Responding to Students in Distress: A Guide for Faculty and Staff

If you are a faculty or staff member and know a student who is in distress, you may be able to help. The following information describes a range of potential student behaviors and suggests potential responses that can be taken in each situation. 

Section 1: An Explanation of This Guide


For many of our students, the past few years have brought unprecedented stress. As we seek to increase access to higher education, we also recognize that certain populations of students are more vulnerable than others. Data shows our LGBTQIA+ students are significantly more likely to experience mental health issues, including and up to suicidality. Students of color and racial minorities are less likely to access mental health services, potentially revealing a cultural barrier to care. We also know that our international students who experience the same stressors as our domestic ones - in addition to the added challenge of experiencing culture shock without the support of family or friends - may be equally unfamiliar with and/or reluctant to access appropriate services, such as counseling.

As we engage with a diverse group of students facing a myriad of challenging life experiences, we try to identify the particular approach that will work in each situation. However, we provide nuanced care at the risk of being accused of treating similarly situated students differently. Meanwhile, we are continually balancing our moral inclinations against legal constructs that either feel too vague or too complicated to be able to be meaningfully applied to our work.

With this serving as the backdrop to our work in higher education, we continue to provide the educational, administrative, spiritual, athletic, and/or auxiliary services for which we were hired. However, the most challenging and time-consuming responsibilities may be our work responding to students of concern. There continues to be a need for more resources to educate faculty and staff on how to provide compassionate but appropriate, nuanced but legal, and all the while effective ways to respond to our students in distress.

The purpose of this Guide, created by members of the Student CARE Team (See Appendix D, “The CARE Team”), is to provide a framework by which faculty and staff can understand the range of student distress, including and up to crisis, and then facilitate the appropriate care for the student. This Guide describes a range of potential student behaviors and suggests potential responses that can be taken in each situation. Appendix A contains a chart that summarizes the information found in this Guide. Appendix B contains a list of campus resources that can assist in responding to students in distress. Appendix C and Appendix D contain a description of the Class Deans and the CARE Team, respectively. Together, these two groups will likely be your primary resources in responding to students in distress. Finally, Appendix E contains a description of the Threat Assessment Group for those rare circumstances in which someone is perceived as potentially posing a risk to others.

Focusing on Behavior Rather Than Conditions

If you search for other similar guides, you’ll notice that institutions organize these guides in a number of different ways. Some institutions, for example, organize information according to potential conditions our students may experience, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc., and then list a variety  of suggestions about how faculty and staff can respond to those conditions.

As we evaluated these guides through the lens of our own experiences with students of concern, we realized this approach failed to account for the range of distress students might experience within a particular condition. For example, while we agree that anxiety is one of the most common conditions experienced by our students, students’ experiences range from well-managed concern to debilitating panic. By focusing on a condition rather than a specific experience, we may miss the range of student needs.

Moreover, as most of us are not licensed clinicians, by focusing on conditions rather than behavior, we risk misdiagnosing and, in turn, incorrectly treating our students. There is a reason that our students sometimes go a long time before receiving the correct diagnosis; mental health conditions are complex and require professional evaluation, diagnosis, and often an individualized treatment plan.

Finally, the simple act of characterizing a student as having a certain condition – whether or not they have been diagnosed with this condition - may bring that student under the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which may limit or delay the College’s ability to respond to the problematic behaviors.  We realized we needed a different approach.

It changes every semester, but the CARE Team generally maintains a caseload of around thirty students. As we went back to evaluate these students, we realized that, regardless of the cause of such behavior, our students of concern generally display conduct that falls into one of three categories: (1) expected behavior; (2) concerning behavior; and (3) urgent behavior. Each of these categories reflects a different level of reaction from our students and each requires a different response from us. This Guide will provide an explanation and examples of each category, as well as specific actions you can take to support students in distress.

A Note on Implicit Bias

Before we move into an evaluation of our students’ behavior, we must first acknowledge the subjective lens through which such evaluation occurs. More specifically, we should acknowledge the role that our implicit bias has on our perception of and response to students of concern. Although implicit biases can be positive and negative, they can have harmful effects on the way we perceive and respond to students in distress. Therefore, we are each obligated to start not with our students, but with ourselves.

Research indicates that students of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners are disciplined at disproportionately higher rates in K-12  educational settings. (See Civil Rights Data Collection Data Snapshot: School Discipline, U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (March 2014), available  at Data indicates similar trends continue at the college level. (V. Strauss. Racial bias in campus discipline: When will universities look in the mirror? Washington Post. April 22, 2018.)  As members of this community, we have an obligation to learn about our biases, make efforts to reduce them, and regularly ask ourselves if our assessment of a student’s behavior is possibly linked to unconscious bias. We recommend the implicit bias tests available online through Harvard’s “Project Implicit,” available at https://implicit.


