Campus Safety Infrastructure: Local Mental Health Resources

Do you consider mental health resources a part of your campus safety infrastructure?  You should.   

A lack of mental health supports such as counseling services, psychiatric services, and local hospitals, as well as policies and practices means your institution has inadequate campus safety resources.  

Campus safety is more than security officers and fire drills, it includes health; Specifically, mental health.  

Does your campus have a counseling office? Yes? Good.  But is it adequate? 

What about local resources?  Are they adequate? What about waiting times?  

As a school, what policies and practices do you have to support whatever resources you have? How do your policies relate to mental health supports and safety of the individual and of the community?  


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How Was The Turkey? More Action

How was the turkey?  Last week, I wrote an article about taking action on goals (LINK HERE).  During Thanksgiving week, at the front of the week (Monday-Wednesday) many people had downtime at work, while they waited for the holiday.  

Durign that time what action did you take? Now that Thanksgiving is over and we are in the final weeks of the year, can you continue the momentum…can you start now?  DON’T WAIT for January! Start now.

I took action on a some important goals that I had, some were ongoing and others were way behind schedule.  But, the action I took helped move them forward and made the turkey taste better.  

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Wildfires: Giving Thanks and Support

In the United States, today is Thanksgiving.  The holiday means a lot to people.  Today, I find myself thankful for service people: Law Enforcement, Firefighters, Public Works, Emergency Management, Delivery People, my building’s Doormen, and many others.  With the California Wildfires, I am especially thankful for those firefighters. Having helped fight much smaller wildfires, I can only imagine the challenges they are facing at both the line and management levels.

This time of year, people think about ways to give support to people who need it and certainly, the victims of the wildfires need it now.  To support the victims of those fires, and any disaster, donate money and not things. Clothes, food, etc. is not helpful unless a charity asks for it specifically.

Charity Navigator has listed several reliable charities that are “Highly-rated organizations providing relief and support to those affected by devastating wildfires.”  The list is available at:


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Family Safety: Codewords

What are the things that you worry about when thinking about safety?  What about with your family? With my background and interest areas, stuff that comes to mind for me includes fires, violent people, and medical emergencies.

The basics of home and family safety include some things like working smoke detectors (one per floor and one in every bedroom) and “EDITH” (Exit Drills In The Home).  And in today’s world, the basics need to include what to do when there is a violent person/active shooter (lockdown drills and something like “Avoid, Barricade, and Confront” or ABC).    

These types of situations, and many others, need a parent/adult to take control and direct the family to safety.  Rapidly getting the attention of a group of people, especially kids can be difficult. In emergency situations, taking action and getting to safety quickly is important.  Generally, plain language is preferred to codes but in a family situation “codewords” can be a way to get everyone to focus and follow the adult.

Choosing a codeword should be done with the family and the word should be something that does not come up in routine conversations but, it should be recognizable.  It is important to spend some time talking about it and ensuring that it is treated seriously.


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Student Discipline: Exceptions or Policy Changes?

In many educational settings, there are people who hold the responsibility for student discipline.  I have the honor of having worked in a few different settings where I had some of that responsibility.  Of course, being a Residence Hall Director at a large public university, a student conduct coordinator at a small college, a director of summer programs for high school students, and a Dean of Students at a boarding school (and other roles) have given me different views of, and authority over, student discipline.  However, there are a lot of parallels in terms of challenges faced.

One of the many challenges that I have seen and heard from other student conduct people is about the pressure to make exceptions to the way discipline is done and/or to the consequences given.  When are exceptions appropriate?  Are they ever? How does standard procedure fit with educational discretion?  What about due process?

If exceptions are needed or wanted, consider making a policy change.  If you are making an exception, is it one you can write into policy? If not, why not?  Perhaps you should not make the exception if your organization is uncomfortable writing it into the student code of conduct?  


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Taking Action: Better Turkey?

This time of year, there are a lot of goals that people set earlier in the year that are not completed (or even started…).  Rather than give up on them or wait until January, perhaps it is time to take action on them now?

Heading into Thanksgiving week, many people have deadtime on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as they anticipate the holiday.  Perhaps this is (it is…) a good time to take action on big goals, little goals, projects, and even organizing things that will move stuff forward.

What are the open goals, projects, ideas that you have?  Is there a “someday/maybe” list that you can take an immediate next step on?  Perhaps there is One Thing that you can dive deep into? Make things happen, be thankful, move forward.  

I would bet that a little action now makes the turkey taste better.  

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Elevator Entrapment Protocols and Considerations

Elevator Entrapment Protocols and Considerations

What to do when someone is stuck in an elevator?  This question comes up on occasion in campus safety and emergency management conversations.  I asked some colleagues in higher education emergency management via the Disaster Resistant University Listserv about this and got a lot of great responses.  

After reviewing their responses and having some conversations with other practitioners, facilities managers, and safety leaders I found some themes.  The main things I see that need to be considered when developing or updating one of these protocols in educational institutions are:

  • Protocols should differentiate between occupied and unoccupied elevators.
  • Notifications should go to Security/Police and Facilities.  If students, families, or staff are inside, an appropriate administrator (Dean on Call and/or HR) should be called.  
  • Regarding calling the Fire Department, if there are injuries, life-threatening emergencies, or other imminent dangers, call 911 immediately.  If none of these conditions exist, work with Facilities and Elevator Techs/Contractors.
  • Any elevator that had entrapment should be placed out-of-service with signs until cleared by Facilities and Elevator Techs/Contractors.

For specific example protocols, I have included a link to a view-only Google folder that contains many of the example protocols that I received when I posted to the DRU Listserv.  If yours is on this list and you want it off, let me know via comments or email and I will remove it. Folder link is here.  


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