Off-Campus Study Policies & Procedures

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ACM Policies & Procedures

The Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) is a consortium of 14 residential liberal arts colleges in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado. ACM programs reflect the academic standards and policies of its member colleges, and the standards and policies in the paragraphs which follow are applicable for all ACM off-campus study programs.

The ACM Off-Campus Study Program mission begins:

Our programs’ academic standards and curricula are rooted in the liberal arts. They emphasize the interdisciplinary educational approach, intimacy of small classes, focus on independent research, and discussion-based learning that characterize liberal arts education at ACM colleges.  The programs accelerate and deepen students’ scholarly and personal growth through structured interactions between selected topics and distinctive locations.  They offer educational experiences unlike those found in conventional classrooms.

You and all ACM students play an essential role in ensuring that the scholarly and personal growth sought as an outcome of this mission is accomplished in a dignified and respectful manner in conjunction with the people and customs of the host culture. As guests in the cities and countries of our various programs, all students are subject to the same laws and regulations as their host citizens and are responsible for knowing both ACM policies and local laws.

The ACM Code of Student Responsibility and its subsidiary policies exist to facilitate the educational process for you and the other students and to ensure a safe, fair, and successful experience for all students, staff, and faculty. While enrolled in an ACM program, your home campus may also choose to hold you accountable to their code of conduct. If enrolled in a host institution during their off-campus study experience, students will also be subject to the policies of that host institution.

Code of Student Responsibility

The ACM Code of Student Responsibility reads as follows:

I understand that I am required to comply with all policies and procedures of the ACM including policies outlined here as well as program-specific rules introduced during the on-site orientation. My participation in an ACM program represents my college and the ACM consortium at all times. I know that my behavior must respect the values and norms of the host community while promoting the safety and wellbeing of other students and my program’s faculty and staff. I will strive to ensure that my behavior supports the educational nature of the ACM at all times.

Studying off campus during your college career can be both very exciting and very challenging. Many students return to their home campus feeling dramatically changed, eager to embark on a new academic or career path, or with a clearer understanding of who they are as an individual.

Off-campus study is a privilege; an option within higher education that not all students can select as a part of their collegiate experience. It often creates lifetime memories and presents multiple prospects for personal growth. In order to protect this opportunity for all students, however, ACM has instituted some policies and to ensure it remains accessible to the greatest possible number of students.

Please note that these policies and procedures comprise guidelines that can be changed by ACM at any time in its discretion. It is not and should not be construed as a contract, either express or implied.

Expectations of Student Conduct

Any student who engages in inappropriate conduct will be in violation of this Code of Student Responsibility and will be subject to a conduct review and possible sanctions. While it is impossible to outline all forms of inappropriate conduct, what follows is a non-exclusive list of the more common examples:

  1. Violations of any ACM policies or regulations – policies published in student handbooks, Study Abroad Contract, the website, or other official ACM publications (including but not limited to the Housing Policy, the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, the Policy on Sexual Harassment, and the Policy on Academics).
  2. Violation of safety practices – action or inaction that might cause or lead to injury or death to oneself or any other person; threat or cause of harm; self-endangerment. Participation in any activity expressly prohibited by ACM including, but not limited to, mountaineering where ropes or guides are normally used; hang gliding; parachuting; bungee jumping; base jumping; sky surfing; operating a motor vehicle of any kind (including motorcycle; exception for Oak Ridge Science Semester); racing by horse, motor vehicle, or motorcycle; parasailing; cave diving; spelunking; participating in any professional sports or competitions; or riding as a pilot, student pilot, operator, or crewmember in or on any type of aircraft; heli-skiing; sub aqua pursuits involving underwater breathing appparatus.
  3. Any conduct which threatens ACM’s ability to function or maintain positive relations in host communities including but not limited to culturally inappropriate behavior or defamatory statements regarding host sites, organizations, or communities in blogs, social media, or other public media.
  4. Failure to comply with reasonable directions of ACM staff or faculty (or designees) or failure to promptly and properly identify self to ACM staff/faculty or law enforcement authorities if asked. Examples might include use of a fake ID, failure to comply with staff requests in an emergency, or not completing assigned sanctions resulting from a previous policy violation.
  5. Theft – attempted or actual theft or willful possession of items belonging to another. Unauthorized use of property belonging to another.
  6. Unauthorized entry – inappropriate use of keys or facilities (e.g., housing or partner organization).
  7. Inappropriate use of ACM technology including but not limited to computers or wireless internet provided by ACM or any of ACM’s partners, and including but not limited to actions such as illegal downloading of copyrighted material, computer piracy, or using technology to threaten or cause harm.
  8. Damage – causing damage to property belonging to ACM or to the property of any of its partner organizations, any person, or the public domain.
  9. Possession or use of any weapon, fireworks, incendiary device or explosive device.
  10. Participation in political demonstrations, rallies, or protests – For students in domestic off-campus study programs, students should be mindful that participation in such activities, affiliated or not with the program, conforms to the other expectations of student conduct listed in this section.
  11. Disorderly conduct – obstruction or distraction of the educational process, lewd or indecent behavior, breach of peace, physical abuse or threat, intimidation or coercion, etc. Also includes retaliation against any individual who reports any violations of the Code of Student Responsibility or any individual who participates in any investigation of such reports.
  12. Stalking or Hazing – behavior that is disturbing or distressing to others including but not limited to stalking or hazing. Stalking is defined as the willful and unsolicited following or harassing of another individual through any means. Hazing is defined as any act which endangers the mental or physical health or safety of another person for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition of continued membership in a group. Any group of students acting together may be considered a group for the purposes of this section. The express or implied consent of the victim will not be a defense. Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing is not a neutral act and is also a violation of this section. Stalking or hazing can include actions in person, via social media, or through other electronic means.
  13. Bias-related behavior or personal abuse – use of language, images, signs, symbols, threats, or physical behavior that directly or indirectly demonstrates hostility or contempt toward a person or group on the basis of actual or perceived identity. Behavior that exceeds the bounds of appropriate discourse and civil conduct. Harassment of another because of their race, sexual orientation, ethnic background, religion, expression of opinion, or other personal characteristics. Actions that would reasonably tend to cause alarm, anger, fear, or resentment in others or would endanger the health, safety, and welfare of another member of the ACM community.
  14. Any criminal behavior or breach of local, state, or federal laws.
  15. A willful failure to report a violation of ACM policies or law or reasonably suspected of harassment or abuse.

