How to Help as a Faculty Member

As a faculty member, teaching assistant (TA), or staff member, you likely encounter students often who are under stress or going through a difficult time. In these roles, you often have an ongoing relationship with students which may allow you to detect changes in an individual’s behavior that may signal a more serious problem.

You can play a unique role in assisting students through a difficult situation or experience. Students appreciate faculty and staff opinions and you can serve as a reliable and confidential source of information about the resources already in place at the University.

Faculty and staff are not expected to take on the role of counselor, but the following steps can help you identify students in distress and provide appropriate assistance, including to those who may have been victimized by sexual violence.

Recognizing Students in Distress

Academic indicators may include:

Communication indicators may include:

Physical indicators may include:

Safety risk indicators may include:

What You Can Do

Call the Office of the Dean of Students and speak with a dean to let them know of your concerns. A dean can reach out to the student and offer support or give guidance to you in providing referrals and resources.

You may also consult with Counseling and Psychological Services (often referred to as CAPS) in Student Health to talk through your concerns and potential ways to approach the student. The staff will be glad to talk with you about any worries or concerns you may have and can also provide information regarding referrals and resources.

If you are comfortable doing so, you can approach the student directly and let them know you are concerned due to behaviors you have observed. Listen to their response and be ready to provide information and referrals as appropriate. You need not put yourself in the position of counselor, but can be a valuable resource in encouraging the student to take important steps towards healing.

Survivor Support Network

Faculty and staff are trained as allies to survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and child sexual abuse by SDVS staff in the Women's Center.

Participants are knowledgeable about effective strategies to support their students and colleagues, are familiar with local resources, and are part of an on-grounds network that is designed to make visible the dedicated support for victims that exists at the University of Virginia. Interested faculty can get more information by emailing sdvs@virginia.edu.