The Social Work Student Association hosted Jacki Stone, a UMBC faculty member in the Vice President for Student Affairs’ Office, to present on behaviors of concern. The presentation discussed a spectrum of worrying behaviors, from typical signs of daily stress to stalking and relationship violence. While a plethora of ways to prevent campus violence exist, one of the most emphasized solutions given was to engage with community members.
While the Social Work Student Association focuses its attention on social work majors and minors, Tanya Ramsey, a sophomore social work major with a desire to work in the adolescent trauma sector, reassured, “it’s open to everyone.” Stone’s work includes participating in the Green Dot initiative on campus, which means this presentation is available to everyone on campus. Green Dot intends to train individuals on how to prevent and reduce violence on campus.
As Stone introduced the presentation, she encouraged the audience to think from, “a campus perspective, career perspective and life perspective.” Although the “career perspective” directly applied to the room of social work majors, Stone stressed, “these are life skills.” The first half of the demonstration included a video from the Center for Protection and Safety.
The video outlined several behaviors, like mood changes, stalking, interest in violence and obsession, then categorized them on a spectrum from everyday behaviors to unacceptable ones. Since the video focused on preventing violence, three options of action were presented to the viewers. If one witnesses a behavior that makes them uncomfortable, uneasy or raises concern, they can report the behavior to a staff or faculty member (anyone from an RA to a professor or campus police), make a mental note of the behavior or simply talk to the person who exhibited the behavior.
Stone talked about the work she does on campus and said that her position of Community Health and Safety Specialist became essential in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy. Stone said it arose from, “this idea that there’s this one student and a bunch of people had seen the behaviors but there was nowhere to report.
“[My colleagues are] the collectors of information in that way. One person may say something that may seem insignificant, but 3 people could have reported them also,” she added.
Stone’s personal advice on what to do if you are unsure if you should report what you have seen is, “lots of times there is a perfectly reasonable explanation, but if you don’t report it, we won’t know.” Her department, located in Commons 319, is trained in how to discern campus threats from someone having a rough day, but she still encourages everyone to report worrying behaviors because “there is no profile of a campus threat — it could be anyone.”
To report a behavior, Stone emphasized the use of intuition and context. “Sometimes folks say stuff that they don’t really mean,” she started. “But anything about harm of others or harm of self [is a red flag].” If you are unclear on whether a behavior is worrying, Stone continued, “it’s thinking about context: is it appropriate to be searching guns in a classroom about physics?” Reports can be filed with the campus police department, campus life or a campus employee you trust.