Document Sample
					                                responding to
                                disturbing Content
                                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-
                                                                               apparent affect.
   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
                                                                            university Counseling
                                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
                                disturbed Content?
                                •	 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
  607-777-2804                  The number is 777-2772 and the                     immediately to e-mail, notes or calls
                                      website is                    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
  Donald Blake
  607-777-2388                                                                           chair and/or Counseling Center before
                                      There may be occasions when it is                                                               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
                                      University Police.
                                                                                         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 •
Written by Elizabeth Droz, PhD, Dean of Students,, and William Russell, LCSW-R, Senior Counselor

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