Email Communications with Students

ACM will utilize each student’s college or university email account as the official method of communicating with students. Students are responsible for all ACM information sent to them via their college or university assigned email account, and any official ACM documents and communications will be sent to that email address before, during, and after their off-campus study program.

Policy on Academics

All academic pursuit depends on trust. All of us should be able to trust that we will be treated with honesty and respect—respect for our ideas and for us as persons. As a participant in an ACM program, you will be expected to conduct yourself with the same level of honesty and openness as is expected on your home campus.

The following academic policies apply to all students participating in an ACM program:

Arrival and departure dates. You should make travel arrangements to arrive at the program site on the date specified in the program handbook. Similarly, you should plan your itinerary to remain at the program site through the last day of the program. ACM staff and instructors are unable to accommodate students who request to arrive later or depart earlier.

Course load. You are required to carry the full load of courses and credits as determined for the ACM program in which you are enrolled.

Class attendance and participation. You are expected to attend and participate fully in all classroom sessions, site visits, and field trips. Instructors typically take into account attendance and class participation when assigning final grades. Please remember that these are academic programs; it is not appropriate to miss classes because you are traveling or hosting visitors. You are expected to participate in all program activities unless otherwise excused.

Grade choice. All ACM courses will be graded and reported to home schools on an A-F grading scale. If a student wishes to take a class or classes on a pass/fail basis, the student must contact their home college registrar’s office.

Completion of course work. All class assignments (including final papers, projects, and exams) should be completed and submitted before the end of the program. Any assignments or work submitted after the final day of the program will receive a “0” and this will be factored into the final grade for the course. ACM does not record/report an “Incomplete” grade for courses.

Academic honesty. Actions of dishonesty are destructive to the well-being of the academic community, and ACM staff respond to them vigorously. Cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic theft will result in a failing grade for that assignment and may result in failure for the course. Extremely serious incidents of cheating or other actions destructive to the classroom community may result in expulsion from the program. Instructors who encounter plagiarism or other forms of cheating in an ACM program will report such episodes to the ACM Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration, who will investigate and conduct a review according to the ACM Student Conduct Procedures. Students who are aware of academic dishonesty on the part of other students are expected to report that information to the Program Director or the ACM Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration.

Final exams and presentations. ACM instructors cannot make special arrangements for a student or students to take a final exam or make a final presentation at a time different from that set by the instructor for the course (with the exception of a student who has a documented learning disability and with whom ACM staff have made prior arrangements).

Grading policies related to off-campus study. You should consult your home campus registrar’s office for off-campus grading policies in effect on your campus.

Graduating seniors. Students who expect to graduate at the end of the term of the ACM program should discuss graduation requirements with an advisor at their home college prior to the start of the program. If you need to make special arrangements (e.g., if grades need to be reported by a specific date), you should share this information with the ACM visiting faculty director at the beginning of the program.

Retention of syllabi, coursework, and other course-related materials. Because home campus advisors may wish to review coursework to determine how to assign credit for a particular course or courses taken off campus (and because, occasionally, course grades can be misreported), it is important that students bring back to their home campus all materials from courses taken. This is particularly important for courses taught by an on-site (i.e., non-ACM) faculty member, where it may be difficult to contact the faculty member after the semester or program has ended.

Release of student grades. ACM staff will only release grades to your home campus once all program, financial, and student conduct obligations are complete.

Housing Policy

Student housing will vary across the ACM programs and may include apartments, educational institutions, hostels, and other appropriate housing. Your housing situation while studying off campus is part of the learning environment that ACM programs provide, and you will want to take advantage of the opportunities that different housing situations provide.

You are responsible for your behavior and actions in your housing environment and must respect the policies and practices of each establishment or facility in which you are housed. Any damage to property or environment, disruptive activities, or willful disregard of policies and practices of any housing situation may result in disciplinary action including expulsion from housing and/or dismissal from the program.

You should inform your on-site visiting faculty director if problems or concerns arise regarding your housing; efforts will be made to either resolve the issue or find an alternative placement.

Visitors on ACM programs

Visitors should not interfere with the functioning of the program nor any participant’s ability to complete program responsibilities. Any program participants wishing to have a visitor stay overnight in program housing should consult with any roommate(s) for approval and abide by any policies of the vendor providing the housing. All visitors shall abide by all provisions of the unit’s roommate agreement, and the host participant may be held responsible for the actions and consequences of their guest’s behavior.

Policy on Alcohol & Drugs

Knowing how to engage responsibly with alcohol among peers is a component of living in a new, educational environment. In the same way that positive living environments create positive experiences and learning, appropriate choices around alcohol can create notable memories among a community of students. In the context of off-campus study, this can mean deciding if or when it is culturally appropriate to consume alcohol, in what quantities, and amongst what company.

Alcohol may be consumed responsibly by students who are of legal age. You should be aware of the limits of local law, cultural norms, and safety considerations when choosing to consume alcohol. You are prohibited from providing alcohol to others who are not of legal age.

Inappropriate behavior resulting from alcohol consumption, including but not limited to behavior which is offensive to others; and/or poses unreasonable risk to you or others; and/or results in damage to property; and/or impacts student performance; and/or causes embarrassment or otherwise interferes with the proper functioning of the program or other students, is not permitted and will result in disciplinary action.

Possession, use, or distribution of any substances that are considered by local, state, or federal law to be illegal drugs or controlled substances is prohibited. You are hereby cautioned that the possession of drugs is often handled harshly by local law enforcement. The misuse and abuse of prescription medications is also considered a violation of this policy.

