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DePaul's Student Care Team: Preventing and Managing Critical Incidents

Campus safety has always been on the forefront of many college administrator’s minds, but since the Virginia Tech incident in 2007, when 32 community members were tragically shot and killed by a student gunman, it has taken on special significance. Various events on college campuses since then have only underscored the need for colleges and universities to be prepared for just about any crisis.  Here at DePaul, Public Safety facilitated active shooter trainings, Facility Operations recently installed classroom door barricades and Student Affairs implemented a protest safety team structure. Being prepared is important, but mitigating risks is also key to the safety of the DePaul community, and that’s where the Student Care Team (SCT) comes into play. 

“The Student Care Team is a manifestation of the university’s mission to provide a learning environment that is healthy, safe and productive,” says Jeff Lanfear, director of University Counseling Services and member of the Student Care Team. 

The team, chaired by the Dean of Students, meets weekly to review and discuss student behavioral concerns and how the concerns are best addressed to ensure the student’s and the community’s safety. The Dean of Students can also call the team together on an on-call basis for critical cases. 

The Dean of Students and associate dean of students, as well as the directors of the Center for Students with Disabilities, Health Promotion and Wellness, Residential Education, University Counseling Services and Public Safety are all members of the SCT. Through their roles on the team, members provide resources to at-risk students and intervene in potentially dangerous situations.

“Whether a student is having a medical or psychological crisis, dealing with sexual assault or interpersonal conflict or violence, exhibiting distressing or disturbing behaviors, substance abuse or homelessness, the Care Team provides enhanced communication, advocacy, support and case management to help students get the care and resources they need to be successful academically and personally,” Lanfear shares.

The Dean of Students first takes concerns about student behavior to the student, and then often brings the concerns to the SCT. The SCT may then deem it necessary to create an action plan to resolve any concerns, based on the details of the situation. The team may also recommend university or other resources that may be helpful to the student. The action plan is shared with relevant faculty, staff and other university members to help manage the situation. 

The SCT assembled after the on-campus death of a student over 30 years ago. That incident revealed how important it was to have a team ready to prevent and manage violent situations. Similar task forces are now required by law in Illinois due to the Illinois Campus Security Enhancement Act of 2008, which requires public and private institutions to have a designated threat assessment team. Such a requirement exists for only two states in the United States: Virginia and Illinois.

If you are concerned about a student and the potential for dangerous behavior, contact the Dean of Students Office right away, so that these concerns can be properly evaluated. You can call the office at 773.325.7290, or use the incident reporting form​ on the Dean of Students Office website to share your concern.