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Student Life and Engagement

Our goal in the Office of Student Life and Engagement is to help students be successful and reach their full potential, and encourage them to learn valuable life skills through their participation inside and outside of their classrooms. As mentors and advisors, our staff seeks to serve as your campus advocate and provide assistance with managing a crisis, understanding campus policies and procedures, and assisting you in locating the appropriate university resource.


The Care Team (CAT) are members of the campus community who work together to support individuals’ success. While the primary work and focus of the team is on students, it also receives and acts upon reported concerns for faculty and staff.

The team receives, and acts upon, reported incidents of behavior on the part of any member of the campus community that creates concern about the individual’s well-being or that of others. These concerns may include, but are not limited to: academic deficiencies; mental or medical issues; family, personal, or transitional struggles; and/or conduct. Team members evaluate the information received, undertake further investigation as needed, and determine the appropriate intervention strategies.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that the community member can be successful at Ferrum College and that at all times, the campus community is safe. The team will always work in the best interest of the community.

The purpose of the following is to inform students of the general internal complaint system at Ferrum College and to serve as a guide for students who wish to file a complaint about any aspect of Ferrum’s operation, policies, or procedures, or about the actions of any student, visitor, or employee of Ferrum College. Students should also consult the procedures set forth in Special Campus Policies when filing a complaint for sexual harassment or assault or for discrimination or harassment based on a protected characteristic such as race or sexual orientation.

Procedures and Guidelines

  • Complaint forms can be filled out online, picked up in the Office of Student Life Room 105 Bassett Hall, during normal business hours, or requested by emailing Completed forms should be returned to the Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator in Room 105 Bassett Hall. Forms will be routed to the appropriate person on campus for investigation. 
  • The person handling the complaint should, if possible, see that the situation is addressed and must inform the student in writing (within one month) of the outcome whether or not the complaint is found to be invalid.
    • If the student does not receive a written response from the person handling the complaint within one month from the date of originally filing the completed complaint form or if a student feels that a response to a complaint is unacceptable or unreasonable, the student may bring the complaint back to the Office of Student Life, which will direct the complaint to the appropriate president’s cabinet member. 
  • If a student is dissatisfied with the resolution of a complaint, the student can contact the Campus Conduct Hotline at 1.866.943.5787. The Campus Conduct Hotline is appropriately used if the complaint falls within the following categories: fraud or crime, sexual harassment, discrimination, safety or facility risk issues, security and internet policy abuses, code of conduct violations, workplace hostility, unethical grading practices, fraudulent financial or business practices, a violation of accreditation principles, or any other questionable behavior. Should the complaint still not be addressed satisfactorily, a violation of the SACS Principles of Accreditation may be filed with the SACS Commission on Colleges. 
  • No adverse action will be taken against the student for filing a complaint. Anyone filing a complaint must be prepared to cooperate fully in any subsequent investigation. Failure to cooperate may result in the dismissal of the complaint. 
  • All documentation regarding a complaint, as well as its disposition, with the exception of harassment and sexual assault, must be securely stored in the Student Life Office. These records must be maintained for a period of six years from the date of final action. Harassment and sexual assault documentation is to be held in accordance with the guidelines of each policy. 
  • A log that tracks student complaints is kept in the Student Life Office. The Office of Student Life must be immediately notified upon resolution of a complaint and the file forwarded to the office of the dean of students and Title IX coordinator. 
  • Complaints filed against a student will be handled in accordance with the Student Handbook.

In the Office of Student Life we are committed to helping you navigate Ferrum College. We care, we advocate, and we can refer you to campus and community partners. We want to help you succeed in class and life. We encourage you to maximize your educational experience, and we prepare you for involvement in the larger community and life beyond college. Additionally, we aim to empower you to overcome obstacles and to assist in resolving issues. This section can help you help yourself, your student, or your friend in their path to graduation!

for students

Are you worried about a friend?