Policy on Sexual Harassment

It is the policy of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) that sexual harassment of students and employees is prohibited. Violation of this policy may result in discipline or dismissal of students or discipline and discharge of employees.

However, allegations of sexual harassment are serious and may be extremely prejudicial to the alleged offender. Accordingly, allegations not made in good faith may subject the complainant to disciplinary action.

Sexual Harassment Defined

Sexual harassment is unwelcome words or conduct based upon the recipient’s gender. Sex or gender-based harassment does not have to be sexual in nature. However, such harassment can often take the form of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature. Harassment can become unlawful when 1) submitting or refusing to submit to such conduct is used as a basis for any decision affecting an individual’s academic status or employment, or 2) such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment. Be advised that ACM reserves the right to interpret these policies and procedure more stringently than applicable legal definitions. Therefore, harassment or discrimination that does not rise to the level of a legal violation may still be found to violate ACM’s standards of conduct.

Policy on Dual Relationships

A dual relationship is one in which the faculty/staff member/program partner/contracted vendor has both a professional and a romantic or sexual relationship with a student. (A “program partner” could include an internship supervisor or on-site coordinator. A “contracted vendor” could include: housing providers, guides, guest lecturers, etc.) This includes relationships which appear to be mutually consensual.

However, the inherent inequality of power between student and faculty/staff/program partner/vendor creates an unacceptable conflict of interest in a supervisory, educational, or advisory context. For this reason, dual relationships between faculty/staff/program partner/vendors and students who participate in the same program are specifically prohibited. If a relationship nonetheless develops, the faculty/staff member/program partner/vendor is expected to remove themself from supervisory or advisory responsibility for that student and alert their supervisor or face disciplinary action.

Policy on Sexual Assault



Consent means the mutual understanding of words or actions freely and actively given by two informed people, which a reasonable person would interpret as a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent is not effective if it results from the use of physical force, there is intimidation or coercion, or the recipient party is incapacitated, or if a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol such that they lack necessary judgment to give consent to sexual activity. Also remember that consent can be withdrawn and that consent to one activity does not necessarily imply consent to another. Finally, silence or non-communication should never be interpreted as effective consent.

Sexual Contact

Sexual contact includes but is not limited to: sexual intercourse, penetration of an orifice (anal, oral or vaginal) with the penis, finger, or other object in a sexual manner, intentional touching of the genitals, buttocks, or breasts, or coercion to force someone else to touch one’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts. Sexual contact can occur over clothing.

Sexual Contact With An Incapacitated Person

Incapacitation is the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments. To have sexual contact with someone whom you know to be, or should know to be incapable of making a rational, reasonable decision due to their consumption of substances, in other words, unable to give effective consent, is a violation of policy.

Sexual Exploitation

Acts committed by a person for sexual gratification, financial gain and/or advancement, entertainment, or for any other reason that abuses or exploits the privacy of another person’s sexuality. Examples may include but are not limited to: non-consensual recording of sexual activity or nudity, unauthorized presentation or distribution of said recordings in any form, allowing others to observe a sexual act without the knowledge or consent of the individual(s) involved, or prostituting another person.

Policy Statement

ACM prohibits sexual assault or sexual violence in any form, including non-stranger rape. The goals of this policy are to create a community free of sexual assault, to provide avenues for those affected by sexual misconduct to obtain assistance, and to provide a clear and fair complaint and investigation procedure.

Sexual assault committed in connection with any ACM program in any location is prohibited. ACM strongly recommends that people who believe they have been victims of sexual assault pursue criminal charges against the person or persons they believe to have committed the sexual assault. Victims are also urged to make a complaint to staff in the ACM consortial office. A criminal charge and an internal complaint can be pursued at the same time. Retaliation against anyone involved in the complaint process or anyone who pursues legal action—including the complainant, the respondent, or anyone participating in the investigation—is prohibited and will not be tolerated.

Definition of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is intentional sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent (see definitions of sexual contact and consent). Consent exists when a person freely and knowingly agrees at the time to participate in a particular sexual act with a particular person. Consent is not effective, for example, when force, threat, or coercion is used. Consent is not effective when sexual contact is with a person who is unable to say no or otherwise resist because of the use of alcohol or drugs or because they are asleep or unconscious (see also definition of Sexual Contact with an Incapacitated Person).

The initiator of sexual contact will be found in violation of this policy if it is determined that they knew or should have known that the other person could not give effective consent as defined by this policy. Being intoxicated or under the influence of any substance at the time of sexual contact is never an excuse for violation of this policy.

Sexual assault can be committed by a person of any gender identity against a person of any gender identity. Sexual assault can be committed by current or former lovers, friends, acquaintances, or strangers.

Policy on Non-Discrimination

The Associated Colleges of the Midwest does not discriminate in the operation of its educational programs, activities, or employment on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by law.

Student Conduct Procedures

Should an alleged violation of the ACM Code of Student Responsibility occur, ACM faculty and/or staff will investigate the situation and review any responsible student’s status with the program.

This review will be conducted by the on-site visiting faculty director or other ACM staff in the model of an educational/administrative process, not a proceeding of a criminal or civil court. These policies and procedures are designed to ensure a productive learning environment for all students.

The following process for an initial conduct review is designed to assure that the student receives appropriate due process:

  1. The student will be notified verbally and/or in writing of the incident/alleged violation and the time and place of the review meeting.
  2. At the review meeting, the student will have the opportunity to share their perspective of the incident and present any witnesses or documentation relevant to the incident/alleged violation.
  3. The student may be accompanied at the review by a third party. Since this is not a case before a court of law, however, the third party may not be legal counsel.
  4. After discussing the incident/alleged violation and the circumstances, the student will be given an opportunity to admit or deny involvement in the situation.
  5. Given the information, the ACM faculty or staff reviewer will make a decision regarding the student’s responsibility for violation of the Code of Student Responsibility based on a preponderance of evidence.
  6. Within five working days from the date of the review meeting, the student will be notified in writing of the decision and any relevant sanctions and deadlines for completion of those sanctions. This notification will also include the procedure a student can follow to appeal this decision (see below).
  7. Repeat or more serious incidents may involve review by staff in the Off-Campus Study unit of the ACM consortial office and may include notification of the student’s home school.

