August 25, 2011 — Say you have a colleague who doesn't get a promotion, and you're worried about what the person might do, based on behavior you've witnessed in the past. Or you've noticed your roommate doesn't seem to be studying or going to class and seems depressed.
What do you do? Whom do you call?
The University of Virginia's Office of Emergency Preparedness and a specially appointed Violence Prevention Committee – with help from students, faculty and staff – have developed an online training video, "Hoos Making a Safer Community," to help the University community identify potentially troubling situations and respond with appropriate interventions. The video also describes and provides links to the University's safety and violence prevention efforts and resources.
Emails introducing the online training and encouraging participation will go out to staff, students and faculty throughout the fall.
Soon after Sullivan became U.Va.'s president, she called for a Day of Dialogue to explore what she called "a deceptively simple question": "Are we a caring community?"
Creating such a community is everyone's responsibility, Sullivan says in her introduction to the video.
"Because the safety and security of our community are a priority, we are asking everyone to take this 30-minute training," Sullivan wrote in an email introducing the program. "We are also encouraging department directors and managers to have follow-up discussions in their work groups. It is our hope that from the training and conversations with your colleagues, you will put into practice some of the lessons learned."
One version of the training module is geared toward faculty and staff and another is for students and parents. The University has begun sending Sullivan's email to staff, all of whom should receive it in the next few weeks. Employees without computers will be able to schedule the training with their supervisors. The introductory email will be sent to students, both undergraduate and graduate, from mid-September to mid-October, and to faculty members a week later.
Access to the video requires NetBadge credentials.
"The training is not a test. It is a resource that everyone can keep," Marge Sidebottom, director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, said.
Dean of Students Allen Groves, a member of the Violence Prevention Committee, said, "We decided to create this training program out of the belief that it provided a good vehicle to reach the entire University community on the important safety issues covered. While we have residence hall safety talks for first-year students and groups like Hoos Ready that send out safety tips, we needed a way to reach everyone annually as a 'refresher' of sorts."
State legislation passed in the aftermath of the shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech in April 2007 mandated violence prevention education and resources.
At U.Va., the Critical Incident Management Team appointed a multidisciplinary Violence Prevention Committee to provide education and training to students, faculty and staff regarding the prevention of violence. After reviewing available training programs, the committee decided they weren't in-depth enough, Sidebottom said, and that U.Va. could produce its own.
The University's Student FilmMakers Society scripted and filmed vignettes based on real scenarios provided by the Office of the Dean of Students, U.Va. Police, Student Health's Counseling and Psychological Services (known as CAPS), and Human Resources. Staff, students and faculty display their acting chops as the main characters in the vignettes.
Groves and CAPS director Russ Federman worked together on the initial content for the student-focused portion of the training with student filmmaker Zac Fabian.
"This format is engaging, can be completed quickly and is easy to update as developments warrant," Groves said.
The student-focused version was used as a template to create the faculty and staff version, on which Human Resources took the lead.
Susan Carkeek, vice president and chief human resources officer, said, "As a community, we all have a responsibility to look out for each other. This video is a great way to find out more about the many resources available around Grounds to help make this a safe place to learn and work."