Oakland University Police Department

Police and Support Services Building
201 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4451
(location map)
Campus Phone: 911
Cell Phone and Non-Emergency: (248) 370-3331
Campus Status Hotline: (248) 370-2000
Hours of Operation: 24/7 Lobby and Communications
Fax: (248) 370-3341

Preventing Campus Violence


Campus violence it seems like something that could never happen at Oakland University yet all it takes is one act of violence to make us aware that it can happen anytime anywhere in this course will explore violence on campus and it's common causes as well as debunk some commonly held myths will also help you learn to identify early warning signs and build awareness about campus violence prevention strategies sadly schools and college campuses have recently become targets of extreme violence on September 13 2006 a 25 year old man dressed like the Columbine shooters in a black trench coat mounted a deadly rampage at a mountrail College killing an 18 year old student in wounding 20 others before taking his own life the attacker had posted pictures of himself on the internet with a rifle and said he was feeling crazy and postal and was drinking whiskey hours before the attack he also wrote on a blog that he liked to play an internet game about the columbine high school shootings in Colorado and wanted to die in a hail of gunfire on April sixteenth 2007 song we'd show killed 32 people and wounded many more before committing suicide and the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg Virginia making it the deadliest shooting in US history while the shootings in Montreal and Blacksburg are extreme cases less dramatic but significantly damaging violence occurs on University campuses with more frequency campus violence can be defined as assaults or other violent acts or threats which occur in the educational setting and entail a substantial risk of physical or emotional harm to individuals campus violence is unique in that it can be workplace violence perpetrated by employees of the University violence committed by students or violence committed on campus by people from outside the university community violence is any action imposed on another that harms injures or intimidates violence is typically physical in nature but it can also be emotional violence includes but is not limited to threats assaults and abuse abuse is any verbal statement including tone of voice or physical act which may be construed as derogatory intimidating bullying or psychologically or emotionally disturbing an assault occurs when a person by an act or gesture attempts to apply force to another person whether or not an injury occurs physical and sexual assault are the most easily understood types of violence because they involve the non-consensual touching and or injuring of another person's body physical and sexual assault are criminal offenses bullying constitutes offensive behavior through a vindictive cruel malicious or humiliating attempt to undermine an individual or group harassment is any unwelcome action by a person whether verbal or physical on a singular repeated basis which humiliate insults or degrades stalking is a willful course of conduct involving repeated or containing harassment that causes a victim to feel intimidated threatened terrorized or frightened stalking both on and off the internet is quickly becoming an issue on American campuses one of the difficulties in addressing this behavior is that incidents of stalking our frequently not reported a threat occurs when someone communicates an intent to injure an individual or damaged in individuals or the university's property with the recent increase in the amount of school and workplace violence many have sought answers to what causes violence on campuses across the country while it is difficult to pinpoint one specific cause there are factors both external and internal that contribute to this increase in violence certainly our culture influences of violent society with the prevalence of violence portrayed in the media and in video games we are confronted constantly by violence in some manner we see violent acts occurring in real time on the internet and on television it is also easy to purchase weapons in this country a Federal Firearms License takes as little as six weeks to acquire and weapons can be purchased online in a matter of days all of these factors contribute to a society that is becoming increasingly desensitized to the horrors of violence internal factors also exist contributing to the number of incidents of workplace violence today stress is certainly a large contributor to violence in both academic and professional settings an overwhelming amount of stress can cause people to act out violently sometimes conflict with a manager professor or the institution itself can cause someone to decide to take matters into their own hands and create what they believe to be justice even more common is when people bring their problems from home to the workplace or the classroom domestic violence is quite common in our society today incidents of domestic violence frequently spill outside the home into a person's academic or professional life many domestic disputes occur under the influence of alcohol most of us think of violence on campus occurring in the dead of night at a time when the perpetrator is least likely to be observed in fact most incidents of violence occur between noon and 6pm and in many cases the aggressors behavior is witnessed by many until a major incident occurs we seldom talk about violence there are five myths that commonly surround the topic of campus violence in order to reduce our risk of an incident these myths must be debunked the first myth is that a major incident of violence can't happen here it is certainly easier and less unsettling to believe that our campus and community are safe places to be but ignoring the possibility of violence is being naive to the fact that violence does happen and it could happen here at American College averages three reported violent assaults a year eight incidents of hate crime or hazing 430 property crimes and countless alcohol violations on average one in three students nationwide will be the victim of some kind of campus crime although we have never experienced anywhere near that level of violence at Oakland University