FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2008
Contact: K.E. Schwab
SRU Behavioral Intervention Team responds to troubled students
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - In an effort to prevent tragedies similar to those that have stuck college campuses across the nation, Slippery Rock University has launched a program of early detection and intervention for students exhibiting behavioral issues.
Led by Constance Foley, vice president for student life, a Behavioral Intervention Team, known as "BIT," has formed and is available for consultation by all members of the University community.
"Our group is working on a number of initiatives. Our goal is to see that SRU provides a safe and caring learning environment for all members of the campus community. We see our mission as a way of providing a venue for addressing students who exhibit behaviors of concern, particularly those who demonstrate the potential for violence toward themselves or others," said Carol Holland, associate professor, chair of SRU's Student Counseling Center and a team member.
Once these students have been identified by fellow students, faculty, staff or others, steps to modify behavior can be taken before situations escalate, Holland said. This will simultaneously provide a means to student success.
"We have policies to address activities that are disruptive to the mission of the University as well as those that involve suicide attempts or that may be self-injurious to the student," Holland said.
She said two cases were brought to the team's attention last year and one already this year, which have resulted in positive outcomes for the students involved. "After a review of incidents on other college campuses, it became apparent that in some instances members of the campus community were aware of potential problems, but had no mechanism for reporting their concerns. We hope that by establishing the BIT and making the campus community aware, we will avoid that problem at SRU," Holland said.
In addition to Foley and Holland, the team includes Kateeka Harris, coordinator of judicial programs, Windy Stafford, assistant chief of University Police, and Claudia Fischer, executive staff assistant in student life who serves as group recorder.
"We also call on the expertise of Student Health Services, the Office of Residence Life, Office of Retention Services, the Office of Intercultural Programs and the division of academic affairs, where needed, Holland said.
The group meets formally each Tuesday morning to review information that has been passed along and can meet quickly at other times should an emergency arise. "We review any information and conduct a fact-finding analysis to determine if there is a need for intervention," Holland said.
We are developing an online reporting form that will be available to faculty, staff and fellow students who have a concern or calls may be made to Ext. 2003. We also want the campus community to know they can simply bring in concerns, even if not of a serious nature. If a faculty member is having trouble talking about an issue with a particular student, we may be able to offer suggestions on how to broach certain subjects. If someone sees a student who may be having trouble in a particular area, we want them to bring us their concerns so we can offer early intervention so the outcome is successful," Holland said.
Additional information for identifying at-risk students is available at: http://www.sru.edu/pages/14427.asp
Holland and her staff offered a session titled "Identifying and Assisting Distressed Students" as part of the University's recent Professional Development Day program. The presentation offered information gathered by the counseling center staff at last summer's Advanced Training in Risk Management Conference sponsored by the National Center for Higher Education in San Antonio, Texas. The division of student life will sponsor a Webinar featuring Brett Sokolow and John Byrnes, both national experts in campus risk assessment, at 1 p.m. Nov. 6 in the Russell Wright Alumni House and Conference Center. Those planning to attend the Webinar are asked to call Ext. 2136 by Oct. 29.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.