Section 2: Understanding and Responding to Student Distress

This Guide suggests that students’ response to distress generally falls within three categories. The vast majority of students in distress will exhibit Expected Behavior:  the range of behavior that demonstrates adequate and appropriate coping mechanisms to the normal range of stress experienced by our students. Everyone at the College has the ability (and responsibility) to compassionately and appropriately respond to our students’ Expected Behavior, although one should not hesitate to consult with other campus resources for additional support or expertise.

A small percentage of our students will experience stress or, for other reasons, a diminished capacity to effectively manage the normal stress of college life. Based on the nature of such behavior, faculty and staff who witness students exhibiting Concerning Behavior should seek the assistance and advice of campus resources, including the student’s class dean and/ or the CARE Team. 

Finally, each year a few students will demonstrate what we call Urgent Behavior, behavior that is so concerning that it warrants immediate referral to safety-related resources, including Psychological Services and Counseling and and/or the Department of Public Safety (or, if off-campus, 9-1-1). A more comprehensive description of each category of behavior follows. 


Expected Behavior

For most of our students, college is the first time they have lived independently and  are expected to resolve the issues and challenges that arise. It is a time of challenge  and growth. We expect our students to experience some stress, and, in doing so, to  learn appropriate ways to manage this stress. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of  students experiencing stress (up to distress) will display what we are calling Expected Behaviors, those behaviors we anticipate from most students in stressful situations:

Expected Behaviors may include:

▶ Anger, frustration

▶ Occasional feelings of inadequacy, or concerns that the student isn’t good enough

▶ Fatigue, occasional exhaustion

▶ Occasional feelings of being overwhelmed, sadness, or crying

▶ Lack of fitting in, loneliness

▶ Feelings of culture shock, homesickness

▶ Short durations of sleep difficulties, particularly during expected times of stress, such as mid-terms and final exams


Expected Behaviors DO NOT

▶ Require specific expertise to manage

▶ Disrupt the educational, athletic, or social community

▶ Pose a risk to self or others

▶ Persist over a long period of time or arise repeatedly

▶ Seem unimproved or worse, even after several contacts


As a member of a higher-education community who interacts with students, you have likely encountered students in distress exhibiting Expected Behaviors. You have  the tools to compassionately respond to and help guide students towards positive coping mechanisms. When you encounter a student in distress who is demonstrating  Expected Behaviors, you can employ any of the following tools or resources in an  effort to assist the student:

▶ Making time for the student

▶ Listening to and understanding the student

▶ Helping the student strategize about potential ways to solve the problem

▶ Empowering the student to help resolve their own problem by reminding them about skills.

▶ Referring the student to other campus resources.

A full description and list of  these resources is available in Appendix B, “List of Campus Resources.”

          ◉ Student’s Class Dean

          ◉ Counseling and Psychological Services

          ◉ Chaplain’s Office

          ◉ Office of Disability Services

          ◉ Academic Resources and Learning Resources

          ◉ Office of International Students

          ◉ Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At the same, it will be important to set and maintain appropriate boundaries with the student. Although you may care deeply about your students, you are not their family, friend, or counselor responsible for solving their problems or for allocating a disproportionate  amount of your resources to helping them solve their problem(s). If you start to feel that  your student is taking resources beyond what a typical student requires, the student may be  displaying what we call “Concerning Behavior,” which requires a different response. 


Concerning Behavior

Most students in distress possess the appropriate resources to resolve their issues in a healthy and effective manner. However, there are some students who either lack such coping mechanisms and/or face such extraordinary challenges that the need for greater intervention and support will be necessary. Generally, the need for intervention reveals itself through disruptive, attention-seeking, or potentially harmful conduct that falls under the category of Concerning Behavior.


Concerning Behaviors may include:

▶ A pattern of repeated crises

▶ Substantial or frequent disruptions in the academic, athletic, or social environment

▶ Repeated misconduct

▶ Significant changes in personal habits, including hygiene and persistent changes in sleep

▶ Unexplainable academic difficulties

▶ Frequent physical problems or illnesses

▶ Difficulty relating to peers

▶ Significant anxiety

▶ Alcohol or drug abuse

▶ Repeated hospitalizations

▶ Disordered eating

▶ Extreme fatigue or depressed mood

▶ Generalized statements about suicide

▶ The need for a significant amount of your time, energy, or resources

▶ A need for an extended medical or mental-health leave


Concerning Behavior DOES NOT INCLUDE:

▶ A students’ stated plans or intentions regarding suicide (See “Urgent Behavior” below)

▶ Behavior that may pose an imminent risk to self or others (See “Urgent Behavior” below)



