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Resources for Staff and Faculty

Solutions Through Insight

All students at Olympic College have the right to attend college without being harassed, intimidated, or threatened. This also applies to the faculty and staff of OC.

As faculty and staff, your willingness to intervene when you encounter a student in distress is a critical factor in helping a struggling student reestablish their emotional equilibrium which is necessary for academic persistance and success.

As you know, at any moment any students may encounter a great deal of stress from a variety of sources including academic unpreparedness, social isolaton, social chaos, financial hardship, grief or health problems to name a few. 

Students are resilient and cope successfully with most of the demands of college life. For some the pressures can become overwhelming.  Students experiencing difficulty have options and resources available; the goal is to help them recognized what is available. These resources can be on or off campus: friends, relatives, clergy, tutors, advisors, counselors, etc. In fact, anyone who is seen as caring and trustworthy may be a potential resource in times of distress.

Campus Safety should be contacted immediately (360.475.7800) if you are feel threatened or having difficulty controlling a student's or non-student's behavior.

Problems with a student or non-student in your class: The instructor sets the tone by clearly articulating expectations for classroom behavior to the students.  The course syllabus is a good place to communicate this information.  Disorderly or abusive behavior that interferes with the rights of others or which obstructs or disrupts teaching, research and classroom function is not allowed.  It is highly recommended that you consult with your Dean/Supervisor throughout the process.  The Incident Report Form is used to refer student and document the event.

Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT)

Depending on the issues you may refer students to the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) through the same Incident Report Form for behaviors that do not require immediate attention.  The BIT consists of members from different departments (i.e., Campus Safety, Counseling Services, Title IX, Vice President Student Service/Achievement, Student Development).  The goal of the BIT is to intervene in a student situation before it escalates into an urgent matter.  For this reason faculty or staff with concerns for a student are asked to use the Incident Report Form, as soon as possible, following and an event.  Please to worry if your concerns are warranted or appropriate; we will sort through the details once we receive it, then meet to determine the best response.

Counselors are available to for faculty and staff consultation regarding disturbing student behaviors or you may refer students directly to a counselor if you wish.  For more information please call 360.475.7530, email us at CounselFac@olympic.edu or visit Counseling Services).

Student Conduct

Faviola Barbosa, the Associate Dean for Student Leadership & Success, will handle Student Conduct issues.  All students at Olympic College have the right to attend school without being harassed, intimidated, or threatened. We have a "zero tolerance" policy with regards to potentially violent/harmful situations. (360.475.7443, fbarbosa@olympic.edu)

Title IX

Olympic College provides equal educational and employment opportunities without regard to race or ethnicity, creed, color, sex, pregnancy or family status, national origin, age, marital status, religion, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, reliance on public assistance, sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as a disabled or Vietnam-era veteran in its educational programs, admissions, activities, and employment policies, in keeping with the letter and spirit of all equal opportunity and civil rights laws.  Inquiries may be directed to the Title IX Officer, Sue Riddle, (360.475.7145, sriddle@olympic.edu)

Early Alert

The Early Alert Program is part of Olympic College’s campus-wide effort to improve student retention.  If you have a concern about a student’s academic progress (i.e., absences, missed assignments, failing grades), feel free to use the Starfish/Early Alert process. For referal concerns contact Trish Christean, Lead Early Alert Counselor at 360.475.7763 or tchristean@olympic.edu.

 

 

The Disruptive Student

This student may engage in disruptive behavior for many reasons. Causes for the behavior may or may not be due to emotional distress. If after repeated warnings which may include asking the student to leave class, change seats, etc., then the best resource for them will be the Vice President Student Support & Achievement rather than counseling. Just and fair conduct measures which hold the student accountable for behaviors that violate campus or community standards are often just what the student needs to regain self-control and to have a positive developmental outcome.

The Distressed Student

At one time or another, everyone feels depressed or upset. Although it's not unusual to feel anxious, depressed, or confused, these feelings become significant when they are recurrent or extreme. But we can identify three general levels of distress which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems the person is dealing with are more than the "normal" ones.

