The investigative team at NBC New York – Channel 4, Jonathan Vigliotti and Ann Givens, recently took notice of ClearCause and its work to protect students abroad. The reporters interviewed ClearCause Founder Sheryl Hill and official Mom on a Mission Ros Thackurdeen, both parents of teenage sons who died preventable deaths on student programs abroad.
NBC New York asked Ros about her son’s tragic death, and the lack of help and information she received from the school. “We got a phone call.. They told us Ravi had gone missing,” Ros told NBC New York, “That’s all they would tell us. He was missing.”
(Tyler Hill, People to People Student Ambassadors, Died in Japan 2007)
NBC New York reports that according to experts, dozens of students die each year while on study abroad programs. At least five students have died on such programs in the past two months.
The fact is this multi-billion dollar industry is largely unregulated. “We have laws here about safe campuses and those same laws should apply when you’re escorting students abroad,” Sheryl Hill told NBC’s Mr. Eckert. Her 16 year old son Tyler died a preventable death on a People to People Student Ambassador program trip to Japan in 2007. Sheryl and her husband Allen founded ClearCause to shine a sunlight disinfectant on the self-regulated multi-billion youth and student travel industry.
Enter U.S. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. Maloney is working with ClearCause to require higher education schools and third party programs offering college credit to report the deaths, illnesses, injuries and sexual assaults that happen to students on study abroad programs, until then, he says, “Buyer beward.” Maloney recently introduced H.R. 5485, a sunshine bill also known as Ravi Thackurdeen’s Safe Student Abroad law. Ravi’s bill is introduced to the House of Representatives. It is proposing transparency on harm to students on programs abroad. The Congressman told NBC New York that “the goal is not to penalize schools.” Rather, he believes “this legislation will make everyone stronger. Schools and parents will be on the same page…something that has proven difficult to achieve without intervention.”
ClearCause’s Sheryl Hill believes this is the first type of countrywide law requiring transparency in the world – a precedent that will put the count in accountability so that international students around the world will be better able to identify and mitigate risks.
ClearCause helped set the precedent for H.R. 5485 with the passage of Minnesota State Senate File 1975, or “The Thomas Plotkin Higher Ed Student Abroad Sunshine Act.” Thomas’ law was sponsored by leader and role model Senator Terri Bonoff, who heads Minnesota’s Department of Higher Education committee. Commissioner Pogemiller stepped up to protect students abroad. Thomas Plotkin’s Sunshine Law went into effect August 1, 2014 with the first public report in November 2015. Thomas Plotkin died on a National Outdoor Leadership (NOLS) program to India. His body was not recovered.
(Thomas Plotkin, National Outdoor Leadership, Died in India, 2011)
Our traveling students need your help. You can contact your lawmakers by sending a quick email from aclearcause.org. These students are America’s best and brightest; We need federal laws safeguarding their future.