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Colleges and universities around the country are becoming more diligent and proactive in providing a safe environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors to their campuses. Changes in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) have given administrators “appropriate flexibility and deference” regarding the disclosure of educational records and information[1]. The U.S. Department of Education encourages schools and colleges to develop threat assessment programs and teams. These teams should include campus community members and may include members such as local police and health professionals. Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation supports the development of threat assessment teams in its report, Mass Victimization: Promising Avenues for Prevention[2].

Our university has established the Welfare and Intervention Team (BIT) to assist in addressing situations in which students are displaying behaviors that are concerning, disruptive, or threatening in nature and that potentially impede their own or others’ ability to function successfully or safely. These procedures are designed to help identify persons whose behavior potentially endangers their own or others’ health and safety, or is disruptive to the educational or administrative processes of the university.

It is the responsibility of faculty, staff, and students to immediately report any situation that could possibly result in harm to anyone at the university. Any member of the campus community may become aware of a person of concern or situation that is causing serious anxiety, stress, or fear. It must be noted, however, that behavioral assessment should not be confused with crisis management. A “crisis” may be defined as a situation in which a person may pose an active or immediate risk of violence to self or others. In these cases, call 911. The Dean of students should also be contacted by calling 406-925-9782.

Team Mission & Vision

Purpose

As a result of growing national trends on college campuses of mental health issues and the increase in unsafe behaviors leading to harm or death, University of Montana Western has created the Welfare and Intervention Team (BIT). In order to promote the safety and wellness of the University, the BIT addresses behaviors that are disruptive or concerning and may include mental health and/or safety issues as well as giving a little extra care to our students in need.

Mission

The BIT is a multi-disciplinary team made of University officials with responsibility for discussing, assessing, and responding to reports of individuals who are demonstrating disruptive or concerning behaviors.  The BIT is designed to be a centralized entity that is proactive in providing swift, coordinated, caring, and developmental intervention to members of the campus community prior to crisis.

Team Goals

  • Provide a safe physical environment for members of the university community,
  • Provide a safe emotional environment for the university community, and
  • Promote peace of mind for friends and family of the university community.
  • Actively communicate about concerning student behaviors between campus departments, and
  • Proactively intervene when appropriate to address and ideally prevent acts of violence.

[1] Federal Register, (2008). Proposed Rules, Department of Education, 34 CFR Part 99, RIN 1855–AA05 [Docket ID ED–2008–OPEPD–0002], March 24, 2008, 73; 57.

[2] Jarvis, John & Scherer, J. Amber. (2015) Mass Victimization: Promising Avenues for Prevention. Washington D.C: Federal Bureau of Investigation.