Caring for Students and Preventing Violence: CCSU's Student Behavioral Review & Threat Assessment Teams
After a night of heavy partying, a student smashes some furniture in a residence hall. Was it just a one-time mistake? Or an indication of big trouble brewing? Another student reports that her former boyfriend is following her around campus and she's fed up. Does he pose a danger to her? Or is he only having trouble moving on? What if these incidents both involved the same person?
Assessing whether a person is merely going through a rough time or is verging on a full-blown crisis is the work of two specially trained, interdependent teams at CCSU. The Student Behavioral Review Team and the Threat Assessment Team intervene to identify and help resolve problems that could derail or endanger an individual or the campus community as a whole.
Student Behavioral Review Team
The Student Behavioral Review Team (SBRT) is composed of professionals in counseling and health, women's advocacy, residence life, student conduct, alcohol and drug education specialists, and CCSU police, according to Laura Tordenti, Vice President of Student Affairs, chair of the SBRT, and a member of the Threat Assessment Team.
Meeting on a regular basis, the SBRT reviews reports on students whose behavior has become a concern for a faculty or staff member or for another student. The team gathers relevant information, assesses the details for each situation, and then together determines whether and how to intervene. Sometimes, a meeting with a dean or a referral to an appropriate on-campus support service is all that is warranted. Other situations can require more complex interventions to provide more extensive care for the student.
"We do a good job, but we are always learning, always training," Tordenti said. "There is always a fear that a student could slip through the cracks, and we're trying to catch them before they fall."
When the team determines that a student poses an immediate threat to self or others, the SBRT will refer the case to the Threat Assessment Team.
Threat Assessment Team
The Threat Assessment Team (TAT) is made up of University administrators and CCSU Police. "The TAT is designed to reduce or eliminate fragmented care and is focused on prevention and early intervention in situations where someone may be experiencing extreme distress, engaged in harmful or disruptive behaviors, or where there is the potential for violence," explains Richard Bachoo, Chief Administrative Officer and co-chair of the TAT.
The CCSU program was developed with the guidance of one of the nation's top experts on campus-violence prevention, Marisa Reddy Randazzo, PhD, the former Chief Research Psychologist for the US Secret Service. Randazzo has trained more than 10,000 professionals on safety, particularly in school settings.
The TAT reviews information such as police reports or complaints and concerns expressed by faculty, staff, students, or the SBRT. Members question those who report a concern to get a better understanding of the situation. Then the team discusses its seriousness, using an assessment tool developed with guidance from Randazzo.
The team determines an appropriate course of action, which may include referring someone to counseling or for medical help, pursuing criminal charges, or barring someone from campus.
"We have a shared responsibility in maintaining the safety of our campus," said Chris Dukes, Student Conduct Officer and member of both teams. "Our goal is to be supportive and recognize problems. It is not about 'getting people in trouble.' It is about offering them assistance."
Both the SBRT and the TAT hew closely to FERPA, HIPAA, and other established regulations to ensure the individual's rights are respected.
"Biggest Challenge: Obtaining Timely, Accurate Information"
"We all learned after the Virginia Tech massacre that the key to a violence-free campus is to have lots of eyes and ears open, and to make sure people communicate," said Carolyn Magnan, Special Assistant to the President and co-chair of the TAT.
"Usually when there is a crisis on a college campus, there were people who knew something was wrong but couldn't put all the pieces together," Bachoo said. "That is the goal of these groups."
"If You Have a Concern, Let Us Know"
While most people in the campus community would almost instinctively call the CCSU Police Department for an emergency, the potential for violence is not always readily apparent, according to Police Chief Jason Powell.
"An abrupt decline in grades, an alarming Facebook posting, or erratic outbursts" these 'behaviors of concern' may be part of coping with college life or they may form a pattern of behaviors that indicate someone needs help," Powell said. Because any one member of the community is likely "to be privy to only part of the picture," the well-being of students and campus security depend on people coming forward to report their concerns. "If you see something troubling, let us know," Bachoo said. "We need people to communicate with us, to give us a sense of the situation. We're here to help."
"We Would Never Turn Anyone Away"
Magnan urges professors to be especially vigilant about reporting behavior that is odd, worrisome, or out of the ordinary.
"We want to know if a student is deteriorating, and often you'll see a pattern of problems in the residence halls, in the classroom, in the Student Center," Magnan said. "If we get information, that gives us a better picture and an idea of how serious a situation is. It's not a perfect process. But we work hard to keep our students and the whole campus safe. We would never turn anyone away. We'll listen and consult. Anyone should feel comfortable coming to talk to us."
Stress from school or work, coupled with relationship problems and access to weapons are among the factors common to both school and workplace violence, Powell said.
"If the sole strategy is to rely on a police response to actual violence, by the time people call us something horrible may have already taken place and the best we can do at that point is to keep things from getting worse," Powell said. "We would much rather prevent matters from requiring police intervention on an emergency basis."
-- Claire LaFleur Hall
In an emergency call 911.
If it's not an emergency but involves a crime or threatening situation call the CCSU Police (available around the clock) at 860-832-2375.
The members of the TAT listed below are available during normal University business hours. Referrals to the Student Behavioral Review Team can be made to Ramon Hernandez or Christopher Dukes (listed below).
|Lou Pisano||Ramon Hernandez||Gregory Sneed|
|Chief Human Resources Officer||Assistant Dean of Student Affairs||Chief of Police|
|Richard Bachoo||Carl Lovitt||Rosa Rodriguez|
|Chief Administrative Officer||Provost and Vice President of CCSU||Chief Diversity Officer|
|Lt. Edward Dercole||Carolyn Magnan||Laura Tordenti|
|CCSU Police Department||Special Assistant to the President||Vice President of Student Affairs|
|Christopher Dukes||Mark McLaughlin|
|Director of Student Conduct||Associate VP, Marketing & Communications|
When potentially threatening situations become real, significant threats to the campus, the University has a comprehensive Emergency Notification System (ENS) that will deliver critical information via telephone, text message, web, and voice mail, as well as an outdoor loudspeaker system. All registered students and all faculty, staff, and other campus employees are automatically enrolled in the ENS. To review your contact information and add additional contacts, click here.