I. Policy Statement

The University of Puget Sound strives to create a safe and welcoming environment for all individuals visiting university property or participating in university-sponsored programs. This policy reinforces this expectation by establishing standards and requirements that promote the safety and wellbeing of individuals who are under the age of 18 and participating in university-sponsored programs.

II. Coverage

A. General Applicability
This policy applies to all University Community Members as well as Third Parties (including contractors) who are authorized to use University facilities, property, or technology. Additionally, University Community Members and Third Parties are subject to relevant laws and ordinances.

As used in this policy, the term “Minor” applies to a person under the age of 18 who is not enrolled in university courses or a matriculated student of the university. All portions of this policy apply to the protection of Minors participating in Covered Programs.

B. Exception
This policy does not apply to students who are matriculated at the university or enrolled in university courses. Enrolled or Matriculated students under the age of 18 are covered by university policies applicable to students, as well as applicable State laws involving the protection of individuals under the age of 18, and are not subject to the remaining requirements of this policy.

III. Definitions

Child Abuse and Neglect: Injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by any person under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, welfare, and safety is harmed.[1]

Covered Program: An in-person or virtual university-sponsored program or activity, created for or directed at Minors, that is conducted by University Community Members or a Third Party. The following programs and activities are not Covered Programs for the purposes of this policy:

  • Public events (e.g., commencement, sporting events, and other campus activities that are not specifically designed for or directed at Minors);
  • Field trips to the university campus with teachers, parents, guardians, or other school staff accompanying Minors;
  • Events hosted or arranged by the Office of Admission for prospective or admitted students;[2]
  • Health-related services provided to Minors in a clinical setting;
  • Vendors, Contractors, or other third-party employers of Minors in a campus work environment that is not specifically designed for or directed at Minors (e.g., catering companies providing event services for a university event); and
  • Third party-led research (i.e., research conducted by a principal investigator who is not a University Community Member).

    A Covered Program may adopt additional procedures, standards, and protocols specific to the Covered Program that are not inconsistent with this policy.

    Covered Program Director: The individual(s) within a Covered Program responsible for the supervision of Covered Program Staff and enforcement of this policy’s requirements. Covered Program Directors are themselves Covered Program Staff and must meet the same standards of Conduct.

    Covered Program Staff: Individuals, age 18 and older, paid or unpaid, who interact with, supervise, chaperone, or otherwise oversee Minors in program activities, recreational, and/or in residential facilities. This includes but is not limited to faculty, staff, students, volunteers, and interns. The Covered Program Staff members’ roles may include positions as coaches, instructors, counselors, chaperones, etc. Covered Program Staff also include individuals who support Covered Programs and who have Direct or Virtual Contact with Minors.

    Direct Contact: Care, guidance, control, or supervision of Minors in group or one-to-one settings or potential for one-to-one interaction with Minors. (One-to-one interaction is personal, unsupervised interaction between any Covered Program Staff member and a Minor without at least one other Covered Program Staff member, parent, or guardian present.)

    Mandated Reporter: Anyone required by law or policy to report suspected Child Abuse and Neglect. All university academic, athletic or administrative staff, including faculty, interns, student workers, and volunteers, are Mandated Reporters. Covered Program Staff are also Mandated Reporters.

    Minor: Any person under the age of 18 who is not an enrolled or matriculated student of the university.

    Responsible Employee: All University staff, including interns, student workers, and volunteers, who are not Mandated Reporters. Responsible Employees are nonetheless expected to report suspected Child Abuse and Neglect.

    Third Party: An organization or individual external to the university that uses university facilities, property, or technology to conduct a Covered Program pursuant to an approved contract or other use agreement with a sponsoring university department.

    University Community Member: For purposes of this policy, these are university students, student organizations, faculty, staff members, interns, volunteers, and any other university affiliates.

    Virtual Contact: A mode of contact that includes the use of technology-audio and/or video to communicate or conduct a Covered Program with Minors who are not physically present.

IV. Sponsorship of Covered Programs

University Community Members or Third Parties who wish to conduct a Covered Program must first secure sponsorship from a department or unit within the university. For Third Parties, sponsorship may take the form of an approved contract or facility use agreement. Those who wish to conduct a Covered Program must designate a Covered Program Director when securing sponsorship.

V. Background Checks

A. Initial Background Check
Covered Program Staff must undergo a background check prior to interacting with minors. A satisfactory background check completed within the six months prior to the Covered Program’s start date will fulfill this requirement.

