By Dana Cole
The Board of Regents is on the verge of passing a policy that would permanently put a team in place to deter student behaviors that could potentially lead to a crisis on campus.
The Student Assistance and Intervention Team (SAIT) presented its policy to the Board of Regents in its quarterly meeting Sept. 28.
James Conneely, vice president for student affairs, said with incidents in the news such as the shooting at Virginia Tech, Eastern wanted to come up with a plan to be “proactive, not reactive,” should a similar situation present itself on Eastern’s campus.
“Obviously there have been a lot of issues around the U.S. on campuses and at schools,” Conneely said.
The goal of SAIT is to “respond to reports of students in the campus community who appear to be troubled or troubling, and intervene before the student behavior reaches a crisis level.”
“We don’t want to respond, we want to head off and avert problems students may have,” Conneely said.
Claire Good, associate vice president and dean of students, said when students and faculty observe another person exhibiting behaviors on campus and think are “weird” or out of the ordinary, they can contact SAIT. SAIT will then investigate the person and find out why he or she exhibits those behaviors.
The student may have a pre-existing condition or situation the university is not aware of, which causes these behaviors, Conneely said.
“It might seem like a weird behavior, but it is part of something larger,” Good said. “We look at everything that has happened to the student before class, after class and even before you got to EKU.”
The student will then be referred to other resources such as the Counseling Center on campus or outside sources if deemed necessary, Conneely said.
“We let the student know why we are concerned and let them know what resources we can offer them,” Good said.
Good said SAIT is not a disciplinary body on campus, but rather another resource for the campus community.
“We are not part of the judicial system,” Good said. “Students are surprised we want to help them. They think they are in trouble. They are not in trouble.”
Good and Conneely said they have been working on the project for nearly three years. They have researched similar action teams on other campuses and tailored the program to fit the specific needs of Eastern.
“We are not just repeating what other schools have done,” Conneely said. “We are meeting the needs of EKU.”
The policy was tabled at the Board of Regents meeting pending clarification of some formal policy language. Eastern President Doug Whitlock granted the team authority to operate under an interim policy until Good and Conneely’s presentation at the next board meeting in January.
“We are pleased President Whitlock approved it as an interim policy,” Conneely said.
Conneely and Good said they think the program will prove beneficial to campus safety and the safety of the community.
“This puts us ahead of the game as far as campus safety,” Conneely said. “In helping you [the students], we help the whole community.”