The Office of Risk and Compliance Management has updated the conditions to the student domestic travel policy to ensure safer travel and provide guidance for planning off-campus trips and excursions.
The policy includes undergraduate students traveling to events and activities that are beyond 50 miles of Wilkes University’s campus or require staying overnight. It covers any student who belongs to one of the school’s clubs, organizations, academic programs or departments. Also, it allows staff and faculty members to attend as well.
Further, the new stipulations that were added to the policy include a consent form and a travel waiver. They both need to be completed along with other documents at least one week before departure.
The consent document needs to be signed, as it confirms if those attending are in agreement with their rooming and lodging accommodations. Then, the travel waiver contains content regarding the student’s trip and what regulations they need to follow while away.
According to Michaela Free, senior Student Government member and Class Representative, the policy states that the university does not encourage or condone students from sharing a bed. However, spouses, partners and friends may be excluded from the policy if they so choose.
She explained that it will benefit students by reducing the number of hotel rooms being purchased for the trip and clear up any confusion.
“Before, we were constantly running into the question, ‘Should we allow the male and female students to share a hotel room?’ Now, the waiver must be submitted by each student, ensuring they are comfortable with the arrangement,” she said.
Another addition is that a Wilkes University staff or faculty member must accompany and chaperone the student group. They are required to hold a pre-trip meeting with participants to discuss the itinerary, transportation details, budget and behavioral expectations.
Cell phone numbers and emergency contact information will be exchanged for all participants. Although, if they don’t require an advisor, an exception can be made as long as it is approved by the appropriate administration, such as the Director of Student Development or the Provost.
Alanah Guerrero, student body president, gave a presentation on the changes during the Jan. 15 Student Government meeting. She described the benefits the new policy would provide to students.
“It will provide students with comfort and peace of mind knowing that they are protected under this policy. It takes into consideration students’ comfort levels on lodging with students of the same gender, opposite gender or non-binary students,” she said.
Guerrero addressed as well how the policy will affect clubs, departments or any domestic student travelers on campus. She explains if it is not completed within the allotted timeline described in the domestic travel policy they can lose the ability to travel off-campus under Wilkes University.
At Student Government meetings, Kevin Long, executive board treasurer, continued how it will impact the proceedings, especially when clubs present fund requests to attend events, such as conferences and conventions for overnight stays.
He said that presenters will be reminded to complete the necessary paperwork, and if questions or issues arise, they will be sorted out.
Otherwise, the amended policy won’t change the process of how Student Government conducts business at their meetings. Still, their organization does operate under university policies, which is why Student Government members encourage clubs to utilize the travel policy.
Many clubs and organizations that have presented at Student Government meetings have had to plan their trips around the new guidelines of the policy.
At the previous meeting on Feb. 12, some of the clubs and organizations that gave fund requests were Wilkes Adventure Education (WAE), the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) and the Wilkes University Theatre Department.
With these improvements, it appears that the updated conditions will help to alleviate previous problems caused by the former policy. Wilkes students will now have more of a choice regarding their rooming situations. They will also be further informed on details regarding their trips with increased advisor involvement.
For additional information regarding the policy, visit the university website at wilkes.edu.