B. Subsequent Background Checks

  1. Requirement
    Covered Program Staff must undergo subsequent background checks at least annually, unless an exception applies.
  2. Exceptions
    Covered Program Staff who are also University Community Members and who are continuously employed or enrolled in the university without any break in their employment or enrollment of more than nine months will have subsequent background checks every three years rather than annually.

    In addition, Covered Program staff continuously employed by or volunteering for Third Parties without any break in their employment or volunteer service of more than nine months must have subsequent background checks at least every three years, though Third Parties can elect to have background checks completed more frequently.

C. Performing Background Checks

  1. University Community Members
    University Community Members conducting Covered Programs must satisfy initial and subsequent background check requirements through Human Resources.
  2. Third Parties
    Third Parties conducting Covered Programs must satisfy subsequent and initial background check requirements using a qualified background check vendor. Third Parties must certify these background check requirements have been satisfied.

D. Reporting Criminal Charges or Convictions
Covered Program Staff must report any post-employment or volunteer service criminal charges or convictions to Human Resources. Charges or convictions for routine traffic-related infractions are not required to be reported under this policy unless driving is a required part of the Covered Program Staff member’s regularly assigned responsibilities.

VI. Additional Requirements for Covered Programs

A. Supervision of Minors
Covered Programs must provide adequate supervision of Minors at all times. Unless a Minor’s parent or guardian is present, supervision must meet or exceed the following supervision ratios[3]:

  • 5 years or younger: 1 Covered Program Staff member for every 5 overnight Minor participants and 1 Staff member for every 6 day Minor participants
  • 6 to 8 years: 1:6 for overnight; 1:8 for day
  • 9 to 14 years: 1:8 for overnight; 1:10 for day
  • 15 to 18 years: 1:10 for overnight; 1:12 for day

Covered Programs conducted on university property must maintain at least one Covered Program Staff Member on the property at all times during the event.

B. Emergency Response
Covered Programs must follow the university’s Emergency Response Plans and related procedures, and must have a procedure in place to notify Minors’ parents or guardians in the event of an emergency. Covered Program participants, as well their parents or guardians, must be advised of this procedure in writing prior to any Direct Contact with minors.

C. Medical Treatment
Covered Programs must have procedures in place to respond to known health conditions, including medication management and any other reasonable accommodations, and health related emergencies, prior to any Direct Contact with Minors. For every Minor unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, Covered Programs must obtain a medical release for hospital treatment or treatment by a physician, signed by one or both of the Minor’s parents or guardians, to allow for treatment should injury or accident occur.

D. Overnight Programs
A Minor participant in a Covered Program must not be housed overnight in the same room with University Community Members or adults other than that Minor’s parents or guardians.

VII. Training Requirements

A. Mandated Reporters and Responsible Employees
Mandated Reporters and Responsible Employees, regardless of their status as Covered Program Staff, must receive annual training on the reporting requirements under this policy as described in Section IX.

B. Covered Program Staff
Covered Program Staff must be trained on policies and issues relevant to the protection of Minors. This training must occur at least annually and must occur prior to any Direct or Virtual Contact with Minors. The university or Covered Program may enhance or modify the university’s training requirements to meet the specific needs of the Covered Program, but such training must include, at a minimum, sexual abuse prevention training and training on the reporting requirements under this policy. In addition, Covered Program Staff must review the following university policies and procedures annually:

  • Code of Conduct;
  • Policy for the Protection of Minors Participating in University Programs;
  • Alcohol & Drug Policy;
  • Campus Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment;
  • Policy Prohibiting Sex-Based Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct;
  • Facility Use Policy for External Groups
  • Weapons on Campus Policy;
  • Emergency Response Plans and related procedures;
  • Any procedures related to laboratory safety, if applicable; and
  • COVID-19 policies and procedures, while in effect.

VIII. Personal Conduct Standards for Covered Program Staff

Covered Program Staff (“Staff” or “Staff member”) must meet the following standards of conduct at all times:

A. A Staff member must treat all Minors equitably regardless of their sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, culture, place of birth, age, class, ability, health, citizenship, language, or other identities.

B. A Staff member must adhere to all applicable university policies, including, but not limited to, this Policy for the Protection of Minors Participating in University-Sponsored Programs, as well as the university’s Alcohol & Drug Policy and Weapons on Campus Policy.

C. A Staff member must not engage in sexual contact of any kind (including any verbal or physical contact that can be perceived as sexual in nature), discuss sexual activities, or share sexually explicit material(or assist in any way to provide access to such material via any medium) with or around Minors.

