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Care Network: Early Intervention and Support for Students of Concern

The Office of the Dean of Students provides an easy to use reporting tool to share concerns about student behaviors. If you recognize signs of distress or observe disruptive behavior, submit an online report through the Care Network (also found on the portal under the Life@AU tab). The Care Network is accessible to faculty, staff and students.

Faculty, staff and peers are often the first to observe signs of students in distress. Uncharacteristically disruptive behavior in the classroom or disturbing written communications can be an early sign of trouble. You can play an important role by identifying students in distress and helping them to receive the assistance they need.

Addressing disruptive behavior

All classroom behavior and discourse should reflect the values of respect and civility. Disruptive behavior is defined as behavior that interferes with university or university-sponsored activities such as classroom-related activities, studying, teaching, intellectual or creative endeavors, administration, service or the provision of communication, computing or emergency services.

How do I recognize students of concern?

Distressed behaviors may include:

  • Significant changes in academic performance or changes in activities, work or social activities.
  • Acting withdrawn, volatile, tearful or expressing hopelessness.
  • Acting excessively disruptive in the administrative, teaching or learning environment.
  • Difficulty concentrating or carrying on a normal conversation.

If you are unsure about whether or how to intervene with a student who appears to be distressed, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this student's behavior distressingly out of the ordinary?
  • Is this situation outside of my area of expertise?
  • Is the behavior getting worse?
  • Does the behavior place anyone at risk?
  • Am I feeling that I want to talk with someone about my observations and concerns?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, submit an online report through the Care Network or call the Office of the Dean of Students at 202-885-3300 to talk through your concerns.

How can I help?

If you recognize signs of distress or observe disruptive behavior, submit an online report through the Care Network.

The Dean's staff will reach out to the student to offer support and connect the student with appropriate resources on campus or in the community. Students with significant or complex behavioral, emotional, social, academic or medical concerns will be referred to the Care Team in the Dean of Students Office. Using an interdisciplinary case management approach, the Care Team develops intervention plans for students and monitors their status.

Who are students of concern?

Students of concern include students with social, emotional, behavioral or medical difficulties, or life stressors that are affecting their ability to fully participate in the academic community.

What about confidentiality?

Members of the Care Team, as administrative agents in an educational institution, adhere to the laws and standards governing the disclosure of information to third parties both within and external to the University. Such information is only disclosed on a need to know basis and only according to the relevant statutes that govern such disclosure. Anonymity of reporter cannot be guaranteed as Care reports are considered part of a student's educational record.

Student Health Center and Counseling Center staff are governed by additional laws and ethical codes regarding the disclosure of medical and psychological records to third parties of clients or patients under their care.

What follow-up should I expect?

The Office of the Dean of Students will acknowledge receipt of all reports and may contact you to obtain additional information. You may contact the Dean of Students office at any time if you have questions about how the report is being handled. Please note that privacy concerns may prevent disclosure of specific details regarding the report. 

How do I share a concern about a student?

Sharing a concern about a student is easy with the Care Network's online reporting form.

Helpful Campus Resources:

Academic Support & Access Center, 202-885-3360

Counseling Center, 202-885-3500

Student Health Center, 202-885-3380

Health Promotion and Advocacy Center, 202-885-3275


For additional information, contact:
American University
Office of the Dean of Students
408 Butler Pavilion
4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20016-8148
202-885-3300 voice
202-885-1560 fax