▶ The Student CARE Team. To report a concern, you may contact the Associate Dean of Students, who serves as the chair of the CARE Team, or use the online report form at :                                  

▶ The student’s Class Dean

▶ Counseling and Psychological Services

▶ The Office of the College Chaplains

▶ The Threat Assessment Group (if you believe the student may pose a risk to others)

While it can be challenging to deal with, Concerning Behavior by itself does not represent an emergency. Concerning Behavior generally includes a wide range of behavior in which students engage in conduct that may pose a threat to their health or well-being, but doesn’t represent an imminent risk. If a student engages in behavior that you reasonably believe may pose an imminent risk to the student or to others, the student is displaying what we call “Urgent Behavior,” which warrants a more immediate response.

Urgent Behavior

A very small percentage of students in distress will demonstrate the need for immediate attention. These individuals require expertise beyond what the ordinary  college employee can provide.

Urgent Behavior includes:

▶ Actual or threats of harm to self

▶ Actual or threats of harm to others

▶ Suicidal plans, intentions, or attempts

▶ Seeing or hearing things that are not apparent to others

▶ Reports of recent assault or trauma

▶ Reports of threat of physical safety (e.g. death threats, social media attacks  encouraging the person to kill themselves, etc.)

Urgent behavior indicates a situation that warrants immediate action. Whenever faced with any of the circumstances listed under “urgent behavior,” we recommend you contact one of the following:

▶ For clear psychological emergencies, contact the Department of Public Safety  (Emergency Line is (508) 793-2222). A Public Safety officer can respond to the scene, assess the student, and implement support.

▶ For urgent, but non-emergency psychological issues, you can access Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), as follows:

Walk the student over to CAPS (Hogan 207) for Urgent Care times Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. or 3 p.m.

▶ For psychological crises that occur after-hours when the CAPS is closed, an on-call crisis counselor can be reached by calling CAPS (508) 793-3363 and following the prompts.

▶ If the student poses an imminent risk to others or presents other safety concerns: 

- on-campus, contact the Department of Public Safety at (508) 793-2222.  
 -off-campus, contact 9-1-1.

▶ If the student is acting in a way that you believe may represent a risk to others but which does not represent an imminent risk contact the Threat Assessment Group. (See Appendix E.)

▶ All other emergencies:   On-campus, contact the Department of Public Safety at (508) 793-2222.     

   off-campus, contact 9-1-1.


Section 3: Holy Cross' Student Suicide Protocol

Students exhibiting suicidal ideation and/or suicidal behavior can be particularly concerning for the faculty and staff who work with them. It is our hope that this guide has helped to mitigate some of that fear by providing specific direction about how to respond. However, when it comes to suicidality, in addition to the ethical considerations presented herein, we must also consider our legal obligations to take specific steps around student suicide.

A Massachusetts court case established that colleges and universities in Massachusetts have a limited duty of care to prevent a student’s death by suicide. This case created a new law in Massachusetts that Holy Cross employees must follow. The good news is that this legal regulation is consistent with what we want faculty and staff to do when they become aware of a student who may be suicidal.

As a result of this case, college employees in Massachusetts have the following new reporting obligations:

When you learn of:

▶ A student’s suicide attempt while enrolled at the College or recently (within a year) before matriculation (whether during vacation, summer, leave, study abroad, suspension, or on or off campus) or

▶ A student’s stated plans or intentions to attempt suicide (as distinguished from generalized statements about suicidal thoughts)

    You must notify immediately:

1. The Department of Public Safety (508) 793-2222 or call 9-1-1 (off campus) immediately if you believe an emergency situation exists, OR

2. The chair of the CARE Team, Paul Irish, Associate Dean of Students, in a non-emergency situation.

When reporting to the chair, you may copy the student’s Class Dean to expedite communication and coordination of care. However, any time a student is referred to the CARE Team, the student’s class dean will be notified.

Members of the community have expressed the difficulty of distinguishing between students’ “stated plans or intentions” and generalized statements about suicide. The difficulty in trying to provide clear guidelines around this distinction is that it moves into an area reserved for mental health clinicians: assessing whether or not, or the degree to which students may pose a threat to themselves.

Instead, we provide the following framework: If, at any point, you become aware of information that meets the criteria outlined above, you do not have an obligation to assess or probe the student for further information. Instead, you are required to notify either DPS or the chair of the CARE Team, accordingly. If you’re not sure, please report the situation to the Chair of the CARE Team. The default should always be to report concerning behavior.

Section 4: Conclusion

Each department at the College of the Holy Cross has the opportunity to work directly with our students. In our work, we continue to be inspired by the level of intellect, curiosity, and creativity demonstrated by all of our students across all academic departments and extracurricular interests. There is tremendous fulfillment in being able to mentor, support, and work alongside our students during their time at Holy Cross.

