In summer 2016, members of Washington University’s International Travel Oversight Committee (ITOC) watched as a coup erupted in Turkey just as a group of undergraduate students was landing at the Istanbul airport.
The ITOC, which sets policy on international travel for the university, along with Washington University in St. Louis’ Emergency Management Department, a key ITOC partner, immediately went into action.
“We had to quickly focus resources to account for Washington University community members and get them to safety,” said Dedric Carter, ITOC chair and vice chancellor for operations and technology transfer.
While the university had a student-focused travel registry at the time, Carter said it was clear from the crisis in Turkey and numerous other incidents abroad that the process needed to be reviewed for all university members traveling internationally on university business.
The ITOC, which represents senior emergency management, legal, risk, administrative and travel officers, initiated a new policy and system for registering international travel to help ensure the safety and well-being of all university community members traveling abroad.
Beginning March 15, registration for university-related international travel will be required of all students and all benefits-eligible faculty, staff, residents, clinical fellows and post-doctoral researchers.
“One of Washington University’s top priorities is the health, safety and security of our students, faculty and staff. This priority takes on even greater importance when members of our community travel outside the United States,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “A small group has done a great deal to help us address these issues.”
“In the past two years, anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 university community members — students, faculty and staff — have traveled outside of the country. In that time, our community members have been in close proximity to at least 11 natural disasters or security emergencies,” said Keith Klein, director of insurance and risk management.
“With the new requirement that everyone register their international travel plans, we will be better able to assist our community members in emergencies or times of crisis,” Carter said.
The new registry, called MyTrips, along with the related support services, will continue to be provided by the university’s longtime partner International SOS (ISOS).
ISOS, the world’s largest medical and travel security services firm, specializes in medical assistance; travel security advice and information; health care; and evacuation and repatriation services.
MyTrips will require travelers to create a one-time traveler profile at mytrips.wustl.edu, and then register the details of each trip through the system.
If travelers do not register their university-related international travel, reimbursement of expenses, including travel advances and expenses abroad, could be delayed. Registration of university-related international travel for students is required to ensure they receive course credit.
Although the policy is effective March 15, in time for the summer travel period, there will be a grace period during which expense reimbursements will not be impacted for university members who forget to create a profile and/or register a trip. This grace period will end for travel occurring after Aug. 31.
Travelers can learn more and set up their travel profile at mytrips.wustl.edu. The first 50 people to set up a profile will receive a travel pillow, eye mask and earplugs. The next 150 to set up a profile will receive a Washington University luggage tag.
For questions or additional information, visit mytrips.wustl.edu.