Threat Assessment and Response Policy

I. Introduction

Middlebury College is committed to maintaining a campus and workplace environment that is safe and secure for all students, staff, faculty, and visitors. As part of this commitment, Middlebury has established a Threat Assessment and Management Team (“TAM”), which is empowered to assess risk and, in cooperation with other College teams or offices as appropriate, formulate an appropriate response in situations where an individual’s behavior and/or statements generate concern that they may present a threat to the health or safety of others. The TAM seeks to mitigate potential risks before they result in harm.

Nothing in this policy shall be construed to amend Middlebury’s Student Life Policies, the College Handbook, or other applicable Middlebury policies.

II. Threat Assessment Team

The President appoints the members of the TAM and names its chair, and appoints new or different team members as necessary. The TAM reports to the College’s Executive Policy Group and will usually consist of representatives from the Department of Public Safety, Academic Affairs, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of the College Office, Office of the Chief Risk Officer, Human Resources, Business Services, Information Technology Services, the Library, Communications, Language Schools, Schools Abroad and Bread Loaf programs, and a clinical psychologist from the Parton Center for Health and Wellness. The College’s legal counsel serves as an adviser to the TAM. Members of the TAM are identified in Section IV, below, and in other College publications, as appropriate. Other College personnel and outside resources with relevant areas of specialization and responsibility may be called upon to assist the TAM, including but not limited to Commons deans, supervisors, law enforcement agencies, medical personnel, or other outside experts. The Office of the President will be kept apprised of the Team’s work as appropriate.

III.  Purpose

As appropriate to the circumstances of a particular situation, the Threat Assessment Team may engage in activities that may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • receiving reports and gathering and analyzing information regarding acts of violence, behavior of concern or statements and/or potential threats posed by individual(s);  
  • developing, implementing, and monitoring intervention strategies and management plans, with or without the involvement of other College teams or offices as appropriate, that are designed to respond appropriately to statements, behavior and/or circumstances that generate concern that an individual may pose a risk of harm to a member of the College community, including but not limited to, incidents of violence, threatening behavior or statements, unwanted pursuit, stalking, and harassment.
  • coordinating with appropriate authorities, including law enforcement, medical personnel, and other outside agencies, as appropriate;  
  • implementing reporting protocols and developing strategies to encourage reports from the College community;
  • assisting in conducting periodic campus-wide awareness education for students, staff, and faculty regarding threat assessment, threat management, pertinent information-sharing issues, and the TAM’s responsibilities. Such training and education will be coordinated with other departments such as the Department of Public Safety, Human Resources, Academic Affairs, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of the College Office, Office of the Chief Risk Officer, and Language Schools, Schools Abroad, and Bread Loaf programs; and 
  • keeping apprised of best practices and participating in periodic trainings in threat assessment and management.

IV.  Reporting Potential Threats  

All students, faculty and staff should be committed to ensuring the safety and security of the campus and workplace environment. As such, anyone who believes that an individual has committed or may commit an act of violence, is engaging in behavior or making statements that generate concern about the potential for violence, or otherwise may pose a threat to the health or safety of any member of the College community should call the Department of Public Safety immediately at 802.443.5911. In case of an emergency, please dial 911.

Individuals may also make a report to any member of the TAM:

Department of Public Safety
Lisa Burchard, Assoc. Dean of the College
Director of Public Safety

Dan Gaiotti, Assoc. Dir. of Public Safety

Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of the College
Katy Smith Abbott, Vice President for Student Affairs
and Dean of the College

Susan P. Ritter, J.D.
Compliance Officer/Title IX Coordinator

Office of Human Resources
Cheryl Mullins, Acting Assoc. VP for Human Resources

Laura Carotenuto
Manager of Employee Relations

Parton Center for Health and Wellness
Gus Jordan, Executive Director

Ximena Mejia, Director, Counseling Services

Academic Affairs
Andrea Lloyd (or designee), Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty

Sarah Ray, Director of Public Affairs

Information Technology Services
Chris Norris, Director of Security & Advanced Technology

Language Schools, Schools Abroad, and Bread Loaf Programs
Beth Karnes Keefe, Assistant Dean

The Director of Public Safety (or designee) will serve as the chair of the TAM and, in consultation with other College officials as appropriate, will assess the reported information and determine whether to convene the TAM.

In cases where an appropriate level of assessment indicates that a report involves a person who poses a threat to self only, the matter will be referred to the appropriate College official (e.g., student matters will be referred to the Parton Center for Health and Wellness, the student’s Commons dean and/or other student life staff or Middlebury official, as appropriate; staff matters will be referred to Human Resources; and faculty matters will be referred to the vice president for Academic Affairs / dean of the faculty or his/her designee or the vice president for Language Schools, Schools Abroad and Graduate Programs, as appropriate).  In cases where available information suggests that the person may pose a threat to self and others, the TAM will remain involved and will involve the other officials listed here as appropriate. In cases where a referral is made, the TAM may be re-involved as necessary and appropriate.

