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What to Do When You See a Distressful or Threatening Situation on Campus; A Letter From the Dean of Students

January 19, 2011

As we begin another semester at UNH, I wanted to remind all faculty and staff about a program that provides prevention, early intervention, and crisis response services for students who show signs of distress or are thought to be threatening to themselves or others.  It involves the Behavioral Intervention Team. Members consist of Paul Dean, deputy chief, UNH Police Department; Scott Chesney, director of Residential Life and assistant vice president for Student and Academic Services;  David Cross, director of the Counseling Center; Judy Spiller, associate provost for Academic Achievement and Support; Kathleen Grace-Bishop, director of education and promotion, Health Services; and Anne Lawing, Dean of Students. 

The team meets on a regular basis to coordinate various types of responses whenever a member of the community shares information about a student who may be in distress.  The immediate goal is to get the student to an appropriate helping agency as soon as possible.  For more information about the BIT and protocol, please go to the UNH Student Rights, Rules and Responsibilities.  On page 43 there is an overview of the protocol and team.

If you suspect (through verbal, physical, or written clues) someone to be at risk of harming him/herself or others, you should contact a team member or call any one of the offices below. We have a need to know and an obligation to act based on concerns related to health and safety.

Sharing your concerns is not a violation of any law, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  Even if you are in doubt, ask or tell.  If you are not certain about a situation but are concerned about it, contact someone.

  • UNH Police Department: 911 (emergencies 24/7) -or- (603) 862-1427 for non-emergency situations
  • Counseling Center (603) 862-2090  (24/7)
  • Student & Academic Services   (603) 862-2053

Contacting one of these offices is a constructive step toward resolving the situation that you encounter as you allow the university to engage our resources and expertise. 

Signs of someone in distress (or at risk to themselves or others):

  • Explicit threats, gestures or acts of violence directed at self or others.
  • Communicating intent and/or plans to perform a violent act.
  • Unprovoked anger or hostility.
  • Apparent disorientation or breaks from reality.
  • Deterioration in quality of work and/or appearance (for people with whom you are familiar).
  • Severe depression.

In addition to his work on the Behavioral Intervention Team, Cross offers an "Identifying at risk students" program for faculty, staff and students. This is a suicide/homicide prevention program which  also informs the community to the resources on campus as well as who to call for help with intervention.  Call 2-2090 to schedule a program in your office or department.

UNH strives to be a safe, caring, and open community where we try and take care of each other.  Thank you in advance for your concern about student welfare.  The overall goal for this and any program is to keep students in school.  I know you join me in working actively to help all of our students achieve their goal of a UNH degree.

Sincerely,
Anne Lawing, Dean of Students


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