Student Organization Handbook

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The Business Office provides fiscal services to student organizations through its Agency Fund process. Deposits, expenditures and travel arrangements for all student organizations should be coordinated through the Business Office.

All Business Office forms can be found on the Business Office Forms Web Site

INTRODUCTION

Student organizations at South Texas College contribute to a vibrant college community by providing invaluable experiences and opportunities for students to grow as individuals, leaders, and community members.

Each year, student organizations sponsor conferences, seminars, lectures, debates, cultural and social events, and fine arts programs.  These programs allow students to meet and interact with local, state, and nationally renowned scholars, artists, politicians, academicians, and other professionals.

In the course of planning and implementing organizational activities, recognized student organizations need information on the use of college facilities, budgeting, planning techniques, and a myriad of special arrangement concerns.

Student Activities and Wellness works to be proactive in its approach to guiding student organizations by providing education, training, and consultation.  Recognized student organizations and Student Activities and Wellness exist as partners in the college community.

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STARTING A NEW STUDENT ORGANIZATION

Individuals wishing to start a new student organization must adhere to the following procedures:

  • Complete the New Student Organization form, which is available from the Department of Student Activities and Wellness or online at: http://life.southtexascollege.edu/

  • The form must be signed by the student organization advisor.  The advisor must be a full-time faculty, administrator or professional staff member at South Texas College.  If the student organization is specific to an academic major (for example: accounting, history or emergency medical technology) the organization is required to have a faculty member from that academic program as their primary advisor.  The Program Chair for that academic program must approve the selection of all advisors.

  • The form must be also be signed by a minimum of 5 students who are currently enrolled at South Texas College.  To remain active the organization must maintain a minimum of 5 active members.

  • Return completed form to the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

  • The New Student Organization form will be reviewed by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness, who will grant or deny temporary recognition status to the new student organization.  Should permission not be granted, appeals may be submitted in writing to the Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management.

  • Once a student organization is granted temporary recognition status, the organization will then have 30 days to submit a copy of their proposed constitution and the completed List of Officers and Active Members form to the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.  During this period the student group may function temporarily as a student organization.

  • The Department of Student Activities and Wellness must approve the constitution and any future amendments to the constitution by the student organization.

  • The primary advisor will be notified by e-mail and by telephone within 3 business days as to whether permission is granted or denied to become a recognized student organization.

  • Upon recognition, the club officers and advisors must schedule and attend a mandatory orientation with the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

  • Should permission not be granted, appeals may be submitted in writing to the Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management.

  • Each organization’s constitution will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • A registered student organization may state that its membership is composed of students and/or staff of South Texas College, but it shall not suggest or imply that it is acting with the authority or as an agent of South Texas College.
  • Student organizations may not use the name of the college or an abbreviation of the name of the college as part of its name.  The organization may use such names as campus, college, Texas chapter, or McAllen as a part of its name.  You may NOT use “South Texas College” at the beginning of your organization’s name or “of South Texas College” at the end of your organization’s name.  You may use “at South Texas College” or “South Texas College Chapter” at the end of your organization’s name.
  • Student organizations may grant limited membership to non-STC students. These limited members are not eligible to hold an office, serve as a representative agent of the student organization, or vote in organization meetings.  Limited members are subject to the same regulations, sanctions, guidelines, and policies set forth in this handbook and the Student Code of Conduct.
  • Honor Societies will follow the same procedures for creating a new student organization.  Honor Societies will also require approval from the appropriate Division Dean and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

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RECOGNITION LEVELS

There are two types of student organizations at South Texas College.

  • Affiliated Organizations
    Affiliated organizations may receive a budget from the College.  Examples of affiliated organizations are Honor Societies, Club Sports Teams and the Student Government Association.
  • Recognized Organizations
    Recognized organizations comprise the bulk of student organizations.  Recognized student organizations may utilize college services and facilities, but they do not receive a budget from the college.