In situations where an individual has concerns about someone’s behavior but is unsure whether such behavior constitutes a “threat” to self or others, the individual should report the information to the Department of Public Safety or other College official, as appropriate, to allow the College the opportunity to assess the situation and respond as necessary:

A. Students: Concerns about statements and/or behavior of students may be reported to the dean of students or Commons dean (undergraduate College) or the dean of Language Schools (language schools programs), dean of International Programs (Schools Abroad, Bread Loaf and School of the Environment programs), or assistant dean of Language Schools and Schools Abroad (Language Schools and Schools Abroad programs), as applicable to the program at issue.

B.  Faculty or Staff: Concerns about the behavior of faculty or staff may be brought to the appropriate supervisory authority (i.e., the vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty, or the provost [Language Schools, Schools Abroad, School of the Environment and Bread Loaf programs], in the case of a faculty member, as applicable to the program at issue, or the Human Resources Department, in the case of a staff member).

V.  Confidentiality

All reports under this policy will be handled in a sensitive manner. Information will be shared with others only to the extent necessary to assess and manage the situation and in accordance with state and federal law. 

In general, the law recognizes and protects the confidentiality of communications between a person seeking care and a medical or mental health professional or religious adviser. The medical, mental health, and religious professionals at Middlebury College respect and protect confidential communications from students, faculty, and staff to the extent that they are legally able to do so. One of these professionals may have to breach a confidence, however, when he or she perceives a serious risk of danger to another person or property.

Middlebury College is also part of a larger community and context. If there is an independent investigation or lawsuit relating to an act of violence or a potential threat, those involved or others may be required by law to provide documents, testimony, or other information.

VI.  Retaliation

Retaliating directly or indirectly against a person who has in good faith made a report under this policy or who has supported or participated in an investigation is prohibited. Retaliation includes but is not limited to ostracizing the person, pressuring the person to drop the report or not participate in the investigation, or to provide false or misleading information, or engaging in conduct that may reasonably be perceived to affect adversely that person’s educational, living, or work environment. Depending on the circumstances, retaliation may be unlawful, whether or not the report is ultimately found to have merit. An individual who engages in retaliation under this policy will be subject to discipline in accordance with the College’s Handbook or Student Life Policies/General Disciplinary Processes or other policies applicable to the program at issue.       

VII. Outline of Potential TAM Activities

The following outline of potential TAM activities is intended to provide insight into some of the options that may, among other strategies, be utilized by the TAM when it is assessing and managing potential threats.  It is not intended to be and should not be construed as an all-inclusive or exclusive list, a mandatory procedure, or a “checklist.”  The TAM will assess and manage each situation in accordance with its best judgment and other applicable College policies, and any of the potential activities listed below may or may not be engaged in, depending on the circumstances of a particular situation.

  • The Department of Public Safety and/or other law enforcement agencies will usually coordinate all action in cases of a violent incident or imminent threat of violence on campus.
  • Once information of concern is received by the TAM, the information will be evaluated and, if appropriate, representatives from the TAM will be convened (based on the College program and persons involved, and team member availability).
  • The TAM, or the Team’s Chair or designee, will first determine whether there is an imminent threat of harm or other emergency situation that requires immediate intervention. If so, the TAM, Chair or designee may notify law enforcement, seek the assistance of Public Safety, seek emergency medical assistance, or take other appropriate measures to address the imminent threat or situation.  If not, the Team or some portion of the Team will usually conduct an initial screening to determine whether a full inquiry is warranted. 
  • If the TAM determines that there does not appear to be an emergency or imminent threat of harm, but that a full inquiry is warranted, the TAM will conduct a full inquiry to determine whether the person or situation of concern may pose a threat of violence or other harm. As part of its inquiry, the TAM may obtain information from multiple sources including, but not limited to, faculty, student life staff, coaches, family members, or others who may have relevant knowledge or information. Community members are encouraged to cooperate fully with and provide information to the TAM.
  • The TAM will evaluate the information obtained in the course of the inquiry to determine whether the person or situation in question appears to pose a threat of violence or other harm.
  • If the TAM determines that the person or situation poses a threat of violence or other harm, it usually will then develop, implement, monitor, and document a management plan designed to intervene and reduce the risk of harm that may be posed by the individual. The management plan may include, but is not limited to, the following (as circumstances and resources may dictate): family/parental notification; law enforcement intervention; disciplinary review and action; a behavioral contract, voluntary referral for mental health evaluation or treatment; mandated psychological assessment or other medical treatment; voluntary or involuntary withdrawal or suspension from the College; expulsion or dismissal of a person of concern; modification of the environment or other reasonable accommodations to mitigate risk; collaboration with the identified alleged target(s) to decrease vulnerability; engaging with the person of concern to de-escalate the situation; and ongoing monitoring.
  • If the TAM determines that the person of concern does not pose a threat, the Team may take no action or may opt to monitor the person or situation for a period of time and re-evaluate the case, as necessary.
  • Cases handled by the TAM will generally remain open until it appears that a management plan is no longer necessary.
  • The TAM will participate in periodic training and conduct periodic assessments of outcomes of its management plans and actions taken.

rev. 7/17/15