Working safely and respectfully with partner organizations in communities off campus is important and doable—with the appropriate preparation. Through equipping students in class and collaborating with community partners knowledgeable about working in the community, students can have positive, safe experiences working in communities beyond campus. Faculty have various resources available to help them prepare their students for their SLCE experience, plan transportation options, and cover liability.
3 Key Documents / Resources to Prepare Students for SLCE Events
This checklist covers lots of bases and is a handy reference point for you in the weeks leading up to the SLCE event you’ve organized for your students. Ideally it is used in conjunction with the resource below, a much more detailed document that is great for students as you and your community partner refine logistical details and plans for the SLCE activity.
*We recommend you use this to anchor your in-class SLCE preparation with students.*
This document is designed to be printed and/or digitally distributed to students before their SLCE experience and reviewed in class. Customize the document with guidance from your community partner, location and time of your course event/program, and contact information for you and your community partner. The sections on General Guidance, Emergencies, and Transportation will prepare students to stay safe in a variety of situations. Phone Preparation (ie installing GT safety-related apps) is also included in this document.
If your students will be going off campus as part of their SLCE experience, ask them to read and sign the general liability waiver at the beginning of the semester. (Students over the age of 18 will sign for themselves; students under 18 will need a guardian to sign it.) This waiver covers a broad swath of activities and will likely suit your purposes.
Supporting Students Working in Communities Unfamiliar to Them
- Discuss with your community partner what students should do to be respectful and safe in their community, and adjust the “Contact Information and Off-Campus Safety Tips for Students Doing SLCE” document as needed to customize it for your course and the SLCE location. Distribute it to your students before they set out for the SLCE experience. Set aside class time for discussion of and preparation for the SLCE activity.
- SLS offers a general SLCE orientation for students in SLS-affiliated classes at the beginning of each semester. It is usually held in the evening and in tandem with a session of SLS 101. Check our Events page to find out when this semester’s orientation is, and please urge your students to attend.
- If at all possible, visit the SLCE site before students undertake their SLCE activity. If you can’t, please make sure you’ve met with your community partner to agree on activities, expectations, and logistics. If you are engaging in a semester-long partnership, not just a single service event, then please communicate with the SLS Community Engagement Specialist. With her support, use our Collaborator Agreement to create a shared set of expectations, processes, and goals with your partner at the beginning of the semester.
- Review any SLCE assignments and expectations with students at the beginning of the term so they fully understand their responsibilities and plan accordingly.
Tips for Your Students*
*Please note that the full tips list and space for filling in emergency contacts and guidance from community partners is available in this document.
- Respect local citizens and community partners. Honor diversity and differences.
- Maintain group cohesion: remember that program/project activities take priority over personal interests.
- Be polite and listen to one another. Look for compromises.
- While group travel and unexpected occurrences can be stressful, try to remain calm.
- Know the extent of your role; don’t engage in activities beyond the scope of your class.
- If you feel unsafe, trust your instincts. Leave the site and inform your professor and community partner.
- If an incident occurs, first contact emergency services (police, fire, and ambulance) as soon as possible. Authorities will be able to assist and document the incident.
- As soon as you can do so safely, contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Life and the Dean of Students, during regular business hours, at (404) 894-6367. For after-hours emergencies, contact the Georgia Tech Police Department at (404) 894-2500 and request that the “Dean on Call” be contacted.
- Tell a friend or classmate your destination and when you expect to return
- Walk with another person, especially at night or in neighborhoods with which you are not familiar
- Stay aware of your surroundings; don't wear headphones or stare at your phone
- If traveling near campus after dark, use Stingerette by calling or using the LiveSafe app (see Phone Preparation section).
- Avoid bringing valuables with you, but if you have any in your car, stow them out of sight. Always close your windows and lock your car.
- Drive carefully: Tech does not insure you. In the event of an accident, the insurance that covers your vehicle (your own insurance if it is your car) is what will provide coverage.
- Know the exact address and parking situation before you depart campus
- Park in open, visible locations and consider that it may be dark when you return.
- When returning to your car, have your keys ready and check all sides of the car. Once inside, lock the doors immediately.
- When riding the bus, wait at a stop that is well-lit and near foot traffic or businesses.
- Travel with a friend or classmate whenever possible. Stay awake and alert.
- Use the MARTA app or the Transit app (see Phone Preparation) to plan your trip and track the transit vehicles so that you don't have to wait longer than necessary.
- Have your Breeze Card ready to tap in when entering the train station and ready to tap out with exiting the train station.
- If you're taking a bus, enter at the front doors and tap your Breeze Card on the machine next to the driver. If you don't have any trips loaded on your card, you will have to feed $2.50 into the machine, which only accepts exact change. A round-trip journey for a student who does not already have a Breeze Card costs $7. Breeze Card machines are available at all MARTA stations.
- Sit near the aisle, bus driver, or exit so you can move away from an unwanted situation.
- Keep your bags on your lap, between your feet, or in your arms.
- Be respectful of other riders; don't have a loud phone conversation or play music without headphones.
SLCE Logistics: Suggestions and Tips for Getting Students There and Back
If you read this section and still aren’t quite sure how to proceed regarding SLCE-related transportation, email the Community Engagement Specialist at SLS. If you have questions regarding insurance and SLCE logistics, please contact the Director of Insurance, Tom Provancher at 404-894-3483. And remember that affiliated course instructors can use their mini-grants for transportation expenses!
Public Transportation: Navigating the MARTA system
Georgia Tech is located within easy walking distance of two MARTA stations: North Avenue and Midtown. The Georgia Tech Trolley goes directly to the Midtown station. If you are planning to take more than 15 students off campus via MARTA, you can pre-purchase Breeze Cards. Allow at least one week for delivery.
- Lyft or Uber are alternative options for areas not well served by MARTA. Students can easily coordinate requesting rides and splitting payment amongst themselves.
- Students can't be reimbursed for ride services or taxis using SLS funds; only faculty can. If a small group of students is traveling, then you can order their Lyft or Uber rides and be reimbursed.
Georgia Tech Transportation: Campus Recreation Center Vehicle Rental
The Campus Recreation Center (CRC) rents vehicles, including vans (maximum 9 people), pickups (maximum 2 people), and SUVs (maximum 8 people) for $35/day. Vehicles include GPS equipment and gas cards. To be eligible, you must complete an application packet. All materials to complete the process are located here. Once you complete the process, you’re in the driver database for 3 years! Allow yourself extra time to get codes to complete the training modules from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. You’ll also need to have your supervisor or department head/delegated signatory sign off on the fuel card agreement.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Faculty Driving Students in Personal Vehicles
Faculty who wish to transport students in their own vehicles off campus have liability coverage from the Institute if the off-campus activity is central to course aims (for example, you are focused on water quality and have arranged for your students to do stream-testing).However, offering to drive students who have chosen to do service off-campus (say, a weekend service day that staff, faculty, and students are participating in) does not constitute the “duties” of your job, and therefore you would not be insured by the Institute.In that case, should anything happen to you and the students you are transporting, you would indeed be held personally liable.If you would like to support students in an activity off campus that is not central to your course aims, then we encourage you to rent a car, use a ride service, or use a CRC vehicle.