During their experience, there may be times when a few students become momentarily stuck, and in becoming stuck become disruptive or potentially destructive to themselves or others. Students in distress can be overwhelming to deal with. But it is in these times that we may be provided the opportunity to make the greatest impact on students’ lives. It is our hope that when faced with such an opportunity, this Guide will help identify and provide direction on how best to respond to students of concern. If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please contact any of the individuals identified in Appendix B, List of Campus Resources.

Section 5: Appendixes

Faculty and Staff Guide - A Chart for Responding to Students in Distress

  Expected Behavior: Range of behavior exhibited by most students experiencing stress. Concerning Behavior: Substantially disruptive behavior and/ or behavior that may pose a threat to self. Urgent Behavior: Behavior that may pose an imminent threat to self or potential threat to others.
You and your colleagues X    
The Class Deans X X  
The CARE Team   X  

Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)

The Office of the College Chaplains X X  
Academic Services & Learning Resources X    
Health Services X X  
Office of Accessibility Services X    
Title IX X    
Student Inclusion and Belonging X    
Office of International Students X    
Department of Public Safety (or 9-1-1 if off campus)   X X
Threat Assessment Group   X X


1. Class Deans

Each Class Dean is assigned an incoming class, and follows that class from acceptance  through graduation. As Class Deans work with students throughout their Holy Cross experience, they have the opportunity to observe, understand, and build relationships with individual students throughout their time at Holy Cross. Given their familiarity with  students, they are often the first one to notice that something is wrong. The Class Deans work closely with campus departments and the CARE Team to connect students with the  resources they need. 

CARE Liaison: Deb Gettelman, Class Dean for 2027

Office: Fenwick 204 

Phone: 508-793-2532

For information on the other class deans, please see Appendix C, “The Class Deans.”

2. The CARE Team

The Student CARE Team is comprised of employees throughout the campus who  regularly meet to identify and discuss students of concern. The team is chaired by  the Associate Dean of Students and includes representatives from Student Development, Academic Affairs, the Chaplains Office, Athletics, Public Safety, and Risk Management. Together, the CARE Team and the Class Deans are a critical resource for responding to concerning behavior. For more information, see Appendix D, “The CARE Team.” How to Contact:

▶ Website:

▶ Submit a report at:

▶ Contact Paul Irish, Chair of CARE Team at (508) 793-2669 or  If Paul Irish is not available contact Robin Huntley, Student Support Coordinator at (508) 793-3638,

▶ Contact any one of the CARE Liaisons, below


3. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

CARE Liaison : Dr. Paul Galvinhill, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services

Location: Hogan 207

Phone: (508) 793-3363


How to Contact:

▶ For routine care: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – Noon and 1 p.m.  – 5 p.m.

▶ For urgent care during business hours: The Counseling Center is open for  “urgent care times” on Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. or 3 p.m.  ▶ For urgent care after hours: For psychological crises that occur after hours when  the Counseling Center is closed, an on-call crisis counselor can be reached by  calling the Counseling Center (508-793-3363) and following the prompts.
▶ For psychological emergencies: Contact Public safety at (508) 793-2222.


4. The Office of the College Chaplains

CARE Liaison: Megan Fox-Kelly, Associate Chaplain and Director of Retreats

Chaplain’s Office Location: Campion House

Phone: (508) 793-3899

Website: chaplains

Hours of Operation (Academic Year):

Sunday: Noon – 10 p.m.

Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Friday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Saturday: Closed


5. Academic Services and Learning Resources

CARE Liaison: Justine Fisher, Director of Academic Services and Learning Resources

Location: Dinand Library 204

Phone: (508) 793-2713

Office Hours  - Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - Noon and 1 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.


6. Health Services

CARE Liaison: Kelsey DeVoe, Director of Health Services

Location: Loyola Hall

Phone: (508) 793-2275

Hours : Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon and 1  p.m. to 5 p.m.


7. Office of Accessibility Services

CARE Liaison: Neal Lipsitz, Director

Location: Hogan 215

Phone: (508) 793-3693 services


8. Student Wellness Education

CARE Liaison: Neal Lipsitz

Location: The Jo

Phone: 508-793-2302
Student Wellness Education develops, implements and assesses a comprehensive continuum of evidence based initiatives and strategies that mobilize, create and sustain campus -wide health and wellness promotion practices. 


9. The Office of Title IX and Equal Opportunity

The Office of Title IX and Equal Opportunity responds to complaints of sexual misconduct, discrimination and discriminatory harassment and facilitates access to resources for individuals involved.

