Be Safe When Studying Off Campus

St. Olaf students and employees engaged in off-campus courses and programs are protected by and subject to the college’s Policy Prohibiting Sexual Harassment, just as they are when studying or teaching on campus. However, if a student or employee experiences harassment or misconduct, it can be challenging to know what to do from a distance and in an unfamiliar environment. This brief guide is intended to assist members of the St. Olaf community in responding to harassment or misconduct that may occur in the context of a St. Olaf-sponsored off-campus course or program.

Preparation and prevention

  • Be informed. Students sometimes assume – mistakenly – that college policies are relaxed or don’t apply when they are studying off-campus. This is not the case; while some procedures for reporting, investigating, adjudicating, or sanctioning may have to be adjusted to accommodate the circumstances of being off-campus, behaviors that are a violation of college policy on-campus are also violations of college policy off-campus. By the same token, students and employees are entitled to the same protections in off-campus programs as they are in on-campus programs, though again, services and support may need to be provided in different ways to accommodate the off-campus context.
  • Be aware. While teaching and learning off-campus may be a wonderful opportunity for academic, personal, and professional growth, it can also pose risks and challenges beyond those encountered on-campus, such as an unfamiliar environment or different cultural norms and expectations with regard to sexual activity and gender.
  • Review your training and education resources. All St. Olaf students and employees complete training concerning sexual harassment and sexual misconduct prior to or shortly after their enrollment or employment, so all St. Olaf participants in the college’s off-campus study programs are already equipped with basic knowledge about how to prevent and respond to these behaviors. However, most people will have completed their training a year or more prior to their off-campus program participation. Employees can re-take the one-hour online St. Olaf employee training at any time, and are encouraged to do so as part of their preparation to take students off-campus. Students and employees alike are encouraged to visit the Get Educated page of the St. Olaf Title IX website for a refresher on safe decision-making, bystander intervention, and support resources.

Responding to harassment or misconduct that occurs during the off-campus program

Ensure immediate safety

If a student or employee is threatened with, or has experienced, sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking, the first step is to ensure their immediate safety, as appropriate to the program and locale. You can call a designated emergency contact for your program or telephone the 911 equivalent for the country where you are located to assist you in reaching a safe place. Remember that you are not at fault for any sexual harassment or sexual misconduct you have experienced.

You may also choose to disclose your incident to a confidential resource, such as the Boe House counselors or the St. Olaf pastoral staff. A confidential resource can offer support and guidance prior to, or in lieu of, reporting your incident to the on-site staff or St. Olaf College.

Call St. Olaf

Call the St. Olaf International and Off-Campus Studies (IOS) crisis line 24/7 at 507-321-2100. IOS can offer specific guidance on next steps, such as seeking medical attention, reporting the incident to local authorities, and/or filing a complaint with the College about the incident. If you report the incident to the International and Off-Campus Studies office, we must notify the St. Olaf Title IX Coordinator. While confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, your privacy is our priority.

When harassment or misconduct occurs in the course of an off-campus program, there are many different factors that may affect the next steps to be taken. Laws and procedures in other countries, as well as policies and procedures in host institutions, may differ from US law and St. Olaf policy. Moreover, the application of St. Olaf policies to a particular case will depend on whether all parties involved are St. Olaf students or employees, or whether non-St. Olaf individuals are involved as well.

Because of the uniqueness of every case, International and Off-Campus Studies staff will guide you through your resources and options, including providing assistance in determining who else you wish to notify about the incident (such as Consular Affairs at the local US embassy or consulate, local law enforcement, the program liaison at the host institution, or a support person such as a friend or parent), and in reporting to the St. Olaf Title IX Coordinator. If all the individuals involved are students, IOS will confer with the Title IX Coordinator to determine whether and how to adapt measures that would normally be taken on campus (such as a No-Contact Directive between the parties) to the unique circumstances of an off-campus program.

Seek Ongoing Support

Encourage the St. Olaf individuals involved to seek ongoing support. Anyone affected by sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, whether as a reporting party or responding party, may benefit from ongoing support following their return to campus. Support is available from both confidential and non-confidential resources, and from both campus- and community-based individuals.

Responding to prior harassment or misconduct reported during the off-campus program

  • Follow college policy and procedures for reporting incidents of harassment or misconduct. Sometimes in the course of an off-campus program, students may report incidents that occurred prior to their program participation. Students and employees who become aware of harassment or misconduct affecting or committed by a St. Olaf student or employee must follow college policy on reporting options and considerations even if they are not on campus. Information on how to report is available on the St. Olaf Title IX website.
  • Encourage the St. Olaf individuals involved to seek ongoing support. As noted above, anyone affected by sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, whether as complainant or respondent, may benefit from ongoing support following their return to campus. Resources are available no matter how long ago the incident may have occurred.

Sexual harassment and sexual misconduct raise challenging and complex issues which may be magnified when they occur in the course of study off-campus. The Office of International and Off-Campus Studies and the Title IX team are committed to providing off-campus study experiences that are free of harassment and misconduct, to provide the equitable and high-impact educational experience to which all students studying off-campus are entitled. If you have any questions before, during, or after an off-campus program experience, please contact International and Off-Campus Studies or the Title IX Coordinator.