Sexual Harassment/Assault Grievance Procedure

Due to the often complex nature of sexual harassment or assault investigations, ACM has instituted a more elaborate procedures for review and management of these claims. This section outlines that procedure.

Any individual who believes that they have been subjected to sexual harassment/assault has recourse to informal and formal grievance procedures designed for the purpose of investigation and resolution of such allegations.

As a preliminary matter, any individual who believes that they have been sexually harassed/assaulted should report the incident promptly to any of the following:

  • Visiting Faculty Director of the program in which the student is enrolled or other appropriate local staff or faculty member
  • Michael Vertovec, Assistant Program Manager
  • Betsy Hutula, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration

Assistance in presenting a grievance may be obtained from another employee or student. However, attorneys or other third persons may not participate in any facet of the grievance procedure unless ACM and all interested parties otherwise agree.

Informal Procedure

An informal procedure is designed to resolve sexual harassment/assault allegations without having to invoke the formal grievance procedure. This can be initiated through contact with any of the staff named above. The goal is to resolve the problem through discussion with the student, the alleged offender, and any other relevant persons. The student and/or staff member grievance officer may elect to terminate the informal procedure if it appears that no progress is being made in resolving the dispute and initiate a formal procedure.

Formal Procedure

  1. Students who wish to lodge a formal complaint should contact any of the staff members named above.
  2. Thereafter, the President of ACM (or if the President is the alleged offender, the Chair of the Board of Directors) shall assign a grievance officer to investigate the complaint and report their findings to a grievance board comprised of the President (or if the President is the alleged offender, the Chair of the Board of Directors), the investigating grievance officer, and one other grievance officer selected by the President (or if the President is the alleged offender, the Chair of the Board of Directors). No employee accused of harassment may serve on the grievance board.
  3. The investigation shall include interviews with the complainant, the alleged offender, who shall be informed of the allegations against them, and other relevant persons. The grievance board may supplement the investigating officer’s investigation by itself conducting interviews and reviewing relevant evidence.
  4. Within 21 working days after the investigation concludes, the grievance board shall decide by majority vote whether the complaint allegations are supported by a preponderance of credible evidence. It shall then inform the complainant and alleged offender of its decision.
  5. Any disciplinary or other corrective action resulting from a violation of this policy shall be determined in accordance with ACM disciplinary procedures.

Third Party Harassment

Any student who has been sexually harassed/assaulted by a third party (e.g., vendor, guest speaker, internship setting) should report the incident promptly to a faculty member, ACM’s Assistant Program Manager or Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration working to initiate an investigation and attempt to resolve the problem.


Be advised that ACM is obligated to review complaints or investigations of potential abuse, harassment, or assault. All ACM staff members are required to report incidents of sexual harassment or assault. Therefore, ACM cannot generally receive a confidential complaint and promise to do nothing. However, ACM will endeavor to handle all complaints and investigations of sexual harassment/assault in a discreet manner; grievances and documents will be maintained separately from other student files.


Complaints made in good faith under this policy shall not result in any adverse action against the complainant, nor shall any person who participates in good faith in an investigation be treated adversely because of such participation.

Nothing in this policy precludes an individual from pursuing any legal remedies available to them, and ACM encourages all complainants to file police reports to initiate a separate investigation by law enforcement authorities.

Interim Suspension

If a student’s behavior constitutes an immediate, severe, or direct threat to self or others or if there is evidence of egregious misconduct and violation of ACM policies, the on-site visiting faculty director, in consultation with the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration, may immediately remove a student from the program and/or housing until a review can occur. During that interim suspension, the student will not be allowed to participate in program activities or utilize program resources. Alternate housing arrangements may be necessary and will be the responsibility of the student. Any additional violations of ACM policies while on interim suspension will result in immediate dismissal from the program.


In keeping with the nature of the institutions comprising the ACM consortium, sanctions are designed to be educational in nature whenever possible. Depending on the severity of the policy infringement, however, the ACM reserves the right to impose a sanction beyond a warning for a first violation if deemed appropriate. Multiple sanctions can be issued as appropriate. Failure to complete any assigned sanctions may delay the release of grades from the ACM program to the home campus.

  1. Written warning – A warning is given and provided in written form to the student outlining the violation of the ACM Code of Student Responsibility and that any additional violations may result in more serious action during the time of warning. Written warnings may be provided by email.
  2. Restitution – The student may be required to pay for any damages caused or repair or replace any property damaged or stolen.
  3. Loss of privileges – The student may have privileges for use of a resource or participation in certain activities withdrawn for a certain period of time.
  4. Housing change or termination – The student may be required to leave their housing and either move to alternative housing or obtain independent housing accommodations at their own cost.
  5. Disciplinary probation – A final warning is provided to the student in writing indicating that any further violation within the probationary period may result in dismissal from the program. A student’s home campus will be notified if a student is placed on disciplinary probation.
  6. Dismissal – The student is permanently removed from the program. Once dismissed, the student will not be permitted any further association with the program and will forgo any of the benefits that the program provides. The student will leave the program site and discontinue contact with the program. The student will be responsible for making their own travel arrangements from the site. A student’s home campus will be notified if a student is dismissed from the program.

Helping Your Peers

As a part of your off-campus study experience, you will be one member of a specific learning community, a group that you will help to define and foster throughout the program. As a part of a community, you will be thrilled to discover the great benefits that come from the contributions of others, but you should also recognize the obligations that come from being part of a group of people studying off campus together. ACM students are encouraged to look out for each other, advocate appropriately for each other, and work together toward your community’s educational goals.

This commitment to helping others out can sometimes put you in difficult situations. If you feel hesitant to seek physical or mental medical attention for a friend (out of concern that by asking for help, ACM staff might discover that your friend’s behavior or your own behavior has been in violation of the ACM Code of Student Responsibility), please know that the responsibility and care that you demonstrate by taking the appropriate action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of another member of the community will be considered in determining what action, if any, is taken against you when reviewing the matter with ACM staff.


