What is a challenge you face doing behavioral intervention work?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced in doing BIT work has been keeping an always transitioning campus community up to date. If colleges and universities are doing the job right, every 4 to 6 years the entire student body is refreshed and 25% of employees are new. Each semester we much educate the new faculty and staff, students, parents, alumni, and visitors about BIT. This ongoing marketing and training is always challenging.
What is a successful achievement you have had doing BIT work?
Through the years I would consider the development of a solid onboarding process for new BIT members to be a successful achievement at Columbus State. As new members join they understand their reason for being at the table and the responsibility this brings.
Why did you become a member of NABITA?
In 2008 the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia charged every campus with developing a threat assessment committee. Like many other schools around the country, Columbus State University started looking for resources and examples. While there were companies that would provide safety audits and recommend cameras and locks, NABITA was the only group I found that was training on-campus teams in higher education to go beyond see-something/say-something. NABITA was training professionals to help their campuses to see-what and tell-who, while also de-escalating concerning behavior. NABITA was the standard I wanted for my school, and they have remained the standard for others to aspire to be.
How does having a BIT/CARE team increase your school safety/ability to provide student support?
In very simple terms, a properly functioning BIT develops a culture of care on its campus for all of its members. That culture grows into a referral process and away from reporting people. A caring culture creates a safer campus when members understand and truly support others who are in distress. The BIT is the vehicle the campus community can put their trust in.
How has NABITA helped you to be a better professional?
NABITA has helped me be a better professional through educational programming, presentation opportunities, and building professional relationships.
What is one way you practice self-care doing such intense work?
Sitting at the BIT table is a daunting task that can have lifetime repercussions for the individuals of concern. I have found that remaining process-oriented, along with a clear understanding that it is the individual of concern who makes the determinations to de-escalate and cooperate, allows me to keep the appropriate emotional distance.
What is one piece of advice you would offer your fellow practitioners?
If I could offer one piece of advice to my fellow BIT practitioners (outside of receiving regular and proper training) is to keep your sense of humor and enjoy your fellow team members as people.
How has having a BIT/CARE team improved the experience of students, staff, and faculty at your institution?
While no one can guarantee that a tragic incident will not occur, members of the Columbus State University campus community can enjoy their college experience knowing there is a group of trained professionals with their ear to the ground listening for and helping faculty, staff, and students who may need some assistance in getting back on track to a successful experience.