Behavioral Assessment Team

Student Affairs and Academic Affairs have collaboratively established a Behavioral Assessment Team (BAT). Its purpose is to utilize the expertise of experienced professionals in response to student behavior that is alarming or of concern, including behavior that poses a potential risk of violence to self or others.

Establishment of this team formalizes a process for reporting and addressing specific, alarming behaviors that do not fall within existing reporting procedures such as those established by the Counseling Center, University Police Department, Residence Life and Housing Office and Student Conduct Office. Emergency situations always need to be reported to university police for immediate response.

Specifically the team will:

  • create a care management system to assess and respond to behavior that is of concern;
  • gather and review information about behavior that may be threatening or alarming;
  • stay attuned to escalating behavior or potential physical violence; and
  • develop an appropriate action plan such as contacting parents/guardians, referrals to various campus and community resources, etc.,

Assisting Disruptive Individuals

Disruptive behavior is behavior that interferes with students, faculty or staff and their access to an appropriate education or work environment. This can include behavior that is clearly and imminently reckless, disorderly, dangerous or threatening, including self-harm.

Examples of Disruptive Behavior

  • Yelling/screaming
  • Persistent and unreasonable demands for time and attention
  • Words or actions that intimidate or harass another
  • Words or actions that cause another to fear for their personal safety
  • Threats of physical assault

What is your role?

Don’t ignore it. Remain calm and remind yourself that it is not about you; it is about the situation. Tell the individual that such behavior is inappropriate and there are consequences for failing to improve the disruptive behavior. Be sure to document any instances of disruptive behavior — write a factual and detailed account of what occurred. Share the documentation with appropriate individuals.

Do

  • Listen through the anger. Use active listening.
  • Acknowledge the feelings of the individual.
  • Allow the person to vent and tell you what is upsetting them. Use silence to allow the person to talk it out.
  • Set limits. Explain clearly and directly what behaviors are acceptable. “I will be willing to speak with you as soon as you lower your voice.”
  • Be firm, steady, consistent and honest.
  • Focus on what you can do to help resolve the situation.
  • Make personal referrals. Give the name of an individual when possible and call ahead to brief the person.
  • Report the behavior to the appropriate individuals/offices such as university police, student conduct, human resources, academic department chair, associate dean.

Don’t

  • Don’t interrupt, particularly in the first 20 to 30 seconds of peak anger.
  • Don’t minimize the situation.
  • Don’t get into an argument or shouting match.
  • Don’t blame, ridicule or use sarcasm.
  • Don’t touch.
  • Don’t ignore warning signs that the person is about to explode.
  • Don’t ignore your own limitations.

Assisting Distressed Individuals

Distressed students may be irritable, sad, unduly anxious, withdrawn, confused, lacking motivation or concentration, seeking constant attention, or demonstrating bizarre, erratic or concerning behaviors including references to self-harm.

Signs of Distressed Individuals

Academic

  • Decline in quality of work/grades
  • Repeated absences
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Disorganized thinking in writings/presentations
  • Repeated requests for extensions
  • Overly demanding of faculty/staff time and attention
  • Conduct that interferes with classroom, activity or engagement
  • Bizarre content in writings/presentations
  • Meetings with the student are dominated by personal content rather educational matters

Physical

  • Marked changes in physical appearance, including deterioration in grooming, changes in hygiene and weight loss/gain
  • Excessive fatigue, listlessness
  • Sleeping or eating too much or too little
  • Intoxication, hangover, smelling of alcohol
  • Disoriented, “out of it,” or forgetful
  • Hyperactivity, garbled, rambling, tangential, disconnected or slurred speech
  • Strange ideas/beliefs or paranoia
  • Isolation/withdrawal

Psychosocial

  • Excessive self-disclosure of personal distress, losses, family problems or financial difficulties
  • Withdrawal or agitation
  • Unusual/disproportional emotional response to events
  • Excessive tearfulness, panic reactions, irritability or apathy
  • Antagonistic and impulsive behavior
  • Verbally abusive — taunting, badgering, intimidation
  • Expressions of concern about the student by the student’s peers
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Major shifts in mood
  • Isolation from friends, family or classmates
  • Recent major stressor such as loss of loved one, relationship break-up, etc.

Safety Risk

  • Anger or hostility with little provocation
  • Physical violence
  • Direct threat of harm to self or others
  • Vague statements about suicide or homicide such as “can’t go on like this”
  • Academic assignments dominated by themes of hopelessness, rage, worthlessness, isolation, despair, acting out in suicidal ideations or violent behaviors
  • Stalking or harassing others
  • Preparing for death by making a will and final arrangements
  • Communicating threats via email and phone calls
  • Appears hopeless or helpless
  • Giving away prized possessions

What is your role?

You might be in a good position to spot someone who may be emotionally distressed. While some of this is expected, especially during stressful times of the year, you may notice someone acting in a way that is inconsistent with your normal experience with that person. You may be able to serve as a resource in time of trouble, and your expression of interest and concern may be critical in helping the individual re-establish emotional equilibrium. You also may be able to alert appropriate individuals at the College so that intervention can occur.

Do

  • Speak with the individual privately.
  • Let the person know you are concerned about their welfare.
  • Express your concern in behavioral, non-judgmental terms.
  • Tell the person you are willing to help.
  • Listen carefully to what the person is troubled about.
  • Help the person explore options.
  • Suggest resources.
  • Make referrals to the appropriate campus offices.
  • Point out that help is available and that seeking such help is a sign of strength and courage, rather than of weakness and failure.
  • Maintain clear and consistent boundaries and expectations.
  • Recognize your limits.
  • Enlist the help of others as appropriate.
  • Document the interaction or incident.

Don’t

  • Don’t promise confidentiality.
  • Don’t judge or criticize.
  • Don’t ignore the unusual behavior.
  • Don’t make the problem your own.
  • Don’t involve yourself beyond the limits of your time and skill.
  • Helpful Hints for Assisting Students in Distress
  • Be proactive in the management of your classroom space.
  • Set expectations.
  • Give verbal directives to cease disruptive behaviors and document instances that occur.
  • Reinforce positive behaviors.

Helpful Hints for Assisting Students in Distress

Be proactive in the management of your classroom space.

  • Set expectations.
  • Give verbal directives to cease disruptive behaviors and document instances that occur.
  • Reinforce positive behaviors.

Things to Remember

  • Safety First
  • Trust your instincts
  • Listen sensitively and carefully
  • Avoid escalation
  • Be proactive
  • Help them get help
  • Utilize your BAT colleagues

Team Members

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact team members.

Submit a Report

Please use the following link to submit a report to the Behavioral Assessment Team: BAT Reporting Form