When you are concerned about a student

Guidance on how to approach your concerns about a student, and how to talk about your concerns.

When a student is displaying behaviors that may interfere with their success or disrupts learning for themselves and others, additional intervention may be needed.

The Dean of Students Office is here to help

Student of concern

Any student displaying behaviors that may interfere with their ability to be successful or disrupts the learning of others.

Report student concern

Students are referred to the Dean of Students Office from a wide range of sources, including faculty, staff, family members, or other students. Generally, these individuals express a concern because they care about the students involved. They realize the best way to get the student assistance is to involve others to determine the best approach for helping the student. The goal is to avert more serious difficulties and provide support as the student works toward academic and personal success.

The Dean of Students Office offers services for:

  • Consultation
  • Resource referral
  • Outreach
  • Coordination of outreach and information among multiple offices

What is a student of concern?

Simply put, this is a student you might have concerns about either because they shared concerns with you or because they have displayed behavior that you feel may be disrupting learning, or interfering with the student’s success.

Day-to-day interaction with students is both a vital and essential part of being on a university campus. This interaction provides for teaching moments and creates an environment for learning which takes place both in and out of the classroom, which may include discussions with students about appropriate behaviors on campus.

Examples of concerning behavior

This list is not comprehensive and may not encompass concerning behavior that you are seeing an no two student situations are the same.

Observing any of these behaviors should prompt you to reach out to that student. However, there are many resources to help with that conversation.


  • Missing classes or irregular attendance
  • Navigating personal challenges with broad impacts on student
  • Experiencing physical or mental health challenges
  • Loss of a close family member or friend
  • Significant change in behavior
  • Comments that are inappropriate or irrelevant to class discussion
  • Unable to control emotions
  • Poor hygiene
  • Appears intoxicated or smells of alcohol
  • Appears high or smells of marijuana



  • Appears tired or is constantly falling asleep in class
  • Concerning writing or art
  • Extreme change in weight
  • Extreme change in appearance
  • Unusual bruising or other injuries
  • Interrupting class discussions
  • Very anxious
  • Interfering with other students’ ability to learn
  • Making threats or threatening behavior
  • Talking or writing about suicide


In the classroom

Faculty and staff should have the skills and knowledge to respond to students appropriately and make referrals. Knowing how to manage issues within the classroom, including student attendance and verbal de-escalation skills are crucial to a safe learning environment.

Specific concerns

Mental health support

Guidance on what to do when you observe a student who may be struggling emotionally.

Disordered eating

Supporting students health and well being, including what to do, and what not to do.

Anxious students

How to recognize symptoms, types of anxiety, what to do, and what not to do.

Your syllabus language

What to include to support students who may be struggling with mental health issues.

Demanding students

Working with students who may be intrusive, persistent and require extra time and attention.

Student crisis loan support

Crisis loans can support students experiencing financial hardship.

Disoriented or psychotic student

Working with students who may show signs of disorientation or psychotic behavior.

Death of a Student

How to support your students and campus community when a student derath occurs.

Resources to help

How DoSo can help

If you encounter a life-threatening situation, call 911 or the UHS crisis line at 608-265-5600 (option 9). For other concerns, you can contact us or review our online guidance on how to have these conversations with students.

Instructor sitting in a circle of chairs talking to a group of university students.

The Behavior Intervention team

The Team’s purpose is to provide guidance, recommend interventions and to make referrals for students that have demonstrated concerning, distressed, or disruptive behavior.

People sitting around a table covered in papers, having a thoughtful discussion.


Dean's Office Contacts

How can we help?

Call us at:

Email us at:

Line art image of Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Dean of Students Office
70 Bascom Hall
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1380

Monday-Friday: 8:30am -4pm
during Fall and Spring semester

After Hours Contacts

Crisis response:
Call Mental Health Services
608-265-5600 (option 9)
Dial 911 for immediate help from the
UW Police Department
UWPD Non-emergency line: 608-264-2677