Emergency Procedures

These procedures were developed to help provide protection for students and employees when a disaster or serious threat to the campus community occurs. Student, employees and community members are encouraged to report any of the following concerns and to follow its respective protocol, which are posted on campus in every building, available online (see below), and in the free safety mobile app, LiveSafe.

In each situation, Sewanee police personnel, as delegated to the emergency dispatcher and chief or assistant chiefs, will assess the situation and determine what notification to send and to whom to send communications, in addition to responding appropriately. Police are also responsible for follow-up communications, such as “all clear” notifications. 

Emergency Procedures

Active Shooter

Alcohol/Drug Overdose

Automobile Accident

Bomb Threat

Bystander Intervention

Civil Disturbance

Criminal Behavior


Evacuation Procedures

Fire Emergency

Hazardous Materials Incident

Hostage Situation

Medical Emergency


Mental Health

Missing Student

Power Outage

Severe Weather

Shelter in Place

Winter Weather


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Active Shooter

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, there is no pattern or method to the shooter’s selection of victims. Most active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. You must be prepared to take immediate responsibility for your personal safety and security until law enforcement personnel arrive.

Response to an Active Shooter Incident:

  • Evacuate: If you suspect a potential active shooter situation, you must quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Make sure to leave your belongings behind and keep your hands visible. Always have an escape route and plan in mind even if you are just visiting.

  • Hide Out: If evacuation is not possible, you should find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors. Use heavy items to barricade yourself if possible. Remain quiet and silence your cell phone or pager.

  • Take Action: As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, you should attempt to incapacitate the shooter by acting with physical aggression and throwing items at the active shooter. Call 911 when it is safe to do so.

Alcohol/Drug Overdose

  • Call 911.

  • Provide the following information:

    • Nature of the medical emergency

    • Location of the emergency (e.g., address, building, and/or room number)

    • Your name and phone number where you may be reached

    • How many people are involved

    • Focus on what is observable. For example, communicate whether someone is not breathing, turning blue, unconscious, non-responsive, etc. This information helps make the call a priority.

  • Place the person in the recovery position, which means laying the person slightly on their side, their body supported by a bent knee, with their face turned to the side. This will help to keep their airway clear and prevent them from choking on their own vomit if they begin to throw up.

Automobile Accident

If you are involved in an accident on campus, you should do the following:

  • Call 911, who will dispatch police, fire, and/or emergency medical service if necessary.

  • Do not move an injured person unless necessary.

Bomb Threat

University personnel or students receiving telephoned threats should get as much information as possible from the caller and call 911 immediately. If possible, get the attention of another staff member or student and have them call 911 while you are still on the line with the caller, keeping the caller on the line. Listen for background noise and other sounds that might be important for further investigation. Bomb threats received through the mail or other means must be reported immediately. The Sewanee police will assess the threat and advise occupants if it is necessary to evacuate the building to a safe area (at least 500 feet from the building or other buildings and/or automobiles). Stay clear from emergency responders’ staging area.


Bystander Interventio

Bystanders are often able to prevent emergencies from occurring. If you are in an emergency, calling the police (911) is often the correct response. If you’re witnessing a concerning situation, consider one of the following “D” tactics:

  1. Dilute: Try to dilute the situation. Calm the individual or situation. Often when alcohol is involved, dilute can mean watering down a drink with ice or non-alcoholic beverage, or “losing” someone’s drink.

  2. Distract: Attempt to distract the person away from the situation. Ask them to dance. Take them to get food. Go outside. Move them away from the problematic situation.

  3. Direct: Directly confront individuals involved in the situation. Ask, “Do you need help?” Or consider, “You are coming with me.” Be direct in your communications and avoid being too open to suggestions. “This is not cool. Not okay. It ends now.”

  4. Delegate: Ask a friend, a mentor, a proctor, or the police for help.

Also, know what resources are available to you. For example, use the LiveSafe app to send a text to the police if you need prompt but discreet assistance.

Civil Disturbance

A civil disturbance is any set of circumstances that in the judgment of the administration—specifically the police, deans, provosts, or vice-chancellor—would cause a disruption of normal university activities and would potentially jeopardize the safety of students, faculty, or staff. Individuals with concerns about potential disturbances should call 911 or 931.598.1111. The police will assess the situation and communicate broadly using the appropriate tools to provide instructions and response.

