Threat Assessment Team

Working with the Community to Prevent Violence

What is Threat Assessment?

"Threat Assessment is a process to identify and respond to students, faculty and staff who may pose a danger to others on campus may pose a danger to themselves, or who may simply be struggling and in need of assistance and resources." 

- G. Deisinger, M. Randazzo,
D. O'Neill, J. Savage in
The Handbook for Campus Threat Assessment & Management Teams


Washington Adventist University has established a Threat Assessment Team to address situations where students may be exhibiting disruptive, threatening or worrisome behaviors that have the potential to impede their own academic progress, or that has the potential to impede the ability of others to function successfully or safely.

It is imperative that any member of the WAU community – faculty, staff or students – immediately report any situation that could result in harm to anyone at the University. Any member of the campus community may become aware of a troubling situation that is causing serious anxiety, stress, or fear. If such a situation appears to be imminent, including possible immediate risk of violence to self or others, it should be reported immediately to the Department of Campus Safety. Any situation not deemed to be imminent, yet still of concern should be reported to the Office of Student Life.

This Team has been established to:

  • Respond to possible circumstances of violence or threatening behavior;
  • Respond quickly to behavior indicating a potential risk to self or others;
  • Determine if a realistic threat is present and act accordingly;
  • Coordinate and assess information from faculty, administrators, students and local authorities;
  • Notify, within FERPA guidelines, parents, guardians and/or next-of-kin;
  • Identify resources for troubled students and make referrals to appropriate campus and off-campus agencies, including helping with the securing of therapeutic actions such as treatment or counseling;
  • Periodically assess outcomes of actions taken

For the safety of the campus community any threat, explicit or implied, will be considered a statement of intent. The Threat Assessment Team will investigate any concern and act as necessary to protect the campus community.

Threat-related information must be forwarded to the Office of Student Life or in an imminent situation directly to the Department of Campus Safety. The report will be initially evaluated, and if appropriate a group from the Threat Assessment Team will be convened. Any member of the campus community is expected to make themselves available as needed for advice and consultation.

When information is received about a possible threat, it will be investigated and a determination will be made using the best available information regarding the level of threat present. This determination will be made by assessing the initial concern in conjunction with any corroborating evidence, the student’s disciplinary record, and any other relevant information as deemed appropriate by the Threat Assessment Team. The determination of the Threat Assessment Team is intended only as an initial intervention, and should only be considered as the first part of an ongoing review. While the Team is comprised of skilled and knowledgeable staff who will make every effort to consider all angles of a situation, it should be noted that assessing a possible threat can never be 100% accurate.

As needed, the Threat Assessment Team will ask the Vice-President of Student Life, or designee, to place a student on an interim suspension pending a disciplinary hearing, require internal or external psychological evaluations, or act in any other manner as allowed by the University’s  policy in order to ensure the safety of the campus community.

The Threat Assessment Team consists of University personnel with expertise in law enforcement, threat assessment, academic affairs, and student affairs. Whenever possible a collaborative process will be used to assess the perceived threat. A core team of key campus leaders will generally comprise the Team, and a secondary support team will be available as needed to assist with the investigation and assessment of a situation. Other individuals may also be consulted such as a faculty member who has a concern about a student. Generally when investigating a possible student threat four members of the core team – one each from Student Life, Academic Affairs, the Counseling Center, and Campus Safety, to be chaired by the representative from the Office of Student Life – will be assembled to manage the investigation and make a determination regarding the level of threat.

The Team will meet on an emergency basis and as needed to review reports brought forward by faculty, staff, and students concerning disruptive, inappropriate, and/or threatening behavior.

Core Team

  • Vice President for Student Life
  • Deans of Resident Life
  • Director of Campus Safety
  • Campus Professional Counselor
  • Campus Nurse


General questions about the role or purpose of the Threat Assessment Team should be forwarded to the Office of Student Life at any time.


