Three Levels of Response
As you assess the situation, consider the following three levels of response. The level of response required may change as the situation unfolds. Be sure to trust your intuition, and when a situation feels potentially violent, consider a higher level of response
Level One: Attempt to defuse situation
Be aware of your feelings.
Take a breath and try to stay as calm as you are able.
Show empathy and concern. (e.g., try saying something like: “I can see your frustration and I’m frustrated too. Unfortunately, the rules are…”)
Don’t insist you are right or contradict the student. Instead, let the person know you see the situation differently.
If someone is threatening or verbally abusive, tell them you would be able to help them better if they calmed down, lowered their voice and stopped attacking you.
Be direct, set limits and don’t tolerate abuse. (e.g., “Please stand back, you’re too close” or “I can’t listen to you when you are yelling.”)
Level Two: Get assistance from others nearby
Tell the student: “Let me see if I can find someone who can help.”
Talk about your concerns with your supervisor or with peers.
Have a plan in place for dealing with aggressive student behavior, e.g., identify who the back-up person(s) will be if a staff person needs help in dealing with a student.
Level Three: Call Public Safety and Get to a safe location
Call Campus Public Safety at 346-6666 — or ask someone else to do so.
Retreat to a locked office or other safe place while waiting
Have a safety plan in case of violent or dangerous behavior. The plan may include dismissing class, contacting campus police, having a code word that signals another to call for help (if you are calling from your office), have an escape route planned, etc.