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Teachers College Policy Library
Owner: Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Student Psychological Wellness Policy
Teachers College seeks to promote student academic progress and personal well-being. We face the reality that suicide is a leading cause of death for college and university students. In addition, suicide, attempted suicide, and suicidal threats may have a significant detrimental effect not only on the involved student, but on others in the campus community.
The College opposes, and strives to eliminate, all forms of personal abuse and violence, whether directed at oneself or others. This Student Psychological Wellness Policy outlines an approach to educate and promote discussion about threats, disruption, self-abuse, and violence. It also outlines procedures for crisis intervention and response. All members of the College community are expected to promote a violence-free environment and to observe these policies and procedures.
The College seeks to accommodate qualified students who have disabilities, including psychiatric or emotional disabilities. Students seeking accommodation should contact the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities, 163 Thorndike Hall, Tel/Voice: (212) 678-3689 / TTY: (212) 678-3853, firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, TC offers students resources such as short-term counseling, wellness programming, and publications.
The College employs a part-time Clinical Graduate Assistant who is available to meet with any student in need of short-term counseling. The Clinical GA can be reached at (212) 678-3262.
Programming helps members of the College community promote students' psychological well- being, identify potential problems including risks of suicide or other violence, and respond appropriately. Workshops and publications address issues such as general principles of mental health, stress, depression, and similar topics related to student concerns.
Programming is provided through many components of Teachers College and Columbia University including the Teachers College Office of Student Affairs and Dean-Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services (CEPS) and Columbia University Counseling and Psychological Services (CU/CPS).
Contact information is provided on the next page. All members of the Teachers College community are invited to call upon these resources for advice and assistance.
The early identification of persons at risk for suicide or other violence is essential. Immediate help should be sought if someone has spoken about committing suicide or being a victim of other violence, threatened suicide, or taken any action that could be construed as leading to a possible suicide attempt.
IN AN EMERGENCY, contact one of the following immediately. All are available 24/7.
TC Office of Public Safety
(212) 678-3333 or x3333
NYC Police Dept
Mt. Sinai/St. Luke’s Psychiatric Emergency Room
113th St & Amsterdam Ave
General: (212) 523-4000
Emergency: (212) 523-3335
Psychiatric Emergency: (212) 523-3347
In less urgent situations, these following resources are available. Please note that CU/CPS Center staff provides consulting services to Teachers College personnel on issues related to suicide and threats of violence. College faculty or staff who are concerned about issues relating to suicide or threats of violence may call the office at any time. There is a 24-hour emergency service during business hours or after-hours at (212) 854-2878.
Columbia Counseling & Psychological Services Center
8th Floor, Lerner Hall (115th Street & Broadway)
Appointments and After-Hours Support (212) 854-2878
Hours M-Th 8 to 6:30; F 8 to 5
Office of Residential Services
1st Floor, Whittier Hall
(212) 678-3235 (phone)
Or contact any Community Assistant or other Residential Services administrator
Dean-Hope Center for Educational & Psychological Services
120th Street and Broadway Avenue
657 Thorndike Hall, 6th floor
(212) 678-3262 (phone)
Office of the Vice Provost
Tom Rock, Vice Provost for Student Affairs
The College’s response to a reported, attempted, or threatened suicide is managed by the Psychological Emergency Response Team (PERT). By way of definition, suicide is the purposeful act of causing one's own death; attempted suicide is any act, threat, or gesture in which a person engages in life threatening behavior(s) with the intent of jeopardizing his/her life; and threatened suicide is any expression of intent to seriously harm oneself or take one’s life.
PERT typically includes representatives of several campus units:
- Vice Provost for Student Affairs (convenor)
- Academic Affairs Director
- Director, Dean-Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services
- Director, Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities
- Director, Office of Student Affairs
- Director, Office of International Services
- Director, Public Safety
- Director, Residential Life
PERT also consults and collaborates with others as appropriate, such as the CU/CPS staff, the Director of Human Resources, and other College professional staff members. The General Counsel serves as legal advisor to PERT.
PERT endeavors to arrange for adequate support for each individual in a crisis situation. The team follows procedures established in this policy, subject always to the need to exercise judgment in the unique circumstances of each particular case. Team members may also participate in decision making that could lead to separation from the community for any individual whose presence may pose a direct threat of harm or significant disruption.
If the College believes that the safety of a student, or of any other person, is at risk, the College may contact family members, individuals a student has identified as emergency contacts, or others as the College deems necessary or appropriate under the circumstances. Consistent with U.S. Department of Education guidelines, pertinent student education records may be disclosed to appropriate officials in a health or safety emergency.