Behavioral Intervention Team

Purpose of the Behavioral Intervention Team

As a result of growing national trends on college campuses of mental health issues and the increase in hospitalizations and deaths due to alcohol consumption, Washington Adventist University created the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT). In order to promote the safety and health of its students, the BIT addresses student behaviors that are disruptive and may include mental health and/or safety issues. Students who qualify for a Behavioral Intervention Team referral demonstrate one or more of the behaviors above.
The Behavioral Intervention Team consists of a group of qualified and dedicated WAU professionals whose mission is to:
•Balance the individual needs of the student and those of the greater campus community
•Provide a structured positive method for addressing student behaviors that impact the university community and may involve mental health and/or safety issues
•Manage each case individually
•Initiate appropriate intervention without resorting to punitive measures
•Eliminate "fragmented care"
The team works to: 
•Intervene early and provide support and behavioral response to students displaying varying levels of disruptive, disturbed and distressed behaviors
•Respond with support first and sanctions as a last resort
•Predict with accurate individualized assessment the potential for violent, homicidal and/or suicidal behaviors while avoiding stigmatizing mental health issues and stereotype-based profiling
•Enable adherence to a formalized protocol of instructions for communication, coordination and intervention
•Balance FERPA, HIPAA and counselor privilege with college need-to-know and emergency communication needs
•Centralize collection and assessment of red flags raised by student behavior and connect the dots of disparate problematic actions involving one student that may be known to various faculty, staff and administrators
•Engage faculty and staff in effective response with respect to disruptive and/or distressed students
•Coordinate follow-up to ensure that services, support and resources are deployed effectively
•Coordinate mandated psychological assessment, conduct actions, disability services, accommodations, hospitalization and/or medical leave/withdrawal, as needed, and eliminate fragmented care
What to Report
In general, any behavior that disrupts the mission or learning environment of the university or causes concern for a student’s well-being should be reported. This includes:
Self-injurious behavior/suicidal ideation or attempt:
Behaviors include, but are not limited to: suicidal thoughts or actions, self-mutilation 
Erratic behavior (including online activities) that disrupts the mission and/ or normal proceedings of University students, faculty, staff, or the community 
Violation of alcohol and drug use policy: 
Behaviors include, but are not limited to: erratic behavior (on-or-off-campus) created by the use of alcohol or drugs, involuntary hospitalization due to alcohol or drug use 
Concerns about a student’s well-being
BIT will act quickly to respond to reports; however, BIT team may not able to provide an immediate response to a concern. Call 911 or Campus Security if you feel threatened or an immediate response is needed.
How to Report
A. Complete the on-line confidential form   
B. Contact any member of BIT: 
Core Team
•Vice President for Student Life 
•Deans of Resident Life
•Director of Campus Safety
•Campus Professional  Counselor 
•Campus Nurse 
What Happens to a Behavioral Report Form
Once a report is submitted:
1) Report immediately enters secure database
2) Automated notification is sent to Campus Student Life Dean 
3) Report is reviewed by BIT
4) Reporter may be contacted for further information
Potential Outcomes of Reports
The BIT may
Recommend no action, pending further observation
Assist faculty or staff in developing a plan of action
Refer student to existing on-campus support resources
Refer student to appropriate community resources
Make recommendations consistent with college policies and procedures

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make an appointment?

You can schedule a first appointment by calling us at 891-4089 or stopping by the Center which is located in Wilkinson Hall on the fourth floor office 426. Our offices open at 8:30 am and we recommend that you call early as our appointments often fill quickly.

Where are you located?

The Counseling Center is located on the fourth floor of Wilkinson Hall Building, office 426. 

Who is eligible for your services? Is there a cost for your services?

All students registered at Washington Adventist University are eligible for services. There are no additional charges for any of the clinical services offered at the Counseling Center.

How many sessions does the Counseling Center offer?

The Counseling Center provides short-term, individual counseling focused on helping students develop solutions to issues affecting their academic work and personal lives. Many students find that their issues can be resolved after only a couple of sessions. If you or your counselor determine that longer-term, individual counseling would be helpful, your counselor will assist with referrals to the community.

What types of counseling services do you provide?

The Counseling Center provide individual, couples’ and group counseling focused on a range of  common concerns shared by students.  We also provide specialized assessments for Depression, Anxiety, Suicide and Alcohol and Drug related concerns. 

What can I expect when I come to the Counseling Center?

You will be asked to complete several confidential forms that will provide your counselor with information regarding why you have scheduled an appointment and what types of concerns you want to address in your appointment. You will meet with your counselor for about 45 minutes and she will then talk with you about what types of services the Counseling Center has available that would be most helpful to you.

Who are your counselors?

The Counseling Center counselor is a licensed mental health professional.  In addition, the counseling center has graduate counseling interns who are supervised by the licensed staff member.

  Do you prescribe medication?

Some students find that medication, often in conjunction with counseling, can be useful in addressing their mental health concerns. Since the counselor at this center does not prescribe medication, we collaborate with physicians in the community. If you are interested in being evaluated for medication, it is necessary for you to first discuss this with a mental health counselor. Your counselor may then refer you to a psychiatrist, primary care physician, or nurse practitioner who has the ability to prescribe medication. They will evaluate the appropriateness of medications in treating your symptoms and consult with you about their recommendations.

What kind of issues do students come to the Counseling Center to get help with?

Students come to the Counseling Center for a wide variety of reasons. Some students are having trouble adjusting to college life or are having conflict with a roommate or their parents. Many of our clients have a specific concern related to depression, anxiety, alcohol or substance abuse, eating concerns or a similar clinical issue. Our counselors can help you understand troubling feelings and behaviors and help you to feel better in general.

Who will see my Counseling Center records?