Contact: Derek DeBobes, Director of Title IX and Equal Opportunity

Location: Hogan 506

Phone: (508) 793-3336


10. Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

CARE Liaison: Jerrel Burgo, Director of Student Inclusion and Belonging  

Location: Smith Hall 212

Phone: (508) 793-2532

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.


11. Office of International Students

Contact: Mirabelle Tseng, Asst. Dean

Location: Fenwick 204

Phone: (508) 793-2532


12. Athletics

CARE Liaison: Alicia Caswell, Head Athletic Trainer

Location: Luth Athletic Complex

Phone: 508-793-2644


 13. Department of Public Safety

The Department of Public Safety is comprised of sworn police officers.  DPS provides a comprehensive program of police services, emergency medical first response, crime prevention programming, and related public safety services.  DPS strives for a partnership with students, staff and faculty that is the foundation of mutual respect, caring and safety for the campus community.

CARE Liaison: Deputy Chief Shawn Bavieri

Location: Lower level of the Jo, Recreation Center
Phone: (508) 793-2224

Emergencies: (508) 793-2222


14. Threat Assessment Group

How to Contact:

◉ Submit a report at:

◉ Contact Denielle Burl at (508) 793-2339 or

◉ Contact Paul Galvinhill at (508) 793-3363 or
For more information, see Appendix E, “The Threat Assessment Group”

Class Deans come from the ranks of tenured faculty, and continue to maintain a reduced teaching load while serving as Class Dean. In general, Class Deans oversee the academic advising system and are responsible  for monitoring the academic progress, and facilitating the academic success, of all students in that class. They report directly to the Dean of Experiential Learning and Student Success, and work closely with offices from all parts of the College. 

Class Deans also play an important role in working with students who are  experiencing all levels of distress, whether such distress emerges initially from specific  academic difficulties, from physical or mental health issues, or from stressful personal experiences. This part of their position entails not only providing direct support  for students in a myriad of ways, but also serving as resource and liaison for faculty, staff, administrators, and parents in their interactions with students in distress. Also important is the Class Dean’s role in referring students to the people or offices best able to provide information and/or support, and in facilitating, when necessary and appropriate, those referrals. 

The document below is divided in two sections. The first explains the Class Dean’s overall role in monitoring students’ academic progress and supporting students who are experiencing academic challenges. The second describes the Class Dean’s role in working with students in distress, in particular by providing academic  accommodations. There is also a FAQ section. 



To monitor students’ academic progress, Class Deans 

▶ Assign and train academic advisors

▶ Oversee the declaration of majors, minors, and concentrations

▶ Facilitate students’ engagement with other academic programs

▶ Work with advisors, department chairs, and program directors to ensure that students are meeting academic requirements for graduation

▶ Approve courses taken for credit at other institutions (in consultation with department chairs and program directors)


To address students’ academic challenges and support student success,  Class Deans

▶ Work closely with students who have been placed on academic probation  (GPA below 2.0 after first semester, between 1.75 and 2.0 after second  semester, and between 1.85 and 2.0 after third semester) or who are  experiencing significant academic difficulties

▶ Oversee charges of Academic Integrity violations; provide necessary follow up  training and/or referral

▶ Approve course withdrawals and create plans for making up deficiencies

▶ Approve incompletes and work with faculty and students to create plans for  timely completion of work

▶ Approve voluntary Leaves of Absence (whether for health-related, personal, or  financial reasons)


Class Deans' Work With Students in Distress

Student Absences: For most Holy Cross students, absence from class can be a source of distress, particularly if that absence results from illness or from personal issues such as loss. In keeping with the College’s Excused Absence Policy, Class Deans can provide faculty with notification of confirmed absences related to extended illness  as well as to deaths or medical emergencies in the student’s family. In these cases, the absences would be considered excused and faculty would be asked by the Class Dean to work with the student to make up missed work without penalty. 

Moreover, significant class absence can also, in and of itself, be a sign of distress. In these cases, it is important that faculty alert the Class Dean, particularly in situations where the absence is unexplained and the student is not responding to faculty emails. 

Academic Accommodations: Students may receive ADA-mandated academic accommodations (e.g., extra time on tests) through the Office of Accessibility Services. These requests are generally provided at the start of each semester, and usually will continue through a student’s time at Holy Cross. 

However, students may also receive academic accommodations on a short-term basis, which are generally facilitated by the Class Dean. These accommodations may relate to specific physical health, mental health, or personal needs, and are often determined through consultation with CAPS, the Counseling Center, the Title IX Office,  and the Office of Disability Services. In these cases, Class Deans will contact the  student’s faculty with the appropriate requests. These may be specific (e.g., a one week extension on a paper) or general (e.g., a request for flexibility in the coming days). In certain situations, Class Deans may be able to provide specific information  on the reason behind the request in order to facilitate the faculty member’s work with the student. (This would be the case with a concussion, where cognitive recovery does not follow a clear trajectory and student needs are not always apparent.) In other situations, Class Deans may say only “confirmed personal reasons” to protect  the privacy of the student. Faculty should know that Class Deans are providing as much information as they are able. 

