Recognizing and Helping Students in Distress

Responding to Victims of an Abusive Dating Relationship

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Responding to Victims of an Abusive Dating Relationship

Abusive relationships:

  • are more prevalent in a student population than many think

  • can include emotional, physical, and sexual abuse

  • are often characterized by extreme jealousy, intense anger, sexual coercion, verbal abuse, threats of abuse, physical violence, power and control games

  • typically worsen over time

  • typically escalates if the abuser perceives a threat to the relationship

Cycle of Abuse

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Warning signs

  • Evidence of jealous, controlling, or possessive behavior

  • Evidence of isolation from family and/or friends

  • Evidence of alcohol or drug use or abuse in one or both parties

  • History of other abusive relationships

  • Family and friends have verbalized concern about the relationship

  • Evidence of worry about partner’s possible reactions to things and assuming responsibility for their behaviors

  • Evidence of angry outbursts or rage by partner

  • Evidence of fear of abandonment by partner

  • Evidence of a pattern of many break ups with the partner or fear of leaving the relationship

What you can do

  • Arrange to meet with the student one on one

  • Verbalize concern about the student’s well-being and safety

  • Understand that the student may not recognize the relationship as abusive

  • Understand that there is often a significant level of denial that is very difficult to change

  • Refer the student to the Counseling Center (860-297-2415) or to a SART member.

  • Encourage the student to gain support from friends and family

What to avoid

  • Minimizing the situation

  • Expecting the student to terminate the relationship

  • Pressuring the student to take action

Responding to Substance Abuse

Signs that a student may have an alcohol problem may include:

  • Failure to fulfill major work, home, or school obligations

  • Poor work performance as indicated by class absences, low grades, or school related disciplinary problems

  • Recurrent use of alcohol despite concerns by friends or family

  • Use of alcohol in potentially dangerous situations, such as driving

  • Legal troubles related to use of alcohol, such as being arrested for driving while intoxicated or arrested for fighting while intoxicated

  • Continued use despite academic or social problems

  • Changes in mood, such as depression or irritability

  • Physical or mental difficulties, such as poor memory, inability to concentrate, bloodshot eyes, slurring of speech, or uncoordinated movement

Signs that a student may have drug problem may include:

  • Evidence of withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, tremors, headaches, anxiety, sleep difficulties, or agitation

  • Neglecting school and/or work obligations

  • Using the drug rather than engaging in other activities

  • Engaging in high risk behaviors while under the influence of the drug

  • Continued use despite academic or social problems

  • Legal troubles related to the use of the drug, such as arrests for driving under the influence of the drug or breach of peace.

What you can do

  • Treat the situation as serious

  • Express your concern about what behaviors and/or changes you have observed

  • Verbalize your concern for the student’s well-being and safety

  • Encourage the student to seek help

  • Understand that substance users typically are in a state of denial and are unable to recognize or fully comprehend the seriousness of their use or potential life threatening consequences

  • Refer the student to the Counseling Center (860-297-2415)

Responding to Hate Crimes/Incidents

  • Defined as “a crime which in whole or part is motivated by the offender's bias toward the victim's status” (Community Relations Service, 2000)

  • A hate incident is “an action in which a person is made aware that her/his status is offensive to another, but does not rise to the level of a crime” (Community Relations Service, 2000)

  • Motivation is to hurt or intimidate an individual(s)

  • Use of verbal threats, physical violence, vandalism, or even weapons to incite fear in individuals because of their race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation

What you can do

  • Arrange to meet with the student one on one

  • Understand that they will likely experience a range of feelings including anger, shame, and distress

  • Report the incident to the Dean of Students Office (860-297-2156)

  • Explain to the student the importance of notifying Campus Safety, either directly, or by having the complaint-taker notify Campus Safety.

  • Provide emotional support to the student by listening empathically to their experience

  • Be aware of Trinity College’s Safe Zone Program, which creates safe spaces for individuals in the community to seek information, resources and open-minded people. Over 300 faculty, staff, administration and students have participated in Safe Zone trainings, and display a Safe Zone sticker on their office/dorm door.

  • Refer the student to the Counseling Center (860-297-2415), their academic advisor, the Chaplain’s Office (860-297-2013), or the Multicultural Affairs Office (860-297-4251) as appropriate

What to avoid

  • Minimizing the significance of this situation

  • Assuming that you understand what they are experiencing based on something you experienced in your own life

  • Getting caught up in the legalities of the situation

Responding to Victims of Hazing

Some basic information about hazing

  • Hazing is strictly prohibited at Trinity College.

  • Hazing has been defined by the College as: “any action or situation involving a pledge, new or associate member, affiliate, guest, or neophyte of any student organization or athletic team that produces mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule.”

  • Hazing behaviors can lead to physical or emotional injuries. In serious cases, hazing has led to death.

  • A student may be unaware that what is going on is considered hazing.

  • Alcohol is often involved.

  • Some examples of hazing incidents include sexual coercion, beatings, binge drinking, use of illicit substances, restrictions on sleep, eating, or hygiene, being required to be a personal servant, activities that interfere with academic pursuits, or public humiliation.

  • Hazing is illegal in the state of Connecticut.

What you can do

  • Arrange to meet with the student one on one

  • Understand that the student may not label the behaviors as hazing or may be hesitant to report what is happening

  • Encourage the student to report what is happening to the Dean of Students Office (860-297-2156) and Campus Safety (860-297-2222)

  • Encourage the student to report what is happening to the appropriate organization on campus: Athletics Department- Michael Renwick, Director (860-297-2055), or Student Activities (860-297-2011)

  • Refer the student to the Counseling Center (860-297-2415), if appropriate.

Learning Disabilities Information and Procedures for Faculty and Staff

Trinity College is in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Recognized disabilities which merit accommodation in the academic setting can be related to physical limitations, psychological conditions and learning disorders. The Counseling Center can make referrals to qualified professionals in the area for a complete neuropsychological evaluation, which is required for the granting of official accommodation. We also review previous testing and make appropriate recommendations to the Dean of Students regarding accommodation requests.

Trinity College works with students with disabilities to provide reasonable accommodations and to assist them in any way possible. The Counseling Center (860-297-2415), the Coordinator of Accommodation Services (860-297-4025), the Dean of Students Office (297-2156), the Health Center (860-297-2018), and other resources are available to assist students. While Trinity encourages its students to develop self-advocacy skills, these offices provide support and assistance throughout the student’s years at the College.

The ADA requires organizations to make “reasonable accommodations” for individuals who have known physical or mental disabilities and who are "otherwise qualified." Accommodations, when granted, are individually based and vary from student to student.  Many students have received informal accommodations previously without being formally diagnosed through neuropsychological testing, which may create some expectations in college that they will automatically be granted in a similar fashion.  The complete document of procedures and requirements for receiving accommodations at Trinity is available on our web site at

What you can expect as a faculty member

At Trinity, our set of specific guidelines, which are essentially the same as those at most other colleges and universities, is based on the ADA guidelines. Basically, students submit their request for accommodations together with the appropriate complete documentation to the Disability Coordinator, Lori Clapis. Coordinator of Accommodation Services, forwards the documentation to the Counseling Center where it is evaluated it according to the criteria in the document on our web site.

We then ask the student to come in for a brief visit to go over the results of our review, and we then forward the results to the Dean together with a list of the accommodations that have been approved.

Students with approved accommodations receive an official letter with an embossed seal from the College. Each student is informed that it is their responsibility to present this letter to their professors at the beginning of each semester and discuss how these accommodations will be met in each class. The student is asked to retain the original letter, but faculty members are welcome to make copies for their own records. Please be advised that letters have expiration dates. If you notice that a student’s letter has expired, please encourage them to contact Lori Clapis, the Coordinator of Accommodation Services.

Although each student’s accommodations are individual, typical accommodations may include some or all of the following (This is not an exhaustive list.)

  • Extra time on exams: faculty members arrange for students to be given time and a half or double time (depending on the accommodation) to complete their examinations. Typical reason for this accommodation: students have learning disabilities that compromise their processing speed, making it difficult to complete exams in the allotted time; students have a reading disability and need additional time to process the information they are reading; students have an attentional disorder, making the ability to focus on the task at hand challenging.

  • Alternative, quiet spaces for exams: faculty members arrange for students to complete exams in a separate, quiet room. Typical reason for this accommodation: students have an attentional disorder, making the ability to focus difficult with outside distractions present.

  • Extra set of notes: faculty members either provide students with a copy of their Power point presentations/lecture notes or arrange for another student in the class to share their notes via Lori Clapis, Coordinator of Accommodation Services. Typical reason for this accommodation: students have an attentional disorder, making it difficult to focus, leading to them missing chunks of information during lectures; students have a slower processing speed or auditory processing challenges, making it challenging to translate the information from the lecture to written notes.

  • Use of a recording device for lectures: students may use a device to record lectures. Typical reason for this accommodation: students with a slower processing speed, auditory processing challenges, or attentional difficulties may miss information during lectures and the recording device allows them to listen to parts of the lecture that they may have missed.

  • Use of a laptop for note-taking: students may use their laptop during lectures for note-taking. Typical reason for this accommodation: students with a slower processing speed may find it challenging to keep up with handwritten notes.

  • Use of a laptop for the written portion of exams: students may use their laptop to type out the written portions of exams. Typical reasons for this accommodation: students with a slower processing speed may find it challenging to hand write more lengthy portions of exams within the allotted amount of time; students with a Reading or Language disorder may be too distracted by compensating for difficulties that they run out of their allotted time or miss the main point of the assignment.

  • Access to audiobooks: students are granted access to the college’s Bookshare account to obtain audio copies of their textbooks. Typical reasons for this accommodation: students with reading disorders may find it challenging to comprehend the written word; students with dyslexia may become distracted by their compensation strategies that they miss the main point of the text.

  • Use of a simple, 4-function calculator: students may use a simple, 4-function calculator during exams. Typical reasons for this accommodation: students struggles with a slower processing speed/working memory or has a Math Disorder, making it more challenging and time consuming to mentally compute equations.

Please note that the “typical reasons” listed are by no means an exhaustive list of potential difficulties. Rather, the most common reasons have been listed to help identify what learning disabilities a student may be struggling with. It is the responsibility of the student to meet with faculty and make arrangements for the fulfillment of any granted accommodations in a timely way.  A student who tells a faculty member that extra time is needed for an exam the day before the exam, even if the faculty member has received a letter, is not acceptable and there is no requirement that such an accommodation be granted.  Students are told that they must make arrangements a minimum of ten days in advance of any exam or expected accommodation. 

The provision of accommodations is required when the faculty member has been presented with the formal accommodations letter and the student has made timely arrangements individually with each instructor.

If a faculty member has any questions about accommodations, how they might be fulfilled, problems in compliance, or questions about whether a student has a particular accommodation, he or she may contact the Coordinator of Accommodation Services, Lori Clapis (860-297-4025), the Dean of Students Office (860-297-2156) or the Counseling Center (860-297-2415). There is more information about accommodations and how to implement them on the disability website,

Students may also talk with you as an adviser or trusted teacher before applying for accommodations. Depending on how or at what point in their academic difficulties a student presents themselves requesting accommodation, the following may be help guide you as you sort out how to be most helpful to your students. 

Learning Disabilities Procedures for Students

You may want to inform students who speak with you about learning disabilities about these facts:

  • Notifying the College of the presence of a disability and obtaining accommodations is the student's responsibility. Initiating and following through on this process is up to the student.

  • The student should print out a copy of the Academic Accommodations Request Form from the Counseling Center website and complete the top portion to send in with their documentation.

  • Forward the Accommodations Request Form and documentation of the disability to Lori Clapis, Coordinator of Accommodation Services, in the Health Center. Please see the subsequent section on "Documenting Your Disability" to avoid problems by ensuring the documentation meets our requirements.

  • Students should notify the Dean of Students as soon as possible if they may require special housing or physical access. All requests for special housing or dining arrangements should be submitted with appropriate documentation with the Student Life Accommodations Request Form to Lori Clapis, Coordinator of Accommodation Services, who will process the request. Requests for special housing consideration should be submitted well in advance of the housing lottery.  First year students will be asked to indicate on the Roommate Questionnaire if they have medical considerations and to forward that material to the Health Center by July 1st of the year in which they will arrive.  All students will be required to renew their applications for special housing accommodation by April 15th of each year in order to provide the appropriate offices with sufficient time to review the requests and make the appropriate assignments in a timely fashion. Students should know in advance that it is rare for special housing to be granted for any reason other than a significant, documented physical disability and that most dietary needs can be met within the existing meal plan.

  • After documentation is submitted to the Coordinator of Accommodation Services, it will be reviewed within 10 days and any appropriate and reasonable accommodations will be determined.

    • An email will be sent to the student’s Trinity email requesting that they schedule an appointment with a Disability Council staff member to go over the request, discuss the accommodations that may be granted, and explain other resources that may be available. The Disability Council will then forward the recommendations to the Dean of Students who actually grants the accommodations.

    • If a student qualifies for academic accommodations, they will be provided with an official letter from the college detailing the approved accommodations.  Each dated letter will be valid for as long as the student’s documentation is considered current.

    • It is the student’s responsibility to notify faculty of their accommodations no less than 10 days from when they would like their accommodations to take effect. If this is not done, accommodations may not be granted.

    • The student should notify the Dean of Students Office if they are having any difficulties obtaining accommodations or if the accommodations have received are not meeting their needs.

  • Students should contact the Dean or the Coordinator of Accommodation Services at any time if they encounter obstacles, have difficulties, want guidance, or want to share successes! The Dean will act as mediator should any conflicts arise in securing accommodations. Note that it is the student’s responsibility to notify the Dean of any difficulties they are having obtaining accommodations or if the accommodations you have received do not meet your needs.

What you can do

  • If the student has documentation, refer them to the Coordinator of Accommodation Services to submit their documentation for review.

  • If the student has no documentation, refer them to the Coordinator of Accommodation Services if they have questions about the process of receiving accommodations at the college.

  • Please refer to the website for more detailed information about our disability procedures.

  • Encourage students to utilize other resources on campus for academic support, including the Dean of Students Office (860-297-2156), the Counseling Center (860-297-2415), the Health Center (860-297-2018) the Writing Center (860-297-2468), and the Math Center (860-297-5316).

Campus Resources

  • Immediate Emergences 911

  • Campus Safety 860-297-2222

  • Athletic Department 860-297-2057

  • Residential Life 860-297-2305

  • Career Development 860-297-2080

  • Chaplain’s Office 860-297-2013

  • Computing Center Help Desk 860-297-2100

  • Coordinator of Accommodation Services 860-297-4025

  • Counseling Center 860-297-2415

  • First Year Academic Experience 860-297-5331

  • Dean of Students Office 860-297-2156

  • Health Center 860-297-2018

  • Quantitative Center 860-297-2522

  • Multicultural Affairs 860-297-4251

  • Ombudsperson 860-297-4234

  • Student Activities 860-297-2171

  • Women & Gender Resource Action Center 860-297-2408

  • Writing Center 860-297-2468

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