Criminal Behavior

Call 911 or Sewanee Police at 931.598.1111 to report suspected criminal behavior or incidents.


The following applies to major earthquakes that cause strong shaking:

  • If indoors, drop, cover and hold. Protect yourself from falling objects such as light fixtures, books and shelves.

  • Stay away from windows.

  • If possible, get under a desk or table.

  • Do not stand in the doorway.

  • If outside, move away from structures, power lines or other possible hazards.

  • During the shaking, do not run for exits or attempt to leave the building.

  • Do not use elevators.


When the shaking stops:

  • Check for injuries to persons in your area. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger.

  • Check the area for safety hazards such as building damage, fires, chemical spills, or gas leaks.

  • Exit the building.

  • Call 911 and report any serious injuries or other immediate emergencies.

  • Once you have exited the building, do not re-enter it until the building has been inspected by trained emergency personnel.

  • Use the in-house telephone only for emergency matters.

Evacuation Procedures

Building occupants may be notified by the sound of the building fire alarm, by verbal instruction from staff or emergency personnel, or by self-evident hazardous conditions to evacuate the facility. Whenever notification is received, all personnel must evacuate.

  • All occupants should exit the building through the nearest safe exit or stairwell. Elevators should never be used in an emergency situation.

  • If the nearest exit or exit stairwell is obstructed by smoke, fire, or other hazards, proceed to an alternate exit.

  • During stairwell evacuation, remove high heels, and hold on to the handrail. Allow enough room for others to enter the flow of traffic in the stairwells.

  • Once outdoors, all occupants should move away from the building or as directed by staff or emergency personnel.

  • Individuals accompanying a person with special needs should assist him or her in exiting the building or notify emergency responders as to his or her location. Fire department personnel, who are trained in emergency rescue, can then enter the building and assist that person in exiting the building.

  • Building occupants should not re-enter the facility until cleared by Sewanee Fire and Police Departments.

Fire Emergency

Following are the procedures for responding to a fire at a facility:

  • Remove yourself from immediate danger.

  • Assist others in leaving the danger as long as it is safe to do so.

  • Confine the fire or smoke by closing doors and windows as you leave.

  • Activate the nearest fire alarm.

  • Call 911 using an off-campus or cellular phone. Provide the following information:

  • Building name

  • Floor and room number

  • Size or type of fire

  • Your location

  • Your name

  • Never attempt to use a portable fire extinguisher unless:

    • You have been properly trained.

    • You are not alone.

    • A safe escape route is present.

    • If any of these conditions are not present, simply close the door and evacuate.

  • To deploy a fire extinguisher, utilize the PASS technique:

    • Pull the pin

    • Aim at the base of the fire

    • Squeeze handle

    • Sweep back and forth

  • Evacuate through the nearest safe exit or exit stairwell.

  • Once assembled, help to account for persons and report to the emergency personnel if any occupants are unaccounted for and may still be in the building.

  • Remember that it is important to keep doors closed. Open doors can allow smoke to enter stairwells and exit hallways, severely jeopardizing safe evacuation and hampering efforts of fire department personnel.

If you hear an alarm:

  • Never assume the fire alarm is a false alarm.

  • Move to the safest exit or exit stairwell.

  • Close doors as you leave the area.

  • Exit the building.

  • Proceed to the evacuation assembly point.

  • Wait for further instructions from Sewanee Fire and Police Departments.

  • Do not re-enter the building until the building has been inspected by emergency personnel.

If trapped in your office or room:

  • Wedge cloth material along the bottom of the door to keep the smoke out.

  • Close as many doors as possible between you and the fire.

  • Call 911 if possible.

  • Break windows only as a last resort.

  • If necessary, signal through the window to let safety personnel know your location; otherwise, stay close to the floor.

Hazardous Materials Incident

A hazardous materials incident may be a spill or release of chemicals, radioactive materials, or biological materials that endangers people or the environment. Simple spills that can be managed by the user and do not endanger people or the environment can be cleaned up by an individual who has been trained pursuant to the Chemical Spill Response Plan, the Chemical Hygiene Plan, and/or the Radiation Safety Manual, as applicable, and do not constitute an emergency situation for purposes of this Plan.

Initial Response

  • Assess the situation to identify immediate hazards. (See below Waste Type and Hazardous Materials)

  • If it can be done safely, isolate the area, but do not walk into or touch any spilled materials and avoid inhalation of gases/fumes/smoke.

