How does the university assist students affected by natural disasters?

October 12, 2018

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As the university community continues to keep in its thoughts and prayers all those impacted by the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Michael and other natural disasters around the world, some faculty and staff may be wondering if SU has protocol in place for reaching out to students who may be affected by such events. 

The answer is yes. These sorts of situations are addressed by the Coordinated Assistance and Resource Education Team (CARE Team) under the auspices of the Office of the Dean of Students. 

The CARE Team, Dean of Students James Willette explains, responds to a broad range of concerns. Some of these relate to behavioral issues of varying levels of urgency. For the past two years, the CARE Team also responds to non-behavioral referrals, including the loss of a loved one, unusual financial difficulties, food or housing insecurity, feeling overwhelmed with the transition to college life, relationship and family concerns, short- or long-term illness or injury, and challenges getting involved and connected. In recent years, the team has also taken the lead in assisting students impacted by natural disasters. 

“When large disasters occur,” Willette says, “the Office of the Dean of Students coordinates with the Office of the Registrar to identify students who may be from the impacted area and sends a message of support and information about resources that might be helpful. Some of the resources are intended to assist students in managing trauma and distress, such as Counseling and Psychological Services and Campus Ministry. Other resources offer practical assistance, such as information about emergency financial assistance, emergency housing and food insecurity.” 

Over the past year, the Office of the Dean of Students has reached out to students impacted by the California wildfires; Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Florence, and Michael; the Kilauea eruption; last year’s major earthquake in Mexico; and; the recent Indonesian earthquake and tsunami. 

“We do our best to monitor global events and reach out to students who may be impacted by natural disasters,” says Willette, “but we always encourage faculty and staff to connect with our office if they learn of an event impacting a student about which we may be unaware.” 

To refer a student for CARE Team outreach, please use this online referral form. CARE Team referrals can also be made by contacting the Office of the Dean of Students directly at or 206-296-6060. If you have information that indicates an immediate safety risk, please call the Department of Public Safety at 206-296-5911. All CARE Team outreach is conducted with privacy and sensitivity. At times, information may need to be shared with campus partners outside the Office of the Dean of Students; however, such information sharing will be done with extreme discretion.