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Warning: Colleges may be responsible for Airbnb, Uber safety

By Meris Stansbury
August 26th, 2016

Safety expert says shared services economy, ease of travel present new safety challenges for colleges and universities.

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There’s an unfortunate side effect of the mostly positive student travel experience: As local and international travel increases, so does the potential for safety risks.

As technology begins opening doors to cheaper and more easily navigated local and foreign travel thanks to shared services like Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft, students are more likely than ever to place their trust in an unknown driver, homeowner, or even Wi-Fi user (FON).

But while these technology-enabled shared services provide unprecedented ease and access for students, it can quickly become the student’s, and institution’s, worst nightmare.

But is the institution responsible?

“In the world of risk management, the more progressive thinking starts by thinking ‘yes,’” said Jim Hutton, chief security officer and board member of the privately held travel risk management company On Call International. “’Yes’ to training staff to start from ‘yes;’ ‘yes’ to technologies and the services provided; but also ‘yes’ to having an equal responsibility to provide safety measures and procedures to safeguard against the inherent risks these services pose.”

Hutton believes this ‘yes’ way of thinking has been on the uptick in higher education due to recent rises in “difficult to process and handle” student-related incidents and crimes. Because of the increase in these incidents, colleges and universities have the unfortunate task of reconsidering their safety strategies and protocols.

“It’s actually these incidents and crimes that spurred the landmark legislation of the Clery Act,” he said. “Now, a number of tragedies are prompting universities to look differently at student experiences both domestically and abroad.”

(Next page: Shared services safety incidents with students)


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