For months, the faculty members within the Centers for Student Engagement and Academic Advisement have been working to formalize a process to address the needs of at-risk and distressed students. The result of their work is the creation of the Behavioral Intervention Team.
The team draws on the expertise of several faculty and staff members at the College to help serve students who are exhibiting signs of distress, including financial, personal, physical, emotional, or academic concerns. These signs can range from unresolved financial aid issues to romantic relationship difficulties to withdrawing from campus and social activities to aggressive behavior in class.
“At Cayuga, faculty and staff members often get to know students on an individual basis,” said Julie White, director of the Centers for Student Engagement and Academic Advisement. “Because of these close ties, they recognize when an individual might be calling out for help through changes in his or her behavior. The employees are our frontline in identifying these students so that we can intervene and get the students connected to the assistance they might need.”
To help with this process, the team has created an online form that employees can fill out to refer students who might need additional support. Once a referral is received, the team collects and reviews the facts, and then determines the level of risk based on a nationally recognized assessment tool. Then, based on that assessment, the team develops a plan of action for that student.
“Our students have many stresses placed on them, as many are trying to balance family, work, and school with limited financial means,” White said. “Others may not have adequate access to health care or social services. We’re hoping that with the help of College employees, the team can intervene earlier to work with distressed students, get them through whatever crisis they’re facing, and back on track toward a successful future.”