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Student Care Network

Helping Students in Distress: Spokane Campus Guide

Tips for responding with compassion

Listen sensitively and carefully. Vulnerable students need you to listen and help. Ask directly how they are doing or if they have thoughts of harming themselves or others.
Trust your gut. If you are concerned about a student, talk to your department chair, supervisor, or the Office of the Dean of Students.
Connect with campus resources. We have other professionals and campus resources dedicated to helping you and students. You can start with the Student Care Network or any of the other resources listed in this guide. Your firsthand knowledge and personal connection to this student is valuable in supporting them.
Take care. Helping a distressed student can take a toll on you. Please think of your own wellbeing and seek support if needed.
Stay safe. Safety is always our top priority. Call 911 if a student poses an immediate threat to self or others.
Share what you know. State and federal laws and University policies mandate reporting in some situations. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows faculty and staff to report student health and safety concerns to relevant campus offices trained to handle situations with sensitivity and care. Taking appropriate action does not violate a student’s privacy. In some instances, employees have an obligation to report behavior. Visit crci.wsu.edu for more information on reporting requirements.

Common Issues

  • “Not Sure What, but Something's Wrong.”

    Recognize

    • Disturbing content in paper/emails
    • Decline in academic performance
    • Excessive absenteeism
    • Irrational or bizarre behavior
    • Sudden change in demeanor (e.g. an extroverted student withdraw, an organized student forgetful, etc.)

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Give an example of a time that the student’s behavior has worried you
    • Listen to and believe student’s responses
    • Be supportive and encouraging if student agrees to get help

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation:
      • WSU Spokane Counseling Services
        509-358-7740
      • Spokane Police Department Law Enforcement Help Line
        509-411-5980

    Report

  • Family or Personal Tragedy Loss or Crisis

    (Illness or death of family member, job loss, breakup, legal difficulties, etc.)

    Recognize

    • Frequent or extended abscences
    • Decline in academic performance
    • Mentions relationship, financial or other challenges
    • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
    • Exhaustion/fatigue, excessive worry, sleeping/eating problems

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing or blaming
    • Listen to and believe student’s responses
    • Be supportive and encouraging if student agrees to get help

    Refer

    • Advice and consultation:
      • WSU Spokane Counseling Services
        509-358-7740
      • Student Legal Services
        509-335-9539

    Report

  • Medical and Mental Health Concerns

    (Sudden or long-term illness, depression, or anxiety)

    Recognize

    • Direct statements about medical and/or mental health concerns
    • Frequent or extended absences
    • Excessive fatigue, falling asleep in class
    • Significant decline in appearance, behavior or personal hygiene
    • Noticeable weight loss or gain
    • Irritability, agitation, or anxiety
    • Emotionless facial expression, slow speech, difficulty concentrating expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
    • Crying or tearfulness
    • Unusually withdrawn or animated behavior
    • Disorganized speech, rapid or slurred speech, confusion
    • Decline in academic performance, leaving class abruptly
    • Extreme disorganization or erratic academic performance

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing or blaming
    • Listen to and believe student’s responses

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation:
      • WSU Spokane Counseling Services
        509-358-7740
      • Student Health Services
        509-358-7963

    Report

  • Self-Harm, Suicide, Safety Risk

    Recognize

    • Written or verbal statements preoccupied with themes of death, suicide, or harming self or others
    • Fresh cuts, scratches or other wounds
    • Withdrawal from activities and friends
    • Statements of hopelessness such as, “I hate this life” or “Everyone is better off without me”
    • Statements to the effect that the student is “going away for a long time”
    • Physical or verbal aggression that is directed at self, others, animals, or property
    • May accompany other types of emotional distress (see medical and mental health concerns above)

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing or blaming
    • Always take suicidal statements, thoughts or behaviors very seriously
    • If you suspect a student may be thinking about suicide, seek immediate consultation
    • If possible, ask directly about their thoughts and plans
    • Call 911 if there is a direct threat to student’s safety or the safety of others (consult with the AWARE Network if you are unsure)

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation:
      • WSU Spokane Counseling Services
        509-358-7740
      • Spokane Police Department Law Enforcement Help Line
        509-411-5980

    Report

  • Alcohol or Other Drug Abuse

    Recognize

    • Intoxicated/high in class or at meetings/events
    • Excessive sleepiness or hyper energy
    • Decline in academic performance
    • References to alcohol or drug use in conversations, papers, projects, etc.
    • Deterioration in physical appearance (bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, trembling hands, etc.)
    • Unusual smells on breath, body or clothes

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Give an example of a time that the student’s behavior has worried you
    • Listen to and believe the student’s responses
    • Be supportive and encouraging if the student agrees to get help

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation:
      • WSU Spokane Counseling Services
        509-358-7740
      • Student Health Services
        509-358-7963

    Report

  • Misconduct, Inappropriate Behavior, and Classroom Disruption

    Recognize

    • Disruptive Conduct: Inappropriate outbursts or persistent interruptions, continued arguing beyond the scope of academic debate, use of threats
    • Disorderly Conduct*: Throwing items, refusing to leave, preventing others from leaving, showing or stating the presence of a weapon