Level 1

These behaviors, although not disruptive to others, may indicate that something is wrong with the student and that help may be needed:

  • Serious grade problems or a change from consistently good grades to poor performance;
  • Excessive absences, especially if the student had previously demonstrated good, consistent class attendance;
  • Unusual or markedly changed pattern of interaction, i.e., totally avoiding participation, becoming excessively anxious when called upon, dominating discussions, etc.;
  • Other characteristics that suggest the student is having trouble managing stress successfully include a depressed, lethargic mood; being excessively active and talkative (very rapid speech); swollen, red eyes; marked change in personal dress and hygiene; sweaty (when room is not hot); and falling asleep.

Level 2

These behaviors may indicate significant emotional distress, but also a reluctance or inability to acknowledge a need for more personal help:

  • Repeated requests for special consideration, such as deadline extensions, especially if the student appears uncomfortable or highly emotional disclosing the circumstances prompting the request;
  • New or regularly occurring behavior which pushes the limits of decorum and which interferes with the effective management of the immediate environment;
  • Unusual or exaggerated emotional response which is obviously inappropriate to the situation.

Level 3

These behaviors usually show a student who is in obvious crisis and who needs emergency care:

  • Highly disruptive (hostile, aggressive, violent, etc.)
  • Inability to communicate clearly (garbled, slurred speech, unconnected or disjointed thoughts);
  • Loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things which "aren't there," beliefs or actions greatly at odds with reality or probability);
  • Overtly suicidal thoughts (referring to suicide as a current option);
  • Homicidal threats.

If you are new to teaching or could use some reminders, these web resources have simple ready to use techniques:

 

 

If you choose to approach a student you are concerned about, or if a student asks you for help with personal problems, here are some suggestions that might make the experience more comfortable for you and more helpful for the student.

  • Talk to the student in private when both of you have time and are not rushed and preoccupied.
  • Give the student your undivided attention. It is possible that just a few minutes of effective listening on your part may be enough to help the student feel confident about what to do next.
  • Express your concerns in behavioral, nonjudgmental terms (e.g., "I've noticed you've been absent from class lately and I'm concerned").
  • Listen to thoughts and feelings in a sensitive, non-threatening way. Communicate understanding by repeating back the gist of what the student said. Let the student talk.
  • Avoid judging, evaluating, or criticizing. Respect the student's value system, even if you don't agree with it.
  • Don't get hooked into arguing with them. Let them vent their feelings and then ask them if they are ready to discuss the problem.
  • Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Stay physically centered. If standing, sit down and try to get the student to sit, also.
  • Use a quiet voice in addressing them. Try to really listen and reflect what they are trying to tell you.
  • Suggest that you find a quiet, private place to discuss this.
  • Express your own dismay and tell them that you can't continue to discuss the issue while they are yelling at you.
  • Making students aware of the services available may encourage self-referrals and increase a proactive mind-set.
  • If you observe behaviors that concern you, assess the situation, its seriousness, and the potential for a referral.
  • Determine resources, both on and off campus, so you can suggest the appropriate help available to the student.
  • Discuss the best ways to make the referral, if appropriate.
  • Clarify your own feelings about the student and consider the ways you can be most effective.

Consultation with Counseling Services is available, especially if you are concerned about a student who is exhibiting emotional distress. Remain calm and formulate a plan.

There are situations when making a referral is the best option for both you and the student. If you believe the issues are beyond your comfort level or your time is limited, then the student's problems are better handled through services such as Counseling Services, Access Services, the Financial Aid office, the Registrar's Office, or the Vice President for Student Services' office.

Some people accept a referral for professional help more easily than others do.  Let the student know that you believe it is necessary for you to refer them and that there is nothing wrong with seeking assistance. Be frank with students about your own limitations of time, energy, training, and objectivity but emphasize your willingness to get them help.  

For less severe emotional distress when no immediate harm seems likely:

Counseling Services appointments are made by calling 360.475.7530 or by email: CounselFac@olympic.edu.

To consult with a specific counselor or to ask for immediate assistance:

  • John Babbo
    360.475.7537
  • Teresa Jones, Ph.D.
    360.475.7683
  • Anthony Carson
    360.475.7645
  • Trish Christean
    360.475.7763