Caring Community Connections

Students may exhibit a variety of indicators of distress. Faculty, staff, students, and parents are encouraged to report behaviors that are concerning.

Academic Indicators

  • Noticeable absence(s) or tardiness
  • Decline in grades and/or quality of work
  • Repeated requests for special consideration or extensions
  • Disruptive classroom behavior, excessively blaming others
  • Excessive procrastination
  • References to self harm or harm to others in verbal/written work
  • Disproportionate response to grades/evaluated work

Emotional Indicators

  • Direct statements from student indicating distress
  • Increased dependency on others
  • Inability to get along with others
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Disruptive or unruly behavior
  • Overly anxious or worried
  • Significant change in mood

Physical Indicators

  • Emotional outbursts
  • Excessive weight gain or loss
  • Personal hygiene changes
  • Loss of interest
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tearfulness
  • Impaired speech
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Noticeable cuts/bruises
  • Frequent illness

Other Indicators to Consider

  • Expression of concern from a peer
  • Significant and ongoing financial or legal problems
  • Significant changes in behavior
  • Your own intuition that something is wrong

Why Refer?

There are several reasons to refer a student who appears to be struggling. Your referral may be the first opportunity for a student to connect with someone on campus to discuss a concern and seek structured intervention. The sooner we hear from you, the better able we are to assist a student. Reporting also create a "culture of care" such that students feel supported by the campus and community and better able to bounce back. We also receive reports from all over campus, so when we connect your concern to other concerns, we can provide enhanced and holistic support. Lastly, some concerns are required to be reported - faculty and staff must report and instance or allegation of sexual misconduct.

Have a question or need to consult before making a referral? Call the Office of the Dean of Students at 214-768-4564.

If we receive an informational report, we will keep it on file and do not typically make contact with the student. If it is necessary to reach out a student based on an informational report, we will let you know before beginning outreach.

Once we receive a routine or urgent submission, we usually begin immediately to connect with the student to address your submission. Sometimes, we may follow up with you to obtain more information or to discuss any interventions that have already taken place with the student.

Office of the Dean of Students staff meet with students when concerns are submitted. These meetings are not punitive and are designed to provide a supportive environment in which to discuss the submitted concern, and to strategize ways to address the reported issues. Students and staff work collaboratively to develop an action plan and appropriate next steps. At times, follow up meetings are scheduled for accountability purposes or for troubleshooting.

We may also follow up with you, the submitter, to let you know that we are working to address your concern or that is has been addressed. With a student's permission, we may share more about next steps.

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For Faculty - Notification of Student Issue

Faculty may receive notification from our office when a student has an issue that has significantly impacted them in the classroom (extended absences, missing assignments, low performance). These issues include hospitalizations, a recent death of a family member or friend, or emotional distress, but we will typically leave most details up to the student to discuss with you directly, as needed. Students are aware when we send any notice that faculty have full discretion over any consideration given for their unique situations. They are also told that they will need to meet directly with each of their faculty members to discuss needs and strategize a plan to get back on track.

Dean of Students Office staff work closely and consistently with many offices across campus to ensure that students are connected appropriately. We encourage you to make your own personal referrals for students, and then follow up that referral with an informational report to let us know your concern.

SMU Police Department

Counseling Services

Chaplain and Religious Life

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention

Office of Institutional Access & Equity

Residence Life and Student Housing

Student Conduct and Community Standards

What is the difference between referring a student to CCC and a referral for counseling?

A referral to CCC is explicitly not counseling. Students who are referred for CCC purposes are discussing their concerns, strategizing an action plan, and obtaining appropriate referrals if needed, which may include a referral to Counseling Services. Students who require ongoing psychological support are referred to Counseling Services. Students who are in crisis and in need of immediate psychological support should contact Counseling Services first.

How do I know if I should submit a concern?

See "When to Refer" above. It is important to remember that sometimes what seems small or insignificant may be an indicator of distress, so we do encourage you to report. Additionally, trust your own instinct - if something seems off, let us know. Finally, ask the student if they'd like to speak to someone about their concern. We find that when students are aware that they're being referred, they are more open to the help.

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When should I call SMU police instead?

The CCC program is not designed to address imminent threats to health and safety. If there is an emergency, please contact SMU PD first (214-768-3333 or 911), before submitting a concern.

I submitted a concern about a student, but haven't heard back and continue to be concerned. What should I do?

You can follow up on your CCC submission by contacting the Office of the Dean of Students at 214-768-4564 or sending an email to deanofstudents@smu.edu

I'm concerned about anonymity or confidentiality when I submit. Are there any guidelines?

Staff do not explicitly identify anyone who has submitted a concern - the focus is on addressing the concern, and not on the person who submitted. However, students may recognize who submitted a concern based on the information provided. We do think it is okay to let a student know that you've made a referral.

Regarding the information submitted, our office is private, but not explicitly confidential. This means that we treat information with the utmost sensitivity and respect, and follow Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines about if or when to share anything. We are required by law to report any allegation of sexual misconduct to the Institutional Access and Equity Office when we receive those concerns.

What do I do if a student shares something with me and asks me not to say anything?

Remember that if you're a faculty or staff member, you are required to report any allegation of sexual misconduct to the Institutional Access and Equity Office (IAE).

For other instances that do not require you to submit a concern, there are some confidential resources on campus - Counseling Services and the Chaplain's Office. If a student shares something with you that they wish to process further with a confidential person, please refer them to one of these resources.

Finally, remember that the CCC program is designed to help students. We understand that students develop relationships with you and trust you to keep their confidence. However, you cannot promise complete confidentiality, and the earlier you report, the better, especially when a student’s well-being is compromised. An appropriate response to a student who has this sort of request is to say "I can't promise total confidentiality, but I can promise that I will only share this concern with those who need to know and can help."

A student continually disrupts my classroom. Is the CCC program the appropriate place for my concern?

Yes, for the most part. We work directly with other offices so that if your concern is better addressed by a different office, such as the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office, we will refer appropriately. However, if there is an emergency in your classroom or the health and safety of others is compromised, please contact SMU PD immediately. You may then follow-up your SMU PD contact with a CCC submission.

I have learned that a student will be out of class for an extended period of time. What do I do?

If you learn that a student will be missing classes due to extenuating circumstances, please contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 214-768-4564.

Who can submit concerns?

Any member of the community concerned about an SMU student should submit a concern.

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I'm not sure if I should submit a concern. Who should I contact to consult?

Please call the Office of the Dean of Students at 214-768-4564.

The Caring Community Connections Team is a multi-disciplinary group that meets weekly to review student issues. The mission of the CCC Team is to provide a collaborative outreach that identifies, intervenes, and responds to the needs and concerns of the individual while balancing those of the community with a goal of holistic wellbeing.

Team Members

  • Associate Vice President and Dean of Students
  • Associate Dean and Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards
  • Director of Student Support
  • Coordinator of Student Support
  • Director of Counseling Services
  • Chief of Police, or designee
  • Director of Residence Life, or designee
  • Representatives from the Chaplain's Office, Substance Abuse Counseling Services, Institutional Access and Equity, as may be necessary
  • Representatives from other areas of the university may participate in team meetings, as requested, on an ad-hoc basis

For more information about the CCC team please call 214-768-4564.