Purpose and Scope of Policy
This statement sets forth WPI's policy regarding children under the age of 18 (Minors) who participate in events, activities or programs (collectively, Programs) on campus, or off-campus but under the authority and direction of WPI. WPI expects all members of the university community to adhere to and act in accordance with this policy. Failure to comply with the requirements set forth in this policy may lead to disciplinary action and/or revocation of the opportunity to use WPI facilities and/or run WPI-affiliated Programs.
With the exception of (i) Minors who are enrolled as full-time students at WPI (to which all other WPI policies apply) and (ii) Minors who are high school students enrolled at Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science (Mass Academy, to which all Mass Academy policies apply), this policy applies to all instances in which Minors are on campus or participating in Programs.
This includes all types of Programs, including without limitation:
- Athletic camps, academic camps, high school recruiting events, and other, similar activities; and
- Programs or events run by WPI, as well as those run by others on campus or on WPI’s behalf.
This policy applies to all members of the WPI community, including without limitation:
- WPI faculty, staff and students;
- Contractors and vendors working on campus or working for the university off-campus;
This policy applies at all times, including without limitation:
- Programs run before, during or after business hours, and overnight; and
- Programs that are for a single instance, over a period of time, or recurring.
Application of this Policy
The following 6 requirements govern participation in Programs covered by this policy:
1. Register the Program
The person in charge of the Program or a designee (Program Director) of the Program must submit a Program Registration Form within sufficient time to meet the requirements of this policy.
2. Execute Appropriate Written Contract(s)
In all covered Programs, the parent/guardian of each Minor must execute a Participant Waiver and Permission Form (PDF).
Third party sponsors must execute a Program Services Agreement (PDF) if the Program will make use of university facilities, including but not limited to athletic, housing or dining facilities, in connection with a covered Program.
3. Conduct Background Checks
The Program Director, whether the Program is sponsored by the university or a private concern, must conduct a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) criminal background check on all adults, including but not limited to faculty, staff, students, and volunteers, who will have direct and unmonitored contact with Minors during the course of the Program. These criminal background checks will be conducted by an agency selected and approved by Human Resources. If a criminal record history is revealed, the Program Director will refer the application to Human Resources for evaluation.
A background check must be completed and evaluated prior to an adult beginning work with Minors. The Program Director will be required to conduct annual criminal background checks on returning adults.
4. Provide Training
In recognition of the imperative of protecting Minors, WPI strongly suggests that all adults working with Minors be trained regarding policies and issues relating to interactions with Minors. This training should include:
- WPI policies regarding interactions with Minors;
- Use of background checks to screen adults working with Minors;
- Responsibility for modeling respectful behaviors;
- Consequences of conduct violations involving Minors;
- Behavioral signs that Minor victims may exhibit;
- Sexual abuse and sexual harassment;
- Laboratory safety for Minors (where applicable);
- Inappropriate behavior with children;
- Other appropriate topics; and
- Reporting requirements and procedures.
5. Establish Behavioral Expectations
Adults should be positive role models for Minors, and act in a caring, honest, respectful and responsible manner that is consistent with the mission and guiding principles of the university. Adults working in Programs covered by this policy must follow these expectations to avoid behaviors that could cause harm or be misinterpreted:
- Do not engage in any sexual activity, make sexual comments, tell sexual jokes, or share sexually explicit material (or assist in any way to provide access to such material) with Minors.
- Do not be alone with a single Minor. If one-on-one interaction is required, meet in open, well illuminated spaces or rooms with windows observable by other adults from the Program, unless the one-on-one interaction is expressly authorized by the Program Director, dean, department chair person or is being undertaken by a health care provider.
- Do not meet with Minors outside of established times for Program activities. Any exceptions require written parental authorization and must include more than one adult from the Program.
- Do not invite individual Minors to your home. Any exceptions require authorization by the Program Director and written authorization by a parent/guardian.
- Do not engage or allow Minors to engage you in romantic or sexual conversations, or related matters, unless required in the role of resident advisors, counselors, or health care providers.
- Do not engage or communicate with Minors through email, text messages, social networking websites, internet chat rooms, or other forms of social media at any time except and unless there is an educational or programmatic purpose and the content of the communication is consistent with the mission of the Program and the university.
- Do not touch Minors in a manner that a reasonable person could interpret as inappropriate. Touching should generally only be in the open and in response to the Minor's needs, for a purpose that is consistent with the Program's mission and culture, and/or for a clear educational, developmental, or health related (i.e., treatment of an injury) purpose. Any resistance from the Minor should be respected.
- Do not engage in any abusive conduct of any kind toward, or in the presence of, a Minor, including but not limited to verbal abuse, striking, hitting, punching, poking, spanking, or restraining. If restraint is necessary to protect a Minor or other Minors from harm, all incidents must be documented and disclosed to the Program Director and the Minor's parent/guardian.
- Do not use, possess or be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while on duty or when responsible for a Minor's welfare.
- When transporting Minors in a Program, more than one adult from the Program must be present in the vehicle, except when multiple Minors will be in the vehicle at all times through the transportation. Avoid using personal vehicles if possible.
- Possession of or use of any type of weapon or explosive device is prohibited.
6. Report Allegation(s) of Inappropriate Behavior
"If you see something, say something". Every member of the university community (Member) has an obligation to report immediately instances or suspected instances of the abuse of or inappropriate interactions with Minors to the WPI Police Department and to the Program Director. This includes information about suspected abuse, neglect, or inadequate care provided by a parent, guardian, or custodian/caretaker. The WPI Police Department can assist in determining whether additional reporting may be required, and can assist in making such reporting. Members making a report in good faith will be protected from criminal and civil liability for making the report. Further, it is the policy of the university that no Member making a good faith report of suspected abuse or neglect will be retaliated against in the terms and conditions of employment or educational program.