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SOS – Supporting Our Students Threat Assessment and Reporting.

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1 SOS – Supporting Our Students Threat Assessment and Reporting

2 Purpose: To identify and intervene in situations involving students who may exhibit behaviors of concern. Goals: To balance the educational needs of the student and the academic mission of the University, To respond to each student’s unique needs, To provide mechanism for effectively addressing student’s behavior before it disrupts normal University functions

3 What we have learned from Virginia Tech and other similar situations And how we can apply that information.

4 WHAT WE CAN DO ? Learn to identify those warning signs such as- Changes in behavior, frequent irritation or anger, isolating oneself, changes in classroom performance to name a few Respond to those warning signs – ask the person how they are doing, are they ok. do this in a caring manner. Don’t threaten or act confrontationally. Report instances of observed behaviors of concern. There is not a profile on who causes violence on a college campus, but there are warning signs. Depressed, Withdrawn Change in mood, appearance or behavior, Intimidating, Verbally abusive, Obsessive, Paranoid Abusing of alcohol or drugs, Making threats to harm self or others, Feeling wronged, unfairly treated, humiliated

5 WHAT CAN WE DO? Act in ways that demonstrate to others that you care about them and the university. Be aware of university resources for support* Report instances of intimidation, discrimination, harassment, bullying, ridicule and violence. Take a stand against bullying, discrimination, harassment and ridicule. Safety and security is everyone’s job. We all need to contribute to keeping the campus safe. We all need to work towards creating an environment in which people who are experiencing problems can comfortably reach out to others for help.

6 University Support Services Academic Advising Counseling Center Disability Resource Center Employee Assistance Program Equal Opportunity and Diversity Office Financial Aid Housing and Residence Life Human Resources – Employee and Labor Relations Interfaith Center Lend-a-Wing Food Pantry LGBT Resource Center One Stop Student Services Military and Veterans Resource Center Student Health Center Student Ombudsman Student Wellness Center Women’s Center/Victim’s Advocates

7 What can we do? Take time to learn and understand the rules and make sure you implement them consistently. Understand and implement the concept of due process in all disciplinary matters for both students, faculty and staff. Take time to listen. Respond in a non-judgmental manner addressing the individuals behavior, not their character. Students and employees who perpetrate violence often feel angry, threatened, or fearful and that they have been treated unfairly.

8 What can we do? Identify and respond to behavior or situations of concern. Changes in behavior may be important – slipping grades, hygiene, etc. - Just ask, are you ok? How are you doing? Remember - early is good and late is bad. Report instances of behavioral change or odd behaviors. Serious misconduct is almost always foreshadowed by milder forms of misconduct and other inappropriate behaviors.

9 FROM BYRNES, J. (2002) BEFORE CONFLICT: PREVENTING AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR The Aggression Continuum

10 What can we do? Report, report, report! It is better to report something that is not a problem than to not report something that turns out to be a big problem. Earlier is better than later. Don’t wait for the problem to get too big to handle. Each of us, from our perspective, only sees a part of the picture. Each small bit of information may by itself was not particularly disturbing, but when you put it all together it may create a picture that requires intervention.

11 Threat assessment and intervention SOS is a cross- functional team that has been trained and works together from different perspectives to assess and respond to threats. The complete SOS team includes a faculty member, the chief of police, a member of the counseling center staff, a member of legal counsel, a member of student affairs staff, and the chair. Others are called in and consulted as needed. The focus of SOS is to offer help – not to punish. What does SOS do?

12 Where do I report Disruptive Behavior? If the behavior causes concern or is minimally disruptive, report this behavior to your department chair and also to SOS. You may also want to refer to the Counseling Center or other resources that you believe may be able to help the student. In many cases a person being minimally disruptive will respond to your request to stop their behavior. Be calm, polite and respectful. Don’t take what they are doing personally.

13 Where do I report Threatening Behavior? Threatening Behavior takes a number of forms. It may be harassing or provoking, and though an indirect threat does not imply immediate danger, it can be interpreted by a reasonable person as suggesting an intent to cause physical or emotional harm in the future, as in, “You’ll be sorry!”. A direct or credible threat identifies a specific target and is delivered in a straightforward, clear and explicit manner. If you receive a direct threat, call UPD! Report any incident of threatening behavior to UPD and SOS.

14 Where do I report Violent Behavior? Make sure you get yourself to a safe place. For violent incidents of threats of imminent violence call If possible stay on the phone until the police arrive.

15 What does SOS do? Clarify the information we have been given Attempt to determine if this is an isolated incident or a pattern of behavior Look at behavior over time Determine cause of behavior if possible First step – information collection and assessment

16 What does SOS do? A variety of options exist – the earlier the situation is addressed, typically the more options there are for resolution if needed, someone makes contact with the student and refers them to the appropriate resources that may include counseling center, DRC, conduct, student affairs, UPD, ombudsman’s office and others Second step – Determination of intervention strategy (if needed)

17 The focus of SOS is to offer help – not to punish. We seek to address the situation with the least possible disruption to the student and to the university, always keeping in mind what is best for both. Responses can range from nothing in the case where it is determined that what is being perceived as odd behavior is has been taken out of context, referral to counseling if the behavior is a relatively normal reaction to a stressor in the individual’s life (financial problem, divorce, death in the family), referral to a resource for on-going support for a chronic issue, referral to student conduct if the behaviors are in violation of the student conduct code, to facilitating a withdrawal from classes or from the university. Third step – Intervention (if needed)

18 The SOS relationship with the referred individual is based on trust, discretion, and confidentiality and in many cases it is not possible or ethical to report back to the person who initially filed a report. We need to take into consideration FERPA, HIPPA and client-counselor confidentiality in reporting back any actions we may have taken. If it is possible to close the loop and report back to you what has happened we will. In other cases we may just be able to say that the situation was evaluated and responded to. Fourth step – Closing the information loop.

19 Can I report anonymously? What types of behaviors should I report? What do I do if I feel I am in immediate harm? What number should I call? Others? Frequently Asked Questions


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