Outside of ADA accommodations, requests for academic accommodations are always made in consultation with the faculty member. It is part of the job of the Class Dean to facilitate the provision of academic accommodations in such a way as balances the needs of student, professor, and other students in the course. 

Referrals: An important part of the Class Dean’s job is to connect students with resources across campus, and to facilitate, wherever possible, students’ experiences  with those resources. Thus while Class Deans assist students in distress in accessing the confidential resources on campus, including Health Services, CAPS, and the Chaplains’ Office, they also make students aware of other sources  of support. For example a first-year student who is experiencing stress due to lack of sleep may benefit from a one-on-one time management session in the Office of Academic  Services and Learning Resources, a session the Class Dean can help to arrange. A  senior, anxious about the future, might find most beneficial a meeting with someone  in the Center for Career Development. 



In what kinds of situations should I notify a student’s Class Dean? 
Academically, you should notify the Class Dean in any situation in which a  student is not fulfilling course obligations and is not responding to email. In most circumstances, of course, the first line of approach is between a student and faculty member. However, when a student has missed more than one class, has failed to submit assignments, has provided no communication, and is not responding to your attempts at outreach, then you should let the Class Dean know as soon as possible. 

In addition, you should contact the Class Dean when a student is exhibiting concerning behavior of any kind, regardless of the academic implications.  However, if the behavior entails threat to self or others, or triggers the  Suicide Protocol, you should first notify Public Safety if the threat is  imminent at (508) 793-2222, or the Chair of the Student CARE Team (Paul  Irish: (508) 793-2669 or  Sharing your own concern will allow the Class Dean to follow up on the  situation as necessary, and also to gather more information, as appropriate,  from the student’s other faculty. 

What’s the best way to contact a Class Dean? 
Most faculty members communicate by email, particularly if they want to forward or include written communication from and/or with the student. However, Class Deans are also available to speak by phone, whether as part of an initial outreach or as a follow up. Class Deans are here for you!


If a student shares difficult or confidential information, do I need to disclose it to the Class Dean? 

In the case of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, faculty are mandated reporters, and therefore information relating to these issues must be disclosed to the Title IX Office. However, it may be helpful both to understand an to frame that disclosure as a way to connect students with those on campus who can provide them with necessary resources. Class Deans can also play an advisory and/or support role in this process, whether for the faculty member or the student.  

In addition, if the behavior entails threat to self or others, or triggers  the Suicide Protocol, you should first notify Public Safety if the threat is imminent at (508) 793-2222, or the Chair of the Student CARE Team (Paul Irish: (508) 793-2669 or

In other cases, you should do what you believe is in the student’s best interest, in consultation (where possible) with the student. Being transparent, both about  your own concern for what the student has disclosed, and about your desire to notify further resources on the student’s behalf, is important. Unless you believe there is a compelling reason not to disclose, it is possible to say to a student as follows: “Thank you for sharing this information with me. I’m concerned about  the impact of what you’ve shared on your classes, and think your Class Dean would be in the best position to contact your professors on your behalf. Would it be okay if I let your Class Dean know about our conversation, so that s/he could  reach out to you?”

Is it ever too early to contact a student’s Class Dean? 
No. The earlier Class Deans are made aware of a situation, the more  options they have to intervene before the situation reaches a crisis level. In addition, you don’t need to have a specific issue to reach out to a student’s  Class Dean. Class Deans are always available to consult, in any way that is  helpful for you, about any situation. 

If I have reported to the CARE Team, will this information make it back to the Student’s Class Dean? 

Yes. A representative from the Class Deans sits on the CARE Team to  receive information about students of concern and to refer back to the  appropriate Class Dean. In addition, all Class Deans have access to and are  able to review and update records maintained by the CARE Team.



Class of 2024: Constance Royden

Office: Fenwick 204

Phone: 508-793-2532


Class of 2025: Sarah Petty

Office: Fenwick 204

Phone: 508-793-2532


Class of 2026: Francisco Gago-Jover

Office: Fenwick 204

Phone: 508-793-2532


Class of 2027: Debra Gettelman

Office: Fenwick 204

Phone: 508-793-2532

The College of the Holy Cross Student CARE Team provides coordinated support  for students in distress, addressing concerns about a student’s behavior, academic  progress, and personal issues, including physical and mental health. The Care Team  gathers information from personal contact with students and referrals from members  of the Holy Cross community, to include faculty, staff, students, or concerned  parties, as well as family members. A goal of the team is to provide a structured, collaborative and supportive approach to address concerns that may adversely impact a student’s academic and personal success. 