Being away at college can be a stressful time for anyone. Stress may stem from family, classes, responsibilities on campus, friend conflict, relationship issues, etc. Sometimes we can cope without too much anxiety or interference, but other times stress may cause significant problems or concerns. At times, you may find that, while you are coping with stress effectively, your friends are not.There are general warning signs to look for if someone is struggling:

  • Feeling sad for an extended period of time (crying, feeling fatigued, unmotivated)
  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill oneself
  • Odd or bizarre behaviors
  • Out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors
  • Sudden overwhelming fear or worries
  • Severe mood swings
  • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
  • Drastic changes in behavior or personality
  • Drastic change in eating or weight
  • Change in sleep patterns—sleeping very little or too much
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawn from friends and social events
  • Feelings of extreme highs or lows
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)/paranoia
  • Inability to cope with daily problems
  • Academic problems, not going to class

What to Do:

  • Respect their personal space.
  • Find an area to talk that is comfortable and private.
  • Let them know that you have noticed a change, and you are concerned.
  • Ask if they would like to talk about it.
  • Remain judgement-free; just listen to what is going on.
  • Ask if they would feel comfortable talking about this with a resident advisor, counselor, family member, area coordinator, etc… If so, connect them with that resource by walking them over or helping them make an appointment.
  • Listen carefully and be supportive.

Even if your friend does not want to talk with anyone, many of the behaviors listed above can be signs of crisis or distress. Reach out to the Office of Student Life for a consultation – you can make a difference for your friend.

for families

We know that the transition from high school to college can be a challenge for both students and their families. Though it is always our preference to empower students in their growth toward independence to seek assistance themselves, we know that family members often have questions about the College or concerns about their student that they wish to share. We are pleased to have the opportunity help you navigate through issues as you help your student. If you cannot find what you need on this page, please email or call us and we will do what we can to help.

General information

  • Emergency Information
  • Student Handbook
  • Ferrum College Police Department
  • Campus Map

Campus Resources

There are general warning signs to look for if someone is struggling:

  • Feeling sad for an extended period of time (crying, feeling fatigued, unmotivated)
  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill oneself
  • Odd or bizarre behaviors
  • Out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors
  • Sudden overwhelming fear or worries
  • Severe mood swings
  • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
  • Drastic changes in behavior or personality
  • Drastic change in eating or weight
  • Change in sleep patterns—sleeping very little or too much
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawn from friends and social events
  • Feelings of extreme highs or lows
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)/paranoia
  • Inability to cope with daily problems
  • Academic problems, not going to class

What to Do:

  • Respect their personal space.
  • Let them know that you have noticed a change, and you are concerned.
  • Remain judgement-free; just listen to what is going on.
  • Listen carefully and be supportive.

Even if your student does not want to talk with anyone, many of the behaviors listed above can be signs of crisis or distress. Reach out to the Office of Student Life for a consultation.

for faculty and staff

Our mission is the same all across campus—we want our students to be successful! In every department from academics to dining to housekeeping to alumni, we want to give students the best chance at being successful as a student here and each and every one of us has chances to impact that. We all know the best way to do that is as a Ferrum Family. Thank you for all you do to support and advocate for our students every day.

You may be the first to notice a student who is experiencing difficulty or the first person a student turns to on campus. What we need you to do:

  • Notice signs of distress.
  • Have direct conversation with student to gather information, express concern, and offer resources.
  • Communicate these to the ARC, counseling, or the Office of Student Life.

Often, there are indicators that a student is experiencing distress long before a situation escalates to a crisis. A crisis is a situation in which an individual’s usual style of coping is no longer effective, and the emotional or physiological response begins to escalate. As emotions intensify, coping becomes less effective, until the person may become disoriented or nonfunctional or attempt harm.

All of us experience life’s “ups and down,” but significant distress experienced over a period of time may suggest a more serious problem. There are different levels of distress and these can be represented through a continuum. How you go about helping a student will depend on several factors: their level of distress, the nature of your relationship, the type of setting you are in and your comfort level.