we must become educated about the facts of violence and learn strategies for taking initiative to prevent violence on our campus another commonly held belief is that acts of violence are committed by individuals who just suddenly snap under pressure without any early warning signs after the shooting at a post office in Royal Oak the term going postal came to represent this belief that people will tend to just suddenly lose it after a period of stress in truth there are many indicators that can aid us in predicting such incidents we also tend to believe that there isn't anything we can do to prevent violence this is not true there are many practical steps we can take to reduce our risk studies have shown that preventive measures such as educating employees to know what to look for can significantly reduce an organization risk we will be discussing ways you can help predict and prevent violence in this course a fourth myth is that most campus violence is committed by disgruntled employees or students who are unhappy with their current work or academic situation while people from within the university or sometimes the perpetrators of campus violence people from outside the university who come onto campus can also pose a serious threat the fifth and final myth that needs to be debunked is that most situations will resolve themselves if given enough time in truth the longer we ignore signs of potential violence and the less we communicate the potential risk factors the more at risk we become time is our enemy in these cases and we cannot expect the time will resolve these underlying problems ignoring early signs of potential violence could cause a situation to escalate sooner and more severely than if the problem are confronted in dealt with when warning signs first appeared your report to campus officials can be one of many reports on the same individual it is important to report behaviors through administrators may compile data from multiple sources and offer help the troubled individuals before it is too late we have looked at the definition causes and myths surrounding campus violence but understanding violence is only the first step in ensuring that Oakland University remains a safe and peaceful environment in which to work and learn next we must explore ways to predict and prevent violence one of the most important factors in prediction and prevention is recognizing the early warning signs perpetrators of violence often display warning signs of violent behavior before they actually commit violent acts here we will discuss general warning signs and violence as well as those that are specific to students these warning signs are broken down into categories to help you better identify them it is important to note that each warning sign taken alone may not be indicative a potentially violent perpetrator it is when presented in combination that they indicate the need for documentation and further analysis to determine an appropriate intervention again you may report a handful of warning signs while another employee or faculty member reports others together these reports can help build a profile of the individual so help can be offered general indicators of violence apply to faculty staff and students alike they include interpersonal signs such as aggressive behavior including intimidation harassment and bullying over or under reacting to an emotional situation is an indicator that something may be wrong patterns of frequent conflict with others can demonstrate the potential for future violent incidents other earlier warning signs include moral righteousness believing the organization is not following its rules the inability to take criticism and displays of unwarranted anger some additional interpersonal indicators include displaying expressions of hopelessness worthlessness fear humiliation excessive boredom grief or powerlessness in making statements indicating distress family problems or relationship problems another set of early warning signs for violence focuses on a person's change in physical appearance occurrences such as a rapid deterioration in physical appearance a visible change in weight a general lack of personal hygiene excessive fatigue and appearing sick or ill are indicators that a person could be a potential violent perpetrator excessive alcohol use is frequently a behavior in people dealing with emotional or physical distress and alcohol is frequently involved in the escalation of everyday disputes that end in violent acts identify and report people who come to work or class bleary-eyed frequently hungover or smelling of alcohol especially if other warning signs are also present along with the general warning signs there are indicators of violence are specific to students in an academic setting behavior such as missing assignments repeated absences from class verbal aggressiveness in the classroom and disorganized or erratic behavior may all indicate that a student is troubled a deterioration in the quality of his or work continually seeking special accommodations for assignments and themes of hopelessness isolation rage or despair in his or her writing are warning signs of violent acts that should be tracked and reported the following behaviors are indicators that something is very wrong and worthy of your urgent attention and time individuals who bring weapons to work or class should be reported to the Oakland University Police Department who will respond immediately in addition people who display an excessive fascination with weapons are demonstrating signs there could be a problem people who have a strong interest in previous acts of school or workplace violence like the Montreal shooters obsession with Columbine who approve of the use of violence to resolve a problem or who identify with perpetrators of homicides are demonstrating warning signs depression especially to the point of contemplating suicide is also a major warning sign of potential risk suicide is considered a form of campus violence and can have devastating effects on the entire community recognizing warning signs and others is an important element in preventing violence but to further ensure that the Oakland University campus and community are safe everyone must play a role here are some helpful guidelines to follow to ensure that you are promoting a safe campus environment for faculty