Faculty & Staff Resources

In your role as a faculty or staff member at LSSU, you are often in a position to offer the first helping hand to a student who is emotionally troubled or distressed. A student might directly confide their concerns to you, or you might infer that they are in distress by observing the student’s behavior. Signs of distress can include: loss of academic efficiency; withdrawal; anxiety; depression; dramatic increase in alcohol or drug use; odd or out of the ordinary behavior; and intimidation.

In the event that you have a concern about a student, you are encouraged to notify Lake Superior State University’s Behavioral Concerns Team (BCT). The BCT gathers information about students of concern and/or critical incidents and assesses that information to develop a response strategy for the needs of the student as well as the welfare of the community.

If a student is exhibiting odd or disturbing behavior or is intimidating you or others, you might want to contact LSSU Public Safety directly at 635-2100. If the situation is less severe, you think the student might be open to discussing their concerns with you, and you are comfortable and willing to do this, please know that Counseling Services staff is available as a resource for you. We provide consultation and support to faculty and staff who may be concerned about a student’s welfare. If you are concerned about an LSSU student and want support, please give us a call. Since we are a confidential service, we may not be able to tell you whether or not we are currently treating a specific student. However, we are happy to listen to your concerns and to help you to develop a plan for how to best support the student of concern.

To access a consultation during business hours, please call 635-2752. If you require emergency consultation after hours or on a weekend, please call LSSU Public Safety at 635-2100.

Faculty and Staff Guide for Students of Concern

As a staff or faculty member you are in a perfect position to identify, intervene and refer students who are disruptive or distressed and troubled.

Preventative Measures:

  • Decide what your limits of acceptable conduct are with regards to issues such as: lateness, sleeping in class, use of cell phones, eating in class, unrelated talking in class, unexcused exits.
  • Set limits from the beginning: Use course syllabus to state expectations. Set first day “ground rules.
  • Be a role model for the behavior you require for your students (e.g., be on time yourself).
  • Become familiar with the student conduct code and University’s processes for discipline cases.
  • Don’t take the students’ behavior personally. Don’t let them “hook” you. Don’t give them the power to judge you. Understand that they are coming into the classroom with their own history and issues.

Who is the Distressed or Troubled Student: 

Students in distress may exhibit a sudden change in academic performance, such as: deteriorating class work; excessive procrastination; decrease in class attendance; listlessness; lack of energy or falling asleep during class; marked changes in personal hygiene; impaired or garbled speech; disjointed thoughts; high levels of irritability; extreme difficulty making decisions; dramatic weight loss or gain; bizarre behavior inappropriate to the situation; papers with themes of distress such as hopelessness, violence, suicide or homicide, etc.; normal emotions that are displayed to an extreme degree; abuse of drugs and/or alcohol.

  • The student‘s problems are “internal” and impede adjustment to the college environment and academic achievement.
  • The troubled student may exhibit patterns of behavior that are outside the bounds of accepted norms.
  • The student may show tendency to withdraw or to set themselves in opposition to others. The may also become clingy and make excessive demands upon your time.
  • The student may or may not verbalize problems to you; instead, problems may manifest themselves in written work or non-verbal behavior.

Who is the Disruptive Student:

  • Outward behavior has become problematic – causes disruption in the classroom and/or campus environment.
  • May exhibit immature or manipulative behavior.
  • Behavior has not improved with reminders and routine intervention.
  • Tends to be unable to improve with learning/experience.

Possible Interventions for All Students of Concern ~ When in doubt consult Counseling Services.

  • Always take statements of suicidal or homicidal intent seriously. Make an immediate referral to the Counseling Center , even if it seems like a “bid for attention,” or “just a cry for help.”
  • Talk to the student privately. This will help avoid defensiveness and/or “acting out” in retribution.
  • Listen carefully. Convey your interest and concern to the student. Take a non-defensive stance to try to understand where the student is coming from. Repeat back the essence of what the student has said to show your understanding of the issues,
  • Show and express your concern and interest. Meet with the student to discuss disruptive behaviors, but also include discussion of their educational objectives and aspirations.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding too judgmental. Focus on the behavior, not personality and don’t use labels. State clear expectations for appropriate behavior.
  • Consult with Counseling Service as a resource and discuss a referral with the student. If the student resists help and you are worried, call Counseling Services to discuss your concerns.
  • Involve yourself only as far as you want to go.
  • When necessary, set clear behavioral expectations and then hold to them.
  • Avoid confusing your role of instructor with the role of therapist. (This might take you into areas beyond your comfort and expertise, and could be seen as compromising your objectivity in your role as an “evaluator.”).
  • Document disruptive behavior for possible future reference. Be sure to include name of student, date and time of incident, description of incident in behavioral terms using direct quotes where possible, and witnesses or other parties to the incident.

How to make a referral to Counseling Services

  • Suggest that the student call or come in to make an appointment. Give the student the phone number and location.
  • If you wish to assist the student directly, call Counseling Services while the student is in your office and let the student make the appointment. Give them paper and pen to write down the appointment information (time, date, counselor, location, etc.)
  • If the situation appears to be an emergency, make sure to let the receptionist or counselor know this.
  • Sometimes it is useful or even necessary for you to walk the student over to Counseling Services.
  • If you are concerned about a student but are uncertain about the appropriateness of a referral, feel free to call Counseling Services for a consultation. This step can be crucial in preventing a crisis.

What Campus Support Services are Available to Staff and Faculty

Public Safety (ext. 2210) – When there is immediate physical threat, or any situation spiraling out of control (e.g., intoxication, unremitting verbal abuse), call Public Safety!

Counseling Services (ext. 2752)

  • Counseling can provide crises services. If counselors are off-campus or unavailable Hiawatha Behavioral Health may be contacted at 800-839-9443
  • Counseling may be contacted for a clarifying discussion regarding student behavior.
  • Counselors can be present during discussions with student.

Provost (ext. 2211)  – You can call for a clarifying discussion about Student Code of Conduct and disciplinary procedures.

Department Chair – Contact Department Chair and/or a colleague for a clarifying discussion.