  • If the spill occurred inside of a building, evacuate the area. (See Evacuation Plan)

  • Call 911 and provide as much information as possible from the list below about the hazard, making sure to report any person(s) unable to evacuate the area due to illness/injury.

  • Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Director at extension 1189, or 931.636.3787 from off-campus providing as much information from the list below, making sure to report any person(s) unable to evacuate the area due to illness/injury.

  • When reporting a hazardous materials incident, provide the following information about the hazard, if known:

    • Name and quantity of the material.

    • Location and time of the release of the material.

    • Any exposures or injuries to persons.

    • If any fire or explosion is involved.

    • Your name, phone number, and location.

    • Present the Material Safety Data Sheet of the hazardous material involved to emergency responders if it is available.

  • Follow the General Instructions below.

  • The EHS Director, SVFD, and SPD will assess and investigate the situation, as appropriate.

  • In the event that there are any individuals injured or ill as a result of a hazardous materials incident and unable to evacuate the area, the SPD will either assist in evacuating such individuals, if safe to do so, or contact other University personnel or local emergency responders for assistance in responding to the injured/ill individual(s).

  • SPD will notify EHS director, the Chemical Hygiene Officer, or other appropriate University personnel, as appropriate.

  • Depending on the nature and degree of the hazardous materials incident, other support agencies, resource units, or specialized contractors may be brought in for service or assistance.

  • Await and follow instructions from SPD, EHS or the SVFD.

General Instructions

  • Do not walk into or touch any spilled materials.

  • Avoid inhalation of all gases, fumes and smoke; stay up wind. Do not assume gases/vapors are harmless because they lack odor.

  • If it can be done safely, isolate the area by closing doors and windows.

  • Make no attempt to clean up hazardous materials.

  • Evacuate or shelter in place if instructed. (See Evacuation Plan & Shelter in place.)

  • If safe to do so, assist any person who has been injured or who is overcome from exposure and cannot evacuate or shelter in place without assistance. Administer basic first aid when possible and appropriate. If not safe to do so, or if the extent of injury is serious, call 911.

  • If instructed to shelter in place:

    • Move to a location that is above ground level, if possible.

    • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.

    • If possible, turn off all ventilation systems such as air conditioners, heating units, exhaust fans, or air handlers.

    • If there is a danger of explosion, close any shades, blinds, or curtains.

  • Await and follow instructions from SPD, EHS or the SVFD, other University personnel, or support agencies.

Special Considerations

  • A hazardous materials incident may develop into a fire. If this occurs, see the Fire Response.

  • In the event of a threat of hazardous materials such as a bomb threat or suspicious package/mail, see the Bomb Threat section or the Suspicious Packages/Mail section, as appropriate.

  • Always follow instructions listed on the chemical’s Safety Data Sheet. For chemical burns, flush chemicals off of the surface of the skin under cool running water for 20 minutes or more, remove any contaminated clothing or jewelry, and wrap burned area with a clean, dry cloth.

  • If lab animals are at risk as a result of a hazardous materials incident, contact the Biology Department Chair.

Waste Type and Hazardous Material

Hazardous Waste: Hazardous waste is waste that poses substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment. In the United States, the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Hazardous waste are either RCRA “listed" or "characteristic" waste.  A characteristic waste exhibits the characteristic of being: ignitable, corrosive, reactive, and/or toxic.

Universal Waste: Universal Wastes are hazardous wastes that pose less of a risk to people and the environment than other hazardous wastes.  As such, provided that they are properly managed (typically through recycling) they are not subject to the same stringent regulations as other hazardous wastes.  The most common universal waste at the University of the South is fluorescent light bulbs, but metal halide bulbs, small lead-acid batteries (e.g. emergency lighting), and rechargeable Ni-Cd batteries – among others, are also universal wastes.

Non-Hazardous Waste:In general, if a waste is not a RCRA "listed" waste or does not exhibit the "characteristics" of a hazardous waste it will be non-hazardous/ non-regulated.A waste that passes the EPA Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) is typically considered a non-hazardous waste.

Hazardous Materials:  Hazardous materials are defined and regulated in the United States primarily by laws and regulations administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Each has its own definition of a "hazardous material."