The CARE Team is not a substitute for other campus systems of support and does not  bypass established protocols or procedures, such as academic policies, leave policies, student disciplinary procedures, threat assessment, and/or Public Safety’s responses to incidents. 

The CARE Team is committed to the following: 

▶ Identifying students of concern who are in need of coordinated support;

▶ Collecting and analyzing information to determine appropriate support for  students;

▶ Recommending interventions as appropriate to assist with students’ success;

▶ Connecting students with support resources both on and off-campus;

▶ Coordinating care between and among varied College constituencies;

▶ Providing follow-up care to assist with students’ well-being and academic  success;

▶ Engaging students’ families when appropriate; and

▶ Maintaining student privacy as required by law and handling all matters with  discretion. 

Reasons to refer a student to the CARE Team include, but are not limited to: 

▶ Concerns about a student persist despite attempts to engage the student with campus resources (e.g  Class Dean, CAPS, Chaplain’s Office, Health Services, Disability Services, Academic Services);

▶ Student displays a pattern of concerning behavior, including, but not limited to, missing classes / assignments, chronic health issues, psychological distress, alcohol and/or other drug abuse, or displays forms of inappropriate behavior;

▶ Student shows significant and marked changes in behavior, mood, or affect;

▶ Student’s academic or social performance deteriorates;

▶ Statements or actions of self-harm; and/or

▶ Student’s behavior reflects increased hopelessness or helplessness.



Chaired by the Associate Dean of Students, the CARE team is comprised of  representatives from different areas of the campus community. Additional individuals may be invited to meetings as warranted.

  • Associate Dean of Students (Chair)
  • Academic Services and Learning Resources
  • Athletics / Sports Medicine
  • Chaplains’ Office*
  • Class Dean
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)*
  • Accessibility Services
  • Health Services*
  • Public Safety
  • Residence Life & Housing
  • Student Inclusion and Belonging
  • Student Support Coordinator
  • Student Integrity & Community Standards
  • Risk Management

Note: The College’s General Counsel is available as consultant to the CARE Team 

*Members of the Care Team who are required by law to maintain confidentiality of information do not disclose confidential information concerning students except as  permitted by applicable law. Students may choose to sign a waiver to allow staff from  these offices to provide information to the CARE team.



All reports to CARE will be handled in as private a manner as possible, consistent with the College’s obligations under applicable laws and College policies. Any CARE records that relate to a student are “education records” and are governed by the Family Education and Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. CARE records are maintained in a central secure database managed by the Chair of CARE.

Referring Student Matters to the CARE Team

Campus members are encouraged to report concerns about students who may be in distress or whose behavior is disruptive to others in the community. In cases of emergency, individuals are instructed to the Department of Public Safety (508-793-2222) or 9-1-1 off campus, first. The CARE Team plays a secondary role to all urgent circumstances and should be contacted only after initial emergency notifications are made.

In non-emergency situations, faculty, staff, students or external constituents can provide information to the team through a number of channels. They include, but are not limited to, personal interaction, telephone call, or email to the Chair of the CARE Team, Paul Irish, or through an online form. Faculty members are encouraged to also share concerns with the student’s Class Dean. Each report should include as much detail as possible about the behavior and/or incident of concern. If a concern is submitted online, the reporter will also receive an acknowledgement of receipt if the reporter provides contact information.


How do I report a student to the CARE Team? 

The two quickest ways to report a student to the CARE Team include:

▶ Submitting a report at:

▶ Contacting Paul Irish, Chair of CARE Team at (508) 793-2669 or pirish@ If

Paul Irish is not available, please contact Robin Huntley, Student Support Coordinator at (508) 793-3638 or

What happens if I report a student to the CARE Team? 

Once the Chair of the CARE Team receives a report about a student  of concern, the Chair will quickly evaluate the report to determine the  appropriate response. There are times that the Chair or Student Case Manager can connect the student with needed resources, obviating the need to refer to CARE. If  necessary (e.g., if the student is showing up in other areas), the Chair will obtain more immediate care. If this does not represent an urgent situation, but still demonstrates the need for attention, the Chair will bring the matter  to the next scheduled CARE Team meeting, in which the members of CARE  will discuss the student and identify the best ways to support the student.

Can I report a student and remain anonymous?

