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ETSU Non-Student Minors in University-Sponsored Programs


ETSU Non-Student Minors in University-Sponsored Programs Policy Description The proposed Non-Student Minors in University-Sponsored Programs Policy was drafted by a diverse on-campus working group comprised of key program, unit, and faculty/staff stakeholders. The review included benchmarking from peer institutions and selected best practice institutions. The policy addresses the participation of non-student minors in university programs and activities; including but not limited to athletic camps, academic camps and enrichment experiences, and summer camps and conferences. The policy is not intended to replace current policies or guidelines in university child-care facilities, university health or mental health clinics, but the provisions in this policy may add responsibilities to those units. The policy addresses a program registration requirement for university-sponsored programs that involve non-student minors. The policy also addresses a background check requirement for staff who work in university-sponsored programs that involve non-student minors, as well as expected training and notification requirements.  The policy includes a check-list and guidelines that may be helpful to any university personnel who participate in activities involving non-student minors.

Posted on: 4/13/2017
Closes on: 5/12/2017
Archived on: 6/30/2017

The Request for Comments has been closed


The Center of Excellence in Sport Sceince and Coach Education faculty (SERK), staff and students are engaged in several off site programs which involve organisations in the local communiy such as coalition for kids, girls on the run and several YMCA's and YWCA's along with a sports program we are initiating in the Kingsport and soon hopefully in the Johnson City schools there will be a colaboration with school teachers but intitially it will be our ETSU student teaching what we USTF Run, Jump, Throw program to Elementary school children. Oympic Day run by our students, and facutly at Kermit Tipton Stadium at Science Hill High School also has the potential to be invovled wiht this policy.

If we do have the potential to be involved I would welcome the opportuntiy to discuss this policy in an open forum

Does this new requirement  mean our student must be aligned with this policy ?

If so who pays ?   

Commentor: Margaret Stone
Submitted on: 5/4/2017
On behalf of: Individual Staff

I work as a counselor for Upward Bound with high school students who live and take classes on ETSU campus during the summer. My primary concerns, addressed below, are related to clarification needed and/or issues I believe could have a negative impact on our students.


Establish Behavioral Expectations

“unless the one-on-one interaction is expressly authorized”


With respect to their privacy and the nature of the content which often comes up during my interactions with program participants, I find it highly unnecessary to include other staff members on some of these conversations as it can be overwhelming to the Minor and potentially damage the therapeutic nature of our relationship and the interaction taking place during our meetings. Although the alternative is to engage with students in “well illuminated spaces or rooms with windows observable by other individuals from the Program,” even that is not always possible or appropriate for the kind of work counselors do with our participants.


Can the authorization exempting us from this process be granted by something as simple as including a line in our summer handbook stating “participants may be asked to meet one-on-one with counselors” to cover the potential for this interaction with all of our students or does this authorization need to be given on a case by case basis for each individual student? If case by case authorization is required, how are we to proceed with our responsibilities as counselors and best serve our students if we are unable to reach our Program Organizer in a timely fashion?


How to Report Allegation(s) of Inappropriate Behavior

“Any behavior deemed inappropriate or concerning should be documented in one or both of the following manners”


It is unclear to me based on this wording and the current formatting of this section what “both” means since this section goes on to list Violation of Law, Violation of University Policy, Program Rules, etc.


What qualifies as “behavior deemed inappropriate” and requires reporting through ETSU offices? Is this referring to the behavior of program participants and program staff? What if program participants are allegedly the victims of inappropriate behavior, which takes place off campus, and the alleged perpetrator is neither a program participant nor program staff? Does this information still need to be reported to Public Safety or Student Affairs?


Good Faith and Community Reporting

This policy reads as though past instances of abuse, which are primarily the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) issues we encounter, must be communicated to ETSU Public Safety in addition to our legal requirement to report to DCS.


As a counselor, I would not wish to report past abuse to Public Safety if all of the following are true:

1) Abuse/Neglect did not occur on University Facilities,

2) Abuse/Neglect did involve Program Staff and

3) Abuse/Neglect does not present potential for future harm to the Minor


Since we are delivering reports to DCS, we as counselors and as citizens, have fulfilled our legal and ethical duty to appropriately report.


Process for Review/Investigation

“ETSU Public Safety will lead investigations of a violation of law. If the violation is alleged to occur off campus property, then Public Safety shall take the lead as liaison to the investigating parties.”