OSHA Hazardous Materials: OSHA's definition includes any substance or chemical which is a "health hazard" or "physical hazard," including: chemicals which are carcinogens, toxic agents, irritants, corrosives, sensitizers; agents which act on the hematopoietic system; agents which damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes; chemicals which are combustible, explosive, flammable, oxidizers, pyrophorics, unstable-reactive or water-reactive; and chemicals which in the course of normal handling, use, or storage may produce or release dusts, gases, fumes, vapors, mists or smoke which may have any of the previously mentioned characteristics.

EPA Hazardous Materials: EPA incorporates the OSHA definition, and adds any item or chemical which can cause harm to people, plants, or animals when released by spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging, injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping or disposing into the environment.

DOT Hazardous Materials: DOT defines a hazardous material as any item or chemical which, when being transported or moved in commerce, is a risk to public safety or the environment, and is regulated as such under its Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulations (49 CFR 100-199), which includes the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR 171-180). In addition, hazardous materials in transport are regulated by the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code; Dangerous Goods Regulations of the International Air Transport Association; Technical Instructions of the International Civil Aviation Organization; and U.S. Air Force Joint Manual, Preparing Hazardous Materials for Military Air Shipments.

NRC Hazardous Materials: The NRC regulates materials that are considered hazardous because they produce ionizing radiation, which means those materials that produce alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, x-rays, neutrons, high-speed electrons, high-speed protons, and other particles capable of producing ions. This includes  "special nuclear material," byproduct material, and radioactive substances.

General Labeling Requirements

Chemicals removed from the original container must be labeled with product identifier; signal word; hazard statement(s); precautionary statement(s); and pictogram(s); and name,address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party.

Note: If the chemical is a waste to be sent for disposal through a waste vendor, the container must be labeled as outlined in waste storage requirements section.

Waste Storage Requirements

Note: The waste profile (if an existing identified waste) will identify if the waste is a Hazardous Waste, Universal Waste, or Non-Hazardous Waste.

Hazardous Waste Storage Requirements

  1. Containers:  Hazardous waste must be placed in US DOT approved containers. Containers must be securely closed - except when waste is being added, and must be stored and handled in a manner to prevent damage or rupture.

  2. Labeling:  When hazardous waste is placed in a container for disposal, the container must be properly labeled.  The label shall denote “Hazardous Waste” and contain the following:  

    1. The name or a description of the waste,

    2. Applicable waste code(s), if known,

    3. University’s EPA I.D. number,

    4. University’s name and address,

    5. DOT information, if known, and

    6. Date of accumulation (the date the container was filled and lid secured).

  3. Storage Areas:  Hazardous wastes must be stored in a secure and contained location.  Limiting access to unauthorized individuals is preferred.  Emergency contact numbers must be posted in the area and spill response equipment should be maintained in close proximity to the storage area.

  4. Satellite Drums/Accumulation Areas:  For areas such as laboratories or print shops, a satellite accumulation drum for adding small amounts of hazardous waste over a period of time may be used.  The drum must be labeled as hazardous, must identify the waste being added, and be used only for a specific waste stream. The lid must always be in place, except when adding waste.  No more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste may be stored at each accumulation area.  When the drum is full it should be removed, dated and placed in the hazardous waste storage area for proper disposal.

Universal Waste Storage Requirements

  1. Containers:  The container for each type of UW must meet the following criteria:

  • the container remains closed;

  • the container is structurally sound;

  • the container is compatible with the UW;

  • the container lacks evidence of leaks, spillage or damage that could cause leakage.

  1. Labeling:  All containers or accumulation areas or individual items must be labeled appropriately (i.e.  Used Lamps, Used Batteries, etc.)

  2. U-waste containers must be closed at all times, except when adding waste to the containers.

  3. Each container or item of U-waste must have an accumulation start date.  This is the date that the first item is placed into the U-waste storage container. Lift truck batteries should bear the date the battery was deemed spent.

  4. U-wastes must be shipped off-site for recycling within one year of the accumulation start date.

Non-Hazardous Storage Requirements

  1. Containers:  Non-Hazardous waste must be placed in US DOT approved containers. Containers must be securely closed - except when waste is being added, and must be stored and handled in a manner to prevent damage or rupture.

  2. Labeling:  When non-hazardous waste is placed in a container for disposal, the container must be properly labeled.  The label shall denote “Non-Hazardous Waste” and contain the contents of the container and the date of generation.  

