Augusta Tech seeks to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for our students and staff. To ensure the ongoing safety of our campuses, Augusta Tech has designated a team of specially trained staff to respond to concerns about mental health or dangerous behaviors. This team, called CougarsCARE, coordinates a variety of resources for students, faculty and staff in need of assistance, including those with mental health issues, dangerous or distressing behaviors, relationship problems, substance use and addiction, and other concerns.
Anyone in the Augusta Tech community who observes an emergency or behavior that is dangerous or severe should contact Augusta Tech Police at 706-771-4021 immediately.
Dangerous or severe behavior includes any incident where a person is demonstrating an imminent threat to self, for example a suicide threat or plans for suicide attempt, or a direct threat to others including actions or remarks about actual or planned physical violence or harm, sexual assault, or property vandalism.
Faculty, staff, and students who are concerned about behavior that is disturbing, disruptive or distressed but does not pose an imminent danger should complete a CougarsCARE Incident Report Form. Once the report is received, the CougarsCARE team will develop an appropriate response plan. The response will be based on the nature of the behavior, the severity of the risk, and the needs of the student.
Frequently Asked Questions
CougarsCARE stands for Cougars Campus Awareness Response and Evaluation. Augusta Tech’s CougarsCARE is a multidisciplinary team comprised of staff, faculty, and law enforcement officials that proactively responds to situations that may pose a threat to the safety of the Augusta Tech community.
CougarsCARE handles a range of issues, including:
- mental health concerns
- threatening or violent behaviors
- substance use issues
- suicide risk or suicidal ideation
- stalking or harassing behaviors
- relationship problems affecting school or work
- or other concerns.
Members of the Augusta Tech community can report a concern about themselves or another student or staff member who might benefit from support by filling out a CougarsCARE Incident Report Form.
When a report is received, the CougarsCARE team conducts a professional assessment to help understand each person’s individual need and to evaluate risk levels when a person’s behavior may endanger their own or others’ health and safety. After each report has been evaluated, the CougarsCARE team implements a timely intervention specifically tailored to address the needs of the individuals involved. CougarsCARE works to ensure that Augusta Tech students, faculty and staff access the specific resources they need as quickly as possible.
- Protect the Augusta Tech community in cases of imminent threats of harm to self and/or others
- Assist Augusta Tech faculty, staff and students in identifying behaviors that signal an individual who may be distressed, disruptive, and/or deregulated and therefore pose a potential risk to self or others
- Centralize the process of collecting and assessing concerns as they are documented by different sources within the college before a crisis
- Provide structured guidance and support for any member of the campus community who reports disruptive and/or problematic behaviors that might lead to aggression or self-harm
- Develop a coordinated plan to help a student, faculty or staff member in crisis in order to mitigate risk, facilitate early intervention, and protect and maintain campus safety
- Coordinate follow-up with the student, faculty and/or staff member to ensure that recommended services, support, and resources are deployed effectively
- Balance FERPA, HIPAA, and individual privacy concerns with Augusta Tech’s need-to-know and emergency communication needs
Augusta Tech’s CougarsCARE assists faculty, staff and students in addressing situations where a person is displaying disruptive, threatening or distressed behavior.
The CougarsCARE team examines reports of distressing situations to evaluate risk levels and identify persons whose behavior may endanger their own or others’ health and safety. CougarsCARE meets, as needed, to review and analyze information in order to address the needs of students, faculty and/or staff who are experiencing significant behavioral disturbances.
- Responds to reports of behavioral risk or threat by formally assessing whether a person poses a risk to self or others
- Makes recommendations for responses to circumstances of violence, threatening behavior, unwanted pursuit, or harassment
- Provides resource information helpful to students, faculty and staff
- Identifies resources for troubled students and personnel and makes referrals to appropriate campus and off-campus agencies
- Investigates each situation and recommends appropriate referrals to Student Affairs, Human Resources or Augusta Tech Police that may lead to ongoing monitoring and observation of behavior patterns which may result in suspension, dismissal, termination of employment, or filing of criminal charges
- Regularly reviews outcomes of actions taken by the CougarsCARE team to ensure that the proper actions have been taken to address each situation effectively
CougarsCARE does not adjudicate, discipline or impose sanctions against any member of the campus community, nor does it provide or mandate treatment and, therefore, is not a disciplinary body.
People experiencing psychological or emotional distress may not directly express their feelings, but they will usually exhibit behaviors that are out of the ordinary and/or considered socially inappropriate or strange. Use of drugs or alcohol may also mirror these symptoms and the distressed person will still benefit from intervention.
Individuals who are in distress are at greater risk of suicide especially when behaviors are new or have increased, often in response to a recent painful event, including loss or changes.
- Repeated or excessive classroom disruptions (hostile or antagonistic behaviors)
- Inappropriate or exaggerated emotional responses to a given situation including lack of emotional response to a stressful situation
- Loss of contact with reality including rambling or incoherent speech, laughter that is out of context, visual, tactile or auditory hallucinations
- Significant decline in academic performance
- Frequent attempts to obtain postponement of tests or extensions on assignments that are due
- Observable or disturbing change in interaction patterns in the class (when it is linked with other concerning behaviors)
- Extreme rudeness or insubordination to college officials, staff, faculty, or administrators
- Repeated or excessive classroom disruption
- Drunkenness or being under the influence of illicit drugs on campus property
- Threatening words or actions (directly threatening other students or staff)
- Writings that convey clear intentions to harm self or others (in academic assignments or on social media)
- Observed self-injurious behavior, such as cutting, burning, eating disorders, etc.
- Online postings in social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, blogs, websites, e-portfolios, class journals, etc. that involve direct and explicit threats
- Suicidal behavior, including threats (“I am going to kill myself”), gestures (pointing a finger to the head to indicate shooting) expressions of suicidal ideation (“I’ve always thought about killing myself by taking pills”), or documented suicide attempts
- Acts or overt expressions motivated by hatred or discrimination
- Paranoia or delusion (a student groundlessly believes they are being targeted)
- Stalking a staff member or another student
- Intimate partner violence
- Flat affect or emotional numbness
- “Accidental” overdose, including all involuntary hospitalizations for non-responsive intoxication
- Before submitting a report, faculty, staff and students may consult with a member of the Augusta Tech CougarsCARE to discuss their concern. However, completing a report form may still be required following the consultation.
- The person who submits the information will receive an acknowledgement from the CougarsCARE team confirming the appropriate response has been or is being made.
- Faculty and staff submitting a report should not expect detailed information about the disposition of their submission because the issue may involve due process or confidentiality rights of the student.
- Faculty and staff should submit additional reports as new concerns arise or as behavior is repeated, even if they have done so before. A single incident may be insufficient to take action, but a pattern of incidents may require an institutional response.
A person in distress has a right to privacy. In most situations, information provided by the person reporting a concern is confidential and is only released with that person’s permission.
Written records, including student conduct reports, are protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Except in extraordinary circumstances, permission to release this information is to be given by the student in writing.
FERPA does permit the release of information when necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or others.
When a person presents an imminent danger to self or others, it is both permissible and crucial to notify the Augusta Tech Campus Police (and/or call 911) and the student’s emergency contact.
Do you have a concern about the well-being or safety of someone in the Augusta Tech community? Let the CougarsCARE team know how we can help.