Webster's definition of “crisis” is, in part, “an emotionally significant or radical change of status in a person’s life; an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs whose outcome will make a decisive difference for better or worse.”  In our Aquinas College community we know that crises will occasionally occur and will require a timely response.

At Aquinas College we pride ourselves on the fact that many students, faculty, and staff know each other on a first name basis. However, as a result of this closeness, an emotionally significant event or upheaval in one person’s life can have a potentially profound impact on the larger campus community.

Our Aquinas professionals are available to assist students.  Our professionals provide confidential assistance unless required by law or professional ethics to take action to protect the individual or vulnerable other(s) from serious or foreseeable harm or imminent danger. If there is serious or foreseeable harm or imminent danger to the individual or others, professional ethics and legal responsibilities require steps be taken to protect the individuals involved. 

Students of Concern Mission

The mission of the students of concern (or CARE) committee is to identify and respond to students that are of a concern to the campus community. The team may intervene when necessary, collaborate and act as a conduit between key departments and community referrals if necessary. Recognizing the sensitive nature of this information, the committee operates in strict confidentiality in compliance with all relevant federal regulations.  The purpose of the CARE team is to assist students in completing their educational endeavors.  Aquinas College is not a mental health agency.  It provides brief mental health service in an educational environment if appropriate and within the scope of practice as defined by CHWS.

Care Team Alert Form


Student distress is commonly associated with normal developmental factors and most distress is situational. It can, however, be of a more serious, psychological nature.

The goals of the CARE Team are:

  1. To foster student success and well-being.
  2. To assist in the direction of a student in crisis while paying special attention to the safety and security needs of community members.
  3. To offer counseling, guidance, insight, referrals, and any other feasible type of support needed to members of our campus community.
  4. To use the experience of crisis, when appropriate, as a teachable moment which may enhance the quality of life for all of those touched by the experience.
  5. To help the student achieve reliance and overcome barriers, no matter how big or small it may seem, to achieve their goals.

Members meet every other week during the academic year to stay ready to respond appropriately to any crisis or referral from staff or faculty members. Team members are pledged to confidentiality and may be entrusted with highly sensitive information. At Aquinas the CARE team is chaired by our Associate Vice President of Student Success and consists of members of our CHWS (Counseling, Health & Wellness Services), CORE(Center for Opportunity, Resources and Excellence), Campus Safety, Registrar, Residence Life, Accessibility Services, Provost Office, Athletics and Dean of Students staffs.

There will be no CARE team meetings during fall, spring, Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, and Fourth of July breaks.

Each situation is unique and involves responding to the specific needs of the student of concern. Questions or suggestions about protocols, procedures or policy issues may be directed to the Office of Student Success. 

A word about confidentiality: All student affairs professionals are required to adhere to the law and professional ethics regarding confidentiality and take very seriously the need to protect the privacy of our students. If concerns about serious or foreseeable harm or imminent danger exist the same professional ethics and legal responsibilities require the disclosure of relevant information to the appropriate individuals.  

Potential Signs of Distress

  • Changes in Academic performance
  • Poor class performance or preparation
  • Excessive tardiness
  • Repeated requests for special consideration
  • Unusual pattern of interaction 
  • Changes in Behavior or Appearance
  • Mood swings
  • Depressed or lethargic mood
  • Change in hygiene or appearance
  • Exaggerated emotional responses 
  • Changes in social relationships
  • Lack of any friendships
  • Decreased interaction with others
  • Apparent lack of family support
  • Excessive/increased alcohol/drug use
  • References to Suicide, Homicide or Death
  • Overt references to suicide death wishes
  • Expressions of hopelessness
  • Withdrawal
  • Threats of violence
  • Traumatic or Stressful Events
  • Death of a loved one
  • Changes in close relationships
  • Serious illness Alcohol and Drug Use
  • High risk drinking or drug use
  • Use of alcohol/drugs to cope
  • Hangover or after effects of misuse

If a student’s behavior represents an immediate threat, call 911. If the threat is not immediate, but you are concerned the student may harm self or others, call CSO/Emergency at ext. 3333 or Counseling at ext. 2905.

Operational Definitions

Students - defined as individuals who are currently enrolled in semester-long or quad classes at Aquinas College. This classification does include dual enrollment at secondary education institution levels (K-12).  Students 18 years and older will not require parental consent unless the student demonstrates diminished capacity.  Students engaging in service/educational experience outside of Michigan must receive services within the regions of the service/educational experience.

Referral - recommendations to students use appropriate services on or off campus.

Advising - provides professional advice in the areas of college environments.

Collaboration - work with departments, organizations, and individuals to offer services.

Mental Health Issues: Clients who are indicating signs of the following suicidal behaviors will be assessed, either referred to psychiatric hospital and/or Network 180, or work with CHWS counseling for further assessment and services.

Mental Health Issues that are more severe and need expertise provided by long-term service are referred off campus:

  • Eating disorder
  • Substance addiction
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Personality disorder
  • Trauma
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Disruptive, impulse control and conduct disorder
  • Sleep-wake disorder
  • Elimination disorder
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Psychotic disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

If the student requires more service than what CHWS can provide, a referral is made.  The student maintains the right of refusal unless it is a life-threating situation. CHWS has the right to refuse services based on appropriateness. Please see the CHWS website for a list of possible referrals.