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HAZING

  • Individuals or organizations engaging in hazing could be subject to fines and charged with a criminal offense.  According to the law, a person can commit a hazing offense not only by engaging in a hazing activity, but also by soliciting, directing, encouraging, aiding or attempting to aid another in hazing; by intentionally, knowingly or recklessly allowing hazing to occur; or by failing to report first hand knowledge to the Department of Student Activities and Wellness that a hazing incident is planned or has occurred.  The fact that a person consented to or acquiesced in a hazing activity is not a defense to prosecution for hazing under this law.

  • The law grants immunity from civil or criminal liability to any person who reports a specific hazing event in good faith and without malice to the Department of Student Activities and Wellness or other appropriate College official and protects that person for participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from that report.

  • Hazing is defined as any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are or include students at an educational institution.  Hazing includes but is not limited to:

  • Any type of physical brutality, such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity.

  • Any type of physical activity, such as sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in a small space, calisthenics, or other activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk or harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student.

  • Any activity involving consumption of food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug, or other substance that subjects the student to unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of their student.

  • Any activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism, that subjects the student to extreme mental stress, shame, or humiliation, or that adversely affects the mental health or dignity of the student or discourages the student from entering or remaining registered in an educational institution, or that may reasonably be expected to cause a student to leave the organization or the institution rather than submit to acts described in this subsection.

  • Any activity that induces, or requires the student to perform a duty or task that involves a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, this handbook, or state or federal law.

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DEVELOPING A CONSTITUTION

  • The constitution should include the fundamental philosophy of the organization and specific guidelines for operation of the organization.

  • The constitution should include a statement of purpose.  The statement of purpose is a brief description of the reason why you are forming the organization.

  • Usually two-thirds or three-fourths vote by the organization members is required to officially adopt or amend the constitution.

  • Examples of constitutions are available from the Department of Student Activities and Wellness. Sample Constitution

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STUDENT ORGANIZATION STATUS & DISCIPLINE

Temporary Recognition Status

 

Granted to new student organizations for a period of 30 days during which the organization must submit a constitution and completed List of Officers and Active Members form to the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.  Temporary recognition status may be extended beyond 30 days if requested by the organization and approved by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

Recognized Status

 

Once an organization is granted recognized status they will have the privilege of travel, using campus facilities and equipment, raising funds, sponsoring speakers and public performances, distributing literature and calling upon the assistance of staff in the Department of Student Activities and Wellness for program planning.

Probation Status

The Department of Student Activities and Wellness, upon assessing reports of a student organization’s violation of college policies, procedures, the Student Code of Conduct or this handbook, may take appropriate disciplinary action by changing a student organization’s status to probation status.  Probation status is imposed for a definite period of time.  Violation of the terms of probation or any other violation during the period of probation may result in suspension.

Terms of probation for student organizations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The student organization may be prohibited from engaging in certain organizational and/or College programs or functions.

  • The student organization may be required to make monetary restitution, particularly in the case of theft, property damage, or injury to others.

  • The student organization may be required to send members to mandatory workshops, training sessions, or complete community service hours as a condition of probation.

Suspension Status

 

Failing to correct behavior during probation status may result in the student organization’s status being changed to suspension status.  Terms of suspension for student organizations include the following:

  • Permanent dissolution of the student organization.

  • Removal of a student organization’s privileges, including travel, use of campus facilities and equipment, raising funds, sponsoring speakers and public performances, distributing literature and accessing funds for a specified period of time.

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MAINTAINING RECOGNIZED STATUS

Each student organization must adhere to the following guidelines to maintain recognized status:

  • Update changes in officer/advisor positions as they occur.

  • Minutes from meetings must be maintained for at least one year.  The Department of Student Activities and Wellness will utilize minutes from meetings and the organization constitution to resolve disputes within the organization.

  • Comply with college policies, procedures, the Student Code of Conduct and the procedures outlined in this handbook.