I see no apparent reason why Public Safety would be necessary to intervene with instances, past or present, of abuse/neglect which are being legally reported and handled by DCS. I am unaware of any legal responsibility which would require or even allow the University to investigate instances of child abuse.


Additionally, if the University wishes to go beyond the legal duty to report to DCS and require us to communicate abuse of Minors to Public Safety, then I would be concerned about what specific information they would request from us and how the information would be handled. I am also fearful that further conversations or interrogations with students regarding these matters, beyond that which takes place in our counseling interactions to submit DCS reports, would not be in the best interest of the emotional well-being of students and would severely jeopardize privacy and confidentiality we hope to maintain. Involving Public Safety in such matters would likely re-traumatize these students and cause undue burden.

Commentor: Marc Tucker
Submitted on: 4/24/2017
On behalf of: Individual Staff

When does this policy go into effect? There is a requirement stipulated of programs being regsitered at least 45 days in advance.

Under item #2, is the "University Participation Agreement" a single form for all program types or is it customized to each program?

Under item #3, is there a fee attached to the background checks?  If so, what is that fee structure?

Under item #4, the hyperlink provided does not lead to any training videos that fit the requirements listed. Are new videos going to be posted and when will they be available?

Under Appendix A

Item I:  Is the Program-specific Participation Form the same as the "University Participation Agreement" listed in Item #2? If not, is there just one form that covers all programs or does each program have to create this form?

Item II-A:  How does "...your line of sight..." relate to student who have gone to the restroom, etc.?

Item II-B:  How does the Program Organizer determine the proper ratio of Employee/Volunteer to Non-Student Minors?

Item II-D:  How is leaving a Non-Student Minor "unattended" defined when it comes to restroom breaks, etc.? What about a situation of students who are involved in an program where they are staying overnight in an on-campus Residence Hall with regards to walking to the Culp Center for meals, walking to class locations, etc.?

Commentor: Joe Moore
Submitted on: 4/14/2017
On behalf of: Individual Staff

I agree with others that more clarification on 'programs' is needed.  In the definition it says that it's any activity under university control regardless of location, but later in the 'purpose and scope' it says it's just programs that take place in university facilities.

Is a University Participation Agreement required in cases where a non-student minor gets permission from the parent through their school to participate in the activity?  If, say, a high school debate team were to come to ETSU for a debate competition, and the high school collected permission slips from parents would ETSU require a second granting of permission?

The requirement that the program solicit additional permission from a parent that a non-student minor be allowed to drive him or herself to or from campus seems overly stringent. 

Commentor: Leslie MacAvoy
Submitted on: 4/14/2017
On behalf of: Individual Staff

As a director or organizer of numerous field-trip events and single day academic competitions for non-student minors I also find the definition of "programs" to be extremely broad.  I note that a similar policy recently developed at MTSU with the same goals in mind does include what seems like reasonable exceptions to the broader "programs" definition.  Among those events that are excluded from the MTSU policy and that are relevant to my concerns are:

Events where parents/guardians are expected to provide supervision of the minor children, or events where the minor is accompanied by his/her parent/guardian;

An event open to the general public that is not targeted toward minors (e.g., athletic events, plays, concerts);

Events, such as field trips and athletic events, sponsored and supervised by a minor’s school;

Single day events that begin and end between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (This would pertain to single day competitions perhaps involving hundreds of non-students).  Such events would still be required to follow all facilities use procedures, etc. and event sponsors would be encouraged to consider aspects of the best practices and training, etc. as applicable to a specific event.


Commentor: Gary Henson
Submitted on: 4/13/2017
On behalf of: Individual Faculty

Re: definition of  "program." The proposed definition may be so broad that it logically encompasses activities not intended to be addressed by the policy. "Any activity that is under the direction or control of the University, regardless of its location" could include a sports event, a graduation ceremony, an  arts performance, a museum or library visit, and so on. The definition would also seem to include minors who are on campus to participate in health-related programs (speech-lanaguge, audiology, dental hygiene, mental health, developmental psychology, etc.)

Re: criminal background checks. I did not see any requirement that personnel submit an application in which they are asked to disclose relevant history. If a background check failed, for any reason, to detect someone with a troublesome history, how would ETSU explain why it didn't bother to ask the applicant directly? Also, what is the rationale for doing a background check every four years and how does this fit with language elsewhere that says a background check must be satisfactory within the previous 365 days? How would the university defend against a claim that a q 4 year check was insufficiently frequent, especially since programs are required to register at least annually? We require that our personnel undergo "training" annually, but do background checks at one-fourth that frequency? Also, the requirement that all persons who have "substantial contact" undergo criminal background checks begs the question of what constitutes "substantial contact." Will the university enforce this requirement for contractors?

