What to do if you encounter a student who needs assistance or displays troubling behavior...
Safety first: The welfare of the student and the campus community is the top priority when a student displays threatening or potentially violent behavior. The most effective means of preventing violence is providing coordinated professional help and follow-up care.
Trust your instincts: If you experience any sense of uneasiness about a student, or about what to do, it is important to pay attention to those signals. Seek consultation from your department chair, or supervisor, the Dean of Students Office or the Counseling Center. Report safety concerns and potential conduct violations promptly.
Listen sensitively and carefully: Distressed students need to be seen, heard, and helped. Many students will have trouble articulating their feelings. Don’t be afraid to ask students directly if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, feel confused, or have thoughts of harming themselves or others.
Avoid escalation: Especially with disruptive students, avoid threatening, humiliating, and intimidating responses. Use a non-confrontational approach. Help students connect with the necessary college resources for assistance.
Be proactive: Engage students early on, setting limits on disruptive or self-destructive behavior. Use the class syllabus to inform students in writing of standards and expectations for classroom conduct and of possible consequences for disruptive behavior.
Help them get help: Be available. Show interest and offer support. Refer the students to campus departments or offices that have the necessary expertise and personnel to help.
Work as a team: Share information and consult with the Dean of Students Office to coordinate care for students, including when to reach out to parents. Safeguard students’ privacy rights. Serious or persistent inappropriate behavior should always be reported and may result in disciplinary action. Don’t agree to keep secrets when it comes to matters of safety.