  • Organization members must attend all mandatory training seminars, workshops, and orientations as mandated by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

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ROLE OF THE ADVISOR

Each student organization must have an advisor who is a full-time faculty, administrator or professional staff member at South Texas College.  Student organizations may have several advisors if they wish.  It is in the organization’s best interest to have at least two advisors in the event that the primary advisor is unavailable.

Student organizations that are specific to an academic major (for example: accounting, history or emergency medical technology) are required to have a faculty member from that academic program as their primary advisor.  The Program Chair for that academic program must approve the selection of all advisors.

The following information is designed to assist student leaders in selecting an advisor and in developing a clearer understanding of the role of the advisor.

Both the advisor and the student organization officers should spend time early in their relationship establishing a clear understanding of their roles.

While the role of an advisor can vary somewhat from one organization to another, some responsibilities remain consistent:

  • Attend all organization meetings, events and activities.

  • Explain College policy when relevant to the discussion.

  • Guide the organization officers in the performance of their duties.

  • Serve as the account manager for the organization’s funds and ensure the organization keeps finance records up-to-date and all accounting and fiscal matters adhere to the policies and procedures of South Texas College and the purpose of the student organization as stated in the constitution.

  • Review minutes from meetings and all organization correspondence.

  • Ensure members abide by their organization constitution, bylaws, the provisions of this handbook and College policies and procedures.

  • Mediate interpersonal conflicts that may arise.

  • Facilitate opportunities for students to exercise initiative and judgment with a proper measure of autonomy when coordinating events and activities.

  • Assist in the continuity of the organization by taking an active role in the orderly transition of responsibilities between old and new officers each year.

  • Be available to organization members outside meetings for advice and consultation related to the operations of the organization.

  • Be familiar with College and community resources as they relate to the student organization.

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FINANCES

 

  • The Department of Student Activities and Wellness will submit a request to set-up a student organization fund code to the Business Office to create a fund for each new organization after receiving the New Student Organization form from individuals wishing to start a new club.

  • Student organizations and College personnel are not allowed to open accounts at banks or to keep cash on hand.

  • The primary advisor serves as Financial Manager for the student organization.

  • The Business Office has a designated accountant as the contact person for all student organization transactions.

  • Student organizations that are inactive for a period of three years will have their accounts closed and all funds transferred into a Student Activities and Wellness agency account.  Funds in the Student Activities and Wellness account will be used to provide activities and events for South Texas College students.

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DEPOSITING MONEY

  • All money (checks and cash) received by a student organization from donations, fund raising, or any other source must be deposited into the organization’s account.  Checks should be made payable to “South Texas College.”
  • Deposits must be made no later than 2 business days after receiving the cash or check.

  • When depositing money the cashiers will provide you with a Departmental Deposit Worksheet (available from Cashier’s office).  To complete the worksheet you will need the following information:

  • Fund Code
    Specific for each organization, provided by Elena Jimenez at the Business Office.

  • Account Code
    Same for all student organizations – 270002

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RECEIVING DONATIONS

Student Organizations may seek donations from the community, according to the following guidelines:

  • The organization may say that it is a recognized student organization at South Texas College, but it must not imply or claim that it represents the College or that South Texas College will endorse or promote any person, business, non-profit organization, or corporation.

  • All Student Organizations must submit a Receipt of Donation form from the Department of Student Activities and Wellness that is to be completed by the contributing donor.

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WITHDRAWING FUNDS

  • Organizations have the option to withdraw cash from their account or pay a vendor directly for materials or services.  In either case, the organization must complete the Student Organization Accounts Payable Disbursement Request form.  The form requires signatures from the Financial Manager (Advisor) and two organization officers.

  • The Business Office needs the most currrent club member and officer list at all times to verify the disbursement signatures against the list showing the names of the officers authorized to sign off on disbusments.

