EKU prides itself on its commitment to student success but, for some students, the road to graduation isn’t always straight or smooth.
At some point, many students deal with roadblocks such as personal setbacks, family and relationship difficulties, substance abuse, mental health issues or simply stress related to grades or career choices, any of which can affect their progress toward a degree or even cause them to drop out of school. In some cases, students begin to pose a threat to themselves or others.
Enter the University’s Student Assistance Intervention Team (SAIT), a group committed to ensuring that students get the help they need when they need it, before a problem becomes a crisis.
“Our goal is to have a safe campus, but also to aid in student success,” said Kenna Middleton, dean of students.
The team, composed of officials from the areas of Student Success, Counseling, Housing, Police and others, meets weekly to consider cases and develop intervention plans. Others are brought in as needed. Typically, students are referred to the team by faculty, staff or even their classmates.
“We gather info on students to see a pattern of behavior,” said Middleton. “We look at their grades, we talk to faculty, staff and administrators and/or to residence hall staff, and we work to find a resolution. Our goal is to get students into some form of treatment that will help them remain students.”
SAIT works best, Middleton said, when all segments of campus are keenly attuned to “out-of-the-ordinary” student behavior.
“If you see something, say something,” she said. “Then it can be dealt with before it becomes a crisis.”
Middleton said the key is to know the “baseline” for each student – in other words, their typical personality, behavior, academic performance and even the content of their written work – and then be alert for substantial changes.
Any report made to SAIT will remain confidential, Middleton said, and those reporting are apprised of action plans.
Whether it’s the threat of violent behavior, an addiction issue or the possibility of leaving school, “reporting is the key,” she said. “Better to report and there be nothing found than not report and then find there’s a major issue.”
But Middleton offered one caveat: “We’re never a substitute for police. If you ever have a concern for your safety or for the safety of those around you, call the campus police.”