Division of Student Affairs > Resources > Faculty & Staff > Common Faculty Questions > Student Behavior

Student Behavior


The Dean of Students Office has processes and resources, including a administrative withdrawal process and absence notifications, to assist students who are facing significant personal circumstances that affect their ability to be academically successful.

You can also navigate to the Student Affairs support services webpage for information on counseling, health and wellness, peer support and other resources.

It is generally more helpful to comment on a student’s observable behavior and avoid diagnostic labeling. Attempt to:

  • Establish a supportive relationship with the student.
  • Check-in with them in a direct and empathic manner and see what the student is willing to disclose. Students who tell you directly that they are emotionally distressed and have been unable to resolve their concerns on their own may be reaching out for help and ready to accept it. In this case, you should feel comfortable referring the student to the Dean of Students Office. Additionally, the Dean of Students Office can confer with faculty on the most appropriate next steps for the student depending on the situation.

The situation is more difficult when students do not confide in you directly, but when you infer from their behavior that they are emotionally distressed. Depending on the particulars of the situation, you may or may not choose to approach the student. The decision depends on such factors as:

  • What specific behaviors of the student are of concern
  • How troubled the student seems to be
  • Your relationship with the student
  • How approachable the student is
  • Your personality style and your feelings about intervening

The most appropriate response to students who disclose their personal concerns to you is to:

  • Listen.
  • Empathize with their feelings and be genuinely supportive.
  • Keep your own limits in mind; do not get more involved in the student’s life than is comfortable or appropriate for you (in terms of how long the conversations continue, how frequently personal conversations occur, when and where they take place, and how much is expected of you).

For students who seem to need more than you are able or willing to provide, or if professional counseling seems necessary, refer the student to UCS. Tell the student that UCS is there to provide confidential assistance to students managing problems like theirs. For more information and advice on dealing with emotionally troubled students, call UCS and request a phone or in-office consultation.

While it is important to respect the student’s privacy, faculty or staff members are not bound by professional standards of confidentiality, as are licenced clinicians. There are times when it is appropriate and necessary to discuss concerns and observations about a troubled student with others who might be helpful. For example, Title IX requires that when an individual who is a "responsible employee" learns of sex discrimination, including sexual or relationship violence, the responsible employee is required to promptly report specific information about the situation to DePaul's Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate designees. 

At DePaul, all DePaul faculty and staff who have not otherwise been designated as confidential reporting resources are responsible employees. 

Additionally, the Dean of Students Office can work with faculty on resource and support referrals. Please feel free to contact an Assistant Dean of Students for more information.

If there is any question of imminent risk (an emergency situation), or if you become aware of a student who is more than simply distressed and upset but is out of control, violent, and/or is suicidal or homicidal, then immediate intervention is needed.

If you believe the student would harm themselves or others, call 911 and then Public Safety at (773) 325-7777 for the Lincoln Park Campus or (312) 362-8400 for the Loop Campus. If it is a non-life-threatening situation, attempt to get the student to the Dean of Students Office or UCS at once. If the student refuses to go, call the Dean of Students Office or UCS to consult with a staff member about what else can be done.

Talk about your concerns with the student and focus on observable behavior (tardiness, slurred speech, cognitive impairment or other behaviors that interfere with new learning ability and may be suggestive of overusing substances or medications). Remind the student of the resources that are available at the counseling center. 

Assessments about use and abuse of medications are very difficult to make, so feel free to call UCS at the Lincoln Park Campus at (773) 325-7779 or the Loop Campus at (312) 362-6923 to consult with a clinical staff member. Additionally, please feel free to utilize the subtance misuse prevention specialist in the office of Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) at (773) 325-4550.

Every student who attends DePaul University is responsible for their own actions. DePaul publishes the Code of Student Responsibility as well as Academic Student Handbooks which are quick references outlining student responsibilities. You can read the Academic Student Handbooks online or review Student Affairs’ webpage on Student Conduct.

If you think the student is open to discussing their concerns with you, let the student know that you have noticed they seem upset lately, and ask if they would like to talk with you about it. In many cases, suggesting an appointment with the Dean of Students Office is helpful. The Dean of Students Office will meet with the student and discuss the best resources for the particular situation. The Dean of Students Office will make referrals to other campus departments including University Counseling Services (UCS). 

The point of first contact (non-emergency) in UCS is an initial consultation with a senior staff psychologist. An initial consultation can be scheduled within 1-3 business days and helps a student determine the next best step if psychological counseling is appropriate. Students can walk-in to the Loop or Lincoln Park offices or call UCS at (312) 362-6923 (Loop) or (773) 325-7779 (Lincoln Park) to make an appointment.

Keep in mind that some students may reject your efforts, deny all troubles and/or feel intruded upon. On the other hand, they might feel appreciative of your interest and concern, and your contact with them might be an important step toward their dealing with their problems.

To learn more about University Counseling Services, navigate to go.depaul.edu/ucs.