  3. The containers of waste should then be placed in a designated storage area prior to disposal or recycling.

Hostage Situation

If you see or hear a hostage situation:

  • Immediately remove yourself from any danger.

  • Immediately call 911.

  • Be prepared to give the dispatcher the following information:

  • Location and room number of the incident

  • Number of possible hostage takers

  • Physical description of hostage takers (if possible)

  • Number of possible hostages

  • Any weapons the hostage takers may have

  • Your name

  • Your location and phone number


If you are taken hostage:

  • Remain calm, be polite, and cooperate with your captors.

  • Do not attempt escape unless there is an extremely good chance of survival. It is safer to be submissive and obey your captors.

  • Speak normally. Do not complain, avoid being belligerent, and comply with all orders and instructions.

  • Observe the captors and try to memorize their physical traits, voice patterns, clothing, or other details that can help provide a description later.

  • Avoid getting into political or ideological discussions with the captors.

  • Try to establish a relationship with your captors and get to know them. Captors are less likely to harm you if they respect you.

  • If forced to present captor’s demands to authorities, either in writing or on tape, state clearly that the demands are from your captors. Avoid making a plea on your own behalf.

  • Try to stay low to the ground or behind cover from windows or doors if possible.


In a rescue situation:

  • Do not run. Drop to the floor and remain still. If that is not possible, cross your arms, bow your head, and stand still. Make no sudden moves that a rescuer may interpret as hostile or threatening.

  • Wait for instructions and obey all instructions you are given.

  • Do not be upset, resist, or argue if a rescuer isn’t sure whether you are a captor or hostage.

  • Even if you are handcuffed and searched, do not resist. Just wait for the confusion to clear.

  • You will be taken to a safe area, where proper identification and status will be determined.

Medical Emergency

  • Call 911.

  • Provide the following information:

    • Nature of the medical emergency

    • Location of the emergency (e.g., address, building, and/or room number)

    • Your name and phone number where you may be reached

    • How many people are involved

  • Do not move the victim unless absolutely necessary.

Mental Health

If you or someone you’re with is having a psychological crisis:

During regular business hours, contact the CAPS direct line at 931.598.1325; you will be asked to come to the Wellness Center and fill out an assessment form. The first available psychologist will attend to you. You can also come straight to the Center and speak with a support staff member. If you are having a crisis outside of business hours, please see below.

Do not email the Center if you're in a crisis--email is not a reliable means to obtain urgent assistance.  Please follow the instructions above.

If you have or someone you’re with has been sexually assaulted:
Please see the sexual assault resources information. You can also call both CAPS and Health Services for assistance at 931.598.1325. Calling CAPS or Health Services is a confidential resource.

After business hours, the after-hours emergency service is available for undergraduate students who are experiencing a mental health crisis after business hours.

Available 5pm–8am, M–F, on weekends, and during university holidays.

Anytime the UWC is closed.

Call 931.598.1700 to talk with an emergency crisis counselor by phone.

How do I know if I'm having a crisis?

I am in psychological CRISIS because:

  • I am having serious thoughts of suicide or doing serious harm to myself and may act upon them.

  • I am having serious thoughts of doing serious harm to another person and may act upon them.

  • I believe my life is danger.

  • I am hearing voices or seeing things no one else hears or sees.

  • I have been recently physically or sexually assaulted.

Crisis hotline off-campus

The Crisis Text Line is a hotline accessed via text message (instead of calling). The Text Line is free, available 24/7, and offers emotional support and information to anyone–not just Sewanee students!


Student Helping Another Student in Distress

Here are some guidelines to approaching a friend who may be struggling with a mental health problem:

Pick a setting

Talking about your concerns can be uncomfortable for both people. Pick a place where you both feel safe, but emphasize your friend's comfort. It should be a place where they feel on equal footing with you. Privacy is essential. Pick a time with flexibility. The conversation may be short, but just in case, make sure neither of you have anywhere to be immediately. You don't want to have to stop the conversation.

Avoid an ambush

You or several other people may be concerned about your friend, but approaching him or her one-on-one is the best practice. It prevents the friend from feeling overwhelmed and attacked. Don't be afraid to involve a friend's parent (if they're on good terms) or a professional. Your friend may be angry, but sometimes you need back-up.

Be prepared

Whether it's the first conversation or the fifth, be prepared to give your friend some resources to check out. Always carry the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 1.800.273.TALK (8255). Know how to contact and utilize the counseling center or local mental health services. Once you've had the conversation, your friend may want you to go with them when they call or go to their first appointment.

