Program Policy and Expectations
VISION Program Off-Campus Programs Undergraduate Policies and Procedures
A word on participating on a VISION trip:
By participating in the VISION program you are bringing to life the University of St. Thomas’s mission to go out and work for the common good. VISION is a program under the auspices of the Office for Mission and Campus Ministry at the University of St. Thomas. VISION is a cultural immersion and service program that challenges St. Thomas students to learn about various issues of social, economic, political and environmental injustice. Each trip is centered on living a simple lifestyle that fosters communal and spiritual growth. Each VISION team consists of approximately eight students, two student leaders, and one advisor that live, work, and learn with partnering organizations throughout the United States, the Caribbean, India and Latin America.
VISION teams collaborate on service projects with partnering organizations during January Term and Spring Break. The projects vary in both length and scope. Some projects are one week in duration while others are more than three weeks long. In addition, some of the projects focus on service related experiences such as working with a reforestation program in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala while others are immersion experiences such as spending time in an emergency shelter on the border of U.S. and Mexico.
Regardless of its focus, each project shares the ultimate goal of creating solidarity, learning about issues of poverty and injustice, connecting the local with the global, and giving students an opportunity to reflect on the deeper questions of faith and belief.
Respect for the culture: We are guests in the places we go. A deep respect of the culture and communities we visit must be fostered. When you accept a place on a VISION trip, you agree to support the policies and procedures developed to help ensure the success of the program. You also have a responsibility to give of yourself to make your trip the best possible experience for the site you visit, your fellow participants and for yourself. Remember that there are both freedoms and limitations, involved in community membership. Students applying for these programs are asked to sign the VISION trip Agreement, stating that they have read, understood and will abide by the information contained in this handbook.
National and International Community Partners
VISION partners with sites around the globe who are making a difference in their own communities. VISION develops strong relationships with our community partners. Sites are chosen based on their ability to meet the following criteria
- Participant Safety
- In line with the mission of the University of St. Thomas and VISION’s six components
- An established infrastructure that allows St. Thomas students to participate in meaningful service projects that are also valuable to the host site.
- Cultural opportunities
Criteria for Participation
- VISION participants must be an undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas
- VISION participants must take full responsibility for meeting the financial responsibilities of the trip.
- VISION participants must not currently have any financial holds on my account
- VISION participants must be 18 years of age or older
- VISION participants must have turned in a complete application including Passport copies and emergency contact info.
- Falsification of any information on personal data forms may result in disqualification of participation.
- VISION participants must be in appropriate physical and mental health (and am willing to provide documentation from a physician and or professional therapist if requested).
- VISION participants must not currently be on conduct probation with the University.
- VISION participants must be willing to participate fully in the trip and be committed to supporting and living out the Six Components (Service, Spirituality, Simplicity, Justice Issues, Community, and Cultural Exchange) during this trip.
- This include includes a willingness to:
- Serve as asked by our host sites.
- Participate in discussions and educational opportunities offered by the site and group.
- Cope with a variety of challenging situations and circumstances that may come with visiting another culture and/or another country.
- Live and serve in community with fellow group members and others at program sites.
- Engage in nightly reflection and converse with group members about topics such as spirituality and faith.
- Respect the given rules and structure of the program site.
- Listen and learn about social and economic injustices from the viewpoint of the people from the area which we visit.
- VISION participants must participate in at least four orientations, including the Large Group Orientation
- VISION participants agree to meet the specific expectations and responsibilities decided upon by my particular group in our Group Agreement.
- VISION participants will not participate in any consumption of alcohol or use of drugs. Support of this policy by all involved is essential for a safe and socially aware break.
- The Rules of Conduct of the University of St. Thomas apply while students are off-campus. Therefore, students will be subject to disciplinary sanctions for conduct, that is detrimental to the good of the University or which discredits the University.
Students are required to complete an evaluation for their VISION experience sent by email at the conclusion of their program.
Non-degree students (interested participants who are not students or who are enrolled at another institution) may not apply for a VISION trip.
Student Responsibilities and Disciplinary Procedures
The University of St. Thomas is a private, comprehensive, regional Catholic university and is a community of scholars. As such, it expects all members of its community, regardless of age, to act reasonably, responsibly, maturely and appropriately at all times both on and off campus. Students are subject to disciplinary sanctions for conduct which occurs on or off campus when that conduct is detrimental or disruptive to the purposes and/or goals of the university. Violations of policies cited in this Policy Book may result in disciplinary sanctions as outlined within this Policy Book.
Alcohol and Drug Policy: The VISION program promotes an alcohol and drug-free philosophy. This prohibits alcohol consumption, illegal or irresponsible drug use by anyone regardless of age, participating on the VISION trip. Drinking during the trip represents a major liability to the program and is inappropriate when dealing with the social issues of VISION sites. Support of this policy by all involved is essential for a safe and socially aware break. Any participant who does not follow this policy will be subject to the following consequences.
