in students’ Work
Common questions • indiCations • Consultation • suggestions • other resourCes
Faculty and teaching assistants often fashion, exhibiting more of a symbolic
in an emergenCy
seek consultation regarding disturbing rather than a logical thought process.
If a student directly
comments or revelations in student
threatens himself or • A preponderance of dark, negative,
herself or someone else, writings or artwork. Such content
or jarring themes and images. Sexual
or otherwise behaves often includes self-disclosure about
bizarrely, immediate themes, violence and death may be
abuse or trauma, bizarre content in
attention is needed. Call: eerily but unskillfully portrayed.
e-mail messages, dangerous threats
• University Police at or pronouncements, or art work reflec- • Frequent use of profanity.
607-777-2393 or 911
(from an on-campus tive of traumatic events or violence.
• The work is a dramatic departure
phone). Students in question may or may not
from the student’s social demeanor or
• University Counseling also exhibit bizarre or disruptive class-
Center at 607-777-2772 room behavior.
Call the University Police We realize there are many ways in
to reach a counselor if it
is after 5 p.m.
Common questions are: which an individual expresses him/
• How do we address the student’s herself; however, the presence of such
• University Health Service features in student work may indicate an
at 607-777-2221. work from an academic standpoint?
effort, albeit distorted and unconscious,
• Are there ways of reducing the to communicate something of deep
incidents by instituting prohibitive personal importance. The recommenda-
guidelines in the syllabus? tion is that the educator seek consulta-
• Should a student be required to see a tion with appropriate department super-
counselor before a grade is given? visors and the University Counseling
Center before confronting the student
• Should anything be done at all? directly.
• Are students just being dramatic or
artistic? Consultation With the
This information can help faculty and Center
teaching assistants identify and act on
The University Counseling Center
such matters as necessary.
provides an on-call counselor on a daily
basis. The on-call counselor will either
What are some of take your call immediately or will call
the indiCations of you back as soon as possible. If you
• The organization of written material
may exhibit a bizarre, incoherent or
dreamy quality. Often the written
content moves from item to item in
an associative rather than a linear
responding to disturbing Content in students’ Work
believe it may be an emergency situ- suggestions on hoW to
other resourCes ation, let the secretary know this and respond
Dean of Students either the director or clinical director will
Dr. Elizabeth Droz • The worst response is no response.
UUW-205 take your call.
However, you do not need to respond
firstname.lastname@example.org The number is 777-2772 and the immediately to e-mail, notes or calls
website is www2.binghamton.edu/ from the student if you do not feel
Interim University counseling; you may e-mail the director comfortable doing so. It is suggested
or other staff member. that you consult with your department
607-777-2388 chair and/or Counseling Center before
There may be occasions when it is
ombudsman.binghamton.edu responding to the student. Often
appropriate to obtain additional informa-
faculty or teaching assistants respond
Other Faculty Guides tion about the student in question, or
to students in an enabling way, some-
Amanda, G. (1994) Coping with have him/her come to the Counseling
times in an effort to let the student
the Disruptive College Student: Center for an evaluation. In such cases,
A Practical Model. College down easy. It is recommended that
the necessary steps will be taken to
Administration Publications, Inc. you refrain from making promises,
arrange this. In accordance with the
Amanda, G. (1999) Coping commitments or personal comments
with Misconduct In the requirements of confidentiality, it will not
in your response to the student.
College Classroom: A Practical be possible for the Counseling Center
Model. College Administration to reveal any clinical data that may exist • If the appropriate opportunity pres-
Publications, Inc. ents itself, you should express your
regarding the student — or even if the
student is a Counseling Center client. concern about the content of the work
We will, however, consult with you and to the student. You might suggest
provide some suggestions for follow-up. to the student that you would like to
delay grading the assignment until
The central question will be to determine
you and the student can discuss
if the student’s expressions are evidence
things further — this also provides
of severe mental illness, if the student
you with time to consult as necessary.
is a danger to self or others, or if some
The student’s reaction to this form of
type of treatment or intervention is
intervention may explain the nature of
warranted. Whenever appropriate, the
the student’s motivation and increase
Counseling Center will work closely and
his or her awareness of the behavior.
consult with the dean of students and
It will also help you determine if the
student was merely unaware or insen-
In the past, consultation and/or assess- sitive to appropriate socio-cultural or
ment in such cases has revealed the University norms.
existence of an emotional problem. At
• Keep copies of all communication
other times, however, we have found
with the student. Factual feedback
that some students were unaware that
to the student will depend on having
they had created a problem for others,
an accurate record of agreements,
or were unintentionally violating cultural
comments, e-mails, etc.
or social norms. Irrespective of the
student’s understanding of the impact
his or her work has on others, it is
important and appropriate to evaluate
aberrant or potentially dangerous
student expression and, if necessary,
Prepared by university Counseling Center • division of student affairs • ln-1202 • 607-777-2772 • www2.binghamton.edu/counseling
Written by Elizabeth Droz, PhD, Dean of Students, email@example.com, and William Russell, LCSW-R, Senior Counselor