February 5, 2012

Sidebar: Behavioral Intervention Teams

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Inside the English building.
While the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus has a campus-wide Emergency Operations Plan, only 16 percent of its buildings have building Emergency Action Plans. The Office of Emergency Planning began an initiative to establish such plans for every building on campus more than two years ago, but estimates it will take a decade to get plans in place. The plans help building staff prepare better responses to emergencies like the presence of a gunman in a classroom. On the UI campus on Friday, Feb. 3, 2012.

Inside the English building. While the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus has a campus-wide Emergency Operations Plan, only 16 percent of its buildings have building Emergency Action Plans. The Office of Emergency Planning began an initiative to establish such plans for every building on campus more than two years ago, but estimates it will take a decade to get plans in place. The plans help building staff prepare better responses to emergencies like the presence of a gunman in a classroom. On the UI campus on Friday, Feb. 3, 2012.

By Mary Beth Versaci/For CU-CitizenAccess — A Behavioral Intervention Team is made up of representatives from offices across the University of Illinois campus meets once a week to discuss students whose behavior can be considered disruptive and concerning to the rest of the campus community.

This behavior oftentimes does not require disciplinary action, but it has reached a level of concern and needs to be addressed before it escalates, said Ken Ballom, dean of students.

“Becoming more aware of the student and offering support services could prevent future escalation and crisis,” Ballom said. “The role of the Behavioral Intervention Team is to review student behavior on campus that appears disruptive or destructive and intervene for safety and support.”

This team is just one requirement of the 2008 Campus Security Enhancement Act, which calls for all Illinois colleges and universities to have a violence prevention plan and threat assessment teams.

This act was developed as part of a report commissioned by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in response to the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.

The University of Illinois has a Campus Violence Prevention Plan which, among other things, establishes two threat assessment teams, one for students and one for faculty, staff and members of the public.

The Behavioral Intervention Team is the threat assessment team for students.

Representatives from the Counseling Center, McKinley Health Center, Office of the Dean of Students, Office of Student Conflict Resolution, University Police and the Housing Division of Resident Life all serve as members of the Behavioral Intervention Team. The Office of the Dean of Students also oversees the team.

Referrals of cases to the Behavioral Intervention Team are oftentimes made by the Office of the Dean of Students in response to the concern of a member of the University community, such as a faculty or staff member, Ballom said.

Many cases involving students who are distressed or disruptive in some way are brought to the Office of the Dean of Students each year. Anyone on campus can contact the Dean of Students about students, including the students themselves.

According to the Office of the Dean of Students, the Emergency Dean, who performs the functions of the office during off-hours, handled 1,130 cases in 2010-11 and 1,157 cases in 2009-10.

The Student Assistance Center, another part of the office, saw an additional 5,497 cases in 2010-11.

While all these cases were brought to the Office of the Dean of Students, not all of them were referred to the Behavioral Intervention Team.

Generally, the case has to be disruptive, serious or prolonged enough to reach the level of being a concern to campus to receive a referral to the Behavioral Intervention Team, Ballom said.

While team members may sometimes have no cases to discuss at their weekly meetings, sometimes they discuss cases for multiple weeks.

When a case comes to the Office of the Dean of Students, the office’s priority is to make sure students are referred to the appropriate campus offices and receive the necessary services, whether that referral includes the Counseling Center, Office of Student Conflict Resolution, Behavioral Intervention Team or some other campus group.

“It’s about trying to resolve an issue in the best way possible,” Ballom said. “How can we best help that person to get the best assistance?”