Fac/Staff: A message from Dean of Students on supporting students in crisis

Photo of Dean of Students Christina Olstad
Dean of Students Christina Olstad

Please see a message from Dean of Students Christina Olstad to UW-Madison faculty and staff on campus resources to support students on campus. As always, we are partners in support the success of our students.

Dear Colleagues,

As faculty and staff at UW-Madison, we are partners in helping our students thrive on campus. In your interactions with students, you may directly encounter concerning behavior in your classroom, office, lab, or work area. You may be the first to learn of a mental health issue, the effects of a sexual assault, incidents of bias, 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. Below are resources to empower you in your efforts to support our students during times of crisis and concern.

— Should a student exhibit dangerous, disruptive, or suicidal behavior, and physical safety is of immediate concern, call the UW Police Department or 911 in an emergency.

— If you observe bias incidents or demeaning behavior, please confront it. Speak up if you become aware of or experience any incident that compromises the values of our community and confront students when their actions are disrespectful or harmful to their peers. Please seek assistance from campus resources such as the Dean of Students Office when needed and report bias incidents when they occur.

—  UW-Madison is committed to providing an environment that is free of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence in any form. I encourage you to learn more about campus services and strategies to prevent sexual violence by encouraging safe and prosocial bystander intervention, supporting victims, and making our policies and reporting options transparent.

— Students sometimes express issues through behavior especially observable to their instructors: Sudden prolonged absences or a sharp decline in class performance, for instance. Any time you are worried about a student or witness an observable change of behavior, act with concern. Acting with concern may include inviting the student to have a conversation regarding your concern, contacting the Dean of Students Officeor calling 911 in an urgent situation. The Dean of Students Office has a number of online resources to help faculty and staff with student-related concerns as well as an online Student of Concern Report Form.

— If a student shares they are struggling with mental health or shows signs of mental health concerns, please refer them to University Health Services (UHS) Mental Health Services at www.uhs.wisc.edu/mental-health. It is important to know that Mental Health Services offers 24-hour crisis services that can help address a student’s most pressing concerns, assess safety, and help connect students with follow-up service needs.

If you have a question or are seeking consultation, connect with the Dean of Students Office by calling 608-263-5700 during office hours and asking for the drop-in staff member. You can also use their Live Chat feature (Chat is available 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday- Friday) or send an email to dean@studentlife.wisc.edu.

Thank you for all you do to support our students.

Christina Olstad, Ed.D.
Dean of Students