Red Folder

Red Folder

University of Dallas RED FOLDER

The Red Folder helps faculty, staff, students, parents, and others who interact with students to recognize, respond effectively to, and refer distressed students to the supports they need. 

University of Dallas Red Folder




Recognize Distress

Common indicators are listed throughout this site. Students may present with indicators not listed. 
(See more below.)


Respond Appropriately

Each situation is unique. Use the tips and listed pointers to determine the most appropriate response.
(See more below.)


Refer the Student

Review the various options to help you determine what the appropriate next step would be in helping a distressed and/ore disruptive student.
(See more below.)

4. Resources

Local Resources

Browse a list of the emergency, urgent, and additional resources specific to each campus on the campus resources.
(See more below.)


Academic • Physical • Psychological • Safety Risk


  • Sudden decline in quality of work and grades
  • Frequently missed classes and assignments
  • Disturbing content in writing or presentations
  • Classroom disruptions
  • Consistently seeking personal rather than professional advice
  • Multiple requests for extensions/special considerations (a change from prior functioning)
  • Doesn’t respond to repeated requests for contact/meetings


  • Marked changes in physical appearance (e.g., poor grooming/hygiene or sudden weight loss/gain)
  • Strange or bizarre behavior indicating loss of contact with reality
  • Visibly intoxicated or smelling of alcohol or marijuana
  • Rapid speech or manic behavior
  • Depressed or lethargic mood or functioning
  • Observable sings of injury (e.g., facial bruising or cuts)


  • Self-disclosure of personal distress (e.g., family problems. financial difficulties, assault, discrimination, legal difficulties)
  • Unusual/disproportionate emotional response to events
  • Excessive tearfulness, panic reactions
  • Verbal abuse (e.g., taunting, badgering, intimidation)
  • Expressions of concern about the student by peers

Safety Risk

  • Verbal, written, or implied references to suicide, homicide, assault or self-injurious behaviors
  • Unprovoked anger or hostility/physical violence (e.g., shoving, grabbing, assaulting, use of weapon)
  • Academic assignments dominated by themes of extreme hopelessness, helplessness, isolation, rage, despair, violence, self-injury
  • Stalking or harassing
  • Communicating threats/disturbing comments via email, correspondence, texting or phone call


Use these important tips to determine the most appropriate response for a distressed student.

– Stay Safe

Call police services at (972) 265-5911or 911 if there is an imminent danger to the student, you, or anyone else.

– Stay Calm

Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself. Use a calm voice when talking and asking questions.

– Take Your Time

If this is NOT an imminently dangerous situation, take time to think through what might be the most helpful next step.

– Seek Consultation

You are not alone. Ask those around you for help. Consult with a colleague or call another office.

– Use Active Listening

Make eye contact and give your full attention. Restate what the student says to make sure you understand what is causing the distress and/or what they are asking for help with.

– Ask Direct Questions

Don’t be afraid to directly ask the student if they are having thoughts of harming themselves or others (by asking, you are not instilling the thought).

– Give Concrete Help

Help get them to the next step (e.g., contact the academic advisor with the student to make an appointment; help them to schedule an appointment with the UDCC).


In addition to referring a student to resources, any sexual or gender-based harassment or assault requires mandated reporting. For questions regarding mandated reporting, please contact the Title IX Office at (972) 721-5056, or

Click Here to Report Prohibited Conduct


Choose from the options below to determine who to contact when you are concerned about a student who is distressed and/or disruptive. Please visit the Campus Resource Page  to find all of the resources associated with your campus.

Is the student a danger to themselves/others OR does the student need some other assistance?

– Yes

The student’s conduct is clearly dangerous or threatening, including self-harm or harm to others. – Call 911 or UDPD at (972) 721-5056.

– No

I am not concerned for anyone’s immediate safety, but the student is having significant academic and/or personal issues and could use some support. –  Refer student to the Campus Resource Page, as appropriate.

The student is with me currently and show signs of distress, but it is not clear how serious it is. I feel uneasy and/or really concerned about the student. – Contact the Dean of Students, (972) 721-5294, or email

– Maybe

The student is with me currently and shows signs of distress, but it is not clear how serious it is. I feel uneasy and/or really concerned about the student – Contact the Dean of Students, (972) 721-5294, or email

The student is not with me currently, but I am concerned about what they said (in an email/call) OR what they did (acted bizarrely, were aggressive/disruptive) OR how they looked (unkempt, unwashed, or as if drugged/drunk). – Email


A list of the emergency, urgent, and additional resources specific to each campus can be found by clicking the Campus Resource Page tab at the top of the page and then choosing which campus you are looking for.

Adapted from Pen State Red Folder