All Counseling Center records are confidential in accordance with Maryland mental health law. Your records stay at the Counseling Center and can only be released to a third party with your written consent except under specific circumstances outlined in our confidentially policy. The Counseling Center record will not become a part of your academic record.

Campus Violence Prevention

Washington Adventist University is committed to the safety and security of its students, faculty, staff and vistors. To that end, the campus violence prevention plan specifically addresses the university protocal to the prevention and reduction of violent incidents. 
The plan is inter-disciplinary and is dedicated to ensuring every known behavioral or violenct incident is addressed adequately following established campus policies and procedures. Washington Adventist University campus violence prevention is founded on principle of early intervention and proactive engagement to prevent violence and provide supportive services.   

Resources for Parents

Tips for Parents and Loved Ones

Parents and Loved Ones as Helping Resources for Student
University students typically experience a wide range of stressors/issues (i.e. academic, family, social, developmental, financial, and work) during their time at WAU. Parents, family members, friends and others, by virtue of the frequency and nature of their contacts with their loved one are often seen as more logical first contacts for advice and support. More importantly, you are often one of the first and sometimes the only person to recognize that your loved one is not functioning well, academically or personally. Hopefully, the information on this webpage will assist you in handling those who may be in need of mental health services.
Recognizing a Troubled Loved One
Sometimes it is easy to identify those who are struggling and at times their distress is hidden. Here are some obvious and not so obvious signs of distress to look for.
Signs of Depression
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Low self-esteem
  • Change in appetite
  • Crying spells
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Feelings of helplessness/hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
Signs of Anxiety
  • Constantly tense, worried, or on edge
  • Anxiety interferes with your work, school, or family responsibilities
  • Plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake
  • Belief that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way
  • Avoidance of everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety
  • Experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic
  • Feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner
Academic Performance
  • Drop in class attendance
  • Incapacitating test anxiety
  • Pattern of dropping classes
  • Poor academic performance
  • Severe reactions to poor test/paper grade
  • Unrealistic career goals
  • Chronic indecisiveness or procrastination
  • Academic probation
  • Poor study, reading and or comprehension skills
  • Academic dismissal
Unusual Behavior
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Aggressive/threatening behavior
  • Dramatic weight change
  • Prolonged or extreme emotionality
  • Significant decline in personal hygiene
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Inappropriate or bizarre conversation
  • Self-injurious behavior


Life-Circumstance Concerns

  • Death or serious illness of family member or friend
  • Illness (loss of health)
  • Relationship breakup
  • Parents’ divorce
  • Coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
  • Cultural oppression/discrimination
  • Difficulty making and keeping friends
  • Shyness
  • Problems with roommates
  • Severe homesickness
References to Suicide or Homicide
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness
  • Homicidal threats
  • Preoccupation with death, giving away valued possessions
  • Isolation from others
  • Thoughts or threats of suicide or plans for suicide
  • Physical threats to others
Other Concerns
  • Alcohol and other drug abuse
  • Physical Assault/Abuse
  • Internet usage (i.e. pornography, gambling)
  • Sexual Assault/Abuse
Your Role
Although these signs and symptoms may serve as warning signs that a loved one is in distress, most by themselves do not necessarily mean that they have a serious problem that warrants psychological help. (References to suicide or homicide are obvious exceptions). In general, the more of these behaviors you observe, the more cause there is for concern, particularly if these behaviors persist over a period of time. These are signals that suggest you should consider expressing your concern to your loved one and possibly referring them to mental health services.
Referring a Loved One
Referral may be made to mental health professionals, deans, housing personnel, academic advisers, and the like. When you are faced with a loved one whom you feel you cannot help, for whatever reason, it is helpful to know about the campus resources so that you can make appropriate referrals. If you are referring someone for professional counseling, knowing the services of the counseling center will help you. If you are unsure about the services of the Counseling Center or would like to consult about a particular loved one, please feel free to contact the center.
Crisis Situation
If the crisis occurs during the day, call the Counseling Center (891-4089) or Health Services (891-4525) to arrange the appropriate appointment or gathering of information. When contacting either department, it will be helpful to declare this is an emergency and that the loved one needs to be seen right away.
If the crisis occurs after business hours or the individual won’t see a counselor, can’t be found, or refuses contact with others, call the Maryland Crisis number 301-728-2255 and you will get a consultation with a mental health professional. In the event of an emergency please call 911 or visit your nearest hospital.  
The Counseling Center adheres to state laws and ethical standards that require that the information resulting from counseling is held in strict confidence. Unless a student signs a release of information, the center will not acknowledge to outside parties (e.g. parents, friends, faculty/staff) that a student is being seen or has been seen at the agency. Exceptions are made when there is a clear and present danger to self or others, apparent child abuse, or in a response to a court order as prescribed by the State of Maryland Mental Health Confidentiality Act.  
Counseling Services
Contact Information: (301) 891-4089