Guidelines & Resources

At the University of Michigan, we are deeply committed to the public good and encourage our faculty, staff, and students to engage real-word problems in a variety of settings. These experiences facilitate powerful student learning, publicly engaged scholarship and research, and positive social impact. The inherent ambiguity in these experiences — many of which take place off campus — contributes to the potential for deep learning as well as the potential for increased risk to those involved and the University as a whole.

These guidelines and resources are intended to assist students, staff, and faculty on the Ann Arbor campus with University of Michigan-related off-campus engagement and travel within the United States and the District of Columbia. Those traveling internationally and to U.S. territories for University-related purposes must continue to use the travel resources from Global Michigan, in accordance with University Standard Practice Guide #601.31.

These guidelines build on the Principles for Community and Civic Engagement — developed by the Office of the Provost in collaboration with the Council on Civic Engagement and many other campus stakeholders — to promote safe and responsible engagement with communities.

In addition to these guidelines, there are many resources developed by other campus units on engaging with communities, developing community-engaged courses, teaching and assessment, and educational outreach. Write to engagedmichigan@umich.edu for more information.

Students, staff, and faculty travel off campus for many different reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Required and elective trips that are part of a course
  • Internships, clinical training, student teaching, and other practica
  • Service and community engagement opportunities
  • Academic and professional conferences
  • Research activities
  • Performances and exhibitions
  • Intercollegiate athletics
  • Co-curricular activities

Activities that are not University-related may include but are not limited to:

  • Voluntary student organization activities that are not University-sponsored
  • Non-university jobs
  • Personal volunteer work
  • Personal and leisure travel

What follows are some topics you may want to consider when planning to engage off-campus for University-related purposes. The resources below address these topics and are intended to assist students, staff, and faculty in engaging effectively while promoting safety, security, and risk mitigation.

In the event of an emergency:

  1. Contact local emergency services (police, fire, EMS) via 911, as appropriate. In an emergent situation, 911 should be your first call.
  2. Call your predetermined U-M departmental contact. In an emergency situation, do not email your U-M contact.
  3. If you are unable to connect with your departmental contact, the U-M Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) can also provide assistance 24/7 by calling +1 734-763-1131. Let the DPSS Communications Center know that you are a University student, staff, or faculty member who is engaging off-campus.

If you experience sexual or gender-based misconduct while traveling or at your engagement site, you can also call the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center‘s (SAPAC) 24/7 hotline for confidential consultation, advocacy, and support at +1 734-936-3333.

When in doubt, treat health, safety, and security situations as an emergency and follow emergency protocols.

In the event of a non-emergency situation that does not immediately impact your health and safety but still requires assistance, follow the non-emergency protocols at your engagement site or of your sponsoring U-M department, which may include contact via email or calling during business hours.

Ensuring the health and safety of all participants is paramount, especially when engaging off-campus. As you are preparing for your off-campus engagement opportunity or making travel arrangements, you might find it helpful to consider the following questions:

  • Do you know what you would do in an emergency? Who would you contact?
  • Do you have any health concerns or medical needs that require advance planning?
  • What will you and other participants be doing at the engagement site?
  • How will the environment in which you are engaging potentially impact participants’ safety?
  • How will you support safe behavior while engaging off-campus to minimize risk?
  • If you become ill or injured, do you have insurance and know how to obtain treatment?

Assess Risk

Off-campus engagement opportunities vary greatly, and different kinds of activities result in different levels of risk to both participants and community members.

Are participants doing clerical work? Playing in the band? Painting a house? Working on an excavation site? Tearing down a building? Working with dangerous materials? All of these activities are unique and result in very different risk profiles.

When gathering information about your engagement site, familiarize yourself with the safety risks of your destination and plan accordingly.

Prepare for an Emergency

To help prepare for a potential emergency, consider doing the following prior to departure:

  1. Identify an appropriate U-M departmental emergency contact. This may be someone from your dean’s office or the office sponsoring your project/travel, or your department chair, key administrator, supervisor, faculty sponsor, or student organization advisor.
  2. Identify the non-emergency protocols at your engagement site and of your U-M sponsoring department.
  3. Learn about the local support resources at your destination or engagement site through the program leader, on-site contact, host institution, online searches, or other means.
  4. Update your personal emergency contacts on Wolverine Access and in your travel registration, so your family, significant other, or other contact can be reached in the event of an emergency.
  5. Add the following phone numbers to the contacts in your cell phone:
    • U-M departmental emergency and non-emergency contacts
    • U-M Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS): +1 734-763-1131
    • On-site coordinator, host institution, and/or local support contacts, as appropriate
    • Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) 24/7 hotline:
      +1 734-936-3333
    • Personal health insurance contacts
    • Personal emergency contacts (e.g. family, significant other, etc.)
    • Any other relevant local contacts at your engagement site or destination, as appropriate

Health Insurance

Illnesses, injuries, and health-related emergencies may occur while engaging off campus, and health insurance may help to offset the resulting costs.

When engaging off campus and traveling domestically, students, staff, and faculty are responsible for their own health care expenses.

