Poet Early Alert Program (PEAP) Policy


The Whittier College POET EARLY ALERT PROGRAM TEAM (PEAP) is comprised of professional staff members who are charged with identifying, assessing and supporting students of concern.  The PEAP team educates the campus community on constructive ways to obtain support for distressed, disturbed and dysregulated students.  Through the combined efforts of the PEAP team and informed members of the community, students will be able to utilize the available to care for themselves and others.


Whittier College aims to foster a learning environment where all member of the college community can attain personal, academic, professional, and civic goals.  Each member shares in the responsibility of supporting one another, especially at times when a student is experiencing the negative effects of a personal emergency or crisis affecting health and safety.  When students of concern are referred to the PEAP team by members of the community, the PEAP team will endeavor to:

  • Balance the educational needs of the student with the mission of the college.
  • To intervene early and provide support and behavioral response to student displaying various levels of dysfunctional behaviors.
  • Respond with support whenever possible and to pursue conduct action for disruptive behavior as a secondary or last resort.
  • To gather accurate, individualized assessment of the potential for violent, homicidal and/or suicidal behaviors while avoiding stigmatizing mental health issues and stereotype-based profiling.
  • To rely on a protocol of instructions for communication, coordination of support services, and intervention.
  • To balance FERPA, HIPPA and client/counselor privilege with college administrators’ need-to-know and protocols for campus safety and emergency communication.
  • To centralize collection and assessment of “red flags” raised by student behavior and to connect seemingly disparate accounts of problematic actions by a student who may be known by faculty, staff, administrators or concerned peers.
  • To engage faculty and staff in effective ways to refer disruptive and/or distressed students to appropriate PEAP team members.
  • To coordinate timely follow-up to ensure that services, support, and resources are effectively deployed.
  • To coordinate mandated psychological assessment, disciplinary actions, disability services, and/or coordinate care.

The procedures in this manual represent an aspect of a comprehensive approach to maintaining a safe campus community.  These procedures are intended to supplement-not to replace-published College policies or procedures regarding student conduct and health withdrawal.

Definition of an Incident

The scope of authority for the PEAP team is restricted to student personal and academic behavior, health and safety.  While the majority of referrals using the College’s on-line PEAP form involve academic concerns, the following types of concerns may be expressed:

  • Accidents involving  a student(s)
  • Eating disorder
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Mental health crisis
  • Attempted suicide
  • Sexual assault
  • Life threatening injury/illness
  • Death of a student
  • Assailant
  • Threat

PEAP Team Membership

The Vice President and Dean of Students is the ultimate authority in all issues of emergency and crisis response involving students.  The regular team members include:

  • Vice President/Dean of Students (chair)
  • Associate Dean of Students (vice chair)
  • Assistant to the Dean of Students
  • Director of the Center for Advising and Academic Success and First Year Programs
  • Director of Disability Services
  • First-year halls area coordinator
  • Director of Campus Safety
  • Director of Counseling (ex officio)

The chair may invite others to attend portions of PEAP meeting in order to provide additional information as appropriate to specific case(s) or issues under discussion.

General Operating Procedures


PEAP meetings will be held on a weekly basis to review, evaluate, monitor and assign PEAP referrals to members of the team.

  1. The Chair will call and preside at PEAP meetings.  In the absence of the Dean, the Associate Dean will chair the meeting.
  2. PEAP members with an update about a student will come to the meeting prepared with supplemental information, as needed.
  3. At each meeting, PEAP team members will:
    a.Develop strategies to address referrals
    i.Delegate and prioritize tasks to carry out plan
    ii. Determine the impact of the incident and/or individual on the campus community and work to maintain the safety of all community members. 
  4. The Chair will ask for a member of the team to follow up on issues and report back.
  5. The team members will inform the Assistant to the Dean of Students if they cannot attend meetings.
  6. The Chair may call emergency meetings as needed. 

Post-Meeting Follow Up

  1. The Assistant to the Dean of Students will communicate via email with the member of the team who will follow up with the student and invite the person submitting the PEAP to be in contact with that team member.
  2. The Assistant to the Dean of Students will enter the name of the student in the PEAP Access database and record any follow up notes.
  3. When the case is closed, the Assistant to the Dean of Students will send a follow up email to the submitter describing intervention and conclusion.

Reporting Incidents to the PEAP Team

  1. Any member of the campus community concerned about a student’s behavior may submit an on-line PEAP form.  Reports can also come from Incident Report forms from Campus Safety. 
  2. If a report is made involving an incident in progress and there is an imminent danger to person or property, the reporter should call Campus Safety at x4911 or the Dean of Students Office at x4233.
  3. The Dean of Students will review the incident and proceed to address the situation in an appropriate manner and time frame.
  4. Reporting team member(s) will collect more information, invite guests to the PEAP meeting, and/or find another support needed to devise an effective response.

Managing Cases and Follow Up Procedures

During regularly scheduled PEAP meetings, members will

  1. Discuss any details involving cases.  Some situations may be relatively minor including, but not limited to, student’s class attendance, roommate conflicts, family issues, etc.
  2. Consider the totality of information available at the time as they determine the next steps.
  3. If appropriate, generate a range of options and determine how best to respond.
  4. In general, students will be assigned to members of the PEAP team based on the following guidance:
    ​a. Relationship with student-a team member who has a relationship with the student is often the best person to make initial contact
    b. First-year students-are most likely assigned to the director of CAAS and First Year programs or the area coordinator working in the first-year residence halls, whether the are personal or academic.
    c. Academic concerns for upper class students will generally be referred to the director of center for advising and academic success. 
    d. Students with disabilities will generally be referred to the director of Disability Services.
    e. Emotional/personal concerns may be addressed by any member of the team, including the dean or associate dean of students.

