The Forum is pleased to announce a new collaboration with 32 National Campus Safety Initiative (32 NCSI), a flagship program of the VTV Family Outreach Foundation (VTV), that invests in college and university campus communities so that better informed decisions about campus safety are made. VTV is a non-profit organization founded by many of the survivors and surviving family members impacted by the mass shooting on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16, 2007. As a living memorial to the thirty-two community members, 32 NCSI exists to foster safe learning, living and working environments on all campuses nationwide.
32 NCSI is a free, voluntary and private self-assessment to assist universities to increase awareness on a range of campus safety issues that include alcohol and substance abuse, campus public safety (including missing students, physical security and threat assessment), emergency management, hazing, mental health, and sexual misconduct. A new area of focus for the organization is education abroad.
The Forum supports the mission of 32 NCSI, and specifically the goal of doing all that we can to make education abroad as safe as possible for students, staff and faculty who participate in programs, faculty and administrators who plan and manage programs, and the institutions and organizations that sponsor and oversee them. Collaborating with 32 NCSI to advance this goal will broaden the influence and impact of both of our organizations, thereby enhancing health and safety of education abroad for all participants.
Both 32 NCSI and The Forum focus on promoting guidelines and best practices as a primary way to influence improvement among our members. Our approaches of providing guidelines and standards to be used for self-assessment and improvement are very similar, which makes this collaboration a natural fit. For these reasons, we are excited about working together to benefit our respective institutions.
Collaboration has already begun, as witnessed by The Forum delivering a NASPA webinar training sponsored by VTV. This webinar, entitled “Standards Do Exist for International Programs,” was recorded on September 20. This hour-long training provides student life professionals insights into what the field of education abroad is doing to promote and increase health, safety, security and risk management efforts for our students. It provides a brief overview of The Forum, the field, and the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad. And perhaps, most importantly, it focuses on Standard 8: Health, Safety, Security and Risk Management. Participants are shown how that particular standard works as an effective assessment tool for the practices and protocols already in place when responding to a health or safety issue involving faculty and students overseas. Resources are also identified that will assist student life professionals as they seek to learn more.
Another project that is underway involves jointly developing an online assessment tool based on Standard 8 that will provide a link to resources to assist institutions to improve their policies and practices. This is an area in which The Forum has a robust knowledge and expertise, and one that we are pleased to share. Now being pilot-tested, the Education Abroad Health, Safety, Security and Risk Management Indicators assessment tool will be the 10th free, confidential, self-paced online assessment program made available to colleges and universities by 32 NCSI.
Moving forward, there are sure to be other initiatives and projects that will be of interest to both organizations. Given the overlap in our two organizations’ interests in promoting safe education abroad experiences for all involved, it was only natural that The Forum and VTV form a collaborative partnership to forward these interests for the benefit of as many in higher education as possible.
Safety in the educational environment, whether at home, around the country or around the world, is a priority that we all share.