Office of the Dean of Students

Student Support Network of the College

The Student Support Network consists of a comprehensive array of campus offices and departments.  Its purpose is to identify students and issues that may need attention, support, or other intervention.  The Student Support Network meets formally on a regular basis.  Its members hold themselves to the very highest ethical standards, sharing information confidentially among University staff and faculty on a “need-to-know” basis only.  The Student Support Network is not a decision-making body, but provides an opportunity for College staff to communicate effectively toward developing strategies in accordance with the communal principles of the College.

Participating in the Student Support Network are representatives from the following offices:  Residential Life, University Counseling Center, Interfaith Chapel, University Health Service, International Services Office, Dean of Students, Academic Support, University Intercessor, University Security Services, Dean of Freshman, Dean of Sophomores, the College Center for Advising Services, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, the Bursar, Financial Aid, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, Athletics, Wilson Commons Student Activities, and the Office of Minority Student Affairs.

WHEN A STUDENT NEEDS COUNSELING

Some signs that a student may be experiencing more stress than she/he can handle might include the following:

  • Marked decline in quality of course work, class participation, quality of papers or test results, increased absence from class or failure to turn in work.
  • Prolonged depression, suggested by a sad expression, apathy, weight loss, sleep difficulties, or tearfulness.
  • Nervousness, agitation, excessive worry, irritability, aggressiveness, or nonstop talking.
  • Bizarre or strange behavior, speech, writing, or thinking.
  • Extreme dependency on faculty or staff, including spending much of his/her spare time visiting during office hours or at other times.
  • Marked change in personal hygiene.
  • Talk of suicide, either directly or indirectly, such as, “I won’t be around to take that exam anyway” or “I’m not worried about getting a job, I won’t need one.”

MAKING A REFERRAL

You should consider referring a student for psychological counseling when you believe a student’s problems go beyond your own experience and expertise or when a student indicates that she/he is looking for someone to talk to.

One way of introducing the topic of a referral to the University Counseling Center (UCC) or any other office is to summarize for the student what you see as the content of the problem.  Point out the emotional responses that you have heard from the student, perhaps with an expression of concern.  For example, “You sound very upset about that.  I have heard that other students who have felt that way have benefited from talking to someone at the Counseling Center.  How would you feel about that?” If a student is reluctant to seek counseling, explain to the student that counseling is not only for very disturbed people.  Most students come to UCC because they are unhappy with what is happening in their lives.  Counseling provides a chance to explore feelings and solve problems with the help of an objective, sensitive and concerned listener.

Counseling works best when the student actually wants help, so coercing a student to go to UCC does not work.  If you are wondering about the seriousness of a problem or if a student is ambivalent, call a UCC staff member to discuss what next steps you might take.

Once a student contacts UCC, an appointment will be scheduled.  The appointment will usually take place within a few days of the time the student makes contact, depending largely on the flexibility of the student’s schedule.

AFTER MAKING THE REFERRAL

It is reassuring to know that a student you have referred has actually made and kept an appointment.  The best way to achieve this reassurance is to ask the student directly.  This is also a way of showing continuing concern for the student.  We will urge the student to confirm this with you.  Concurrently, but secondarily, we will seek the student’s permission to contact you directly for this purpose.

There will be times, however, when the student will not want to share this information with you.  In these instances, both the University staff member and you must respect the student’s wish for confidentiality, despite the uneasiness this creates.

WHAT INFORMATION STAFF, FACULTY, AND PARENTS CAN EXPECT

The University is bound by law to protect a student’s privacy in many matters by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA).  The College’s aim is to be as helpful and responsive to students, faculty, and staff members as the law will allow.  We encourage College personnel to make every effort to communicate with students to provide the extra support and care often needed when students are away from home.  Because we cannot guarantee being able to inform faculty and staff when a student’s health and safety is affected, it is our policy to encourage students to notify family members themselves.  At the student’s request, we can notify faculty of any hospitalizations.  For more specific information, please contact the Dean of Students Office, the University Counseling Center, or the College Center for Advising Services.

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS