Grizzlies CARE Team gives students an outlet to report issues

Golden Grizzlies, faculty and other community members now have the chance to report behavior that doesn’t quite fit disciplinary measures, thanks to a new initiative on campus.

An existing behavioral intervention team and a care team in Student Affairs combined to create a force to ensure campus safety, following many other schools in the state. The Grizzlies CARE Team, CARE standing for Counseling Assessment Response Education, is a new multidisciplinary team launched this year by the Office of the Dean of Students (DoS), the Oakland University Police Department (OUPD), and several Student Affairs and Academic Affairs offices.

Dean of Students Michael Wadsworth said the team handles the increasing-by-year frequency of “middle-ground” behavior — meaning behavior that doesn’t necessarily indicate someone is breaching the Student Code of Conduct or engaging in academic misconduct. 

Students report issues via the “Report Behavior” option at the top of the OU homepage or the DoS “Report an Incident” page, and the Grizzlies CARE team evaluates the situation to ensure campus rules are followed and the person is not a danger to themselves or others.

The DoS page describes the issues as “behaviors that [others] feel are concerning, worrisome or threatening (no matter how small or insignificant that may seem),” though the form notes that immediate concerns should be reported to OUPD.

When situations are reported, the DoS office and OUPD triage the information to decide whether it is an actual violation or an issue for the CARE team to address.

The “report behavior” practice was allegedly developed after the 2007 Virginia Tech incident as a way for offices to collaborate to best help students in need. Wadsworth said OU developed the Grizzlies CARE Team to address community needs.

“In our everyday lives, things happen that we don’t think should happen, or trouble us, or concern us — let’s say not even just on campus — but here on campus, this team provides a conduit for giving that information,” Wadsworth said. “And then, the team can provide some direction or even reach out to the person who is exhibiting whatever behavior and help them get the resources they need if that’s the case.”

According to Wadsworth, the DoS office took the lead to develop the team after attending National Behavioral Intervention Team Association (NaBITA) training about a year-and-a-half ago. The new team follows NaBITA’s national standards and procedures — like risk rubrics and assessment tools — evaluating every reported issue equally.

Wadsworth said when students and OU community members report behavior issues, they come to administrators’ attention faster and help foster more proactive resources and preventative education.

Though the Grizzlies CARE Team is new, Wadsworth would like to see it grow into a resource that pushes past being a response team that follows national practices.

“We don’t want to be a team that sits and reacts because then you don’t know what the needs are going to be,” he said. “We’re still in our beginning stages, but it is definitely a hope and a goal that we will be able to provide educational materials to the community, training materials to the community, to help people identify things of concern at early stages so that folks can get the assistance they need and be successful — whether it’s as a student, as an employee or whatever your role is at the university.”