  • By signing a Student Organization Accounts Payable Disbursement Request, the Advisor is certifying that there is sufficient money for the request and that it is an acceptable purchase within the scope of the student organization’s activities.
  • Completed forms must be submitted to Elena Jimenez in the Business office for approval and processing.  This may take several days – so plan in advance.

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EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

Recognized student organizations may conduct activities both on and off campus.  Consultation with Department of Student Activities and Wellness staff in the early planning stages can save time and effort and will ensure compliance with appropriate College regulations.

Student organizations will be permitted to conduct activities in accordance with the following criteria:

  • An Activity Request form is completed and submitted to the Department of Student Activities and Wellness a minimum of 10 business days before the event or activity is scheduled to occur.

  • Student organizations can reserve facilities and media equipment on campus for their events and meetings.  Facilities and equipment are available on a “first-come, first-served” basis.

  • All proposed flyers and other related are submitted to the Department of Student Activities and Wellness for approval.

  • Student organizations cannot co-sponsor activities on campus with non-College enterprises or organizations (including the use of corporate logos), unless approval is granted in advance by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

  • Fund raising activities may not be conducted for private gain of individuals or for-profit businesses.  When soliciting funds, the student organization may state that its membership is composed of students of South Texas College, but it shall not suggest or imply that it is acting with the authority of or as an agent of South Texas College.

  • All fund raising activities, and especially planned sales of t-shirts, mugs, caps, or any items that use the name of the College or any of its trademark symbols, must be reviewed by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness to ensure compliance with College regulations.  Products that violate trademark or licensing regulations will not be approved for sale or distribution.

  • Gambling is not permitted.  In Texas, three basic elements comprise the offense of gambling: consideration, chance, and prize.  Raffles are considered gambling.  See “Elements of Gambling” for more information.

  • The area where the event/activity is held must be cleaned after use.  All trash must be picked up and, if necessary, table tops and chairs must be wiped down and dried.  Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in sanctions imposed by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

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RISK MANAGEMENT

  • It is mandatory for student organizations to complete annual risk management training.
  • Training will be provided each fall semester at the STC Student Organization Leadership Conference and individually as requested by student organizations.
  • A risk management plan must accompany all activity requests.
    • Risk Management Plans must be reviewed and updated annually for reoccurring activities.

 

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SELLING OR GIVING AWAY FOOD

 

All requests regarding food sales or distribution are subject to review and approval from the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

  1. Student organizations may not sell or distribute any food items, unless they are pre-packaged.  “Pre-packaged” is defined as “food that is packaged before retail distribution or sale.”   This means the food must be packaged before it arrives at the retail store, restaurant or distributor.  Candy bars are an example of a pre-packaged food.  A submarine sandwich that is preapared at a sandwich shop and wrapped in cellophane is not pre-packaged.
  2. Student organizations who wish to sell food items must complete the Activity Request form.  Approval will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Food sales may only occur once a month.
  4. Student Organizations may have food during their closed meetings.  Food for closed meetings may be prepared by an outside vendor or by organization members.

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FUNDRAISERS INVOLVING SELLING FOR OTHERS/SHARING OF PROFITS

 

In line with STC’s non solicitation policies, you cannot solicit on behalf of businesses/organizations that themselves cannot solicit on campus. That is, you cannot sell anything for outside for-profit businesses: no portion of the funds you raise on campus can be distributed to an outside organization. 100% of the funds you raise on campus MUST go directly to your organization. You can receive donations from businesses and thank them for their help, but you cannot sell items which will in any way monetarily benefit that outside business, or that are received on consignment.

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SALES TAX EXEMPTION

  • Student Organizations are limited to selling items (including pre-packaged food) no more than one day each month.

  • A sale of a taxable item by a qualified student organization is exempt from sales tax if:

  • The student organization sells the items at a sale that lasts for one day only, and the primary purpose of the sale is to raise funds for the organization.

  • The student organization holds not more than one fund-raising sale each calendar month for which the exemption is claimed.

