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Behavioral Intervention

For an immediate threat or emergency call the office of Safety and Security at 215.702.4350.

The Behavioral Intervention Team has developed a protocol to ensure that concerning student behavior, mental health issues, or incidents are addressed promptly and adequately addressed by the University. Consequently, faculty, staff, and students should immediately report any behavior that to the Behavioral Intervention Team any situations that could possibly result in harm to anyone at the University and/or may materially disrupt the University community.

An online reporting form is available on the Cairn website for submitting alerts for students. Each report should include as much detail as possible about the behavior and/or incident of concern. Anyone can report a concern by filling out a BIT online report form.

Identifying Students Who Need Help:

Reasons for a BIT referral:

  1. Significant Depression, abnormal/bizarre behavior, and/or change in personal decision making.
    • Behaviors include, but are not limited to: change in hygiene, overt dependency on people, withdrawn from social behaviors, changes in health/wellness—eating, sleeping, etc.
  2. Self-injurious behavior/ suicidal ideation or attempt.
  3. Erratic behavior (including online activities) that disrupts the mission and/or normal proceedings of University students, faculty, staff, or community.
    • Behaviors include, but are not limited to: talk of suicide or suicidal action
    • Behaviors include, but are not limited to: threats of a weapon on campus, significant inappropriate disruption to community, potential for safety being compromised
  4. Hospital transport for alcohol and drug use/abuse.

The Warning Signs of Student Distress and Troubled or Inappropriate Behavior:

Take a close look at the student’s appearance, behavior, and friends for the following signs:

  1. Behavior:
    • Loss of interest in previously important activities
    • Caring less about personal performance
    • Recent drop in grades, missed classes, poor attendance, repeated tardiness
    • Talking/writing about suicide or violence toward others
    • Unruliness and disrespect of University authorities
    • Changes in sleep patterns; too much or too little
    • Abrupt changes or wide variations in mood; angry and hostile, overactive and excitable or withdrawn and passive
    • Increasing secrecy about actions, friend possessions
    • Hidden evidence of drug use such as bottles, pipes, and/or pills of unknown origin, etc.
    • Obvious withdrawal from family, friends or interests
    • Stealing, lying
    • Excessively watching violent movies on TV or computers and/or reading violent materials
    • Giving away possessions
    • Coming to class intoxicated
    • Decreased concentration
    • Increased disorganization
  1. Friends:
    • Friends who are, in your judgment, “bad influences.”
    • Dependency, e.g., the student who clings to you or others and makes excessive appointments to see a faculty or staff member during office hours.
  1. Appearance:
    • Smell of alcohol on breath
    • Unusually frequent use of breath mints
    • Bloodshot or watery eyes
    • Dilated or constricted pupils
    • Runny nose or frequent coughing
    • Marked change in personal hygiene

What to do if you encounter a student who needs assistance or displays troubling behavior:

  1. Tips for Faculty & Staff: Possible Emergencies
    • We recommend that you report behavioral concerns about students to one of the key contacts listed on this page as soon as possible.
    • Call the Office of Safety and Security (OSS) at 215-702-4350 for assistance in non-emergencies. OSS is available 24/7 and can contact other staff as needed.
    • Be Prepared! Consult the Student Code of Conduct on the Cairn web site as well as related policies.
  1. Tips for Faculty & Staff: Prevention
    • Phrase feedback positively whenever possible.
    • Understand that some students lack basic “life skills” and are playing “catch up.”
    • Refer students to the Academic Resource Center for time management and study skills.
    • Check in with your students regularly and create a climate where it is safe for students to come to you if they are getting overwhelmed.
    • Encourage use of office hours.
    • Consult with a counselor or one of the other key contacts as needed.
    • Model, and expect students to utilize, good stress management skills.
    • Encourage student involvement in campus events and campus organizations, clubs, etc.

Reference: Cyprian, Dr. A., LeGrand, K., McGee, S., Shaffer, S. Identifying the High Risk Student, Auburn University-Montgomery PowerPoint presentation, Retrieved May 28, 2007 from the ACCA-L LISTSERV.UGA.EDU


How to Talk to Students About Your Concerns (non-emergency)

Conversations with an individual regarding unusual behavior should take place before the BIT form the online form is completed. If a faculty or staff person is unable to, or uncomfortable with engaging a student they should promptly provide documentation regarding any individual’s behavior that you observe by filling out the BIT online form. However, in the event you decide to engage with an individual please consider using the suggestions below.

  • Privacy: Talk in private when you and the student have time and are not preoccupied.
  • Honesty: Be frank about your concerns, sharing what you observe without judging.
  • Limits: Be clear about the limits of your ability to help. It is not your role or responsibility to counsel students, but you can help them get the support they need.
  • Timing: If a student is receptive to seeing a counselor, provide them with the phone number, offer them access to your phone so they can make an appointment, or accompany them to the Oasis Counseling Center. Examples of beginning a dialogue with a student might include: “Sounds like you are really struggling with ________. Many people find it helpful to talk in confidence with someone who is outside of the situation. I want to help you get the help you need and deserve.”

Suggest that a student seek help instead of telling or ordering them to. Inform the student of our counseling services and tell them that students visit the Oasis Counseling Center for a variety of reasons.

Realize that the reality nationwide is that the number of students entering college with a prior psychiatric history or a documented disability continues to increase. Many chronic psychiatric disorders present for the first time in late adolescence and early adulthood. With support, students have the opportunity to succeed (National College Health Assessment, 2007).


When to Contact Student Life:

  • A student is significantly depressed.
  • A student is unable to control emotions and/or behavior.
  • A student’s weight and/or eating behavior is of concern.
  • A student’s appears to be involved in some sort of substance abuse OR evidences physical characteristics/behaviors of someone struggling within an addiction.
  • A student appears to be in an abusive relationship.
  • A student is having difficulty grieving a loss
  • Whenever you are concerned about a student, even if you are unclear about what’s going on with the student and/or what your specific concerns may be.
Contact Information

To report violations of student conduct, general concerns regarding a student, or a question about the BIT, contact:

Rick Swift, Dean of Students

For immediate safety issues
, contact:

James Richardson, Director of Safety and Security

Or contact the Office of Safety & Security

To discuss students who need Academic Assistance,

Ericka Potts, Director Academic Resource Center

To discuss students for whom you have sent in an alert,

Rick Swift, Dean of Students

To refer a student for counseling or to discuss a student with emotional/mental health issues,

Dr. Jeff Black, Director of Oasis Counseling Center,

Oasis Counseling Center