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 fromothers 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.