it is important that you set expectations for your students from the onset of your classes establish clear guidelines for both academic and behavioral expectations in your syllabus and review those expectations on the first day of class communicating expectations early on makes it easier to identify students who may be struggling emotionally all employees both faculty and staff members are encouraged to share their professional and personal problems with the appropriate parties if you are experiencing persistent difficulties with a co-worker or other employee speak to human resources as soon as possible communicating situations early can help resolve problems before they escalate to a dangerous level if you are dealing with personal problems yourself call the Graham Counseling Center to set up an appointment all appointments are inexpensive and confidential seeking professional help to deal with concerns such as relationship and family difficulties stress depression and anxiety bereavement substance abuse eating disorders and crisis intervention will help you cope with your problems and ensure that they do not spill over into your professional life because the Counseling Center is confidential you could use it only to discuss your own problems if you have concerns about a student or another employee displaying warning signs of violent behavior you should report them to student affairs or human resources where they can be documented and shared with appropriate administrators who can try to help the individual managers and department heads also play a critical role in preventing violence at owe you first document the behaviors of employees that can indicate a potential violent perpetrator and report them to human resources it may become necessary to take disciplinary action with employees who exhibit any other behaviors that could lead to future incidents pay attention when you become aware of an employee who is in an abusive relationship and finally as a manager send the message that you will take action and that you do take workplace violence very seriously if you find yourself in a situation that could potentially turn violent there are some things you can do that may help defuse the situation here are some do's and don'ts for how to act avoid making sudden movements which can be seen as threatening notice the tone volume and rate of your speech don't criticize or act impatiently toward an agitated individual avoid making false statements and promises you cannot keep be aware of an individual's personal space and do not invade it make sure there is a space of three to six feet between you and the person avoid giving technical or complicated instructions or information when emotions are high don't make assumptions about or try to treat underlying causes for another person's inappropriate actions respond only to the unwanted behavior itself do be an empathetic listener if a co-worker employee or student is expressing frustration or confusion take the time to listen to them be attentive focus your attention on a person to let him or her know you are interested in what he or she has to say if you notice that someone is becoming flustered or agitated use delaying tactics to give him or her a chance to calm down for example offer them a glass of water be reassuring and point out alternative choices break big problems in is smaller more manageable problems identify possible solutions accept criticism in a positive way when a complaint might be true use statements like you are probably right or it was my fault if the criticism seems unwarranted ask clarifying questions in case a dangerous situation should arise make sure to arrange yourself so that the individual cannot block your access to an exit by acting in accordance with personal conduct guidelines everyone can contribute to a safer learning environment while understanding campus violence its warning signs and personal prevention strategies are important the complexity of campus violence is frequently more than one individual can prevent fortunately there are people at Oakland who are experienced in providing guidance and support in the area of camp violence it is important to know who these people are and how and when to contact them a major enabler of campus violence is that warning signs and minor behavioral infractions so frequently go unreported therefore one of the most important steps that individuals can take to prevent campus violence is this one in doubt report this means that even if you have an inkling that something may be wrong report your suspicions to the appropriate people reporting your suspicions will allow for administrative officials to identify trends if they receive multiple reports about the same matter they will then determine if intervention is needed students who are displaying any of the warning signs previously mentioned should always be referred to the Dean of Students office student affairs personnel are trained to recognize potentially violent students always contact the Dean of Students office if you have concerns about a student what it is an employee who is displaying potentially dangerous behavior alert your manager and human resources they will in turn be able to alert the appropriate administrators who will make every effort to address the problem regardless of whether you suspect a student or employee of impending violence if you experience a situation that is rapidly escalating you should call the oh you police immediately this presentation was designed by human resources and counseling professionals to give you insight into the definition causes warning signs and prevention strategies for campus violence as well as the appropriate oh you contacts for dealing with incidents that may arise the screen now lists all your resources that can provide more information about campus violence and a list of counseling services and contacts available to help you please print this screen or write down these numbers and save them for future reference most importantly remember that we must all work together to keep Oakland University safe thank you for doing your part.

If you believe someone is an immediate threat to the safety and welfare of others, please contact us immediately.

To report a behavioral concern that is not an immediate threat, please visit the Report Behavioral Concerns page.