Helping Students in Distress

Scope:  Who is covered by this Policy?

Undergraduate Students and Graduate Students


Institutional Response Team (IRT)

The Dean of Students chairs the Miami Institutional Response Team (IRT) which responds when there is a concern that a student may pose a risk of substantial harm to the student, others, or to property. The IRT consists of representatives of various campus offices, any one of whom may receive information about a student potentially in distress. The IRT then works collaboratively to collect information about a student and/or situation to determine an appropriate course of action.

While there is a great variety in the ways in which students show distress, the following are common signs:

  1. A student communicates an intention to harm themselves or others through any medium;
  2. Marked and sudden drop in academic performance or class attendance;
  3. Disruptive or atypical behavior including social withdrawal or isolation;
  4. Sudden and marked drop, elevation, or fluctuation in energy level or mood;
  5. Marked changes in physical appearance or hygiene;
  6. Signs of substance abuse;
  7. Presence of marked dysfunction in major life areas including academics, sleeping, eating, health, relationships, etc.

The staff of the Student Counseling Service (513) 529-4634 is available to provide consultation to any member of the Miami community as to how to evaluate and proceed in such situations. Students, faculty or staff who think a student is experiencing significant distress should pass this information on to the office of the Dean of Students (513) 529-1877 or go to the Student Concern Management System website. In an emergency, contact the Miami University Police at 911.

Good Samaritan Policy

The health and safety of Miami students is of the utmost importance. As members of the Miami University Community, we are all committed to the principles of mutual respect and the common good. Students are expected to exercise personal responsibility for their own health and safety and to look out for the health and safety of their fellow students.

The University recognizes that sometimes concern about arrest and/or University disciplinary action may deter students from seeking medical assistance for themselves or others in drug- or alcohol-related emergencies. Therefore, Miami University will not arrest or take disciplinary action for a violation of Miami’s drug or alcohol policies against those students who seek emergency medical assistance for themselves or other students.  This protection is not available to those students who also violate some other University policy that warrants disciplinary action (e.g., students who are disruptive or combative, refuse treatment, possess a false I.D., commit assault, or do property damage).

When a person’s health and/or safety is threatened or appears to be at risk from alcohol or drug consumption, the best course of action is to:

  • Call 911;
  • Call the Miami University Police Department at 513- 529-2222;
  • You may also seek assistance from a resident assistant (RA), the residence hall director; or
  • McCullough Hyde Memorial Hospital Emergency Room, 110 North Poplar, 513-523-2111

The University also recognizes the significant threat to health and safety that a repetition of ingesting dangerous amounts of alcohol or drug represents and will work to ensure the involved student receives appropriate education and evaluation in order to mitigate this risk.  As a result, any student for whom assistance is sought under this policy will be required to meet with the Office of Community Standards and take an educational course and/or meet with a University substance abuse specialist for education, assessment, and possible referral for treatment. The student will be responsible for any associated costs.  Parents of students may also be notified.  In the event the student incurs any alcohol violation during the twelve-month period following the Good Samaritan report, the prior assistance file may be reviewed as part of the sanctioning process but will not be counted as a prior alcohol offense for the purpose of imposing mandatory minimum sanctions.

It is the University’s expectation that a student will avoid disciplinary action under this Good Samaritan Policy only once; it is an opportunity to learn from a serious mistake and take healthy steps to avoid such mistakes in the future.

Related Form(s)

Not Applicable.

Additional Resources and Procedures


Student Concern Management System


Not Applicable.

Policy Administration

Next Review Date


Responsible Officer

  • Associate Vice President & Dean of Students
  • General Counsel

Legal Authority

Not Applicable.

Compliance Policy


Revision History

Edited July 2018

Reference ID

  • Student Handbook 4.8
  • Graduate Student Handbook 2.10

Reviewing Bodies

  • Student Life Council
  • Administrative