Information for Staff and Faculty Responding to a Student Disclosure

A staff or faculty member may be the first person a student discloses to due to the impact they are experiencing. This may be a direct disclosure or the faculty or staff may notice that the students behavior has changed ( not participating in class as they had previously, late assignments, not showing up for class or work) and the disclosure may happen when the staff or faculty member checks in with the student regarding these noticeable changes. Staff and faculty are important informal support resources for students. Within your role it is appropriate to provide initial support to a disclosure, provide information about support resources, connect the student directly to the appropriate resources, and inform the student if you are a mandatory reporter and what that means.

Please click here for tips on how to provide initial support when an individual discloses.

Please click here to learn about mandatory reporting and how to follow your mandatory reporting duty in a trauma informed way.

Given the many resources on campus at times faculty or staff may not know which resource to refer the student to. Below is a list of formal resources on campus and when to refer.

The Office of Victim Assistance: offers free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy, and short-term counseling to students, faculty, and staff at the University of Colorado Boulder impacted by disruptive or traumatic events including: physical assault, hazing, bias motivated incidents, death, discrimination and harassment including sexual harassment, intimate partner abuse, serious accidents, sexual assault, stalking, natural and human made disasters, as well as other potentially traumatic situations. 

Counseling and Psychiatric Services: Offer confidential, on-campus mental health and psychiatric services for a variety of concerns such as academics, anxiety, body image, depression, relationships, substance use and more.

Ombuds Office: Offers confidential, impartial, informal and independent problem-solving and conflict resolution resources.

Student Support and Case Management: Services include navigating campus and community resources, referrals to community providers, exploration of and referral for behavioral health concerns, coordination and follow-up during and after hospitalization and/or medical leave of absence, health and safety referrals, problem resolution, help managing multiple or complex medical needs, and crisis management. This resource is not confidential.

The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance: conduct investigations regarding protected class discrimination and harassment and sexual misconduct ( Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Abuse, Stalking). Coordinate the provision of accommodations and interim remedies as necessary, and provide educational trainings and sessions for all members of the University community, including faculty, staff, and students. This resources is not confidential.

How to refer to the Office of Victim Assistance:

Inform the student that the Office of Victim Assistance provides free and confidential counseling and advocacy services. Advocacy can include safety planning, talking about reporting rights and options, medical options, academic and housing options, and assistance in navigating systems ( Criminal, CU, Academic). By talking to OVA the student is not notifying the university or starting an investigation. In fact by talking to OVA a student can learn about all of their rights and options and OVA will support the person in whatever they decide is best for them. It is important to share with the student that one does not need to identify with the word victim to use our services and OVA is not going to use that word if they do not identify in that way.

Ways to directly connect the student with OVA:

1) Provide the student with the above information, OVA contact information, and website. Inform them they can contact OVA whenever they are ready.

2) Walk the student over to OVA for a drop in to meet with an advocate counselor in the moment. If you are able please call before you walk over so we can ensure that an advocate counselor is available.

3) Ask the student if it is okay for you to give OVA their contact information. Inform the student OVA will outreach to them directly and it is their choice if they wish to speak with OVA or not.  Please call OVA (303) 735-4866 or email assist@colorado.edu and provide the students name, contact information, and a brief summary of what the student is experiencing.  OVA will then directly outreach to the student by phone or email.  This option decreases the initial barriers in contacting our office and gives an opportunity for the student to learn about OVA services directly from an advocate counselor.

Academic Advocacy through the Office of Victim Assistance:

The Office of Victim Assistance counselor advocates are not academic advisors however can provide information and advocacy regarding a students academic options. Academic advocacy can include informing the student of their academic options, providing documentation, and sending professor notifications.

What is a professor notification?

After meeting with a student and with their written consent, OVA can send an email to professors notifying them that we have met with a student and the student is experiencing impact from a disruptive or traumatic event which can impact academic performance. These emails are vague intentionally to protect the privacy of the student as much as possible. The purpose of the email is to start the conversation to decrease the barrier of a student approaching a professor regarding academic needs related to a traumatic experience. OVA advises the student to then follow up with the professor directly to ask for what academic needs they may have (an incomplete, an extension, an excused absence). OVA informs the student that it will be the professors decision to what accommodations they can provide to the student.

 What should I do if I receive a professor notification from the Office of Victim Assistance?

The email will state that the student will follow up with you directly. You are welcome to email the student directly if you have not heard from the student. Please do not ask information about what has occurred. It is appropriate to provide support and acknowledge that they are going through a difficult time. The student may request to meet with you in person or talk with you after class. The student may ask you " what are my academic options at this time?" or they may ask for specifics" Can I have an extension on the midterm paper?" It is common for traumatic experiences to result in difficulty in concentrating and focus for a time, therefore you too may notice the academic changes in the students performance. It is up to you what accommodations you decide are reasonable. If you need further guidance please feel free to call OVA and we can talk with you by phone to discuss some options. You can also seek out guidance from your department and chair to decide what may be common practice in your specific department. While OVA does not have the power to make professors provide academic accommodations we do ask that you please  take the professor notification into consideration when assessing the students academic options.