Students of Concern Team

The Students of Concern Team seeks to proactively identify, assess, and offer a coordinated institutional response to situations with the potential to negatively impact the health, safety, and success of the University at Buffalo community members.

On this page:

Coordinated Response

This group serves as a central body to which concerning student behaviors may be referred for action or remediation. The team meets regularly to discuss referral cases and coordinate individualized responses to support students who are identified as struggling. Team members assess referred students for their potential risk to the campus and community, make decisions based on the best interests of both the student and the university, and then put individuals in touch with appropriate support services. 


The Students of Concern Team is comprised of a multidisciplinary group of administrators from Student Life and other units at UB.

Student Conduct and Advocacy

  • Elizabeth A. Lidano, MSEd College Student Development, Director
  • Colleen M. Connolly, MS Counseling, Associate Director
  • Benjamin L. Fabian, MS College Student Personnel Administration, Assistant Director

Counseling Services

  • Kathryn Benfanti, LMHC, Clinical Case Manager

Student Health Services

  • Mary Stock, MD, Senior Physician

University Police

  • Darin Schultz, Deputy Chief of Police
  • Therese Banas, Investigator

Campus Living

  • Brian Haggerty, PhD, Senior Associate Director
  • David Wright, JD, Residential Judicial Coordinator

What Kind of Behavior Should I Refer?

It’s important to refer any disruptive or disturbing behavior you see in students.

  • Any incidents or interactions with students that cause you to think they may be a threat to their own or another person’s safety; all verbal, written and implied threats should be documented
  • Any written work a student submits with a disturbing theme or references
  • Behavior such as a decline in academic performance, a significant number of absences or a decline in personal appearance can be cause for concern when it is out of the ordinary for a particular student

See Something, Say Something

People who might be violent usually have other types of problems long before they begin to act out in violent ways. It’s important to know the early warning signs, and contact the appropriate campus office when you see suspicious behavior.

Recognize a Distressed Student

“Distressed” students are those who may be dealing with a mental health issue or crisis that affects their behavior inside or outside of the classroom. Not every distressed student will exhibit the same signs, but some signs include:

  • Difficulty managing their emotions
  • An increase in drug and alcohol use
  • Coming to class apparently under the influence
  • A sudden drop in academic performance
  • A sudden decline in personal appearance or hygiene
  • Depression and talking about suicide or homicide
  • Partaking in high-risk behavior
  • They are a recent victim of a crime, trauma or biased-based behavior
  • Overly emotional behavior (for example, being aggressive, depressed, demanding or suspicious)
  • Carrying a weapon, or discussing access to weapons
  • Discussing, planning or fantasizing about violent acts
  • Exhibiting racial or religious prejudice or intolerant attitudes toward other groups

This list does not include all possible signs of a distressed student. Typically, you should be more concerned with a student who exhibits multiple signs at the same time.

Tips For Dealing With a Distressed Student

  • Speak with the student and let them know you are concerned; you can speak with the student privately if you are comfortable doing so, but if you feel unsafe at any time make sure you have someone else there with you
  • Listen empathically to what is troubling them
  • Do not place blame on the student
  • Address your concerns as observations about their recent behavior
  • Make sure the student knows that you’re willing to help, but maintain clear boundaries
  • Know what you’re comfortable discussing with the student, and refer when the problem exceeds your skill level
  • Don’t promise the student confidentiality, but promise that you will only tell the appropriate people
  • Don’t judge or criticize the student
  • Remember to document the conversations after, so that if a pattern emerges, it can be traced
  • Encourage the student to seek help from professionals, and say that doing so demonstrates courage and strength

Recognize a Disruptive Student

Disruptive behavior is any behavior that interferes with the rights of other students, faculty and staff and their access to an appropriate learning or work environment.

Examples of Disruptive vs. Non-Disruptive Behavior
Examples of Disruptive Behavior Behavior That Is Not Necessarily Disruptive
  • Yelling, arguing aggressively and not responding to directions to calm down
  • Intimidating or harassing words or actions
  • Words or actions that make students, faculty or staff fear for their safety
  • Property damage or other harm
  • Making threats to cause harm to self or others (if there is an immediate threat, call University Police)
  • Most disagreements, even if they become heated, are not disruptive
  • Disagreements over cultural differences are not inherently disruptive
  • Students should still be allowed to express and debate opinions, but not in a way that threatens or insults other individuals

Any disruptive behavior should be referred to the Students of Concern Team.

Tips for Dealing with a Disruptive Student

  • Document the situation and refer the behavior to Student Conduct and Advocacy
  • Never hesitate to call UB’s University Police at 716-645-2222 if the situation does not begin to diffuse; filing a report does not result in an arrest in most cases
  • Allow the student to vent his or her anger without interrupting, as this could cause further anger; say something like “I understand that you feel that way,” so the student feels as if they have been heard
  • Do not touch the student
  • Remain calm
  • Do not perpetuate their anger by arguing back, using sarcasm or blame
  • Ask a student who becomes disruptive to leave the classroom

Obstruction or Disruption in the Classroom

Student conduct should not interfere with or prevent the conduct of classes or other university functions, or endanger the safety of members of the campus community by threats of disruption, violence or violent acts. Please review the Obstruction and Disruption in the Classroom policy and consider including it on your syllabi.

How to Refer a Student

Emergency Referrals

  • Call University Police at 716-645-2222 or pick up any blue light emergency phone
  • Crisis Services of Erie County is an off-campus resource that is also available 24/7; you can call them at 716-834-3131

A situation may be an emergency if:

  • You are concerned for your safety or for the safety of others
  • You believe a student is considering suicide and requires immediate intervention

Non-Emergency Referrals

You can submit a Student of Concern referral to a team managed by Student Conduct and Advocacy online or by phone.

Need additional assistance?

University at Buffalo
9 Norton Hall, North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260

Phone: (716) 645-6154; Fax: (716) 645-3376