D. Unless written authorization is provided in advance by the relevant Vice President or Provost upon the recommendation of the Covered Program Director, or unless interaction involves the provision of health care services by a licensed provider, a Staff member must not be alone with a single Minor. Absent one of these circumstances, activities where Minors are present must involve two or more adults. If one‑to‑one interaction is required, the interaction must be in an open, well‑illuminated space or room with windows observable by other adults, and another Covered Program Staff member or the Camp Program Director is authorized to make random periodic checks.

E. A Staff member must not meet with Minors outside of established times for activities associated with the Covered Program during the period of the Covered Program. Any exceptions to this provision must be approved by the Covered Program Director, must receive prior written authorization from a parent or guardian of the involved Minor(s), and must include more than one Covered Program Staff member.

F. A Staff member must not invite Minors to their homes or any other location. Any exceptions must require prior written authorization by the Covered Program Director and a parent or guardian of the involved Minor(s).

G. A Staff member must not engage or communicate with Minors through any electronic format unless there is an essential educational or programmatic reason to do so. When doing so, a Staff member must use a program-sponsored email address, phone number, or social media account, and include another staff member and/or parent or guardian in the communication.

H. A Staff member must not touch Minors in a manner that a reasonable person could interpret as inappropriate. Touching should generally only occur in the open and in response to the Minor’s needs, for a purpose that is consistent with the mission of the Covered Program, and/or for a clear educational, developmental, or health-related (e.g., treatment of an injury) purpose. Any resistance or objection from the Minor to touching by a Covered Program Staff member must be respected and documented.

I. A Staff member must not engage in abusive conduct of any kind toward, or in the presence of, a Minor, including but not limited to the following: verbal abuse, striking, hitting, punching, poking, spanking, or restraining. If restraint is necessary to protect a Minor from harm, all incidents must be promptly documented and disclosed to the Covered Program Director, the Minor’s parent or guardian, and the sponsoring department or unit.

J. When transporting Minors as part of the activities associated with a Covered Program, more than one Staff member must be present in the vehicle, except when multiple Minors will be in the vehicle, at all times during the transportation. A Staff member must not use a personal vehicle unless approved in advance by the Covered Program Director.

K. When supervising Minors overnight, a Staff member must not enter a Minor’s room, bathroom facility, or similar area without another Staff member, parent, or guardian in attendance, except in the event of a medical or other emergency.

IX. Duty to Report

A. Mandated Reporters
All Mandated Reporters who, in the course of their business or volunteer activity, reasonably suspect a Minor has experienced Child Abuse or Neglect are required to report that suspicion to the university’s Title IX Coordinator and Equal Opportunity Officer and local law enforcement. Mandated Reporters may develop a reasonable suspicion of Child Abuse or Neglect by witnessing an act of Child Abuse or Neglect, observing signs that Child Abuse or Neglect has occurred, or receiving oral or written disclosures that Child Abuse or Neglect has occurred.

B. Responsible Employees
Responsible Employees who, in the course of their activity as university staff members, reasonably suspect a Minor has experienced Child Abuse or Neglect are expected to report that suspicion to the Title IX Coordinator. Responsible Employees may develop a reasonable suspicion of Child Abuse or Neglect in the same manner as Mandated Reporters.

C. Exceptions

  1. Privileged Communications
    No one shall be required to report under this section if the disclosure that Child Abuse or Neglect has occurred would be considered privileged under Washington State law.
  2. Disclosure of Child Abuse or Neglect As an Adult
    The reporting requirement of this section does not apply to the discovery of Child Abuse or Neglect that occurred during childhood if it is discovered after the child has become an adult. However, if there is reasonable cause to believe other children are or may be at risk of Child Abuse or Neglect by the accused, the reporting requirements do apply.

D. Emergency Reporting
If there is a threat of immediate harm to a Minor, University Community Members, regardless of their status as Mandated Reporters under this policy, and Covered Program Staff should call 911 and, if the emergency occurs on-campus, call Security Services at (253) 879-3311.

X. Effective Date

This policy is effective as of September 1, 2021.

XI. Related Statutes, Regulations, and Policies


Policy Owner: Title IX Coordinator and Equal Opportunity Officer

Date Adopted: August 31, 2021 (Interim Policy)


[1] Per Chapter 9A.16.100 RCW, Child Abuse and Neglect does not include the physical discipline of a child when it is reasonable and moderate and is inflicted by a parent, teacher, or guardian for purposes of restraining or correcting the child.

[2] Events for prospective and admitted students are subject to other university guidelines for meeting with prospective students.

[3] These ratios are consistent with the American Camp Association’s supervision standard.