Published September 13, 2012
You’ve just finished giving that day’s lecture in your English 101 class. As you pack up your bag to leave the classroom, a student approaches. He’s in a panic: His financial aid check is late. Or thinks he’s made a big mistake majoring in chemistry. Or his roommate spends days at a time in their room, refusing to go to class.
He’s come to you because he doesn’t know what to do.
“Students share information with the people they feel most comfortable with or connected to; this might be a favorite professor, a work study supervisor or an academic adviser,” explains Elizabeth Lidano, director of the Office of Judicial Affairs and Student Advocacy.
A. Scott Weber, vice provost and dean for undergraduate education, notes that in addition to the traditional classroom setting, there are many small-group settings on campus where students have the opportunity to closely interact with faculty and staff. Among them are Discovery Seminars, UB 101, discipline-specific freshman seminars, the Undergraduate Academies and other living-learning communities.
“As students transition to the academic rigor of the university, our faculty and staff play a critical role in helping identify early challenges our students might be having and directing them to the many resources we have on campus to help them navigate these challenges,” Weber says.
Adds Lidano: “That is why getting information (to faculty and staff) on referring students of concern is so important, so that all members of our university community know how and when to make appropriate referrals.”
“Students of concern,” according to Lidano, can be students with a range of academic and non-academic problems, such as grading and financial aid, as well as personal and social problems—students who have mental health issues or have been victims of a crime, for instance. Or they can be students who may be disruptive to themselves or others—those who act out in class, for instance, or who have displayed some sort of threatening behavior.
“It’s about helping any student who might be struggling in some way,” she stresses.
So, how can faculty and staff help these struggling students?
There are a variety of resources at UB that faculty and staff can turn to when students approach them seeking help with all sorts of problems.
Lidano is a member of the Students of Concern Team, a group aimed at ensuring that UB remain a safe and caring campus environment by intervening with those students who are in distress. The group, which meets weekly, includes representatives from Judicial Affairs, Campus Life, University Police, Counseling Services and Health Services.
Lidano urges faculty and staff to contact the Students of Concern Team if they have specific concerns about a student.
She also notes that the Office of Judicial Affairs and Student Advocacy is a good one-stop shop for faculty and staff seeking general advice on myriad topics.
And the “Current Students” section of the UB homepage, which provides links to numerous offices on campus dealing with both academic and campus life topics, is a good resource as well, Lidano adds.
Moreover, many UB offices interact directly with faculty and staff who are looking for information in order to help students.
For instance, Jacqueline Hollins, assistant vice provost and director of academic advisement, notes that academic advisers are available to assist faculty and staff members by answering general academic questions and clarifying university policies and procedures—such as guidelines for filing a leave of absence, or information on the university’s Finish in 4 initiative—or other services that are available to students with academic concerns, like tutoring or career services.
She says that faculty who have concerns about a student are encouraged to contact the centralized advisement office—Student Advising Services—or the advisement unit located within their decanal area.
Liz Snider, clinical director of Counseling Services, says her office consults with faculty and staff members who have concerns about a student in distress.
“Faculty and staff can be a vital link in assisting a student in getting connected to resources on campus,” she says.
Crisis hours are available during the day for students in 120 Richmond, Ellicott Complex. Snider says faculty and staff can visit the office’s website or call 645-2720 for more information.