Views expressed in opinion columns are the authors’ own.
To our campus community,
Over the past several days, I have witnessed the frustration, pain, and anger expressed by some of our students regarding the need for the Department of Resident Life to review and revise our procedures related to responding to situations where students are transported to the hospital for mental health-related emergencies.
I write today to acknowledge that I hear the concerns from the community and also to explain in more detail how and why our current protocols exist. We can and will do better.
To this end, I am forming a committee composed of students and staff to review our current protocol and make recommendations for changes. The committee will include a cross-functional team of campus colleagues, including mental health staff, student leaders and residence hall staff members.
[Read more: UMD barred a student from returning to her on-campus apartment after a hospital stay]
I will ask the committee to convene immediately so recommendations can be vetted and implemented by the fall semester. My goal is to ensure we have a personalized approach in place that is flexible, adaptable and compassionate for the situations we manage, and for students facing difficulties to know that our staff cares about their well-being and wants to provide support to help them remain successful in our residence hall community, at the university, and beyond.
Students experience a wide range of challenges while in school, as college is a time of growth, learning and change. Our staff is dedicated to serving students and helping students navigate all aspects of college life.
One of the most important aspects of the Maryland residential experience is that we in Resident Life have compassionate and well-trained staff that is available 24/7 to help and provide support to students, especially when in crisis.
When our staff is called upon to respond to reports of emergency or crisis situations, our primary concern is students’ well-being and safety. The protocol we have applied when residents are transported to the hospital due to mental-health related crises has been effective in getting students to the most appropriate resources who can help during and after a crisis situation.
[Read more: Staff editorial | UMD’s Department of Resident Life must show more empathy toward students’ mental health]
Our goal and practice are not to remove students from their homes on the campus. While we have required students to participate in an on-campus evaluation upon their discharge from the hospital, we also have staff on call 24 hours each day to ensure students have access to their belongings and have options for a safe place to stay until an evaluation by our UMD Mental Health staff can occur.
Whenever possible, we encourage students to stay at home with family members who can support them. In the vast majority of the situations throughout my career, students who have been transported to the hospital return to the residence halls.
This is the desired outcome in our current practices and our goal for the changes we will make — to have our students connected to appropriate resources and to help them to continue to fully engage in campus and community living.
Director of Resident Life