In September 2014, two faculty members, one from the University of Toronto, and the other from Red River College in Winnipeg were physically assaulted by former students. These incidents bring to the forefront the issue of faculty safety. This bulletin includes a few safety tips for faculty members about dealing with students or members of the public who might be upset.
1. Be aware of your surroundings. When entering classroom or an office, take note of the exits and plan an escape route. Remove any hazards that may be in the pathway between you and the exit, (i.e. cords on floor, chairs, overhead projectors, etc.
2. Be observant. When interacting with others, be aware of nonverbal cues. If you sense that the person is becoming agitated and may resort to violence, begin to take steps to remove yourself from the room. Remain calm and maintain a consistent and non-threatening tone. Continue to make eye contact with the person, do not look away or turn your back to the person. Observing a person’s body language is critical.
3. If you know in advance that you will be meeting with an agitated student or colleague, inform others of your concern and ask them to walk by the classroom or office regularly to check on you. You may want to establish a signal that indicates that you are in need of assistance or that security should be notified. If possible, meet with the person in an open area. Do not close your office door, especially if the door or office does not have a window. Partially close the door for privacy, however, make sure that you are closest to the door. The person should not be between you and the door.
4. Remove objects from your desk that can be used as weapons (i.e. pens, pencils, envelope openers, decorations or trinkets, etc.)
5. If threats of violence or actually violence occurs, immediately call 911 and/or Campus Security (ext. 3200) Emergency responders will respond to mitigate the emergency situation.
6. If you are concerned that workplace violence could develop, report your concerns to your Department Chair and Dean. They will gather information about the situation and contact Health, Safety and Wellness (Dan Pozzobon-Health and Safety Officer, [email protected], extension 5994) and Campus Security. If the Department Chair or Dean is the source of workplace violence then contact the Human Resource department. Contact your Health and Safety Officer, Lisa Barrow, at [email protected], ext. 5401.
7. If needed, Campus Security can help targeted persons develop a personal safety plan.
8. If you have a smart phone, download the Brock University Mobile App. The app includes a direct link to the emergency contact information and a safety toolbox. The safety toolbox includes emergency procedures, watch/crime prevention tips, steps for reporting a crime and the location of Campus Security.