Student Care Team: The name is new, but not the mission

Student carrying skateboard

When concerns arise about a student’s academic or personal life, the Student Care Team wants to know.

Whether it’s an instructor concerned about a student who has stopped coming to class, a student worried about a roommate posting about suicide, a businessperson concerned about unsettling comments by a student employee, or just about anything else, the care team is the go-to place for getting help.

Formerly known as the Dean’s Consultation Committee, the recently renamed Student Care Team is an interdisciplinary group of professional staff from various departments on campus. It meets weekly to assess students of concern and work collaboratively to provide support.

“The function of the team hasn’t changed,” said Renae DeSautel, interim assistant dean of students for prevention and response in the Office of the Dean of Students. “We are shifting the name to more clearly define the main reason we’re here — to care for students.

“We’re also here to help faculty and staff who may not have the capability or capacity to work with students experiencing difficult or sensitive issues. It is our area of expertise and we want them to know they can turn to us for help.”

Contributors to the team include the Office of the Dean of Students, University Counseling Center, the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, the Office of International Affairs, the Office of Academic Advising, the Accessible Education Center, University Housing, University Health Center and the UO Police Department.

To report a student or person of concern, the Office of the Dean of Students maintains an online form where anyone can submit a report, explained Jill Martineau, conduct and care coordinator. The form asks for all the relevant details about the student and the situation.

“The online form allows people to submit concerns in a way that is immediate, timely, direct and personal,” Martineau said. “The person who is concerned about the individual can take the time to articulate specific details about the behavior, and give direct examples or quotes.”

The online form also includes particular questions and requires certain information to be shared, so that staff can determine how to best move forward.

“As the Office of the Dean of Students, we pride ourselves on the ability to go above and beyond in supporting our community around concerns and crisis situations,” Martineau said. “We don’t want to deter community members from picking up the phone or sending an email about the concern; however, we are trying to improve and centralize our efforts in a format that can best address the situation.”

When a report is submitted, multiple members of the Dean of Students staff are notified. The report is reviewed by a staff member who assesses the report based on the level of risk and severity.

Every report is reviewed, and a vast majority are assessed that same day, DeSautel said. Based on the level of concern, the team or crisis staff will attempt to connect with the student.

Anyone can report a concern, including students, UO employees, a family member or a person in the community, such as an off-campus employer or volunteer group.

“Any concern can and should be reported,” DeSautel said. “It could be as small as acting bizarrely or a bigger issue related to suicidal ideation. It might seem insignificant,  but sometimes we receive multiple reports about the same student. When added to others’ concerns, they can indicate that the student is going through a major crisis.”

Martineau emphasized that if the person reporting believes the individual is a danger to themselves or others, then calling 911 is always the appropriate response. There are times outside of business hours when reports may not be immediately reviewed.

The team attempts to ensure the privacy of reporters as much as possible, but confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, Martineau said.

“In order to do our best work and support all individuals of concern, it is vital that we have the ability to follow up with the person completing the report so that we can respond effectively and in a timely manner,” she said.

The person reporting might also want to know if the situation resolves. However, student privacy laws may prevent the team from sharing that information.

If a student is feeling troubled, the Office of the Dean of Students also offers drop-in crisis support Monday–Friday, 1–5 p.m., in Suite 474, Oregon Hall.

“The Student Care Team is actually a small subset of the larger care group on campus,” DeSautel said. “We have a number of crisis intervention staff who reach out to students who may be experiencing some kind of difficulty. The UO’s level of support for students in crisis is unique and sets us apart from other institutions.”

—By Colleen Schlonga, Student Life