Yes, by submitting an anonymous* report at reportaconcern. However, we strongly recommend that you provide  identifying information so that we can follow up with you with further questions and/or information about how best to support that student.  We can’t promise confidentiality, but if you wish to remain private, we recommend you call the Chair of the CARE Team and ask that they take your information and maintain your privacy to the greatest extent possible. In any information related to the case, CARE can use your initials or simply provide general information, like, “a professor.” 
*Please note that the anonymous report will capture your IP address, we will not investigate this unless you submit information that someone poses an imminent risk of danger to others (e.g., a bomb threat).

Will you provide information to the original reporter?

It will depend upon the situation. The CARE Team recognizes that it takes  concern for a student to make a report. However, we receive many reports  regarding students of concern that require a range of responses, not all of which warrant further communication with the original reporter. If it is  important to you that you hear back, please notify the Chair of the CARE Team or include this information in your report. 


If I have reported to the student’s Class Dean, will this information make it to the CARE Team?

The Class Deans often serve to manage many of the issues that would otherwise warrant referral to the CARE Team. While the CARE Team and the Class Deans work closely together, this does not necessarily mean that all students referred to the Class Deans are referred to CARE.



The Threat Assessment Group 

The College has a number of resources to identify and address individuals engaging in concerning behavior at the College, one of which is the Threat Assessment Group. The Threat Assessment Group (TAG) investigates, evaluates, and manages individuals whose behavior is perceived as threatening to others. The Threat Assessment Group receives reports of individuals whose behavior is perceived as threatening to others, conducts an investigation into that report, facilitates a threat assessment into the level of risk the individual may present, implements a management plan, and conducts follow-up to promote continued safety throughout the community.

The Threat Assessment Process

TAG uses a threat assessment process that is evidence-based and derived from U.S. Secret Service protective intelligence research, the Safe School Initiative, and FBI research. The process originates from that described in The Handbook for Campus Threat  Assessment & Management Teams (Deisinger, Randazzo, O’Neill and Savage) and other best practices, as interpreted and implemented by this College, in consideration of its mission as a Catholic, Jesuit liberal arts college.

Significantly disruptive and/or potentially threatening behavior is evaluated under  this process, as well as any applicable policy, including but not limited to, the Student Code of Conduct, the Employee Handbook, discrimination and harassment policies, and others. At the same time, we recognize that environments in which community  members pay attention to others’ social and emotional needs can reduce incidents of 
violence, and so we also seek opportunities to provide care and support when doing is appropriate and will mitigate a risk. 


TAG is comprised of members of the campus community who work with specific populations of our
community and/or provide subject matter expertise, including the Chief Risk Management and Compliance Officer; the Chief of Police, or designee;  and the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services or
designee. The Team will consult with  individuals with first-hand knowledge of the events giving rise to the original concern  and, when appropriate, will include representatives from the following areas: 

▶ For student issues: Associate Dean of Students

▶ For faculty issues: Provost, or designee, and Speaker of the Faculty 

▶ For staff issues: Chief Human Resources Officer, or designee

▶ For external parties: Local law enforcement agencies or other local agencies


All members of TAG, including new members, must undergo threat assessment training. Each member of TAG is expected to regularly review, be familiar with, and utilize best practices regarding threat assessment in higher education.



How do I report a student to the Threat Assessment Group (or TAG)? 

You can contact the Threat Assessment Group as follows:

▶ Submit a report at:

▶ Contact  Denielle Burl at or (508) 793-2339

▶ Contact Paul Galvinhill at or (508) 793-3363

How does TAG determine if someone poses a threat?
TAG uses the threat assessment process created by SIGMA Threat Management
Associates. It includes (1) an investigation; (2) the threat assessment process;
(3) implementation of a behavior management plan. 


What happens if someone is determined to pose a threat? 

  Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, based upon the nature of the risk and the potential target(s). That said, if someone is truly deemed to pose a threat to someone on campus, this individual will likely be removed from campus. In recognition that removal from campus does not always mitigate a threat, TAG will continue to work with the individuals/ departments who are at risk through the facilitation of security assessments and consultation with local law enforcement.  The Threat Assessment Group cannot guarantee your safety. We can,  however, use the currently best available resources to create internal protocols to help mitigate the risk of violence. Meanwhile, the Threat Assessment Group continues to review and update its policies to take into consideration the latest information regarding targeted violence on campus and in workplaces.

Will TAG report back to the person who originally reported the concern? 

Yes. TAG procedures explicitly call for communication with the original reporter whenever possible to do so.

Will TAG inform others who may be impacted? 

This is a case-by-case determination. We know that re-integrating at-risk individuals back into the community can reduce incidents of targeted violence and so we will endeavor to do this whenever it is safe and feasible to do so. Informing members of the community regarding a potential threat - when that threat does not directly impact them - may limit our efforts at reintegration. Therefore, in making this determination, we weigh the benefit of informing others against the potential negative impact on TAG’s ultimate goal of reducing incidents of targeted violence.