Re: training. The policy "requires that all persons working in University-sponsored Programs be trained regarding policies and issues relating to interactions with Non-Student Minors."  As written, this applies to all University-sponsored Programs, even if they have no involvement with minors. Is that the intent?

Re: behavioral expectations. The policy section addresses only the behavior of adults. What about expectations for behavior of the minors in the program? For example, adults are repeatedly warned to  avoid any sexualized behavior or substance use -- but the policy is silent on how to handle sexualized behaviors or substance use by the minors themselves. If there is a separate policy addressing behavior of minors in  ETSU programs, it should be referenced here. If there is not such a separate policy, then perhaps one should be established.

Re: reporting of suspected abuse. This policy provision seems quite wrong. Child abuse reporting is governed by statute (TCA 37-1-403) and the list of authorities authorized by statute to receive and investigate mandatory child abuse reports does not include university personnel or university police departments. UT Knoxville's abuse reporting documents correctly warn that "reporting to University police, a supervisor, or any other University official or employee does not satisfy an individual’s duty to report child abuse or child sexual abuse" to one of the statutorily specified authorities. See:  Moreover, by statute, persons making child abuse reports are entitled to do so confidentially. The proposed university policy might contradict that statutory provision by requiring persons making reports to appropriate officials to also make internal reports to the university. While organizations are allowed by law to internally track abuse reports, this does not involve investigating the abuse, and it requires that the organization assure the confidentiality of the reporter. The ETSU policy is silent on the issue of confidentiality. The reporting statute also includes a duty to notify parents of alleged abuse occurring on school grounds, and this proposed ETSU policy is silent on parental notification. ETSU's policy should precisely track the reporting statute.

Re: responsibility for investigation. THIS SECTION OF THE POLICY SHOULD NOT BE APPROVED AS WRITTEN - AND YES, I AM SHOUTING. It is a grave mistake for the university to treat investigation of alleged child abuse in any way as a do-it-yourself activity. Neither the university police, student affairs, nor Title IX staff can substitute for statutorily designated authorities in the investigation of child abuse. Internal university involvement inherently embodies a conflict of interest and also would be redundant to other required investigations. Internal ETSU involvement could easily make a mess of what are very sensitive investigations that are best conducted by statutorily designated authorities with appropriate specialized training and experience. 

Re: supervision expectations. A requirement for continuous line-of-sight supervision may assume a duty that is both unnecessary and likely impossible to achieve. Continuous line of sight supervision is not even required in psychiatric hospitals unless a minor is imminently suicidal. For lesser degrees of concern about suicide, a q 15 minute welfare check is standard. As for requiring a "buddy system" for restroom visits - this is quite intrusive, feels frankly paranoid, and ignores any potential issues related to minors' sense of privacy. To my knowledge public schools routinely allow students to use restrooms independently. 





Commentor: Thomas Schacht
Submitted on: 4/13/2017
On behalf of: Individual Faculty

Would a word other than “minors” in the policy name more aptly describe the person(s) being covered by the policy?  With the word “minor” already used for other purposes at a university, it might be quicker to find this policy if using another word choice. 

               ETSU Child/Adolescent Campus Policy For University Sponsored Programs

               ETSU Non-Emancipated Child (Minors) Campus Policy For University Sponsored Programs

               ETSU Non-Age Of Majority (Minors) Campus Policy For University Sponsored Programs

Commentor: Mary Musick
Submitted on: 4/13/2017
On behalf of: Individual Staff

I have the following comment/question: The definition of "University-Sponsored"  ("Under the direction and control of University employees acting under assigned job responsibilities") appears to be quite broad. If taken literally, it includes any off-campus activities like classroom visits, guest lectures, participation in non ETSU-organized summer camps etc. Certainly when I give a guest lecture in a high school class I am acting as a University employee under assigned job responsibilities (education outreach is a part of Service section of faculty job expectations). Does thePolicy really imply that every time I am doing a classroom visit at Science Hill or participate in an outdoor program at Bays Mountain Park I need to register this with ETSU Conference Services at least 45 days in advance, submit to a background check and obtain special training? Probably not. I think that the definition should be narrowed to exclude non-ETSU events in which ETSU employees may be participating as part of their outreach efforts.

Commentor: Lev Yampolsky
Submitted on: 4/13/2017
On behalf of: Individual Faculty