Instructional Safety Message 2012, from the Division of Student Life

Dear colleague,

Whether you are a faculty member, staff member or a teaching assistant, we all share a bond as Badgers. Maintaining the safety of our community is everyone’s responsibility.

In your interactions with students, you may directly encounter troubled or disruptive students in your classroom, office or work area. You may be the first to learn of an emotional or mental health issue, including suicidal references, the effects of a sexual assault or other crimes. You may confront insensitive or inappropriate remarks. In rare instances, you may even encounter dangerous or disruptive behavior.

In all of these cases, you can play a positive role in helping students access resources or receive assistance and, ultimately, to be successful at UW-Madison.

Please read on and consider the following information:

– Should a student exhibit dangerous, disruptive or suicidal behavior and physical safety is of immediate concern, call the UW Police Department. The 911 emergency number on campus connects directly to campus police.

– Students sometimes express issues through behavior especially observable to their instructors: sudden prolonged absences or a sharp decrease in class performance, for instance. Any time you are worried about a student or witness an observable change of behavior, I trust you will act with concern. “Acting with concern” may include discussing your unease with a colleague or your department chair/supervisor, contacting my staff, talking to the student you are concerned about or calling 911 in an urgent situation.

– If a student seems to be having mental health issues, is homesick, sad or troubled, please refer them to UHS Counseling and Consultation Services at 608-265-5600.

–In the wake of shooting incidents in Oak Creek, Wis. and Aurora, Colo., I also want to take a moment to note that UW-Madison, like universities around the country, convenes a group designed to conduct threat assessment on behalf of the entire campus community. It is our belief that the best ways to learn of and curb a threat is through extensive communication between administrators and members of the campus community like yourself. If you are aware of an individual of concern, call 608-263-5700 and ask for the on-call dean. Your care and concern is important in keeping our community safe.

– If you observe inappropriate or demeaning behavior, please confront it. You can also contact my office and speak with an assistant dean, who can be a resource if needed. Part of our campus focus on inclusivity requires you to confront students when their actions are disrespectful or harmful to their peers.

– UW-Madison has a history of setting high expectations for its students. Among these expectations is a high standard of academic integrity. Assistant Dean Tonya Schmidt, tschmidt@studentlife.wisc.edu, works with cases of academic misconduct and is available as a resource in case you need assistance working with students who potentially violated academic standards.

In any case in which you have a question or are seeking consultation, I would urge you to use my staff as a resource by calling 608-263-5700 during office hours and asking for the dean-on-call. You can also send an email to dean@studentlife.wisc.edu. I consider us to be partners in helping all our students be successful while on campus.

Thank you,

Lori M. Berquam

Dean of Students

Division of Student Life