1. If a participant has received a scholarship and violates the policy, their scholarship will be revoked.
2.A participant who violates this policy will be asked to leave the program, and return to his or her place of residence at his or her own expense.
3. You will not be able to apply for another VISION trip for one year.
Sexual Misconduct Policy: VISION’s mission and convictions embody UST’s commitment to promote and protect the personal dignity and well-being of every member of the UST community. Sexual harassment, sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct are antithetical to that commitment. Moreover, they constitute unlawful sex discrimination. All forms of sexual misconduct, as defined by the UST policy, are strictly prohibited on VISION trips
1. If a participant has received a scholarship and violates the policy, their scholarship will be revoked.
2. You will be asked to leave the program, and return to his or her place of residence at his or her own expense. If the incident happens before departure, you will be removed from the program without reimbursement.
3. You will not be able to apply for another VISION trip for one year.
Disciplinary Rights and Procedures for International and Off-Campus Programs- Academic and Non-Academic
In all international and off-campus courses and programs, students are subject to the University of St. Thomas Rules of Conduct as stated in the Student Policy Book.
In these cases the faculty or staff person who is advising the VISION trip will have the full authority of the Dean of Students (for non-academic violations) and the appropriate academic dean (for academic violations) to adjudicate disciplinary violations of the Rules of Conduct.
When feasible, the faculty or staff person along with the VISION student leaders in charge should make every effort to informally resolve problems that arise. However, if a formal process is required, the following procedures for adjudicating violations of the Rules of Conduct will be followed.
- The staff or faculty advisor will notify the Coordinator of the VISION program
- The VISION coordinator will notify students of alleged violations in writing.
- A meeting will be held between the student accused, the faculty or staff member and the VIISON coordinator after the student receives the violation letter to determine if the student violated the Rules of Conduct.
- After the meeting, the coordinator of VISION, in consultation with the Dean of Students, will determine sanctions, if applicable.
- The student will receive a decision letter stating whether it has been determined that the student violated the Rules of Conduct and the appropriate sanction, if any. A copy of the decision letter will be forwarded to the Dean of Students for inclusion in the student's disciplinary file.
- There is no appeal of discipline occurring in connection with an international or off-campus program. Faculty or staff in charge of the administration of the program have full authority for imposing sanctions, including sending the student home prior to the completion of the class or program.
- In extreme cases, the faculty or staff member who oversees the class or program may, in consultation with the VISION coordinator, the Dean of Students and appropriate academic dean, immediately suspend a student from the program and send the student home at the student's expense. The decision of the Dean of Students is final.
Due to the unique nature of international or off-campus programs, disciplinary decisions made by faculty or staff during these programs are subject to review by the Dean of Students and appropriate academic dean.
Attendance at your respective program orientation is required. J-term Large Group Orientation will be held in November.
There will be three mandatory small group orientations in November and December. Failure to attend these orientations may result in dismissal from the program.
- Once accepted on a VISION trip, the cost of the program will be billed to your student account. The actual billing will take place in December for January trips and in April for Spring trips
- A non-refundable $150 deposit is guaranteed to VISION after a participant hands in their signed VISION trip Agreement which secures their spot on a team. (This deposit is not due at the time of signing but will be billed later with the rest of the trip cost).
- A student’s account in the Business Office must be current or receive special clearance prior to participating in the VISION program.
VISION Program Fees Cover the following:
- Transportation to and from campus and the site
- Room and Board
- All Programmed VISION activities
VISION Program Fees DO NOT Cover the following:
- Travel Insurance
- Luggage Costs
- Required and elected Immunizations
- Meals to and from the site
- Extra travel
· $150 non-refundable deposit is charged when your hand in your trip contract on October 22nd by 4pm
· 50% of the trip cost will be non-refundable after November 16th
· The final 50% will be non-refundable after December 3rd
How to Cancel
All cancellations must be submitted in writing to VISION by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org from the student’s UST e-mail account. Cancellations by phone or in person are NOT accepted.
A student may request consideration for supplemental educational loan funds to assist with the additional expenses associated with the short-term program expenses. Loan terms, eligibility requirements and approval are determined by the lender selected. Visit the undergraduate financial aid website for private and Federal Parent Loan options. Loan funds received prior to the posting of any off-campus study charges will first be applied to current charges. If your student account is paid in full, the Business Office will issue a credit balance refund. You may request that the Business Office hold loan proceeds on your student account to be applied to your future off-campus charges.
For January Term
A student is encouraged to submit a supplemental loan application in the summer requesting the total amount desired for the upcoming school year, including your short-term expenses. One half of the loan funds will be disbursed to your student account following the 10th day of each semester provided you continue to meet all eligibility criteria at the time of each disbursement. You may apply for a supplemental loan one semester at a time if you prefer to budget on a term-by- term basis.
Proof of Sufficient Insurance
Students must verify that they have sufficient insurance coverage while off-campus on their Short-term Off-Campus Programs Agreement and Health Questionnaire.
