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Faculty & Staff

The Dean of Students Office partners with faculty and staff to support the academic success and personal well-being of students. UMD faculty and staff are in a unique position to recognize and demonstrate compassion for students in distress. Students exhibiting troubling behaviors in your presence are likely having difficulties in other areas of their lives, including the classroom, with roommates, with family, and even in social settings. Sometimes students cannot, or will not, turn to family or friends. Your expression of concern may be a critical factor in saving a student’s academic career or even their life. Faculty and staff are encouraged to work with the Dean of Students Office regarding any concerns about a student. Our team will evaluate the situation and develop a strategy of support to connect the student to resources best suited to address the conveyed concern.

The Dean of Students Office also oversees the Behavior Evaluation & Threat Assessment (BETA) team, which evaluates reports about University of Maryland community members who are concerning, disruptive, or threatening. This includes students, faculty, and staff.

If you have an imminent concern for a student based on a threat of harm to self or others call 911 or the University of Maryland Police at 301.405.3333. This includes emergencies such as possession of a weapon, violence, destruction of property, or suicidal ideation.

The following is a list of answers to common questions to help faculty and staff best support students.

A student of concern is often a student who is experiencing academic problems, financial issues, housing instability, physical illness or injury, mental health challenges, interpersonal concerns, or any combination of issues that affect their ability to be successful. They may or may not be disruptive to others. They may exhibit behaviors that indicate something is wrong, show signs of emotional distress, or indicate that assistance is needed. They may also be reluctant or unable to acknowledge a need for personal help. Please follow up with any student for which you have concern. 

Concerning behaviors may include but are not limited to:

  • Sudden decline in the quality of work or grades;
  • Repeated/excessive absences, especially if the student has demonstrated consistent attendance;
  • Unusual or markedly changed patterns of interaction, including avoidance of participation, excessive anxiety when called upon, domination of discussions, etc.;
  • Unusual or exaggerated emotional responses to a given situation;
  • New or repeated behavior which interferes with other individuals’ experience of university activities;
  • Repeated requests for special consideration such as deadline extensions, especially if the student appears uncomfortable or highly emotional while disclosing the circumstances prompting the request;
  • Disclosure of serious problems or crises;
  • Other marked changes in behavior, dress, or hygiene.

There are several options to address non-emergency concerning behavior, depending on the situation. Oftentimes, a faculty or staff member who already knows the student can be very effective in working directly with the student. 

  1. For disruptive behavior inside or outside of the classroom, deal directly with the behavior/problem according to protocol. Ask the student to stop. If the behavior does not stop and the disruption continues, you may decide to ask the student to leave. Be sure to follow-up with the student about their behavior before the next class session, lab, or meeting.
  2. Address the situation with the student directly outside of the classroom, lab, or meeting space. You can invite them to office hours or make an appointment with the student to discuss your concerns, inquire about their well-being, and direct them to the appropriate university resources.
  3. Consider asking questions such as, "Are you okay?", "Can we talk about this?", "I have noticed you have been absent from class a lot, can I offer you resources on campus to help?" If you would like guidance or ideas for how best to talk to the student, consult with a colleague or department head, or call the Counseling Center (301.314.7651) or the Dean of Students Office (301.314.2382).
  4. Refer the student to the Dean of Students Office for assistance.

View our resource guide for more information.

Call 911 or the University Police at 301-405-3333 in emergencies: weapons, violence (including suicide threat or attempt), or property damage. When in doubt, make the call.

Any member of the campus community is encouraged to report behaviors or concerns of any member of the university community by using the online reporting form or by contacting the Dean of Students Office via email or phone.

If you have an imminent concern for a student based on reckless, disorderly, dangerous, or threatening behavior to self or others, call 911 or the University of Maryland Police at 301.405.3555.

If you are not concerned for the student’s immediate safety, but they are having significant academic and/or personal issues and could use additional support, report your concern. You will be asked to identify the student and describe the area(s) of concern.

Trust your instincts and say something if a student leaves you feeling worried, alarmed, or threatened. You don't need "proof" or "evidence" that something isn't right. Say something and report your concern right away. We are all responsible for a safe and academically productive campus.

View our resource guide for more information.

In many cases, faculty and staff provide adequate help through active listening, facilitating open discussion of problems, instilling hope, conveying acceptance, and offering basic advice. In some cases, however, students need professional help to overcome problems and to resume effective coping. The following signs indicate that a student may need counseling:

  • The student remains distressed following repeated attempts by you and others to be helpful.
  • The student becomes increasingly isolated, unkempt, irritable, or disconnected.
  • The student’s academic or social performance deteriorates.
  • The student’s concerning behavior continues.
  • You find yourself providing more personal than academic support.

While many students seek help on their own, your consistent interactions with them make it more likely that you will identify concerning behaviors and can refer them to important university resources, including the Counseling Center.

  • Speak to the student in a direct, concerned, and straightforward manner. Provide specific examples of what is making you concerned.
  • Because many students initially resist the idea of counseling, be caring but firm in your judgment that counseling would be helpful. Also be clear about the reasons that you are concerned.
  • All students have to do is walk into the Counseling Center to be seen. They do not have to make an appointment for a crisis or urgent matter.
  • Remind the student that services from the Counseling Center are free and confidential.
  • Sometimes it is useful to more actively assist students in scheduling an initial appointment. You may offer to walk the student over to the Counseling Center.
  • If you need help in deciding on whether or not it is appropriate to make a referral, call the Counseling Center at 301.314.7651 or the Dean of Students Office at 301.314.2382.
  • If you have an imminent concern for a student based on a threat of harm to self or others call 911 or the University of Maryland Police at 301.405.3555.

Never promise a student complete confidentiality, as circumstances may warrant some level of reporting to other university departments or offices. Let a student know that any information they share will remain private and only disclosed to university departments or offices that have a legitimate need to know.

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