Examples of Academic Indicators:

  • Repeated absences from class, section, or lab
  • Missed assignments, exams, or appointments
  • Deterioration in quality or quantity of work
  • Extreme disorganization or erratic performance
  • Written or artistic expression of unusual violence, morbidity, social isolation, despair, or confusion; essays or papers that focus on suicide or death
  • Continual seeking of special provisions (extensions on papers, make-up exams)
  • Patterns of perfectionism: e.g., can’t accept themselves if they don’t get an A+
  • Overblown or disproportionate response to grades or other evaluations

Examples of Behavioral/Emotional Indicators

  • Direct statements indicating distress, family problems, or loss
  • Angry or hostile outbursts, yelling, or aggressive comments
  • More withdrawn or more animated than usual
  • Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness; crying or tearfulness
  • Expressions of severe anxiety or irritability
  • Excessively demanding or dependent behavior
  • Lack of response to outreach from course staff
  • Shakiness, tremors, fidgeting, or pacing

Examples of Physical Indicators

  • Deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene
  • Excessive fatigue, exhaustion; falling asleep in class repeatedly
  • Visible changes in weight; statements about change in appetite or sleep
  • Noticeable cuts, bruises, or burns
  • Frequent or chronic illness
  • Disorganized speech, rapid or slurred speech, confusion
  • Unusual inability to make eye contact
  • Coming to class bleary-eyed or smelling of alcohol

Examples of Other Indicators

  • Concern about a student by their peer
  • A hunch or gut-level reaction that something is wrong
  • Written or verbal statements that mention despair, suicide, or death
  • Severe hopelessness, depression, isolation, and withdrawal
  • Statements to the effect that the student is “going away for a long time”

How to Help

If mild/moderate distress:

  • Deal directly with the behavior/problem according to classroom or campus protocol
  • Allow the student to speak freely about their current situation and the
    variables that may be affecting their distress
  • Consult with a supervisor, colleague, dean, Student Life professional, or counselor
  • Refer the student to one of the College resources

If severe distress:

  • Remain calm and know whom to call for help, if necessary – find someone to stay with the student while calls to the appropriate resources are made
  • Remember that it is NOT your responsibility to provide the professional help needed for a severely troubled/disruptive student
  • When a student expresses a direct threat to themselves or others, or acts in a bizarre, highly irrational or disruptive way, call Campus Police.

If you choose to talk with the student, here are some tips:

  • Never promise confidentiality, only privacy.
  • Accept and respect what is said.
  • Try to focus on an aspect of the problem that is manageable.
  • Avoid easy answers such as, “Everything will be alright.”
  • Help identify resources needed to improve things.
  • Help the person recall constructive methods used in the past to cope; get the person to agree to do something constructive to change things.
  • Trust your insight and reactions.
  • Refer and share information.
  • End the conversation in a way that will allow you or the student to revisit the subject at another time. Keep lines of communication open.
  • Invite the student back to follow up.

Other Resources:

The Care Report Form is a way for families, friends, former mentors, and others who love and care about our students to let us know when they see that their student is struggling or when something happens at home that may impact their student on campus. Often, you will have information that we could use to help strategize and connect to help our students be as successful as possible. We thank you for sharing information with us and partnering with us to work towards our students health, well-being, and success.

The Incident Communication Form can be utilized to report any behaviors of concern to the appropriate individuals at Ferrum College including but not limited to: potential violations of the Student Handbook; complaints; concerns related to possible violations of Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Sexual Misconduct, and Title IX Policy such as gender-based discrimination, dating violence, domestic violence, hostile work environment, sexual assault, nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, stalking, retaliation, or other forms of sexual misconduct; and general behavioral concerns regardless of whether they occur on campus or off. Please note that submitting this report is not considered filing a complaint.

Filing a report is NOT appropriate if the student or situation requires immediate attention or there is an emergency of any kind. Instead, please call 911 or the Ferrum College Police Department at (540) 365-4444.

Important Additional Information

If a current student poses a threat of harm to self or others, please call the Ferrum College Police Department immediately at (540) 365-4444.

Reports will be reviewed within one (1) business day; however, these reports are not reviewed outside of business hours (Monday – Friday 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.) or during holiday breaks.

Once the report has been reviewed, a clearly defined level of protocol is used to determine the most appropriate steps.

We will follow up with the person(s) who submit reports only when additional information is needed.

If you have submitted a report and have more information to share or questions, please call us at (540) 365-4461.