    *Disorderly conduct and threatening behaviors require immediate action

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Explain the impact of student’s behavior on the group or class
    • Clarify or outline your expectations
    • Contact police if student does not respond to your intervention and continues serious disorderly conduct and threatening behaviors

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation:
      • WSU Spokane Counseling Services
        509-358-7740
      • Spokane Police Department Law Enforcement Help Line
        509-411-5980

    Report

    • Academic Dean

  • Crime, Victimization, Hazing

    Recognize

    • Appears fearful, anxious, nervous or angry
    • Withdrawal from activities and friends
    • Visible injuries or bruises
    • Cuts, brands, or scars with a distinct pattern (e.g. Greek alphabet letter)
    • Unusual absence of or damage to personal items such as laptop, cellphone, etc.

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Listen to and believe the student’s responses
    • Do not interpret student’s emotions as evidence of crime
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing or blaming. Say things like, “I’m sorry that happened, but I’m glad you’re safe now.” and “Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me.”

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation:
      • Spokane Police Department Law Enforcement Help Line
        509-411-5980
      • WSU Spokane Counseling Services
        509-358-7740

    Report

  • Violence, Harassment, Interpersonal/Sexual Assault

    Recognize

    • Appears fearful or unusually anxious about pleasing others
    • Apologizes or makes excuses for partner/other’s behavior
    • Mentions partner/other’s possessiveness, jealousy or violent behavior, but may laugh it off
    • Visible injuries or bruises
    • Frequent mishaps or injuries with illogical or no explanations
    • Crying or leaving when sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking or child abuse is brought up

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Listen to and believe student’s responses
    • Do not interpret student’s emotions as evidence of assault or violence
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing or blaming
    • Recommend (or, if necessary, insist upon) medical intervention
    • Provide information on resources and reporting options
    • Say things like, “You’ve been through something very frightening. I’m so sorry.”

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation:
      • WSU Spokane Counseling Services
        509-358-7740
      • Student Health Services
        509-358-7963
      • 24-Hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line
        509-624-7273

    Report

    • Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation
      509-335-8288
    • Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Spokane
      509-358-7526
    • Student Care Report

  • Bullying, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Cyberstalking

    Recognize

    • Internet trolling, name-calling or harassment
    • Communications that continue after being told to stop
    • Threatening to release private information/photos
    • Verbal abuse, innuendo of a sexual nature, unwanted sexual flirtations
    • Demand for sexual favors by peer or supervisor accompanied by implied or overt threat concerning an individual’s academic status or employment
    • Display of sexually suggestive pictures or cartoons in workspace, residence halls or online
    • Continued jokes, language, gestures or remarks of a sexual nature

    Respond

    • Express concern and care
    • Listen to and believe student’s responses
    • Avoid criticizing, sounding judgmental, minimizing or blaming
    • Encourage targeted student to save all digital communications as downloaded files and/or hard copies
    • Provide information on resources and reporting options

    Refer

    • Urgent: 911
    • Advice and consultation:
      • Spokane Police Department Law Enforcement Help Line
        509-411-5980

    Report

    • Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Spokane
      509-358-7526
    • Student Care Report
    • Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation
      509-335-8288
    • Spokane Community Standards
      509-358-7537

Student Care Network

The Student Care Network allows you to share concerns about a student’s well-being, behavior, or academic performance with colleagues who can help. After submitting a report, the Office of the Dean of Students will contact you to gather additional information, talk about the situation, and identify next steps.

The goal is to determine the best way to connect the student with resources that support their success without causing additional stress. Visit studentcare.wsu.edu for more information.

Campus Resources

Counseling Services 509-358-7740
Confidential counseling services for WSU Spokane students.

WSU Health Sciences Spokane Crisis Line 509-368-6500
(After hours, holidays and weekends)

Employee Assistance Program 877-313-4455
Provides WSU employees counseling, education, and consultation services.

Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation 509-335-8288
Intake office for complaints of discrimination, discriminatory
harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct. Central resource for university civil rights compliance.

Center for Community Standards 509-335-4532
Spokane Community Standards 509-358-7537
Addresses violations of community standards for students.

Office of the University Ombudsman 509-335-1195
Serves as an impartial and neutral resource to assist all members of the university community.

Office of Veterans Affairs and Student Veterans Center 509-335-1234
Spokane Veterans Liaison 509-358-7530
Provides support for veterans on campus.

WSU Spokane Access Services 509-358-7816
Provides accommodations and services to students with documented disabilities.

WSU Spokane Office of Student Affairs 509-358-7978

WSU Spokane Campus Security 509-358-7995

WSU Spokane Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs 509-358-7526

Community Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255)

Northwest Justice Project Free Legal Hotline 888-201-1012

Sexual Assault 24-Hour Crisis Line 509-624-7273
A confidential community resource that supports family and sexual violence victims.

24-Hour Regional Crisis Line 1-877-266-1818

Spokane Crime and Victim Service Center 866-751-7119

Spokane Police Department Law Enforcement Help Line 509-411-5980

YWCA Alternatives to Domestic Violence Program 509-326-2255
Provides comprehensive domestic violence services for survivors in need.