An individual who has been identified as being at risk for suicide will asked to sign a consent form allowing the release of medical information to assist members of PERT in developing well-informed plans on services, potential accommodations, and continuing status at the College. Staff at the CU/CPS will follow professional ethical guidelines when dealing with suicidal or potentially suicidal students. The general requirement that counselors keep information confidential may not apply when a counselor believes that disclosure is required to prevent harm to the student or others.
After an attempted or threatened suicide has been reported and the immediate emergency has passed, additional follow up may be appropriate. Faculty and/or staff members should contact the Vice Provost for Student Affairs at (212) 678-3083 for assistance in notifying instructors and advisers and conducting other necessary College business.
Additional services may be offered as needed, including
- Notice to faculty and advisers concerning class absences
- Academic schedule adjustments
- Voluntary leave of absence
- Required College administrative leave
Information about the student's medical condition will be limited to those having a need to know.
Status at the College
The College endeavors to assist at-risk students in continuing their studies. However, in individual situations when this is not appropriate, other options will be considered. Bearing in mind the safety and well-being of all members of its community, the College reviews the unique facts and circumstances of instances in which students engage in threatening or dangerous behavior. The College may discontinue the enrollment of, or take other action with respect to, a student who is:
a) Engaging in, or threatening to engage in, behavior which poses a danger of causing physical harm to others.
b) Engaging in behavior which poses a danger of causing harm to himself or herself, if that behavior has a disruptive influence on the College and/or members of the College community. This includes behavior demonstrating an inability to satisfy personal needs (e.g., nourishment, shelter, etc.) without adequate care to the degree there is a reasonable possibility that serious physical harm or death might occur within a short period of time.
c) Engaging in, or threatening to engage in, behavior which would cause significant property damage, directly and substantially impede the lawful activities of others, or significantly interfere with the educational process and orderly operation of the College.
Options available to the College include:
1. Temporary Suspension.
If a student commits an act, as described above, deemed threatening or dangerous, the Vice Provost or a designee may immediately effect a Temporary Suspension from the College and/or residence halls. The Temporary Suspension will be in writing and delivered to the student; it cannot be appealed. Such a suspension will be in effect until the student meets with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee may consult with members of PERT and others as appropriate. He or she will decide whether to continue or lift the suspension. If the decision is to lift the suspension, the student promptly will receive written permission to return to classes and/or the residence halls.
2. Administrative Leave
(a) Decision to Require Administrative Leave. The College may discontinue the enrollment of a student who commits an act, as described above, deemed threatening or dangerous. This decision shall be made by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs in consultation with PERT and others as appropriate. The student will be eligible to return from an administrative leave once the Conditions for Continuance as a student have been met.
(b) Appeal of Administrative Leave. An administrative leave may be appealed. A student who wishes to appeal the decision must submit a written appeal the President’s office within five (5) business days of the decision. The President’s designee will review the appeal and provide the final decision to the student within seven (7) business days of receipt. There is no further appeal of the President’s decision. A student placed on administrative leave will be informed of the process for requesting return through the Office of the Vice Provost.
(c) Return from Administrative Leave. A student involuntarily placed on administrative leave must meet certain requirements before being permitted to return to the College, including a recommendation for readmission or continuance by a qualified psychological healthcare professional. The student may also be required to enter into a behavioral contract to establish conditions under which the student may continue or resume enrollment at the College. Conditions may include, for example, reduced course loads or maintenance counseling with a member of the CU/CPS professional staff. Final readmission authority for a re-entering student rests with the Vice Provost, in consultation with PERT, others as deemed appropriate, and appropriate faculty member(s) who will review the requested documents, recommend any conditions, and render their opinion to the Vice Provost. The College reserves the right to require administrative evaluations with subsequent recommendations from CU/CPS. In the case of a disruptive danger of harm to self, PERT will respond in compliance with this policy and in consultation with CU/CPS and others as appropriate.
Related Policies. Nothing in this policy precludes the College from addressing student behavior through the Student Conduct Code, residential contracts, and other policies. For example, if a resident student's behavior interferes with the rights of others, the student may be removed from campus housing or may be required to comply with conditions established by the Office of Residential Services to continue living on campus. Other actions may be taken as outlined in the Housing Contract.
Annual Review. PERT is responsible for the bi-annual review of this policy.
Responsible Office: Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Last updated October 1, 2016