The community intervention team supports students in distress


Students living on campus have a new support resource when they experience distress, with the launch of the university program Community response team (CRT) at the start of this semester.

As part of the Division of Student and Campus Life, the team provides assistance to students in crisis in residential communities on campus in the evenings and nights, 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday.

“The community response team supports individuals and communities in times of crisis or distress that do not need law enforcement intervention. The presence of community workers allows us to intervene and provide care, while reducing the police response to situations that are not of a criminal or violent nature, ”said Marla Love, Interim Dean of Students Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley. “This intermediate intervention structure creates another level of endowment to help the efforts of Residence Life staff to support the well-being of our students.”

The need for such a team emerged in the summer of 2020 when President Martha E. Pollack called for evaluating and reinventing the university’s safety and security protocols in the wake of widespread nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd.

This need was echoed by Cornell’s Public Safety Advisory Committee, which recommended that the university implement an alternative model of public safety and response.

A growing number of universities and community organizations are finding other ways to respond to incidents on campus without having to resort to the police.

The two-year pilot program is made up of three community workers with extensive experience in crisis management, victim advocacy and trauma-informed care (another position will soon be filled). The integration and training of community workers began in the spring and the team was officially launched during the first week of classes.

“We feel honored to be a part of reframing how we meet the many needs of Cornell students as we build this program from the ground up. “

René Plevyak

CRT’s coverage area includes the university residences owned and occupied on the north and west campuses, including cooperative houses, community centers and the 10 Greek houses owned by the university.

“When it comes to the types of situations in which CRT will provide support, nothing, whether physical, mental or spiritual, is too small,” said Reba McCutcheon, associate dean of students, who oversees the team. . “Part of the role of community workers is to help students connect with the appropriate resource and can also serve as confidential resources for cases of sexual assault or misconduct as defined by policy 6.4. “

Students can contact CRT by calling its hotline at (607) 253-2100 during working hours. During other periods, calls will automatically be transferred to the Cornell Police Dispatch Center to ensure that some form of academic support is available. Walk-in visits to the CRT hub, located at 103 Call Commons Community Center, are also welcome.

“We feel honored to be part of the reframing of how we meet the many needs of Cornell students as we build this program from the ground up,” said community worker René Plevyak.

Unlike traditional first responders, CRT team members can spend more time with students and schedule follow-up meetings and recordings. If a student is unable to attend classes or take an exam, the CRT may contact the student’s college or professor, or work with the Care and Crisis Services team within the Dean’s Office. students to provide additional support.

In many cases, such as those requiring ambulance transport, Cornell University Police and Cornell Environment Health and Safety Emergency Services must also respond. Depending on the circumstances, a different agency may take the initiative while others wait on hold. Close collaboration is important between agencies in the larger campus care system, McCutcheon said.

Throughout the semester, the CRT organizes a campus awareness tour, with welcome and listening sessions in residences and cooperative houses.

“We continue to shape this new curriculum to understand the needs and concerns of our students as they live and learn in our residential communities,” Love said. “Together, we are reimagining public safety for Cornell.”

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