  • The student organization has as its primary purpose a purpose other than being engaged in business or performance of an activity that is designed to make a profit.

  • The sales price of the taxable item is $5,000 or less, except that a taxable item that the organization manufactures or has received by donation may be sold tax free during the one-day sale, regardless of sales price, if the item is not sold to the donor.

  • Student organizations must pay tax when buying taxable items for their own use.

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PUBLICITY

  • Before posting flyers on campus, student organizations must submit the original (attach to Activity Request form) to the Department of Student Activities and Wellness for approval.  Upon approval, student organization members may then make copies of the flyer.

  • Student organizations are not allowed to contact media (television, radio, newspaper) or publicize events or activities off campus without prior approval from the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

  • Any publication (flyers), form of electronic media, web page or other form of communication produced by students must include the following statement:

Students, under the direction of advisors, are responsible for producing and publishing this document.  Students bear the primary responsibility for this production and its contents do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of the South Texas College faculty, staff, administration and Board of Trustees.

  • Student organizations are not allowed to use trademarks or logos owned by commercial entities in conjunction with any activity promoted or conducted on or off campus, unless approval is granted in advance by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

  • Trademarks of South Texas College shall not be used without prior written approval from the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.  All products must be produced by licensed vendors that are authorized, pursuant to license agreement, to use South Texas College trademarks.

  • The following guidelines apply for posting signs on College property:

  • Signs may be posted on bulletin boards and some doors and windows.  Consult with the Department of Student Activities and Wellness regarding approved locations.

  • Use thumbtacks, not staples on bulletin boards and tape that will not damage paint on other locations.

  • Do not post over or remove another organization’s flyer.

  • Signs may not be posted on walls, in classrooms or in bathrooms.

  • Student organizations should remove signs no later than 24 hours after the event has ended.

  • A student organization may not post, distribute or carry a sign which promotes an off-campus business, organization, agency, national association, or charitable group, unless approval is granted in advance by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

  • All improperly posted signs are subject to removal.  Violations of sign posting policy are subject to review and may result in disciplinary action against the student organization.

  • A student organization may distribute literature on campus according to these guidelines:

  • The literature identifies the name of the student organization.

  • The literature is not a promotion for an off-campus event, business, organization, agency, national association, or charitable group.  All literature of this nature must be approved by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

  • The student organization may not approach students directly or distribute literature by hawking or shouting.  The organization may set up a table and speak to students who approach the table for information.

  • The distribution of literature at an event sponsored by another organization or College department must be approved in advance by the event sponsor.

  • Distribution may not unreasonably obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

  • The literature may only be distributed by members of the student organization.

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BUSINESS CARDS & STATIONARY

Student organizations may design and purchase business cards or utilize stationary.

  • The student organization is responsible for all costs associated with producing the cards and stationary.
  • Student organizations may use the following statement on cards and stationary: (Organization Name) is a registered student organization at South Texas College.

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TRAVEL

Prior to departure, the appropriate travel documentation must be completed and approved by the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.  Travel documentation must be submitted a minimum of 15 business days in advance.  Only recognized student organizations are eligible for travel.

  • Complete the Student Organization Travel Authorization form and submit to the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

  • Attach a quote from each vendor along with their Federal Tax ID number and a completed W-9.

  • Registration Fee – specify if the check will be hand carried or if you want it to be mailed in advance.

  • Per Diem – calculate money needed for meals.  For travel within the state, a per diem guide is provided in the Student Organization Travel Authorization form.  Information regarding out of state per diem is located on the College Business Office web site.

  • Lodging – include the amount for the hotel (room rate, city tax and state tax).

  • Transportation – attach the reservation number and a copy of the driver’s license and car insurance for each individual driving.  Only full-time employees of the College are approved to drive vehicles.

  • A minimum of one advisor must accompany the students.  Attach the advisor(s) Travel Authorization form with their supervisor’s signature.  Advisors may use the student organization account to pay for their travel expenses.