The Office of Student Life is designed to be a way to help connect current students with the resources to help support them. Common reasons for a referral can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Academic Concerns
  • Adjustment Issues
  • Behavioral Concerns
  • Career or Graduation
  • Death or Grief
  • Financial
  • Personal Health or Wellness
  • Parenting or Pregnant Students
  • Relationships or Student Engagement
  • Other Concerns

Mission: The student accountability process will support Ferrum’s mission by developing and upholding college standards with cooperation from students, faculty, and partners in order to promote accountability and student development.

Vision/Purpose: The student accountability process approaches student conduct from an educational, developmental, and restorative perspective. Inherent in the College’s accountability process is the commitment to serve, equally, all involved parties in an unbiased and fair manner.

When a student has their rights violated and/or fails to meet prescribed responsibilities, as in society at large, consequences will follow. Our process is commissioned with the task of detailing the rights and responsibilities of students, reviewing cases involving disciplinary matters, and, when necessary, imposing sanctions for violations in accordance with the policies laid out in the Student Handbook.

Things to Remember:
The College and its Student Accountability Process:

  • Recognizes that all students, in addition to being members of the College community, also belong to our society at large
  • In no manner, stated or implied, protects or shields students from their responsibilities under local, state, and federal laws
  • Reserves the right to refer any incident information to the appropriate authorities and also reserves the right to take action through its own Accountability Process regardless of any court procedures

The Student Accountability Process is a part of the educational process. Since it is intended to be an educational experience and not a court of law, neither the College nor a student may bring an attorney as an advocate to a meeting, case review, or Review Panel.

When a student violates a Community Standard, they are expected to accept responsibility for their actions and the consequences that result from the behavior. Students have the responsibility for reading and understanding the Ferrum College Student Handbook and following all Community Standards and Residence Hall Policies. The official version of the Ferrum College Student Handbook can be found online.

Certain rights are afforded to every member of the Ferrum College student body. These rights include:

  • The right to be free from discrimination, to be treated equally and individually without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran status, disability, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and any other protected status, and the right to be free from harassment;
  • The right to learn, which includes the right of access to ideas, facts, and opinions, the right to express and discuss those and other ideas, facts, and opinions;
  • The right to co-exist peacefully with other members of the Ferrum College community, which includes the right to protection against force, violence, threat, harassment, and abuse; the responsibility to treat others respectfully and fairly and the right to join associations for educational, political, social, religious, or cultural purposes;
  • The right to be treated fairly, to be informed of any charges of misconduct that could result in disciplinary proceedings, to have adequate time to prepare a response to the charges, to receive assistance from an advocate, to a case review, and to be informed of the outcome of any proceeding.

The individuals implementing the Student Accountability Process are pledged to maintain a balance between individual and institutional integrity. The accountability process is closed to the public.

All violations of Ferrum College Community Standards, Special Campus Policies, and Residence Hall Policies will be handled through the Student Accountability Process, unless otherwise noted. Academic violations are handled through the Honor Board. Sexual misconduct violations are handled through the Title IX process.

The establishment, interpretation, and enforcement of Community Standards, Special Campus Policies, and Residence Hall Policies are designed to assist students as members of the Ferrum College community in the realization of educational goals, and to assist in providing an environment in which every student may achieve their highest potential. Accountability actions vary according to the situation and the person(s) involved.

The accountability history of an individual student remains active throughout their enrollment at Ferrum College. Thus, violations carry over from semester to semester and may have an impact on determining appropriate sanctions after a decision of responsibility has been rendered in reviewing a subsequent incident.

An overview of policies, procedure, and sanctions can be found in the Student Handbook.

Meet the Staff

Headshot of Ferrum College staff Jill Adams standing outside on campus.

Jill Adams

Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs And Director of Conferences & Events
Headshot of Ferrum College staff Vanessa Stone standing outside near a tree.

Vanessa Stone

Dean of Students
Placeholder photo for Lacey Matthews

Lacey Matthews

Coordinator of Residence Life and Programming
Headshot of Ferrum College staff Melanie Rooks.

Melanie Rooks

Coordinator of Student Engagement and International Student Programming
David Morgan Headshot

David Morgan

Area Coordinator of Village and Student Engagement

Contact Info

Franklin Hall, 107
Ferrum, VA 24088