Following the Virginia Tech campus shooting in 2007 that left 32 dead, many colleges, including OCCC, looked at how a similar situation might be averted in the future on their own campuses.
As a result, OCCC formed CARE, the Campus Alert Response Evaluation team.
CARE is a team of both staff and faculty at the college whose aim is to monitor concerns regarding student behavior.
“The overall goal of CARE is to promote a safe environment for all students and staff focused on student learning and student development,” said Erin Logan, Student Relations director, and part of the CARE team.
Logan said the CARE team serves five major functions:
•Provide consultation to all employees in assisting students who display concerning or disruptive behaviors.
•Gather information to assess situations involving students.
•Recommend appropriate intervention strategies.
•Connect students with needed campus and community resources.
•Monitor ongoing behavior of students who have displayed disruptive or concerning behavior.
Mary Turner, Learning Support Specialist and also a member of the CARE team, said students who encounter someone who seems threatening can report that individual and the CARE team will follow up.
Students can file reports themselves or inform any faculty or staff member at the college of an issue with anyone on campus.
Students can contact the CARE team in person, by phone, or by e-mail, Turner said. All reports will remain anonymous.
“We want to make sure the people who need help get help and those who pose a threat are dealt with accordingly,” she said.
The CARE team meets on a weekly basis, but meetings are held as soon as possible with the onset of a new report, Turner said. Each incident is carefully reviewed and discussed by staff members before action is taken.
“We take each report seriously,” Turner said. “ … We try to look at all of the angles and all sides of the story before any decisions are made.”
Turner said OCCC and the CARE team are in the process of creating handbooks for students that include the CARE information as well as adding that information to the OCCC website, Turner said.
For now, students can find more information regarding the CARE team in Student Support Services, located on the first floor of the Main Building.
One student said she is glad to know a plan is in place.
“The scary thing is that these types of things are so random, you never know when they will happen,” said Nicole Ricolta.
“I guess the best thing we can try to do is to identify the problem before it happens, if that is even possible.”
For more information, contact Logan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Turner at email@example.com or call 405-682-7821 or 405-682-7544.