If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
Violence or intimidation can affect the safety of everyone on our campus and the surrounding community.
As University of Michigan community members, we all share the responsibility of maintaining a safe and secure environment—through our own nonviolent behavior and by reporting any acts of violence, threats or aggression.
Workplace or classroom violence and intimidation can be any verbal or physical actions that create fear or threaten the safety of U-M students, faculty, staff or guests. Such behavior may include:
- Physical assault
- Behavior that a reasonable person believes has the potential for violence
- Any act that threatens harm to another person or damage to property
- Domestic violence
Reporting an incident
If you have experienced or witnessed such behavior in your U-M workplace or classroom, please report it immediately to the Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) at (734) 763-1131.
DPSS can help with reporting and safety planning, and connect you with counseling services and other community resources.
Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported.
The most important thing you can do to prevent violence on our campus is to report it. U-M has established a zero-tolerance policy towards violence, which covers all students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors. All incidents of violence reported to DPSS will be promptly investigated.
DPSS also provides a free training presentation on workplace and classroom violence and dealing with difficult people that covers how to handle escalating or threatening behavior and violence. We present this information not in the expectation that an incident will occur, but because knowledge and preparation are the best ways to minimize and avoid such events.
Below is a list of behaviors and attitudes that may be indicators of disruptive, threatening or violent behavior. If you observe a pattern of such behaviors and attitudes that causes you concern, please contact us.
- Upset over recent event(s) (school, work or personal crisis)
- Shows a major change in behavior, demeanor, appearance
- Has withdrawn from normal activities, family, friends, co-workers
- Intimidates, harasses or mistreats others
- Challenges or resists authority
- Blames others for problems in life or work, suspicious, holds grudges
- Abuses drugs or alcohol
- Displays unwelcome obsessive romantic attention
- Makes threatening references to other incidents of violence
- Makes threats to harm self, others or property
- Has or is fascinated with weapons
- Has a history of violence
- Has communicated specific proposed act(s) of disruption or violence
- Remains isolated or a loner
- Acts morally superior, self-righteous
- Feels entitled to special rights and that rules don’t apply to him or her
- Feels wronged, humiliated, degraded; wants revenge
- Believes they have no choices or options for action except violence
If you are in a situation where you must interact with a potentially aggressive or violent person, be aware of how your reactions may escalate or de-escalate the situation. Consider these suggested guidelines:
General response to disruptive behavior (no threats or weapons)
- Respond quietly and calmly. Try to defuse the situation.
- Do not take the behavior personally. Usually, the behavior has little to do with you, but you are used as a target in the situation.
- Ask questions. Respectful concern and interest may demonstrate that aggression is not necessary.
- Consider offering an apology. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, an apology may calm the individual and encourage cooperation.
- Summarize what you hear the individual saying. Make sure you are communicating clearly. In crisis, a person feels humiliated and wants respect and attention. Your summary of the individual’s concerns reflects your attention.
Initial response ineffective, but individual DOES NOT seem dangerous
- Calmly and firmly set limits. “Please lower your voice. There will be no disruptions in this office.” “Please be patient so that I can understand what you need and try to help you.”
- Ask the individual to stop the behavior and warn that official action may be taken. “Disruption is subject to University action. Stop or you may be reported.”
- If the disruption continues despite a warning, tell the individual that he or she may be disciplined or prosecuted, state that the discussion is over and direct them to leave the office. “Please leave now. If you do not leave, we will call the police.”
- If the individual refuses to leave after being directed to do so, state that this refusal is also a violation subject to discipline, exclusion from work or class, or arrest.
Initial response ineffective, but the individual SEEMS DANGEROUS
- If possible, find a quiet, safe place to talk, but do not isolate yourself with an individual you believe may be dangerous. Maintain a safe distance, do not turn your back and stay seated if possible. Leave the door open or open a closed door, and sit near the door. Be sure a co-worker is near to help if needed.
- Use a calm, non-confrontational approach to defuse the situation. Indicate your desire to listen and understand the problem. Allow the person to describe the problem.
- NEVER touch the individual or try to remove him or her from the area. Even a gentle push or holding the person’s arm may be interpreted as an assault by an agitated individual who may respond with violence towards you or file a lawsuit later.
- Set limits to indicate the behavior needed to deal with the concern. “Please lower your voice.” “Please stop shouting (or using profanity) or I’ll have to ask you to leave.”
- Signal for assistance. The individual may be antagonized if you call for assistance so use a prearranged ‘distress’ signal to have another staff member check on you to determine how you are. If you need help, the co-worker should call the police and alert your supervisor.
- Do not mention discipline or the police if you fear an angry or violent response.
- If the situation escalates, find a way to excuse yourself, leave the room or area and get help.
Escalation to threats, imminent violence and weapons
- If violent behavior is occurring, try to escape, hide or protect yourself.
- Call 911. UMPD can be reached directly at (734) 763-1131. Try to use a phone out of sight and hearing of the individual and keep a line open to police until they arrive.
- If possible, do not attempt to intervene physically or deal with the situation yourself.
U-M reporting options
Any member of the University community, contractor or visitor can report a violation and seek assistance. In addition, employees in positions of authority (including deans, directors, chairs, supervisors, faculty, graduate student instructors, coaches or others who oversee employees or students) have an obligation to contact the appropriate resources if they see or are informed of violence or threats of violence.
Regarding issues of student conduct, contact the appropriate dean or department chair through the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.
Regarding issues of faculty or staff conduct, contact U-M Human Resources.
Regarding issues of Michigan Medicine staff conduct, contact Michigan Medicine Human Resources.
Other university resources
Please refer to the U-M Standard Practice Guide on Violence in the University Community for more information on U-M policies.