After discussion, the Chair will, in consultation with the PEAP team:

  1. Designate a PEAP team member as the lead who will have the responsibility to gather more information as needed.  The lead will keep those members who need to know, including the individual who submitted the PEAP, informed with updates and will guide the implementation of the action plan
  2. Decide when incidents are closed.  The Chair will lead a debriefing about the incident and will make future recommendations based on the discussion.
  3. Store and manage paper and electronic files on students of concern in a secure location and/or password protected server.

Confidentiality of Information

Individuals who serve on the PEAP team are college officials with a legitimate educational interest in accessing a student’s educational record in connection with inquiry and action related to student health and safety.  PEAP members will inform faculty and staff that their full and prompt cooperation with an inquiry is necessary and is permitted under FERPA without prior consent of the student.  All documents, summaries, or reports created or complied in connection with a PEAP submission are considered educational records maintained by the Dean of Students Office.

Confidentiality of reports and student information will be preserved to the greatest extent possible, understanding that the College has an obligation to investigate safety and health issues and, in appropriate cases, to share information to protect the campus community and others. The PEAP Chair and/or Lead will inform members of the campus community involved in PEAP activities that confidentiality is required to preserve the integrity of the process and to avoid unnecessarily releasing personally identifiable health information.  All inquiries and reporting of findings will be conducted in compliance with state and federal laws governing confidentiality and reporting.

Mental Health Concerns Pattern of Thought/Behavior Priority


Concerning Behavior Exhibited Only

1: No Identified Risk

The student of concern “does not appear to pose a threat of violence or self-harm at this time, nor is there evidence of significant disruption to the community.”

  • The Team can close the case without a management or monitoring plan, following appropriate documentation
  • Possible consultation/ referral to Counseling Services, Judicial Affairs, Public Safety or other services depending on situation
  • Consider situation as educational opportunity for campus community

Neither or Disturbed


  • Threat is vague and indirect
  • Information within the threat is inconsistent, implausible or lacks detail
  • Threat lacks realism
  • Content suggests person is unlikely to carry it out

2: Low Risk

The student of concern/”situation does not appear to pose a threat of violence or self-harm at this time, nor is there evidence of significant disruption to the community. This case may warrant some intervention, referral and monitoring to minimize the risk for escalation.

  • Identify the type of monitoring: Active or Passive
  • Possible consultation/ referrals to Counseling Services, judicial Affairs, Public Safety, or other services, depending on situation
  • Behavioral contract or treatment plan with student
  • Conflict management, mediation, problem-solving
  • Consider situation as educational opportunity for campus community

Disturbed or​ Disturbing


  • Wording suggests student has given some thought to how the act will be carried out
  • General indication of a possible place and time (but not a detailed plan)
  • Specific statement seeking to convey that the threat is not empty: “I’m serious!” or “I really mean this!”

3: Moderate Risk

The student of concern/ “situation does not appear to pose a threat of violence or self-harm at this time, but does exhibit behaviors/circumstances that are likely to be disruptive to the community. This case warrants some intervention, referral, and monitoring to minimize risk for significant disruption to the community or escalation in threat.

  • Develop an active monitoring/management plan
  • Case may be referred to Judicial Affairs
  • Case may be referred to appropriate counseling services
  • Evaluate parental/ guardian notification
  • Evaluate need to request permission from student to receive medical/educational records
  • Consider referral for assessment

Disturbed and Disturbing


  • ​Strong indication the student has taken preparatory steps

4: High Risk

The student of concern/ situation “appears to pose a threat of harm to self or others, usually to an identifiable target, but currently lacks immediacy and/ or a specific plan – or a specified plan of violence does exist but currently lacks a specific target.”

  • Develop an active monitoring/management plan
  • Parental/guardian notification obligatory unless contraindicated
  • Evaluate emergency notification to others (FERPA/HIPAA/Clery/IL Law)
  • Temporary Sanction by Judicial Affairs, including interim suspension
  • Possible liaison with local police to compare red flags
  • Initiate involuntary medical withdrawal
  • Law enforcement response
  • Consider situation as educational opportunity for campus community

Disturbed and Disturbing


  • Direct, specific, and plausible plan
  • Threat suggests concrete steps have been taken toward carrying it out; for example, statements indicating that the student has acquired or practiced with a weapon or has had the victim under surveillance. 

5: Imminent Risk

The student of concern/situation “appears to pose a clear and immediate threat of serious violence toward self or others and requires containment.”

*Priority Levels directly taken from: Deisinger, Randazzo, O’Neill, & Savage (2008), p. 70.

  • The Team immediately notifies law enforcement to pursue containment options, and/or take actions to protect identified target(s)
  • Once emergency actions have been taken, develop an active monitoring/management plan
  • Parental/guardian notification obligatory unless contraindicated
  • Evaluate emergency notification to others (FERPA/HIPAA/Clery/IL Law)
  • Temporary Sanction by Judicial Affairs, including interim suspension
  • Possible liaison with local police to compare red flags
  • Initiate involuntary medical withdrawal
  • Law enforcement response
  • Consider situation as educational opportunity for campus community
Deisinger, G., Randazzo, M., O’Neill, D., Savage, J. (2008). The handbook for campus threat assessment and management teams. Massachusetts. Applied Risk Management.
Dunkle, J. K., Silverstein, Z., & Warner, Z. (2008). Managing violent and other troubling students. Journal of College and University Law, 34(3), 585-63.