A new and improved program on campus called KSC CARES [Keene State College Concern Awareness Response Support] is making it easier for students to get help and receive early intervention.

Dean of Students Gail Zimmerman mentioned that KSC CARES was established this semester and is an extension of a pre-existing program on campus called Students of Concern.

Zimmerman said that the difference between the two programs is that the committee is hoping to receive more referral forms from students and faculty members regarding a student who they are concerned about.

Zimmerman explained that students who come to their attention in the old process for Students of Concern often were in too-little-too-late situations.

“We’re hoping that this is going to really expand the work of the CARES team so we have earlier information that our outreach and support is going to be more effective,” Zimmerman said.

Photo Illustrator / Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Photo Illustrator / Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Students, faculty or staff can visit the KSC CARES website, click on the CARES Referral link and fill out a form stating what their concerns are about a particular student.

The information then goes to Zimmerman, who brings it to the KSC CARES committee, which meets every Tuesday.

“Depending on what that information is and what’s in the report, we then take a look at that information and say ‘did we already know this, did we not know this, do we know other things besides this and how that might inform our abilities to support the student?’,” Zimmerman said.

While the referral form does ask for a name, title and other identification of the person filling out the form, it is not required.

According to the Director of the Counseling Center Brian Quigley, if you are to give this information, the KSC CARES committee is under no legal obligation to withhold this information from the student who they have concerns about.

The KSC CARES committee is comprised of the Dean of Students, Residential Life, Counseling Center, Center for Health and Wellness, Campus Safety, Student Conduct, Disability Service, Academic and Career Advising, Multicultural Student Affairs, Enrollment Management and Title IX offices.

Vice President for Student Affairs Kemal Atkins could not be reached for comment by deadline.

Zimmerman mentioned that the referral form can be utilized by anyone who has concerns about a student and is simple to fill out.

The referral form asks for information regarding the different kinds of concerns, whether it’s academic or emotional.

According to the KSC CARES website, the purpose of the program is to provide a means for early intervention of at-risk students through collaboration with campus departments, faculty and staff.

“What we wanted to do is to really be able to communicate best to the college community, whether that’s staff, faculty, other students that there’s a place that they can go to if they got concerns about a student and the concerns can be a number of things,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman commented on the situations where students need help and support.

“Often times, something happens to a student [and] they’re in distress. Nobody learns about it and then the next thing we know, they are failing or they had to drop a course. Hopefully this will be a way to get some early intervention of those situations so we can support a student better and those [negative] things don’t happen,” Zimmerman said.

Quigley explained how the faculty and friends who are concerned about a student play a critical role in supporting that student.

“The Counseling Center is often thought of [as] the resource for students who struggle, which it is, but the front line is really the faculty and the friends of those students before it will ever be the Counseling Center. We really look to those friends and to those faculty members to help us find ways to put supports underneath the students who do in fact struggle and need those supports,” Quigley said.

Quigley commented on the types of services the Counseling Center provides to at-risk students.

“We do psychological testing, IQ testing, cognitive evaluations, personality and psycho-diagnostic evaluations. We have a really strong component of our services that’s focused on well-being, resilience building and prevention work so there are a ton of programs, activities and initiatives that get launched out of the Counseling Center in that particular area,” Quigley said.

Director of Center for Health and Wellness Christine Burke mentioned the information she hears most from faculty about a student they are concerned about.

“What we hear from mostly from faculty has more to do with illness, missed classes and [assignments] and what that all means and how to manage students’ health so that it doesn’t impact their academics in a negative way,” Burke said.

Burke said that the Health and Wellness Center has two full-time nurse practitioners, two nurses and two medical assistants who have a great deal of experience in college health and who work closely with the Counseling Center to support students in need.

Jacob Knehr can be contacted at jknehr@kscequinox.com

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