Students may request an appeal of a student conduct decision made by the on-site visiting faculty director or other reviewer. The appeal must be received within five (5) working days of the issuance of the decision. The student should direct this appeal request to the Assistant Program Manager in the ACM consortial office.

The appeal request must be received in writing and should include a statement giving relevant facts and the reason for the appeal. In order for any appeal to proceed, the student must demonstrate that at least one of these three reasons for appeal exists: 1) There was a procedural error in the initial review that substantially impacted the rights of the student and had a reasonable possibility of affecting the outcome. 2) New information can be presented that was not previously available, despite reasonable diligence, which has a substantial likelihood of directly impacting the review decision. 3) The sanction(s) imposed are perceived as excessive.

The Assistant Program Manager will gather all materials, documents, and previous communications related to the student conduct review and forward that information to the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration. The Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration will review the materials and determine within five working days of receipt of the materials whether any of the three above grounds for appeal exist in this case.

If the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration determines that no grounds for an appeal exist, the student will be notified and the decision of the initial review will be final. If the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration determines that grounds for an appeal do exist, the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration will convene an ad hoc committee consisting of the Off-Campus Study Director from the student’s home campus, another ACM Off-Campus Study Director, and the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Administration. This committee will review and discuss the student’s petition to determine if there are grounds for an adjustment of the student conduct decision.

The Assistant Program Manager will report the decision of this ad hoc committee to the student in writing, ordinarily within 15 working days of receipt of the appeal. The decision of this committee is final.

Policy on Educational Costs, Program Fees, & Refunds

Program Costs

The total amount students must pay to participate in an off-campus study program varies from college to college, as does the availability of financial aid for off-campus study. These campus policies are often based on the specific curricular goals established at each college. Depending on the policies of a student’s home college, charges for off-campus study may be based upon the program’s tuition, or may be based upon the college’s own tuition. Additionally, some colleges may assess special fees for off-campus study.

ACM students should therefore check with the Off-Campus Study and Financial Aid offices on their campus to confirm how their college charges students for off-campus study programs, what additional campus fees may apply, and what financial aid may be used toward the cost of their program. Please see the Cost webpage for each ACM off-campus study program for a detailed breakdown of educational costs, the program fee, and estimated personal expenses.

Financial and Scholarship Aid

Students should check with their college’s Financial Aid office to confirm their financial aid package for the term of off-campus study. Students are responsible for making sure that any financial or scholarship aid is appropriately applied to the off-campus study program.

Confirmation Deposit

In order to secure a spot in the program, students are required to pay a deposit of $50 within two weeks of acceptance. The $50 non-refundable deposit is credited toward the program fee and cannot be returned if a student decides to cancel. Additionally, a $200 housing deposit is also required, but is refundable upon completion of the program, provided that no additional cleaning or special repairs are needed to the student’s apartment. Students who do not submit the deposits within the time frame risk losing their spot on the off-campus study program.

Cancellation Policy

ACM makes significant financial commitments on the behalf of all participants well before the start of their program. If a student is thinking about canceling participation after depositing, the student should contact ACM off-campus study staff immediately. All cancellations will only be effective the date that the ACM is notified, in writing, of the student’s decision to cancel. After canceling, the student will be responsible for program expenses incurred on their behalf, according to the following schedule.

Cancellation schedule

ACM typically bills the student’s college for the cost of the program after a deposit is made to confirm participation. The college then determines the total amount the student will be billed and this total amount may be equivalent to the amount billed by ACM or it may be different, according to each college’s particular policies on financial aid and off-campus study. If a student decides to cancel:

  • 90 or more days before the start of the program: The $50 deposit will be forfeited.
  • 60-89 days before the start of the program: The $50 deposit will be forfeited and ACM will bill the student’s college 5% of the total program cost.
  • 30-59 days before the start of the program: The $50 deposit will be forfeited and ACM will bill the student’s college 10% of the total program cost.
  • 15-29 days before the start of the program: The $50 deposit will be forfeited and ACM will bill the student’s college 25% of the total program cost.
  • 1-14 days before the start of the program: The $50 deposit will be forfeited and ACM will bill the student’s college 50% of the total program cost.
  • On the day the program begins or later: The $50 deposit will be forfeited and ACM will bill the student’s college 100% of the total program cost.

Students should check with their college about campus-specific cancellation policies, and whether their college may apply additional financial penalties for a cancellation. If unforeseen circumstances force a student to leave a program once it has begun, ACM may work with the student’s college to determine what portion, if any, of the program cost may be refunded. If a student is asked to leave a program for cause, no program costs will be refunded by ACM.

Outstanding Fees and Grade Release

ACM will bill students at the end of the program for outstanding program costs and/or any additional program expenses such as: medical costs, damage to program housing or equipment, loss of keys or equipment, etc. ACM is unable to release grades to students or their college until full payment for such expenses has been received.

Policy on Health & Safety Notification

ACM staff strives to keep all program stakeholders, including your home campuses and parents, informed of critical incidents and concerns that might arise related to any of our programs. We balance this goal with respect for your individual right to privacy as an adult.

Once you have reached the age of 18, you are considered an adult within the US Higher Education system. ACM’s standard procedures will typically involve communicating primarily with you and informing parents/guardians on an as-needed basis. ACM staff will seek to work with you, our students, as primary decision makers whenever possible.

Communication with Parents/Guardians

In situations of medical or program emergency, especially in situations where students are not able to communicate with their parents/guardians or in the case of student hospitalization, ACM staff will endeavor to inform parents/guardians of events and developments in as great of detail as possible and as often as possible. These communications will be balanced with ACM’s need to maintain operational management throughout whatever the situation might be.

ACM staff will always encourage students to openly and honestly communicate with their parents/guardians and will assist if requested in situations when the student may not have the means to communicate directly.