Currently-enrolled students are eligible for some free health care services at the University Health Service (UHS) through their health service fee. Some students may have access to health insurance through a parent or guardian’s policy, if they meet their provider’s eligibility requirements. Students may also purchase optional, cost-reduced health insurance through the University, though coverage options and amounts may not cover all incurred health care expenses while traveling.

Staff and faculty who receive health benefits through the University should review their coverage prior to departure and plan accordingly.

Personal Well-Being

You may experience unanticipated challenges while traveling or at your engagement site, which can lead to stress or conflict. The following resources may help prepare you to cope with and respond to challenging situations when, and if, they arise.

Whether you are working with a non-profit in Ypsilanti, volunteering every week in Detroit, or heading to Camp Davis for the summer, it is important to plan for safe travel to and from your engagement site. When planning and making travel arrangements prior to engaging off-campus, you might consider:

  • Who needs to know about your off-campus engagement plans?
  • How will you get to the engagement site?
  • How far from campus do you need to travel?
  • Will you be staying overnight, several nights, or several weeks?
  • What technology is appropriate to bring with you, and how can you secure it?

Notifications, Approvals, and Registering Travel

Faculty and staff planning University-related off-campus engagement opportunities are strongly encouraged to make their Dean’s Office, Department Chair, or Key Administrator aware of their work.

Some schools and colleges require students and student organizations to notify them of off-campus engagement and travel plans. Students are encouraged to consult with their school or college well in advance of their departure to ensure all requirements are met.

Sponsored student organizations planning off-campus engagement should consult with their advisor. Voluntary student organizations can reach out to the Center for Campus Involvement.

The University provides an online system for recording travel plans and contact information. The registry is a convenient, one-stop service that provides additional travel resources and information. The University strongly encourages faculty, staff, and students engaging in off-campus, University-related activities within the United States to register their travel. (Please note: registration is required for international travel.)

Transportation

How you and other participants get from campus to your engagement site depends on a wide range of factors, including routes, distance, duration of stay, access to a motor vehicle, and availability of public transportation.

Below are some resources that — depending on your particular circumstances — may be helpful as you coordinate travel to and from your engagement site. Your department, school or college, or sponsoring office may provide additional transportation options, in addition to those below, and you should check with them before selecting mode(s) of transportation.

The Detroit Connector website provides a list of transportation resources within the City of Detroit.

Risk Management provides additional resources on auto insurance coverage, rental vehicles, and what to do in the event of an auto-related accident.

Not all resources below represent University-recommended modes of transportation. Discretion is advised when using non-University vehicles and services.

Recommended modes of transportation for local and regional travel:

Other transportation options (using U-M vehicles and services is recommended, whenever possible):

  • Rental Cars
    • If a U-M vehicle is not available and a rental car is used instead, U-M departments, staff, and faculty are encouraged to rent vehicles through National Car Rental or Enterprise Rent-A-Car under the B1G contract. Some insurance is included, and Michigan sales tax is waived.
    • If you decide to rent a vehicle through another vendor, keep in mind that University of Michigan insurance will not apply.
  • Using Your Personal Vehicle
    • Vehicle safety
    • If a U-M vehicle is not available and you decide to drive your personal vehicle for university business, your personal auto insurance policy will be your primary form of coverage.
    • Students may choose to the use their personal vehicles and drive fellow students, and by doing so, they assume responsibility in the event of an accident. Insurance coverage is not provided by the University.
    • Have your car registration, proof of insurance, and driver’s license with you at all times. Also add phone numbers for your insurance company and roadside assistance, if applicable, to the contacts in your cell phone. You may also consider carrying an auto emergency kit with you.
  • Public Transportation
    • M-Ride — If your engagement site is in the Ann Arbor area, students, staff, and faculty can ride for free on all of TheRide’s fixed-route buses by swiping your valid Mcard when you board the bus.
  • Bikes and Bike-Sharing
  • Ride-Sharing
    • U-M Logistics, Transportation, and Parking partners with Zipcar to provide special membership plans and rates for students on short-term use of shared cars.
    • Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are available in hundreds of cities around the United States. As a safety precaution, use a reputable service that thoroughly screens its drivers and confirm that the driver is the person you hailed before entering the vehicle.
    • Bird is an electric scooter rental service available in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Detroit, and other cities around the U.S. Bird charges $1 to begin your ride, and an additional 15 cents per minute of use.
  • Trains and Buses
    • Amtrak and Greyhound offer train and bus rides, respectively, to thousands of locations all over the United States. Most of their trains and buses have wi-fi. The stations are co-located about a mile north of central campus at 325 Depot Street.
    • Megabus — Megabus offers low-fare rides with free wi-fi around the eastern half of the United States and in California and Nevada. The Megabus stop in Ann Arbor is located at the Briarwood Mall, 900 Briarwood Circle, near the Sears Auto Center.
  • Air Travel

Technology

Depending on your destination and the kinds of activities you will be engaging in, you may need to modify your technology usage, including using laptops and mobile devices. Additionally, certain apps and other technology may make travel and engagement at the site easier or more effective.

When engaging both on and off campus, students, staff, and faculty must adhere to all existing University policies, including but not limited to: