WVU/Potomac State College Cares
What is the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT)?
The Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) is a tool to assist in providing a safe living and learning environment for faculty, staff and students. Representing a cross section of college departments, the BIT is not punitive and is not a disciplinary board but rather serves as the central point of contact for threat assessments. The team responds to reports of disruptive, problematic or concerning behavior or misconduct; conducts an investigation; performs a threat assessment; and determines the best mechanisms for support, intervention, warning/notification and response. The team then deploys college resources and resources of the community and coordinates follow-up.
When do I refer someone to the BIT?
If danger is imminent, always call 911.
Contact BIT if you experience concern about the well-being or safety of a WVU/Potomac State College student or any other person affecting the PSC community (including faculty, staff, parents, spouses, family members, and persons not affiliated with the campus) and are unsure about how to intervene or address the situation.
Some examples include:
- Highly disruptive and/or concerning behavior
- Bragging about having or actually possessing or brandishing a weapon on campus or storing one in vehicle
- Hostile, threatening or aggressive behavior
- Alarming references or infatuation with fires, firearms, knives or bombs
- Acts apparently motivated by hatred or discrimination
- Extreme alcohol or drug use
- Drastic, unexpected behavior changes
- Extreme verbal or written harassment or threats
- Extremes, or changes in, appearance such as looking disheveled, disoriented, extreme low energy or apathetic
- Disturbing writings or talking about suicide, violence in their past or future, obsessions with harming or violence
- Signs of paranoia or making references that are not germane to the topic or not related to the situational context
Individuals are expected to use their judgment as to what should be reported, erring on the side of over-reporting, when in doubt.
BIT does NOT respond directly to emergencies. Call 911 if you experience an emergency.
How to Contact BIT
CALL 911 if violence is imminent or is occurring.
For non-emergencies you can email BIT at PSC-Cares@mail.wvu.edu with the following information:
- The name of the Individual of Concern or Group along with any known information about that individual or group
- A description of what you saw or heard. Written documentation includes description of what happened, what was said, when it happened, who was involved, and what action was taken. Write objectively and give a factual accounting of what happened in a non-judgmental manner. It is important to refrain from inserting personal analysis, opinions or conclusions about the person’s character.
- Your contact information isn’t required however it is vital that the BIT is able to communicate and follow up with the person reporting should additional information be needed to complete the assessment. Contact the Dean of Student Life or the University Police if you have concerns about confidentiality.
- Any other information that you believe is relevant
You may also contact the University Police by telephone at 304-788-4106 or by email at PSC-Police@mail.wvu.edu and/or you may contact the Acting Dean of Student Life at 304-788-6995 or at email@example.com.
Referrals are reviewed during regular business hours when the College is open (typically Monday - Friday, 8 am – 4:30 pm). Please note submissions are not monitored 24/7.
If this is an emergent situation or an immediate threat to self or others, please call 9-911 (on campus telephone) or 911 (cellular or off campus telephone).
How do I document an incident in writing?
Written documentation includes description of what happened, what was said, when it happened, who was involved, and what action was taken. Write objectively and give a factual accounting of what happened in a non-judgmental manner. It is important to refrain from inserting personal analysis, opinions or conclusions about the person’s character.
What happens after I contact the BIT?
A BIT member will contact you, usually no later than the next business day, to gather additional information about your concern.
The team responds to reports of disruptive, problematic or concerning behavior or misconduct, conducts an investigation, performs a threat assessment, and determines the best mechanisms for support, intervention, warning/notification and response. The team then deploys college resources and/or resources of the community and coordinates follow-up. It is helpful to provide written documentation and evidence such as emails, messages, etc. when contacting the BIT.
Can I remain anonymous when reporting someone to the BIT?
Anonymous reports will be investigated as best as possible given the information provided. However, it is vital that the BIT be able to communicate and follow up with the person reporting should additional information be needed to complete the assessment.
Acting on Early Warning Signs
BIT cannot completely protect the College or respond to unreported incidents. Members of the campus community are expected to take any threat or violent act seriously and to immediately report such acts to appropriate personnel or to the police. Community members should not put themselves in harm’s way.
If you see something, say something!
What can I do if a person is raging at me?
Stay calm and do not raise your voice to their level. Look the person in the eye and say, “I understand that you are upset/angry. I want to help you but it’s not okay with me that you are _____ (state the specific objectionable behavior, e.g. yelling, cursing, interrupting, etc.) If you’ll _____ (be specific in stating an appropriate behavior, e.g. lower your voice, stop cursing, interrupting, etc.) we can discuss the situation and work to find a solution. If you don’t you will need to leave or I will call security.”
What should I do if I feel threatened or intimidated by someone’s behavior?
If danger is imminent or occurring, always call 911.
Throwing things, cursing, coming to class intoxicated, or threatening physical harm, etc. is not acceptable behavior. Tell the person his/her behavior (describe specifically) is not okay with you and that you will leave if it doesn’t stop. Always remove yourself from the area if you feel threatened. Document the incident and report it to the Behavioral Intervention Team or the University Police.
What should I do if someone sends me an inappropriate or offensive email or text message?
Tell the person specifically what about the message was inappropriate, to stop sending you messages and that if it continues, he/she will be reported to the dean of students or security.
When and how do I refer someone to the counseling office?
The counselor welcomes the opportunity to consult with students anytime about issues or concerns. When making a referral, please review the Counseling Services website for suggestions.
What should I do about disrespectful or minor disruptive behavior?
If your concern pertains to disrespectful or minor disruptive student behavior, please consult with your Dean/Chair or supervisor, or contact, Kara Anderson in the Student Conduct Office at 304-788-6910.
Guidelines for Responding to Students of Concern:
(Adapted from WVU’s Student Welfare Advisory Committee)
- Safety First: The welfare of the student and the campus community is our top priority when a student displays threatening or potentially violent behavior. Coordinated professional help and follow-up care are our most effective means of preventing suicide and violence.
- Trust your instincts: If you experience significant unease about a student, seek consultation from your department chair, supervisor, the BIT or the PSC Psychological Counseling office for Psychological and Service. Promptly report safely concerns and student conduct code violations to the Office of Student Conduct (304-788-6910).
- Listen sensitively and carefully: Vulnerable students need to be seen, heard and helped. Many students will have difficulty clearly articulating their distress. Don’t be afraid to ask students directly if they feel their functioning is impaired, or have thoughts of harming themselves or others.
- Be proactive: Engage students early on, setting limits on disruptive or self-destructive behavior. You can remind students verbally or in writing (e.g., in the class syllabus) of standards and expectations for campus/class conduct, and of possible consequences for disruptive behavior. Refer to the PSC Student Conduct Code for more information.
- Emphasize respect and care in supporting a campus of inclusion.
- De-escalate and support: Distressed students can be sensitive and easily provoked, so avoid threatening, humiliating or intimidating statements. Help students connect with the College’s resources needed to achieve stabilization. The PSC counseling office personnel provides individual consultations regarding de-escalation, support and referral for student services.
- Participate in a Coordinated and Timely Response: Share information and consult with appropriate College personnel to coordinate care for the student. Safeguard the student’s privacy rights.
- You should promptly report serious, persistent, or inappropriate behavior to the Dean of Student Life, the Dean of Academics, the University Police, a Residence Hall Coordinator, or to a person in an authoritative position. Misconduct may be formally addressed through the Student Conduct process, and additional campus resources may be necessary to help reduce or eliminate the student’s disruptive behaviors.
Prevention & proactive strategies to promote and sustain an environment that is conducive to teaching, learning, and working.
(Adapted from Laura Bennett, Harper College)
As members of a campus community, it is the responsibility of each of us to promote and sustain an environment that is conducive to teaching, learning, and working. As faculty and staff we have an additional responsibility to educate and role model the appropriate behaviors for students and community members. Sometimes individuals engage in concerning behaviors because it has not been clearly communicated what the expectations for behavior are. These are suggestions for actions that can be taken to prevent misconduct occurring:
Tips for Preventing Misconduct in the Classroom:
Instructors are responsible for determining academic standards and evaluating student performance in accordance with those standards. Along with this authority comes the responsibility for setting behavioral and social conduct standards for their classrooms. Instructors are encouraged to:
- Develop a relationship with each student. This not only decreases the likelihood of any kind of misconduct (including cheating) but also gives you a baseline by which to understand the student’s usual behavior.
- Expectations should be described in the syllabus and in relevant classroom discussions for such issues as students arriving late to class, sleeping during class, using cell phones in class, having side conversations during lectures, etc. For courses with online components, it is recommended that expectations regarding electronic communications be included. The more specific classroom expectations can be made, the more helpful these will be in circumstances involving classroom management issues.
- Review and discuss the Student Conduct Code . This not only deters potentially disruptive behaviors but also communicates to all students that you and the campus value a classroom environment free from disruption.
- Include information about what happens if a student violates the standards, such as you will request a meeting with the student in most cases and will file a Student Conduct Complaint if the behavior may violate the Code of Student Conduct.
- Practice! Discuss scenarios with your peers and develop a “toolbox” of strategies
Tips for Preventing Misconduct in Office Environments & Common Spaces:
- Assess the office environment from a new person’s perspective. If an individual walks into the offices and is unclear who to see for assistance, this can create tension and anxiety. Post signage that directs traffic flow. If there is only one person who can assist individuals, have a sign that shows where to sit and wait, and in what timeframe someone can expect to be assisted.
- Review the Student Conduct Code so that you have an understanding of the campus expectations and you have language to use if someone approaches violation of the policies. For example, it is reasonable for you to remind someone who is yelling to lower their voice because they are disturbing others in their work environment. It is possible to provide quality customer service while holding someone accountable to standards for behaviors.
- In common areas, post the guidelines for usage. Include information asking everyone to help maintain the environment, where and how to report concerns, and what will happen if the space or facility is abused.
- Practice! While it may feel awkward, roles play scenarios. Have a friend or colleague call you on the phone with a mock issue and try to de-escalate them. Solicit feedback from them about how your choice of language and tone of voice made them feel.
Lucas Taylor, Acting Dean of Student Life
Brian Kerling, University Police Chief
Kristin Morton, Licensed Counselor
Karen Sommers, Residence Life Specialist
Cherise Southerly, College Nurse
Kara Anderson, Student Code Administrator
Jennifer Jones, Academic Success Center Coordinator
Phil Douthitt, Associate Dean of Academics
Other Resources of Interest Regarding Behavior Intervention Teams: