April 1, 2015 James Revillini
Resources for Staff and Faculty
Table of Contents
- Reporting troublesome behavior
- Responding to angry or disruptive students
- Responding to emotionally troubled or difficult students
- Signs and symptoms warning of student distress
- Consider making a referral when …
- How to approach the student
- How to assist the student who is reluctant to seek counseling
- How to help a student make an appointment with the Counseling Center
- Should a faculty member walk with the student to the counseling center?
- What to do if the student refuses to seek counseling
- After a referral
The Dean of Student Affairs is the first point of contact for faculty members if they believe a student may represent a danger to self or others. The Dean of Student Affairs will convene the BIT if appropriate. If the faculty member believes that the threat of danger is imminent, the Information Desk should be contacted immediately.
The BIT receives information from across campus; therefore, faculty members also are encouraged to report problematic, disruptive, or anti-social behavior that, although might not trigger serious concerns in isolation, may raise concerns if combined with reports from other sources.
Dealing with disruptive students in the classroom: Faculty have the right to prevent disruptive students from interfering with their right to teach and the right of other students to learn. To this end, faculty may ask a student to refrain from certain behaviors in the classroom, require a student to meet with them before returning to class, or, when necessary, ask a disruptive student to leave the classroom and not return until meeting with the faculty member. In most situations, behavior that requires a student to be removed from a class should be reported to the Dean of Student Affairs.
Dealing with students who refuse to leave the classroom when asked: If a student is asked to leave a class because of his or her disruptive behavior and the student refuses, the faculty member must determine whether it is possible to continue to conduct class. For example, a faculty member should not feel a need to continue a class session when a student has the potential to become violent or when a student’s behavior has been so insubordinate and disruptive that attempts to continue class will be futile. In this case, a faculty member may immediately dismiss class. If the student appears violent or dangerous, the faculty member should call the Information Desk or ask someone else to place the call. In any case, if class must be dismissed because of the behavior of a student, then the Dean of Student Affairs should be informed, and the student should not be allowed to return to class until cleared to do so by the Dean.
Permanently removing a student from a class: Faculty members may not permanently remove a student from a class without permission from the Dean of Academic Affairs or the Dean of Student Affairs. Any permanent removal of a student from a class based on non-academic reasons should be reported to the Dean of Student Services. Although faculty members have a right to teach in a classroom free from disruption, they should bear in mind that removing a student from a class permanently may have a negative impact on the student’s status in other ways, such as affecting financial aid. If it is determined that it is appropriate for a student to be permanently removed from a class, the department head and/or Dean may work with the BIT to find an alternate solution or placement. However, this is not mandatory and a disruptive student may simply have to “suffer the consequences” of his or her removal from class.
Avoiding confrontation in the classroom: While in the classroom, faculty members are encouraged to avoid confronting angry students in a manner which may escalate the potential for violent behavior. Meeting with an angry student after class is usually preferable to confronting the student in front of a classroom of students. If the faculty member is uncomfortable meeting with the student one-on-one, arrangements should be made with the Dean of Students to have another employee present. Students with severe anger management problems should be reported to the Dean of Student Affairs to determine if the behavior represents a pattern for the student or an isolated incident.
Classroom instructors face many challenges in teaching a diverse student population, and it is expected that students at college will experience a wide variety of emotions. While many students will be attentive and engaged in the classroom activities, others may be day-dreaming, bored, distracted, or pre-occupied. Many instructors have their own effective techniques for working with these students. Those students who come to class under the influence of drugs or alcohol, express extreme anger, or become disruptive, present a greater challenge.
On occasion a faculty member may recognize that a student is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Faculty members may handle this situation as they choose, but should be mindful that they have the option to refer the student to the Office of the Dean of Students. Those faculty members reporting such behavior should be as thorough as possible in providing details of the incident. The college will refer students with alcohol or drug use problems to an appropriate community resource.
It is more likely that faculty members will encounter students who become angry in class. This anger might derive from differences among classmates, discussion of a controversial topic, or a disputed grade on a paper or test. This is to be expected. Anger in a student is not a violation of the Student Code of Conduct nor is it necessarily a threat to classroom order. When a student’s anger manifests itself into disregard for college authority or disorderly conduct, the faculty member retains the same right to report that student to the Office of the Dean of Students.
As a member of the college community, you have ongoing and direct contact with students. This places you in a position to identify students who are struggling with personal and/or academic concerns. How involved you want to be in the student’s problems will likely depend on how you see your role in the college, your training, your experience, and your personality. These guidelines, your knowledge of the services available, and your awareness of your personal attributes can help you become more comfortable with determining when and how you wish to intervene with students.