Take care

The person you are helping is lucky to have you looking out for them. But sometimes distress keeps them from appreciating you. Be prepared to be met with anger, denial and/or rejection. Know that you're doing the right thing, and their reaction isn't about you. Have your own support network. Helping a friend through a tough time can be hard on the helpers, too. Make sure you are looking after your own physical and mental health.

There are many more detailed resources about how to help a friend/student. For more information, please see:

Still not sure how to approach someone in distress?

Here are some questions you could ask them that might help get you started. These examples can get you thinking about things to say and how to word the “tough stuff.”

  • I've noticed that you haven't been acting like yourself lately. I'm worried about you, is something going on?

  • What can I do to help?

  • How can I help you?

  • How long have you been feeling this way?

  • Have you spoken with anyone else about all of this?

  • Can I help you find someone to see about your concerns?

  • Are you getting the care you need?

  • It makes me afraid to hear you talking about dying; there is hope for feeling better, can we talk to someone about this?

  • Do you want me to go with you to the counseling center?

  • What do you feel like? What are you experiencing?

  • Have you been having thoughts about trying to kill yourself?

  • Have you ever had thoughts about hurting yourself?

  • Do you think you might be in immediate danger?

Formulating "I" statements

"I" statements are a critical tool when broaching any delicate topic with a friend. These statements help you express your concern without seeming judgmental and encourage conversation and problem-solving.

Start with

Continue with

For example

I feel ...


I feel concerned

When ...


when you can't get out of bed

Because ...


because I care about you.

I wonder ...


I'm wondering if it would help to talk to a counselor.


Employee Helping a Student in Distress

The following guidelines are intended to aid you in addressing a variety of student concerns or issues. It is critical that you distinguish between a student of concern and a student in imminent distress. If you are concerned that a student is in imminent distress (i.e., student is behaving in a way or shares thoughts that lead you to worry about his or her safety risk and endangerment of self or others), call 911 or 931.598.1111 immediately. Use the guidelines below when concerns arise that do not involve student risk of harm to self or others.    

  1. Engage–If you are concerned about a student’s well being, state your concerns directly. Be aware of changes in academic performance, attendance, participation, general social functioning, disruptive or abnormal behavior during class sessions. Be direct and clear about what you notice and what concerns you. Use a genuine, caring tone and words to help students speak about issues that may be confusing and/or embarrassing.

    For example, “I am concerned about you. You’ve missed two classes and no longer speak when you attend class. How are you doing?” Use a genuine, caring tone and words to help students speak about issues that may be confusing and/or embarrassing. For example, “I’ve noticed your grades and attendance dropping. I’d like to help you make some improvement. What’s been difficult for you lately? How do you think I might be of help to you?”

  2. Ask and Listen– Students may come directly to you to discuss a concern. You are not expected to have all the right answers immediately; no one does. Through open questions and reflection of what you hear, you create a space in which students can sit and discuss with you the concerns that bear on their well-being and academic performance. Self-disclosure may be appropriate and helpful, particularly if you have experienced similar distress and have had the opportunity to work through the issue with a significant other, a mentor, or a professional helper. When self-disclosing, keep the overall focus on the student. Your disclosure should aim to promote a sense of common humanity and to instill hope and impart wisdom in what you share about suffering and healing in your own experience.

  3. Advise and Refer –  Take time to explore ways in which your student may get the support necessary for change. Be aware that support comes from a variety of areas for students, and each student differs in terms of what she or he needs when facing distress. Students may identify a need for increased support from family and friends or from therapists or clergy. Not every student in distress needs or wants traditional counseling.

  4. When to refer to counseling. Counseling is a good option if a student is reluctant to share openly with family and friends. Ask a student about his or her thoughts regarding counseling before you suggest it. Students ultimately must make the appointment, but it is sometimes easier to do so when a trusted mentor or friend has called first and obtained information from the Wellness Center. Some students may wish to be seen off campus and lack information about available resources. Use the reference guide on the first page to guide students.  

  5. Follow Up – Several days to a week after speaking with a student, follow up to ask how he or she is doing, ask about efforts taken to address the issue previously discussed, and make direct observations about what you have noticed since speaking to the student.

  6. Know Thyself – Take time for self-reflection. Make an effort to center yourself as an individual who is caring and helpful but with firm personal boundaries and realistic expectations about your role as a proactive helper.

