June 17, 2024

UMW Cares Team – Reporting Threatening or Dangerous Behavior

 What is the UMW Cares Team?

In 2009 the University of Mary Washington established the UMW Cares Team, a system used to identify and support students, faculty, and staff during high risk situations.  This multidisciplinary team functions as the central collection point and repository for information when concerns are raised about a student or employee who may be at risk for harming self or others and/or who may pose a significant disruption to the campus environment. The goal of the team is to identify, prevent, and reduce the risk of violence on campus and to promote the safety and well-being of all members of the University community.  The team meets regularly to identify and evaluate campus concerns and intervene to re-establish a safe environment for our students, employees and visitors.

 Should I report concerning, threatening, or dangerous behavior? “It may be nothing, but …”

 If you experience or are informed of any behavior which may present a concern/threat to the University community, or you are aware of circumstances where Cares Team intervention may support or engage a student at a critical moment in his/her educational experience, please call and report the information to a UMW Cares Team member.  Even concerns that may seem minimal can be part of a broad issue impacting a student or community member.  We want to hear from you.

What should be reported?

There are many behaviors that may cause concern for the safety and well-being of an individual or the campus as a whole. The following is not an exhaustive list, but provides examples of concerning behaviors or situations:

 Unusual or abrupt changes in behaviors or patterns;

  • Extreme reaction to a loss or traumatic event;
  • Preoccupation with weapons, violent events, or persons who have engaged in violent acts;
  • Uncharacteristically poor performance;
  • References to harming others or planning a violent or destructive event;
  • Evidence of depression, hopelessness, or suicidal thoughts/plans;
  • Inappropriate responses such as prolonged irritability, angry outbursts, or intense reactions;
  • Strained interpersonal relations, isolating behaviors, or low self-esteem;
  • Significant change in life circumstances such as loss of job or relationship.

(Randazzo and Plummer, 2009, pp.123-125)

It is important to share the name of the individual(s) involved and specific behavioral observations.  UMW will accept anonymous reports, but having limited information minimizes options when addressing the situation.

When should I make a report?

Early intervention is essential… and allows members of the UMW community to address concerns and issues in the timeliest manner possible.  Through early detection many problems may be averted and situations resolved without incident.

How do I make a report?

 If you are aware of an emergency or an immediate safety concern, report the situation to law enforcement.  To contact law enforcement call 4444 from a campus phone.  If you are calling from a cell phone dial 911 or 540-654-4444.

If you are concerned about threatening behavior or a disturbing situation that is NOT an emergency event, contact the University of Mary Washington Police Department.  In non-emergency situations you may also call a member of the UMW Cares Team to discuss the circumstances of the situation and initiate a report.

Doug Searcy, (ext. 1062) Vice President for Student Affairs (Team Leader)

  • Cedric Rucker, (ext. 1200) Dean of Student Life (Behavioral Intervention Team Leader) 
  • Susan Knick, (ext. 1025) Assistant Vice President for Public Safety and Community Services
  • Sabrina Johnson, (ext. 1046) Associate Vice President for Human Resources
  • Dan Hubbard, (ext. 1460) Associate Professor, College of Business
  • Chris Porter, (ext. 1058) Director of Residence Life and Commuter Student Services
  • Counseling and Psychological Services Consultant,  (ext. 1053)  All staff counselors
  • Sallie Braxton, (286-8016) Associate Dean of Advising Services (Stafford Campus Academic Representative)

What will happen to the information you share?

The goal of the team is to resolve all issues with dignity using appropriate discretion.  Your identity will be treated privately to support a positive outcome while ensuring safety as the central priority.  The primary purpose of all intervention is to sustain a safe community and garner support for individuals in need.

Why UMW Cares?

The UMW Cares Team was formed as part of legislation passed by the 2008 Session of the General Assembly (§23-9.2:10 of the Code of Virginia) requiring state institutions to form a collaborative approach to threat assessment. Although this function is state-mandated, UMW recognizes its essential value to the University community and fully endorses the mission of the team to support the community and further the educational mission of the institution.  The Mary Washington Board of Visitors officially endorsed the structure and function of the UMW Cares Team in spring 2010.

Doug Searcy, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
University of Mary Washington