All students will experience some level of stress. Some will face life events that are more challenging such as significant changes in a relationship, the death of someone close, family crises, or physical illness. Others will face severe difficulty with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, anger, addictions and even psychotic episodes. How students respond to these challenges and how these challenges impact their academic functioning will vary greatly based on their coping abilities and personal situations.
- Excessive procrastination and poorly prepared work, especially if inconsistent with previous work.
- Infrequent class attendance with little or no work completed.
- Inability to focus or concentrate.
- Unusual dependency: hanging around or making excessive demands for contact outside of normal periods of association.
- Listlessness, frequently falling asleep in class or general lack of energy.
- Repeated requests for special consideration.
- Marked changes in personal hygiene.
- High levels of irritability, including unruly, aggressive, violent, or abrasive behaviors.
- Inability to make decisions despite your repeated efforts to clarify or encourage.
- Excessive weight gain or loss.
- Normal emotions that are displayed to an extreme degree or for a prolonged period of time: for example, tearfulness or nervousness.
- Impaired or garbled speech and disjointed thinking.
- Threats to others.
- Reference to suicide as a current option.
- Bizarre behavior that is obviously inappropriate, such as talking to “invisible people.”
- Social withdrawal.
- The issue is outside your range of knowledge or expertise.
- Helping the student could compromise or change the status of your relationship with the student (perhaps it is too personal).
- The student feels uncomfortable talking with you about the issue.
- You feel the differences between you and the student are such that you cannot help him or her.
- You feel overwhelmed, overly responsible for and worried about the personal safety of the student.
- The student’s behavior is a significant and ongoing disturbance to others.
- You are extremely busy or are experiencing stress in your own life and are unable or unwilling to handle the student’s needs.
- You have talked to the student and helped as much as you can but further assistance is needed.
- You think that your personal feelings about the student would interfere with your ability to be helpful.
- The student admits there is a problem but does not want to talk to you about it.
- The student asks for information or assistance which you are unable to provide.
- Ask to see the student in private.
- Speak to the student in a straightforward fashion that shows concern for his or her welfare and focuses on observable behaviors.
- Express your concern in a non-judgmental manner. (State what you observed)
- Ask if the student is talking with anyone (friends or family) about the problem, pointing out that isolation is rarely useful when dealing with problems. Listen carefully.
- Let the student know that counseling is accessible, free and confidential.
- Suggest that the student go to the Counseling Center or call for an appointment while he or she is in your office.
- Encourage the student that if counseling didn’t help in the past to try it again.
- Don’t attempt to coerce or intimidate the student into counseling.
- Acknowledge and discuss the student’s fears and concerns about seeking help.
- Remind the student that counseling sessions are confidential.
- Remind the student that counseling at the Counseling Center is free.
- Point out that a situation does not have to reach a crisis state for him or her to benefit from professional help. A medical analogy may be useful.
- Emphasize that, although some people believe that seeking counseling is an admission of weakness and failure, in fact it often takes considerable courage to face oneself and acknowledge one’s limitations.
- Offer to accompany the student to the Counseling Center.
- Emphasize counseling as an empowering tool of change for those who choose to use it.
- Offer the use of your phone for the student to call and make an appointment.
- Consider making the call for the student if the student wishes for you to do so while in your presence.
- If you feel the situation is an emergency, call the Counseling Center (860.773.1510), identify yourself, and inform the person who answers of the student’s need to be seen immediately.
- If necessary, walk the student over to the Center.
Sometimes offering to accompany a student over to the Center will greatly reduce the student’s anxiety about going to see a counselor.
Unless the student is at risk for harm to self or others, counseling remains a voluntary option for students. Despite every effort on your part to facilitate a referral, the student may choose not to follow through on your suggestion that he or she seek counseling. If you find yourself in this situation, continue to express your belief that counseling could be beneficial, and keep your offer of help available to the student. Document the process for your personal files should you need to verify in the future your assistance to this student. If a student is at risk for harm to self or others, please report this information to the Information Desk as soon as possible. If the student is with you, tell the student that you will arrange for him or her to be seen as soon as possible by a counselor. If the student leaves with the intent to disregard your referral, you should call the Information Desk immediately.
Once a student has been referred to the Counseling Center, he or she is in a confidential relationship. Often students will come back to you and let you know about their experience. If appropriate, a representative of the Center may contact you to follow up or to gain additional information. Depending on the nature of the concern, counseling may be one appointment or several. In some cases, a referral to a community specialist may be strongly encouraged.
A referral to the Center does not the mean the student necessarily will be removed from class or school, face judicial sanctions or remain in treatment. Should you feel additional actions are necessary as a result of the student’s conduct, you should contact the Dean of Students Office.
The Counseling Center is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 to 5:00. To make an appointment, call 860.773.1510.
For more information, contact Tamika Davis, Chair of the Behavioral Intervention Team, at 860.773.1490.