Crisis Management Team - General Procedures

The Student Affairs Division has identified staff trained to respond in a crisis situation at Southern Methodist University. The Crisis Management Team will be used in cases such as student, spouse, or dependent death, sexual assault, attempted suicide, or major trauma affecting studentsí lives. Team members represent the Counseling and Testing Center, Mental Health Center, University Chaplainís Office, Office of Residence Life & Student Housing, Public Relations, University Counsel, Dedman Advising Center, Risk Management, the SMU Police Department, and Student Life, among others.

What follows are the procedures which would be utilized in the event of a crisis which does not present a threat to personal health or safety. In the event a crisis represented such a threat, the SMU Police Department or other department identified by the Emergency Management Plan would assume control and direct the Universityís response to the crisis. In those situations, the role of the Crisis Management Team would be identified and defined by the appropriate responsible agency.

In the event of a crisis, the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Student Life, or Vice President for Student Affairs will initiate Team Member involvement. If the Dean of Student Life is out of town or otherwise unavailable, the Assistant Dean of Student Life assumes the position of chair. In initiating Team involvement and depending on the location of the crisis, an on-site coordinator may be identified. For example, if the crisis is in a residence hall, a Residence Hall Director may be designated as the on-site coordinator. In a fraternity or sorority house, the Interfraternity Council or Panhellenic Council Coordinator might be the on-site coordinator.

The Team leader or the on-site coordinator will assume responsibility for briefing caregivers arriving on the scene of the crisis as well as any others, including paraprofessionals who may be assisting, and for keeping the Team informed about developments. Any Team members called on-site should check in with the on-site coordinator and receive instructions or guidelines. Team members will be assigned on-site as needed and determined by the Dean of Student Life or the Vice President for Student Affairs in communication with the on-site coordinator.

Team members on-site will assist in managing the crisis by providing counseling, resources, gathering information, providing referrals, etc. Counseling on-site or at a future date and grief support will be the responsibility of the Counseling and Testing Center, the Mental Health Center, the University Chaplainís Office, and the Womenís Center. In the event that more than one counseling office is called upon for on-site support, the Director of the Mental Health Center will be responsible for coordinating all on-site counseling services.

In the event of a student death or serious injury, the Dean of Student Life or Vice President for Student Affairs will identify a staff member who will serve as SMUís contact with the parents or other surviving family members. This will normally be the Dean of Student Life. The Dean of Student Life will have responsibility for notifying the studentís family, will assist the family with reclaiming the deceased studentís effects (in communication with the SMU Police Department), answering questions regarding the deceasedís withdrawal from the University, including processing appropriate paperwork, accompanying the family on campus, and responding to other needs. The Dean of Student Life will also arrange for the family to meet with the University Chaplainís office and other University officials as appropriate.

Within three to six days following the crisis, Team members involved in the case may participate in a debriefing process. This process is designed to enhance the reflection of Team members and further refine the procedures implemented by the Crisis Team. The debriefing process will ordinarily be initiated at the discretion of the Dean of Student Life and all Team members shall be present. The debriefing process will result in a summary report for the Vice President for Student Affairs and will be maintained in the relevant files. The report shall include: a description of the incident, a review of the time frame, a summary of activities taken by the Crisis Team, assessment of the response provided, and any recommendations regarding the procedures.


The Office of the Dean of Student Life is a department in the Division of Student Affairs.