Communication with Home Campuses

ACM staff strives to maintain high levels of communication with all campuses sending students on any of our programs. Because colleges have different requirements for reporting or documenting incidents, ACM staff will communicate any reportable incident to the Off-Campus Study Director at a student’s home campus.

In situations where an incident impacts multiple students on a program (e.g., illnesses not limited to a single individual, major program changes), ACM staff will notify all home campuses represented on that program of the situation in a way that does not identify specific students. Exceptions to components of this policy will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Policy on Health Insurance

Students participating in ACM off-campus study programs are required to obtain and maintain health insurance which covers them for the location and duration of the program. It is recommended that insurance cover both physical and metal health.

Evaluations & Surveys

ver the course of the program, you will be asked to complete questionnaires at several intervals. These surveys allow us to better understand the impact that off-campus study has on students and to use feedback from you to make improvements in our programs.

Additionally, these surveys provide students with an opportunity to reflect upon their experiences and better prepare students to articulate the positives and negatives of the program. Below you will find a brief synopsis of the feedback we will be seeking from you throughout the term. In all cases, your responses will be confidential.

Mid-program evaluations

After the first month of the program, ACM staff will ask you to complete a mid-program evaluation which asks for your feedback on such aspects of the program as ACM’s assistance in preparing you for your program, pre-departure and on-site orientation, and the extent to which the program to date is meeting your goals for off-campus study. Your responses enable us to assess the effectiveness of our materials and services in the critical first weeks of the program and to make any necessary changes. Summaries of responses (but not individual responses) for each of our program sites may be shared with program staff and faculty and with faculty advisors for the program. This survey will require approximately 15 minutes to complete.

At the mid-point in your program, you may be given a short survey on each of your courses which asks you questions about the course. Your feedback allows the instructor(s) to assess their effectiveness and provides an opportunity for changes in the course if appropriate. Instructors are seeking your candid feedback and will attempt to gather your thoughts to ensure anonymity whenever possible. Your responses are for the instructor(s) alone and will not be shared with ACM program site or consortial office staff.

Final evaluation

Shortly before the end of the program, you will be asked to complete a final survey about the program. As with the mid-program evaluation, your responses will enable us to review program arrangements and course offerings and make any necessary changes for future semesters. A summary of responses is shared with program instructors and staff only after the program is complete and your grades have been submitted. Faculty advisors for the program may also receive the summary. This survey will require approximately 20 minutes of your time.

Ethical Review of Student Research

Statement of Policy

The Associated Colleges of the Midwest adheres to the federal regulations and policy guidelines concerning the ethical conduct of research involving human subject participants and applies them to all student research projects involving surveys, interviews, observations, tests, or other methods of data collection or analysis undertaken on an ACM off-campus study program. Specifically, ACM uses the Belmont Report as the set of principles that guides consortial policy on the protection of human subjects.

In brief, these principles are:

Respect for Persons

Recognition of the personal dignity and autonomy of individuals, and special protection of those persons with diminished autonomy. This principle requires informed consent from subjects, that is, they are given sufficient information, which they fully understand, about the project so they are able to decide whether or not to participate, and their participation is voluntary.


An obligation to protect persons from harm by maximizing anticipated benefits and minimizing possible risks of harm. Investigators must anticipate all potential harms to study participants (including hidden harms, or harms that might be more likely for some types of participants than for others) and take steps to eliminate or at least minimize them. Investigators also need to consider the costs of participation (including the time they are asking participants to commit). Finally, investigators must maximize the potential benefits of a study, both to the participants and to the broader society.


Fair distribution among individuals and groups of the costs and benefits of participation in an investigation. People should not be asked to participate in a project just because they are readily available to the investigator, or because they might find it difficult to say no. People also should not be unfairly excluded from participation.


The protocol is designed to educate all students enrolled in off-campus programs that require independent study projects on the principles of ethical research and to apply the principles consistently across off-campus program sites through the review and approval process. Two groups of reviewers read student research proposals and supporting materials to assure their adherence to ethical standards. The first review is completed at the off-campus program site by the program director and/or faculty research advisor. The second review is completed by the ACM Ethics Review Panel, consisting of two representatives of member college Institutional Review Boards or Offices of Research.

The protocol for training faculty advisors and students and the review process is as follows:


  • ACM consortial office and visiting faculty send students memo on “Ethical Research Standards and Approval Process for Research Projects” before they depart for the off-campus program site.
  • Faculty advisors at the program site complete NIH on-line tutorial, “Protecting Human Research Participants” and are trained in the protocol.
  • Students complete NIH on-line tutorial either pre-departure or on-site and submit certificate of completion to Program site staff.

On-Site Review

  • Students complete ‘Student Plan for Protecting Research Subjects’ that describes their research project, with attachments, for approval by the program site reviewers.
  • Program site reviewers read student project proposals and make a decision regarding its status as: 1) exempt from review by the ACM Ethics Review Panel according to the definition of ‘research,’ or; 2) ‘human subject research’ that requires review by the Ethics Review Panel.
  • Program site reviewers submit student project proposals and their decisions regarding each project’s status to the ACM Ethics Review Panel for review. This step can be taken either with the students’ outline or first draft.

Final Review and Approval

  • Projects that the on-site reviewers and ACM Ethics Review Panel determine are human subjects research as federally defined must adhere to the Belmont Principles in order to be approved. Projects that the on-site reviewers and ACM Ethics Review Panel determine are ‘not research’ according to federal regulations are approved.
  • Project proposals involving human subjects that require revision by the ACM Ethics Review Panel are re-submitted for review and approval before students begin their research.
  • Project proposals involving human subjects and presenting the possibility of more than minimal risk to the subjects are referred to the IRB of the student’s home college for its review, unless the home college IRB has delegated is authority to the ACM Ethics Panel.
  • An ACM certificate of approval is issued to each student whose proposal for research involving human subject participants is approved by the ACM Ethics Review Panel.

