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UCLA Chancellor Explains How the School Responds to Troubled Students

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UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block yesterday wrote an open letter to the community in follow up to last week's stabbing incident. Although he offers no specific details on the case, he does explain how the process is supposed to work:

For several years now, Student Affairs has had in place the UCLA Consultation & Response team as a resource for those who are concerned about the well-being of students. Referrals to the team come from people like you—students, faculty and staff—who reach out to express their concerns. Please take a minute to review and bookmark the team’s website. When the group receives referrals about students who may be in distress, it acts quickly to establish facts and respond in an aggressive and timely manner. The response may include referrals to academic or psychological counselors, adjudication of disputes or a meeting with campus police. The team also follows up to increase the likelihood that students use the services available to them. The team’s strategies shrink the size of our institution and help to ensure that we maintain a supportive environment.

By law, members of the group are required to report to police any student they believe poses a threat to others.

Damon Thompson, the 20-year-old suspect, was in fact referred to UCLA officials by a worried teacher prior to the attack. To what extent the school's team aided Thompson, or even if police were contacted, is unknown. Block's full letter is below.

Follow-up to attack in Young Hall from Chancellor Block
By Chancellor Gene D. Block

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A message to the UCLA campus from Chancellor Gene Block as following up on the Oct. 8 stabbing attack on a student in Young Hall.

To the Campus Community:

I know that many of you are feeling unsettled and perhaps even vulnerable in the wake of the attack that occurred in one of our laboratory classes last week. Many people have asked questions about what happened and whether there’s anything we could have done to prevent it. While privacy laws prohibit me from discussing specific interactions with an individual student, I want to reassure you that, at UCLA, there is nothing more important than the safety of our campus community. The myriad of programs, policies and practices we have in place reflect that commitment.

For several years now, Student Affairs has had in place the UCLA Consultation & Response team as a resource for those who are concerned about the well-being of students. Referrals to the team come from people like you—students, faculty and staff—who reach out to express their concerns. Please take a minute to review and bookmark the team’s website.

When the group receives referrals about students who may be in distress, it acts quickly to establish facts and respond in an aggressive and timely manner. The response may include referrals to academic or psychological counselors, adjudication of disputes or a meeting with campus police. The team also follows up to increase the likelihood that students use the services available to them. The team’s strategies shrink the size of our institution and help to ensure that we maintain a supportive environment.

By law, members of the group are required to report to police any student they believe poses a threat to others.

I encourage you to contact the UCLA Consultation & Response team if a student exhibits unusual behavior or if you think the student is in need of any special services. Especially useful are detailed descriptions of behavior, based on your personal observations and provided in a timely manner. It is an important way to help keep the campus safe.

Of course, students are not our only concern. UCLA has multiple programs to help the entire campus community, including some designed specifically for faculty and staff. More resources to prevent and respond to violence are provided at http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/ucla-resources-for-campus-safety-111312.aspx.

I have received dozens of queries about the student who was injured. I am pleased to tell you that during my visit to her hospital room late last week, she was showing signs of a quick recovery. On Tuesday, Dr. Henry Gill Cryer, the hospital’s chief of trauma surgery, reported the very good news that she was out of the intensive care unit and out of danger; she is recovering.

I know you join me in expressing our deep appreciation to the teaching staff, police and emergency medical personnel, whose swift and skilled responses helped to save her life. Their exemplary behavior deserves our praise and demonstrates a tenet of what it means to be a Bruin—at UCLA, we believe it is important to look out for one another.

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Sincerely,

Gene D. Block
Chancellor