The University of Chicago affirms its long-standing commitment to robust intellectual dialogue and disagreement, and to civil conduct on campus and in its programs.
When someone, whether a member of the University of Chicago community or not, jeopardizes that environment or threatens a person or people with violence, the University must call upon its full resources to promptly assess the situation, intervene as appropriate, and support those who raised concerns about the threat and others who may be involved.
In our vibrant and diverse community, distinguishing between exceptional creativity and quirky behavior on the one hand and genuinely aberrant behavior on the other can sometimes be difficult. Preventing violence on campus depends on members of the University community identifying and communicating behaviors of concern. Early identification of a concern allows University officials, if appropriate, to reach out to an individual or individuals, evaluate the circumstances, provide resources, reduce their stress if relevant, and avoid or minimize harm to the individual and others. Our process aims to promote early voicing of concerns and to be supportive, not punitive, while at the same time making campus safety paramount. Noticing the behaviors of those around you is an essential element of campus safety and the responsibility of all members of the community.
The University’s Behavioral Intervention Team and Behavioral Intervention Hotline (800-971-4317) are available for anyone to share information about any individual who may be planning or is at risk of engaging in violence, who has planned a violent act, or who may be the intended victim of a violent act. Threat assessment consists of a process to identify and respond to students, employees (faculty, staff, other academic appointees, and postdoctoral researchers), and others who may pose a danger to themselves or others on campus, and to distinguish them from (1) those who may simply be struggling and in need of assistance and resources from other parts of the University or beyond, and from (2) those whose behavior may be unusual but not threatening or distressed. The mission of the multi-disciplinary Behavioral Intervention Team is to assess concerns that an individual poses, or may reasonably pose, a threat of violence to self, others, or the University community, and to initiate an intervention designed to avert the threat if it exists. The purpose of the Behavioral Intervention Team is to respond appropriately to concerns expressed about behaviors exhibited by anyone—students, employees, tenants, visitors, and unaffiliated persons—before a critical incident so that the campus remains a safe and secure working and learning environment.
There are many behaviors that cause concern for the safety and well-being of an individual or the campus community and clearly violate fundamental principles and policies of our community.
The following is not an exhaustive list but provides examples of behaviors or situations that may indicate risk to the safety of an individual, others, or our community.
- Specific threats to another person, group of people, or the community;
- Statements indicating approval of the use of violence to resolve a problem;
- Articulated plans to bring weapons to the workplace, classroom, or living spaces or to use a weapon to harm a person, group of people, or the community; or
- Threatening postings on posters, flyers, websites or other media.
Other behaviors, while not violations of our principles and policies, also raise concerns and may, in certain circumstances, warrant intervention by the Behavioral Intervention Team or by another resource. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if such behaviors indicate a threat to self or to others; the Behavioral Intervention Team is trained and available to do so. Examples of behaviors that may, particularly in combination, or may not indicate a threat include:
- Indication that someone wishes to die or is willing to die;
- Significant changes in behavior that suggest that an individual is in severe distress;
- Outbursts of anger, especially uncharacteristic outbursts;
- Signs of isolation or withdrawal from the community;
- Bullying behavior;
- Display of paranoia, distrust, and devaluation of others;
- Numerous conflicts with and alienation of others;
- Preoccupation with weapons, violent events, or persons who have engaged in violent acts;
- Extreme reaction to a loss or traumatic event; or
- Uncharacteristically poor performance at work or in academics.
If you are aware of an emergency or have an immediate safety concern, you should not hesitate to immediately call UCPD at 773-702-8181 or 123 from a campus phone or 911 when appropriate. If you are concerned about someone’s behavior, and it is not an emergency, contact a member of the Behavioral Intervention Team or the Behavioral Intervention Hotline at 800-971-4317. Current membership of the Behavioral Intervention Team is available from the Office of the Dean of Students for the University.
If you have a concern about a person or situation, even if you think it may be nothing, you are urged to share the information. The information you provide, no matter how trivial it may seem by itself, may be critical to understanding a broader picture of concerning behavior.
You will need to share the name of the person you are concerned about, the behavior you observed and/or communication that worried you, and (ideally) your name. While the Behavioral Intervention Team and Behavioral Intervention Hotline accept anonymous reports, if you do not identify yourself, the Behavioral Intervention Team will have fewer options to address the situation that concerns you.
If you report concerns, your identity and the information you share will be treated privately and as confidentially as feasible, with your safety and the safety of others in mind. The information you provide will be used to respond to the situation respectfully, appropriately, timely, and with the dignity of all parties involved in mind. The Behavioral Intervention Team members will gather information, assess the potential threat, consult with others as needed, and when appropriate, develop and implement a plan to help and support the individual and the safety of the University community.