Materials on Ethical Research Practice

  • Determining Whether IRB Review is Federally-Mandated
  • Student Plan for Protecting Research Participants
  • Information for Participants• Template for Informed Consent Form
  • NIH on-line tutorial, “Protecting Human Research Participants”
  • Title 45 Part 46, Code of Federal Regulations (Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, the ‘Common Rule’)

ACM Off-Campus Study Programs with Independent Student Projects

  • There are currently no ACM off-campus study programs requiring ethical review of research, as no program at this time works with human subjects.


The ACM policy and protocol for the review and approval of student research projects that are undertaken on ACM off-campus study programs were drafted by ACM consortial staff in Fall 2011 and discussed and further developed at the Symposium on Protecting Human Subjects in Student Inquiry Projects in Northfield, Minnesota, February 23-25, 2012. This symposium was attended by faculty and staff representing Institutional Review Boards and Offices of Research at ACM member colleges and ACM consortial staff members. The proposed policy and protocol were approved by the ACM Advisory Board of Deans in March 2012.

Revised November 24, 2020

Ethics Review Protocol


ACM consortial office sends students memo on “Ethical Research Standards and Approval Process for Research Projects”.

Program Site

  • Train faculty advisors on the review process and complete NIH on-line tutorial, “Protecting Human Research Participants.”
  • Students complete NIH online tutorial before they arrive
  • Students complete ‘Student Plan for Protecting Research Subjects’ that describes their research project, with attachments, for approval by the on-site Project Review Committee.
  • On-site Project Review Committee flags student projects (usually non-ACM students) that require home institution IRB approval; students contact their home institution IRB for instructions.
  • On-site Project Review Committee reviews student project proposals (first draft) and makes a decision regarding its status as exempt from IRB review according to the definition of ‘research,’ or as ‘human subject research’ that may require IRB review.
  • On-site Project Review Committee submits its decisions to the ACM consortial office, which forwards this information to the ACM Ethics Review Panel for review, along with student project proposals that may require IRB review. This step can be taken either with the outline or first draft. Waiting until the second draft is not recommended, because of the limited time for the Ethics Review Panel to respond before the students leave for the field.
  • Projects that the on-site Committee and ACM Ethics Review Panel determine could be human subject research as federally defined are forwarded to the student’s home institution IRB. Projects that the on-site Committee and ACM Review Panel determine is ‘not research’ and exempt from IRB review are approved.

Consortial Office

  • Submit Student Plans and worksheet on decisions from on-site Project Review Committee to ACM Ethics Review Panel.
  • Facilitate meeting(s) of ACM Ethics Review Panel.
  • Inform the on-site Project Review Committees of the decisions of the ACM Ethics Review Panel.

Photograph & Video Release

On occasion, representatives from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) wish to photograph, record video and/or audio, and/or interview those connected with our organization. As a non-profit educational consortium, our goal is to highlight and showcase the work we are doing via our website, emails, posters, brochures, social media, and other educational marketing materials. As a participant in an ACM program, your likeness may be captured in photos, videos, or other mediums during your off-campus study experience.

By submitting the ACM Contract and Comprehensive Release, you agree to the following statement:

I give the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) irrevocable right to use my name and likeness in any photograph, video, audio recording, or other medium in which it appears and for any lawful purpose, including illustration, promotion, advertising, or web content. I understand that these mediums may be edited, copied, exhibited, published, or distributed and I waive the right to inspect or approve the finished product, including written material that may be created in connection therewith. I also waive any rights of compensation or ownership thereto.

It is understood that my participation in these recordings is done of my own free will. By signing the ACM Contract and Comprehensive Release, I acknowledge that I have read and fully understand this release, and agree to be bound thereby. I hereby release ACM from any and all claims or liability arising from, or in connection with, ACM’s use of my likeness in these images or recordings.

Contract & Comprehensive Release

Before participating in any off-campus program through ACM, each student will be required to review and sign the Off-Campus Study Contract.

Students will complete this form electronically, and a link to the forms will be sent to them once they are accepted to a program. These forms are included here as a reference and include topics such as: Understanding the Risks of Off-Campus Study, Institutional Arrangements for the program(s), a Comprehensive Release of Liability, Health and Safety Notices, Standards of Conduct, Financial Obligations, Program Changes, and a Consent to Secure Medical Treatment.

Off-Campus Study Contract

The student agrees as follows:

Risks of Off-Campus Study. I understand that participation in an off-campus study program involves risks not found in study at my home college. These include risks involved in traveling to and within the program location, and returning to my home or college; local political, legal, social, and economic conditions; local medical and weather conditions; increased potential for theft of personal property (which is not covered by ACM’s insurance), as well as other matters described in the information posted on the ACM website and in the program handbook, which I have reviewed and will continue to check prior to departure and during the program. I have made my own investigation and am willing to accept these risks.

