Recognizing a student in distress

  • Academic – lower grades, missing assignments, continually seeking specials accommodations (extensions, etc.)
  • Interpersonal – direct statements about issues, exaggerated personality, peers expressing concern
  • Physical – excessive fatigue, weight changes, indications of substance abuse
  • Safety risk – any note that seems suicidal, self-destructive behavior or self-injury. 

How to respond if a student discloses sexual violence

As a member of Millersville University's faculty, you are trusted by many in the Millersville community.  You are seen as a teacher, mentor, and an advisor.  As a result, you are in the position of being able to offer help and advice to those who approach you.  In the event that this occurs here are some tips and resources to pass along to aid in the process. If you are in need of resources to redirect students towards please take note to the resources block to the left of this text. 

If someone approaches you and informs you of a possible sexual assault, you must file a confidential report to comply with the Federal Clery Act. All institutional officials with significant responsibility for campus and student activities have reporting obligations under the Clery Act. Faculty who serve as advisors to student groups, coaches, and staff involved in student affairs are all included in this group. Only professional mental health and pastoral counselors are exempt from reporting.

  • Encourage the student to get medical attention immediately. 
  • Suggest the student contact a local crisis service. 
  • Advise the student to discuss concerns with a counselor if the individual is struggling with emotional or psychological issues. 
  • Encourage the student to file a report by contacting the police or judicial affairs. Make sure to clarify that filing a report does not mean the individual must file charges.
  • Simply Listen. Do not judge and or refer the individual to people who can help. There is a specific reason, no matter what it is, this individual chose to open up to you (the faculty member) about this.
  • Don't promise confidentiality. Only a counselor or certified health professional can promise total confidentiality. 
  • Be understanding.  A student who has experienced sexual assault may miss classes for medical procedures, investigation meetings, or stress.  Encourage students to communicate with the necessary parties about absences. 
  • Understand that a student may be unwilling to return to your class due to the presence of an alleged perpetrator.  
  • DON'T bring both parties together to attempt to resolve the issue. You, as a faculty member, are not responsible for mediating conflicts and should direct the student to the necessary parties for resolving these types of issues.

Additional Resources

American Association of Univeristy Women (AAUW):  5 Ways Faculty and Staff Can Fight Sexual Violence on Campus: http://www.aauw.org/2014/04/14/fight-campus-sexual-violence/