Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Arnett C. Mace Jr. today announced the appointment of an eight-member Behavioral Assessment and Response Council. Creation of such a group was the top recommendation put forward by the committee on Evaluation of Psychological Services and Protocols, one of two committees that issued reports last fall assessing campus security readiness in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy. The purpose of the BARC will be to rapidly assess and determine appropriate responses to serious behavioral problems exhibited by members of the university community.
The BARC will be chaired by Rodney Bennett, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. A vice chair will be elected from the committee and will be responsible for convening the group in the chair’s absence. The other committee members are: Alan Campbell, associate dean in student affairs; Karen Kalivoda, director of the Disability Resource Center; Gerry Kowalski, executive director of University Housing; Amanda Patterson, assistant director of legal affairs; Gayle Robbins, director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services at the University Health Center; Jimmy Williamson, chief of police; and Matt Winston, assistant to the president.
Mace said students will be referred to the BARC if they exhibit behaviors such as making direct threats or inflicting physical violence, attempting suicide or expressing intent toward suicide, committing sexual assault, stalking, self-injury, disruptive classroom behavior that the individual refuses to moderate, engaging in high-risk behaviors including substance abuse, conduct that threatens the health or safety of another person, and other behaviors that indicate a need for institutional intervention. Among other such behaviors included in a list that is not intended to be exhaustive, Mace said, are an inability to regulate one’s emotion or cognition, communication of disturbing thoughts or fantasies, and expressions of hopelessness or of emotional distress or high anxiety.
Upon receiving a referral, BARC will evaluate the student’s conduct. If it is determined that the behavior presents a substantial threat of harm to the student or others, is unduly disruptive to the campus learning environment, or is otherwise demonstrably inconsistent with the university’s educational mission, BARC will be empowered to take a variety of actions. Those include barring the student from campus, issuing an interim suspension, requiring the student to take involuntary medical leave, or ordering the student to undergo mandatory psychological assessment. Failure of the student to comply may result in summary involuntary withdrawal.
Mace further asked the committee to consider how similarly troubling behavior by faculty and staff should be addressed, including whether a separate behavioral assessment team should be created for those cases. The BARC is authorized to begin functioning immediately, but also will be charged with developing permanent protocols such as referral procedures and specific descriptions of troubling behavior that will trigger the process, including procedures that protect legally-required confidentiality, privacy and due process for those referred.