  1. INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS. I understand that ACM does not represent or act as an agent for, and cannot control the acts or omissions of, any host institution, transportation carrier, hotel, tour organizer or other provider of goods or services involved in the program. I understand that ACM has exercised its best efforts in regard to these matters, but that it is not responsible for occurrences that are beyond its control.
  2. PHOTO RELEASE. By participating in an ACM program you give the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) irrevocable right to use your name and likeness in any photograph, video, audio recording, or other medium in which it appears and for any lawful purpose, including illustration, promotion, advertising, or web content. I understand that these mediums may be edited, copied, exhibited, published, or distributed and I waive the right to inspect or approve the finished product, including written material that may be created in connection therewith. I also waive any rights of compensation or ownership thereto.
  3. COMPREHENSIVE RELEASE OF LIABILITY. As condition precedent to participating in this program, ACM requires participants to execute the Comprehensive Release of Liability and Consent to Secure Medical Treatment. By signing this document you are waiving certain legal rights. Therefore, we urge you to take the time to read it carefully and we urge you to contact an attorney if you have any questions about it.
    1. I have consulted/will consult with a medical doctor with regard to my personal medical needs. I have provided/will provide ACM with all medical data and any other personal information necessary for a safe and healthy off-campus study experience. There are no physical or mental health-related reasons, problems, or special dietary requirements or restrictions which preclude or restrict my participation in this program.
    2. I am aware of all applicable personal medical needs. I am aware that I need to secure health insurance coverage to meet any and all needs for payment of medical costs while I participate in the program. I recognize that, while ACM will use its best efforts to see that I receive adequate medical care while in this program, I assume all risk and responsibility for my medical or medication needs and the cost thereof. If I require medical treatment or hospital care during the program, I authorize ACM to secure any necessary care deemed appropriate.
    3. ACM may take any actions it considers to be warranted under the circumstances to protect my health and safety. I agree to express any health or safety concerns promptly to program staff or other appropriate persons.
    4. Information for students with disabilities who may require accommodation:
      1. ACM makes reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in its activities and programs. ACM does not discriminate on the basis of ability in admissions for off-campus study programs. While ACM will try to arrange accommodation for special needs, students with disabilities must understand that some off-campus experiences may not be appropriate for them.
      2. In order to address this concern, ACM policy requires students with special needs who require accommodation to self-identify at the time of application for participation in an off-campus experience. It is strongly recommended that these students notify the Disability Services office on their home campus of their interest in participating in an off-campus experience and of their need for accommodation. ACM will work with the campus Disability Services representative to determine whether the student’s needs can be accommodated.
    1. Academic Conditions. Off-Campus Study programs are strictly academic in nature, and students must expect to invest at least the same amount of time and effort that would be required for courses at a comparable level on campus. Travel on weekends and holidays must not conflict with scheduled lectures or classes. Students are responsible for making travel plans which will permit them to attend all regularly scheduled class activities and field trips.
    2. Program Participation. I understand that students enrolled in off-campus programs are required to attend all scheduled classes, lectures, activities and field trips. This also includes mandatory attendance at pre-departure orientation sessions provided by ACM and orientations on site.
    3. General Behavior.
      1. I understand that each local and state government has its own laws and standards of acceptable conduct, including drug use, alcohol use and behavior. I recognize that behavior which violates those laws or standards could harm ACM’s reputation, as well as my own health and safety. I am aware that if I violate laws of the local, state or federal government, I may place myself in legal jeopardy. I will become informed of, and will abide by, all such laws and standards for local, state, or federal governments through which I will travel during the program.
      2. I also will comply with ACM’s rules, standards, and instructions for student behavior as outlined in the Code of Student Responsibility and the ACM program handbook.
      3. I will attend to any legal problems I encounter with any local, state, or federal government at my own expense. I understand that, while ACM will use its best efforts to assist me, it is not responsible for providing me with legal representation.
      4. I agree that ACM has the right to enforce the standards of conduct described above in its sole judgment, and that it may impose sanctions up to and including removal from the program for violating these standards or for any behavior detrimental to or incompatible with the interest, harmony and welfare of the ACM, the program, or other participants at any time prior to or during participation in the program. I recognize that, due to the circumstances of the program, procedures for notice, hearing and appeal applicable to student disciplinary proceedings at my home college do not apply. If I am removed from the program, either before or during participation, I understand that I will be sent home at my own expense with no refund of fees.
  6. FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS. I also understand that in paying my $50 non-refundable deposit to reserve a spot on the program, I am accepting the offer of admission and that ACM will begin to make program arrangements predicated on my participation. If I withdraw from the program subsequent to paying the deposit, I can expect not only to forfeit my deposit, but also to be billed for all non-recoverable expenses incurred on my behalf. Moreover, I understand that any refund of tuition and program fees will be subject to my home school’s policies, in the case of tuition, and according to the schedule outlined in the program payment information included with my acceptance materials.
  7. PROGRAM CHANGES. ACM has the right to cancel the program at any time prior to its commencement, in which case all moneys paid will be refunded in full. I understand that ACM may alter the program’s itinerary, travel arrangements, or accommodations due to emergency or changed conditions, and agree to be responsible for additional costs. I understand that ACM’s fees and program charges are based on lodging rates and travel costs, which are subject to change. If I leave or am removed from the program, I will receive no refund of fees already paid. Understanding that ACM will make every reasonable effort to minimize the effect of same, I accept all responsibility for loss or additional expenses due to transportation delays, necessary program changes, sickness, weather, strikes, or other unforeseen causes. If I fail to meet a departure bus or train, I will at my own expense seek out, contact, and reach the program group at its next available destination.

I have read this Off-Campus Study Contract carefully before signing it, and agree that it contains my entire agreement with Associated Colleges of the Midwest as to my participation in the program. This agreement shall become effective only upon acceptance by ACM of my application for the program.

Appendix A: Comprehensive Release of Liability and Consent to Secure Medical Treatment

I acknowledge and agree to the following:

  1. I understand that this is a binding legal document the purpose of which is to minimize the legal liability of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) in connection with my participation its off-campus study program (Program), and that I am encouraged to consult an attorney if I have any questions about its meaning or significance.
  2. I warrant that I am at least 18 years of age and am competent to enter into this contract knowingly and voluntarily.
  3. I have read, understand and agree to the Off-Campus Study Contract, and in particular, the summary of the Program’s risks outlined in it.
  4. I understand that my participation in the Program is voluntary.
  5. In consideration of being permitted to participate in the Program, I agree to assume the risks of such participation. Further, for myself, and on behalf of my executors, administrators, heirs, and family members, I agree to release and hold harmless ACM, its trustees, officers, employees, agents, volunteers, assigns and successors, from any and all claims or suits that may result from my injury or death, or the loss of or damage to my personal property, whether accidental or through the negligence of the aforementioned, arising in any way from my participation in the Program.
  6. In consideration of being permitted to participate in the Program, I, for myself, and on behalf of my executors, administrators, heirs, and family members, agree to release and hold harmless ACM, its trustees, officers, employees, agents, volunteers, assigns and successors, from any and all claims or suits that may result from the negligence of any other participant during my participation in the Program, including claims relating to injury to my person or my property.
  7. I hereby consent in advance and authorize ACM, its officers, employees, volunteers and agents to secure on my behalf any emergency medical treatment or services deemed appropriate under the circumstances.
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