Missing Student

If a member of the university community has reason to believe that a student is missing, whether or not the student resides on campus, that individual should contact the Sewanee Police Department (SPD) at 931.598.1111.

A student may be considered to be a “missing person” if the student’s absence from campus is contrary to his or her usual pattern of behavior and the University has reasonable belief that unusual circumstances may have caused the absence. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to, a report or suspicion that the student may be a victim of foul play; the student has expressed suicidal thoughts, may be drug dependent, or in a life threatening situation; or if the student is overdue returning to campus and is not heard from after giving a specific return time to friends or family.

Power Outage

In the event of an extended power outage, McClurg Dining Hall will remain open and operational. Additional information will be posted there as it develops.

Severe Weather

In the event of severe weather, the University has in place an Emergency Notification System to notify faculty, staff, students, and visitors of impending severe weather.

  • In the event of a TORNADO WATCH, Sewanee Police Dispatch will activate the Emergency Notification System. This will consist of an immediate email notification to faculty, staff, and students.

  • Should conditions worsen, a TORNADO WARNING will be activated. This notification will include text, email and SIREN. The siren will activate and produce three cycles of warning.


If you hear the siren or receive a severe weather text, email, or phone message:

  • Alert all building occupants of the impending weather.

  • Move quickly to a safe area indoors, preferably to a “shelter-in-place” location. This should be an interior hallway, a basement, or interior bathroom (interior spaces without windows).

  • Close all doors as you leave the area, especially those leading to exterior rooms.

  • Stay away from windows, doors, and exterior walls.

  • When moving to lower levels, remember to use the stairwells; elevators are not for use during emergency situations.

  • Do not go outdoors or attempt to outrun the storm.

  • Monitor local radio stations for weather updates.

  • Call 911 in the event that someone is injured or there is building damage caused by the weather.


If you are outdoors:

  • Stay away from possible hazards (power lines, traffic, trees, etc.).

  • Go quickly to the inside of a sturdy building.

  • Assume a fetal position and cover your head.

  • Wait for the weather to subside.

When all danger has passed, Westminster chimes will signal that all is clear and Sewanee Police Dispatch will send text, voice, and email with notification of the “all clear.”

Shelter in Place

In the event of a hazardous chemical release or other event that makes an evacuation of the facility dangerous or impossible, building occupants should take shelter in a safe place inside a building until it is safe to evacuate. See the shelter-in-place map for the closest locations.

Winter Weather

Winter Walking Safety Tips

Avoid driving in icy conditions. Winter brings snow and ice. Ice may cover the roads, sidewalks, and parking lots, making them quite dangerous. No matter how well the snow and ice are removed from parking lots or sidewalks, you will encounter some slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter. It is important for everyone to be aware of these dangers and to learn to walk safely on ice and slippery surfaces. Falls due to ice and snow are some of the most common injury-causing incidents on campus.

WALK SMART by learning and implementing these suggestions:

Walk at a slower pace–use a penguin-like gait in snow and ice. Spreading your feet out slightly while walking on ice increases your center of gravity.

Always stay on designated walkways–these walkways are cleared on campus, while taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas can be hazardous.

Look for, and avoid, slippery surfaces–assume that all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery and icy, and approach with caution.

Know your limitations–carrying large packages or other items that limit vision can lead to slips and trips.

Schedule extra time–pay attention and don't rush. Most accidents occur due to inattention or being in a hurry.

Make use of handrails–on stairs, outdoor walkways, vehicles, and public transportation.

Always look for trip hazards or obstructions in the path of travel.

Remove snow or mud from shoes before entering any building.

Traction–make sure your footwear is appropriate and has good mobile traction. Avoid boots or shoes with smooth soles and heels. Instead, wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice; boots made of non-slip rubber or neoprene with grooved soles are best.

Lastly, be seen:

  • Wear visible clothing, especially at night or during heavy snow.

  • Wait for vehicles to stop completely before crossing the road.

  • Approaching vehicles may not be able to stop immediately due to road conditions.

If you fall, relax and try to fall as limply as possible. Try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine. Try to fall on a fleshy part of your body, such as your side. Avoid using your arms to stop your fall.

If you need immediate medical attention, call 911.

To report unsafe or dangerous areas, use the LiveSafe app’s TIP feature.