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Staff and Faculty Resources

Student Assistance and Support Service (SASS) staff are available to consult with faculty and staff about students who present with unforeseen life events, unexpected illness or injury or personal or family crises.  When such disruptions interfere with academic or co-curricular life, faculty and staff may seek guidance on how to best support a student.

While academic decisions about missed assignments, absences or grades are the responsibility of the classroom professor, the SASS team can help by verifying unforeseen events, intervening with distressed students, conducting health and safety checks or guiding students towards the correct university policies or processes.  

When the primary concern is academic or missed class, professors are encouraged to start with the dean’s office of the student’s school: 

Missed Work, Extensions on an Assignment or Excused Absences

Due to illness

Students who request an excuse flexibility for a medical reason are directed to the Health Service’s Academic Work Missed for Medical Reasons protocol found here.

The final decision about how and what accommodations will be made for students missing work is made by individual professors and academic deans.  Professors should encourage students to use the Health Service protocol to verify illness but will ultimately have to decide whether the requested flexibility keeps students on pace to meet the core and essential requirements of the class. 

Due to Mental Health Concern

  • Registered with ANU: Students who have a registered mental health diagnosis should already have accommodations in place.  Students requesting flexibility due to a flare up of an existing condition should begin with AccessibleNU.   
  • Not registered with ANU: The SASS team often works with students who have the onset of significant emotional or physical health concerns, particularly when they do not appear to have the resources to seek appropriate levels of care.  The SASS staff will connect students to appropriate resources, help remove financial barriers and access to care, consult with faculty or staff and encourage students to register with AccessibleNU for long term support. 

Due to other Extenuating Circumstances

Professors who need verification of other unexpected life events such as the loss of a close friend or family member can refer students to SASS for both verification of the event as well as referral to support and resources. 

Concern About a Student’s Well Being

Call NUPD or 911 for urgent situations such as a student whose behavior is markedly bizarre, disruptive or dangerous or immediate threats of suicide.  Students in crisis can also be walked to CAPS for a crisis appointment. 

However, staff and faculty often find themselves faced with concerns about students who either seem unwilling to get help or who are not in an adequate level of treatment.  Some examples may include: 

  • Disturbed writing 
  • Marked change in academic performance, mood or behavior 
  • Distressing communication indicating worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety or other health related conditions 

SASS can consult with faculty and staff about concerns and help determine next steps.

Disruptive Classroom Behavior

Disruptive behavior that endangers the peace of the class, residence hall, other campus locations or is in violation of the Student Code of Conduct should be referred to the Office of Community Standards.


What if I feel like a student’s behavior is potentially threatening? 

If you are concerned about any potential person whose behavior seems threatening or if you are in receipt of information about any potential threats or acts of violence, please make a referral to the Behavioral Consultation Team.  You can submit a report here: 


FERPA and Student Concerns

For FERPA related questions, please see the Registrar Privacy Policy page

May I disclose personal knowledge and impressions about a student based on my personal interactions with a student? 

Yes. FERPA applies only to information derived from student education records, and not to personal knowledge derived from direct, personal experience with a student. 

May information from a student’s education record be disclosed to protect health or safety? 

Yes.  FERPA permits the disclosure of information from student education records to appropriate parties inside or outside of Northwestern in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.