Insurance Coverage Abroad
St. Thomas requires that ALL students participating in international off-campus programs have a level of insurance that meets or exceeds the insurance provided by the University’s policy thru Cultural Services Insurance International (CISI). Insurance coverage through CISI is not included in the program cost for VISION trips.
Students required to carry CISI will be automatically enrolled, and the premium posted to their UST student accounts.
Students should keep their existing domestic health insurance coverage in force at all times. US-based program participants should use their US health insurance provider for any medical needs while on the program.
Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI)
UST’s CISI Plan is designed specifically for students traveling abroad. In addition to providing health insurance, the plan covers medical evacuation and repatriation as well as security evacuations should they become necessary. Students enrolled in CISI will receive complete plan information prior to departure.
Mental Health Off-Campus
Travelling off-campus is an exciting experience that is also challenging and can be stressful. If you have experienced depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns in the past, we encourage you to check in with your counselor or one of the staff at Counseling and Psychological Services to make a plan to ensure your success. If you are on any psychotropic medication (e.g. antidepressants, anti anxiety medication, etc.), remember to follow the advice under Prescription Medication. This is not the time to stop taking your medication!
When preparing for your upcoming travel it is important to address general health issues as well as any specific health concerns unique to you, and your destination. Some programs may require a statement of good health, or a physical before you leave. This can be obtained through a healthcare provider. If you have any chronic health conditions, such as asthma, migraines, seizures, anxiety, depression or other chronic health problems, be proactive and consult your healthcare provider prior to departure. Develop a plan of care should you have any problems. If you require a medical alert bracelet wear it during your travels. If you have a chronic disease, become familiar with the words that describe it in your host country’s language. If you have a chronic health condition, identify a health care facility and provider within your host country in case you should need to seek medical care. See your dentist prior to departure.
If you take a prescription medication you need to arrange for an adequate supply of medication necessary for your travel duration. This needs to be coordinated through your healthcare provider and your insurance company. Keep all medications in their original containers. Do not mix different medications, prescription or over-the-counter, in one bottle. Know both the brand and generic names of your medications. Carry a copy of the original prescription with you. If you are bringing controlled substances such as ADD medications or antidepressants have your healthcare provider provide you with a letter stating they prescribed the medication and you are under their care. Make sure the medications are legal in your host country. This will help you avoid problems at customs. Reference the on-line Drug Translation Tool on the CISI portal for additional assistance.
Make sure you are up to date on your routine US vaccinations. This includes MMR, Tetanus, and Varicella vaccines (if you have not had chicken pox). St. Thomas makes the following recommendations to all students travelling abroad:
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver spread via contaminated food and water. The Hepatitis A vaccine is a series of two vaccines administered over six to twelve months.
Hepatitis B is a virus spread through body fluids such as saliva and blood and can lead to significant liver failure. It is a series of three vaccines administered over one year.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes of the spinal cord and brain. It is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. It is recommended that all students be immunized for meningitis.
Seasonal influenza is a contagious viral respiratory infection, spread via respiratory secretions. It can cause mild to severe illness and sometimes death.
H1N1 Novel Influenza (originally swine flu) is a new form of influenza and is a contagious viral respiratory infection, spread via respiratory secretions. It can cause mild to severe illness and sometimes death.
Destination-Specific Health Concerns
Be familiar with health issues in your host country and any country you plan on making a side trip to. Areas in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have unique health concerns such as Typhoid, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, and others, which require appropriate travel preparation to avoid illness. Appropriate vaccines and medications beyond the above listed routine recommendations need to be researched. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) details information regarding immunizations, health risks, and disease outbreaks specific to a destination. A formal travel consultation is recommended for such destinations for optimal travel preparation, ideally six or more weeks prior to departure.
Travel Preparation Resources
Consult with your primary healthcare provider regarding your individual health concerns and how to manage any chronic health issues you may have during travel. Confirm your routine vaccines are up to date.
The CDC provides information on both health concerns and vaccine recommendations within a country. The World Health Organization provides additional information on current heath conditions specific to a country. The St Thomas Travel Clinic (stthomas.edu/studenthealth) provides travel health education, required/recommended vaccines, and prescriptions for recommended medications specific to your destination.
Students are responsible for obtaining a passport on their own and applying in sufficient time so as to not jeopardize their ability to travel as planned. Application and renewal information is available at travel.state.gov. VISION cannot issue, or ensure issuance of a passport.
If a program destination requires a visa VISION will provide information to students upon acceptance. The ability to issue a visa rests solely with the host country. St. Thomas and the VISION staff cannot provide legal advice, or ensure issuance of a visa. Students are responsible for obtaining a visa and applying in sufficient time so as to not jeopardize their ability to travel as planned. International students often have requirements differing from those for U.S. students and may require a visa when U.S. students do not. International students must notify International Student Services immediately upon acceptance to a VISION trp to learn about requirements for studying abroad.
If want to know more about your destination(s), check out the following web sites.
Travel advisories or warnings: travel.state.gov
Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/travel
World Health Organization: www.who.int/country/en/
Lonely Planet: www.lonelyplanet.com