassment, which defines prohibited behavior and the consequences of engaging in it and explains how, and with whom, to file a complaint about sexual harassment; and
  3. University's Statement on Sexual Assault, which describes campus programs to prevent sexual assaults and procedures to follow when a sex offense occurs.

Please note that under the University Policy on Sexual Harassment, you have an obligation to process all sexual harassment complaints. Occasionally, an informal resolution of a complaint may be appropriate. Before seeking to resolve a complaint informally, however, you should be confident that the complainant is willing to proceed in this fashion. See the section on responding to allegations of sexual harassment for more information.

U.S. Department of State Communiqu├ęs

In the event a U.S. State Department warden message, worldwide caution or travel alert is issued for a country on your itinerary, OSA will share this information by email with all program leaders and students, but because student attention to email while abroad may be limited, please ensure you relay any applicable information to all participants. In the rare circumstance that a Travel Warning is issued for a country on your program itinerary, OSA's Travel Warning policies will be followed.

Widespread Crisis Management

In the event of a local, regional or global crisis, you should follow the advice of local authorities and consult the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for updated security information. You should also remain in regular contact with OSA.

Demonstrations and protests are increasingly common overseas. Although some have an anti-American undercurrent, most are related to internal objections to the country's governance and/or economy. Nonetheless, students should be strongly discouraged from attending such events, no matter how attractive or exciting they may seem, as they have the tendency to turn violent quickly.

If a widespread political or economic crisis should occur in your location abroad, review precautions with students so that they can better secure their safety. Brief students on the desirability of blending with the local culture, including, when possible, speaking the host country language in public. Advise students to maintain a low profile and avoid crowds, protest groups, restaurants and discos/nightclubs where Americans, especially U.S. service people, are known to frequent. Students should keep up with local news through newspapers, radio and television. In the event of disturbances or protests, students should NOT get involved. Ask students to use common sense and caution when divulging information to strangers about themselves, the program, their location, itinerary and fellow students.

In case of serious health problems, injury, or other significant health and safety circumstances, follow the emergency procedures as indicated in this guide and in the Program Leader On-site Operations Manual. At any time you need emergency assistance, do not hesitate to contact the 24/7 line at 001-517-353-3784.