Program Policies

Know before you go

Substance-Free Policy

Branch Out Alternative Breaks is an alcohol- and drug-free program. Substance-free trips allow participants to focus on the purpose and learning goals of the program and contribute to the safety and well-being of all participants, the group, and the community in which they are serving. They also express respect for the community and the host organizations with whom alternative breakers serve and interact.

All participants and leaders in Branch Out Alternative Breaks programs are not to possess, purchase or consume alcoholic beverages and/or illegal drugs while participating in an alternative break trip.

Consequences of violating the policy include:

  • The individual who violates the policy will be asked to leave the trip after the violation, at their own expense.
  • Individual or group meeting with Site Leaders during the trip, and meeting with Site Leaders and OCE staff upon return to campus.
  • Referral to the Dean of Students Office for violating the Student Code of Conduct's Alcoholic Beverage Policy, and Failure to Comply with Directions policy. Sanctions range from a warning to suspension.

Our commitment to being fully engaged in our work extends beyond the time we spend on alternative breaks. Alcohol and drugs are not a part of any official Branch Out team activities, including team meetings and fundraising.

Accessibility

Branch Out would like for all of our programs to be accessible to students with disabilities; unfortunately, many of our host communities do not have the resources to ensure accessibility for all. If you have a need for accommodation of any kind, please register with Disability Services and contact [[mcporter, Melody Porter]], Director of Community Engagement, so that we may begin a dialogue about the possibility of accommodations for you. Please do so as soon as possible, to avoid unnecessary delays.

Alumni Participation

Branch Out alternative breaks are student-led and intended for currently enrolled students at the College of William & Mary. In the unusual instances when an alumna or alumnus graduates in the semester before their alternative break is scheduled to depart, those individuals will be allowed to participate in a trip under the following conditions:

  • Participants must abide by all Branch Out policies and guidelines.
  • Although their relationship to the College changes after graduation, participants will be perceived as ambassadors of the College to those in their host community, and must act as such.
  • Participants must participate fully in all pre-trip meetings and activities.
  • Participants must acknowledge in writing that they have current health insurance coverage and provide information about that coverage to Branch Out.

Students who have prepared for an alternative break but withdraw from the College before the trip will not be allowed to participate.

Financial Accessibility

Branch Out seeks to make all of our alternative breaks accessible to all students, regardless of their financial situation. Weekend domestic trips are all fully subsidized, so students can participate at no cost. Weeklong domestic and international alternative break participants may apply for support through Branch Out's financial aid program, which is generously funded by alumni donations. All participants on domestic weeklong and international trips must contribute a minimum amount to ensure their investment in the experience.

International Alternative Breaks

Because of the complexity and risk involved with international travel, international alternative breaks require participants' careful attention to detail. 

All participants in Branch Out international alternative breaks must read our guidelines to international travel with Branch Out, paying particular attention to the following:

In addition, participants must submit the Participant Emergency Information form within 48 hours of acceptance on an international alternative break. 

Site leaders travel with an emergency protocol manual and are trained in basic emergency response. William & Mary police answer all emergency calls from teams while traveling and follow Student Affairs emergency procedures.