Trying to help a disruptive or distressed student can be emotionally and psychologically difficult. It is important to recognize that the personal safety and well-being of faculty and staff is just as important as that of the student in distress. The university does not expect faculty and staff to assume the role of counselor or social worker. In fact, it is important that faculty and staff not act outside the scope of their expertise when trying to help a student in distress. Instead, connect the student to professional resources that are in a position to help.
Helpful Tips for Faculty and Staff:
- Know your limits.
- Be honest about the time and effort you can expend to help a student in distress, and refer students to appropriate resources for assistance.
- Maintain and respect healthy boundaries.
- Discuss these issues with a colleague or supervisor for support.
- Talk with your supervisor for additional assistance and determine if there are existing departmental polices and/or procedures in place that may assist you in resolving the issue.
- If you do not know how to respond to the situation, where to refer a student, or need to seek additional guidance, submit an online report.
Resources for Faculty and Staff
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. However, FERPA allows for exceptions under certain circumstances:
- Personal observations: University faculty and staff can share observations about the behavior of students, statements made by students, and concerns about students generally with university officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the information or are otherwise authorized by law to have the information.
- Health and Safety exception:FERPA does not prohibit the sharing of information from a student’s educational record, if knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or others. FERPA authorizes university officials to release such information to parents, police or others whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other individuals.