  • Detailed information regarding travel is available at the Business Office web site.  For assistance in completing documentation contact the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

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TRAVEL RULES

  • Each driver must possess a valid driver’s license with no more than one moving violation within the past 12 months.

  • Each driver must possess the minimum liability insurance mandated by the state.  If renting a vehicle it is recommended that additional insurance is purchased through the rental agency.

  • The vehicle should never carry more than the recommended number of occupants and each occupant must have and wear a seat belt.  There must be at least one passenger in the front seat and this passenger must remain awake during the trip.

  • For trips longer than four hours, there should be more than one driver.  No driver should drive more than four hours in duration without at least a two hour rest.  Break up the trip into segments, stopping frequently to rest.

  • Drivers must have at least eight hours of sleep before each day of driving.  Driver must pull over in a safe location if they become drowsy and let someone else drive (if they meet the requirements to drive).

  • Drivers are encouraged to drive only during daylight hours.  There should be no driving between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5 a.m.

  • Total daily driving time should not exceed 12 hours without a sleep break at a motel, camp site or other appropriate location.

  • Do not exceed the posted speed limit and slow down if adverse weather conditions exist.

  • Do not overload the vehicle with equipment.  Equipment must be properly secured.

  • Plan routes out in advance and caravan whenever possible.

  • Do not consume, possess, or transport alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs.

  • There should be at least one cell phone in each vehicle for emergencies.

  • If an accident or breakdown occurs, know and follow set emergency procedures.

  • If there are any questions or concerns regarding interpretation of these travel guidelines during the trip please contact the Department of Student Activities and Wellness.

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TRAVEL PLANNING

Orientation Meeting

 

Organizations should hold a meeting of all participants before the trip begins.  This is a good time to familiarize participants with the itinerary, costs, your expectations, emergency procedures, and any other details associated with the trip.  If the organization is paying for students to attend a conference or workshop, the organization may have certain expectations of which programs members will attend, how they will dress, how they will report their experiences back to the organization, etc.  In addition, any expectations regarding alcohol usage should be discussed.  South Texas College prohibits the use or possession of intoxicating beverages during College-related trips.

If your organization is planning an outdoor recreation trip, it is recommended that the organization sponsor a safety education workshop as a condition of attending the trip.  Although this is not a foolproof way to prevent injuries or accidents, it can educate members and help them to avoid mishaps due to lack of knowledge on the proper procedures.

An advisor must accompany all student groups while traveling.  In addition, all rented vehicles must be driven by a full-time employee of South Texas College.

 

If an accident or breakdown occurs, know and follow set emergency procedures:

  • If you are involved in an accident:

    • Stop immediately and notify local police or call 911.

    • If someone is injured in the accident call 911 immediately and obtain medical attention.

    • Notify the College by contacting one of the following:

    • Fill out police report – necessary for insurance purposes.

    • Obtain names and addresses of all witnesses.

    • Do not make any statements as to who is at fault, nor should you make any offers to pay damages – fault or legal liability will be decided by the appropriate authority.

    • If you are driving a rental vehicle, follow the procedures outlined in the rental packet.

If a breakdown occurs:

  • Call Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Non-emergency Roadside Assistance: 800-525-5555.  When traveling outside Texas you may still call this number for assistance.

  • Notify the College by contacting one of the following:

 

  • Each vehicle should contain:
    • First-aid kit (Available from the College maintenance and Operations Department).

    • Cell phone and cell phone numbers for others traveling in your group.

    • Credit card for gas or emergencies.

    • Flashlight.

    • Maps of your route.

    • Emergency phone numbers:

DPS Roadside Assistance    800-525-5555

Department of Student Activities and Wellness    956-872-3530

Security Dispatch    956-872-2589

Director of Student Activities and Wellness   956-537-0555

 

After returning to campus:

Have each participant complete an evaluation and offer comments, opinions, or suggestions for future trip planning.

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