Tragedy and trauma, whether internal or external to the university, can affect our entire campus community. Examples of this include: campus violence, a natural disaster, or a student death. A traumatic event that impacts the entire campus can have a devastating impact on students and the campus community at large.
The following is meant to offer suggestions for what you, as a faculty member, might do to help your students and yourself cope with effects of the traumatic event.
- Be informed. Students may look to you for information and support. Be prepared and have facts as well as dispel any rumors that may arise.
- Don't be afraid to ask students how they are doing. Allow for discussion of this and if further facilitation is needed, utilize the SCC counselors to be of support. Also, don't be afraid to share your own feelings with the class; this can often help open up conversation.
- Normalize that there may be a range of emotional responses. And remember, you don't need to do anything, just be genuine, attentive, and listen.
- Be aware that the effects of the tragedy can remain for an extended period of time. Students more directly affected may need more time to complete assignments, delay exams, etc. While making accommodations, maintain the professional nature of the faculty/student relationship while also providing support and genuine care.
- If appropriate, refer the student to the Student Counseling Center. The Student Counseling Center offers individual, group, crisis and couple counseling. After a school tragedy, support and grief groups may also become available for students to attend. You can call the Student Counseling Center at 972-883-2575 to speak to a counselor or an on-call counselor is available during after hours at 972-UTD-TALK.