When confronted with a problem person:

If there is any doubt about your personal safety or the safety of those around you get assistance from a colleague and call Campus Security at (509) 358-7995.  If the person verbalizes or engages in physical violence have someone call 911 immediately. 

Evaluate the situation and think carefully before responding.

Be calm, polite (but firm) and consistent when explaining your position or campus rules.  Maintain an outward appearance of composure.  This helps to defuse tension.

Do not argue with the person, simply restate campus policy.  Do not be side-tracked into their personal issues such as deadlines.  Suggest alternatives.  If their complaint is legitimate, do something immediately to rectify the situation such as referring them to a supervisor or other authority.

Do not physically touch, crowd, or confront the person.

Be aware of your surroundings.  Do not let the person put you into a corner or other position from which you cannot flee.  Keep the person at least a leg length away so they cannot reach you.

Separate the person from others but remain in the public eye; get help from other staff.  Do not take the person or allow yourself to be taken to a private area.

Try to remain attentive, concerned, and avoid using a tone of voice which is loud, condescending, or moralistic.  Empathize with the person, acknowledge their feelings.

Use “we” rather than “I” or “they” when explaining rules.  Remember that you are speaking for the University when dealing with patrons/co-workers.

The last resort in some situations is self-defense.  State law permits the “use of force” in certain circumstances (RCW 9A.16.020): Preventing or attempting to prevent an offense: also detention of persons unlawfully on premises.”  “Defense of person or property (RCW 9A.16.110):  Protection of self, property or other persons against assault, rape, burglary, etc. (Exemption from legal jeopardy).”  Use of force is permitted for detention or apprehension in cases of serious crime but is NOT recommended in most circumstances.

See WSU's Workplace Violence Policy at http://www.wsu.edu/~forms/PDF/BPPM/50-30.pdf. (PDF).

Complete an Incident Report form (S25.20.7) and forward it, within 24 hours, as directed. Obtain the report online or by calling (509) 358-7994.  Immediately report accidents that result in death, serious injury (e.g., fracture, amputation) or in-patient hospitalization of WSU personnel or third parties. This applies to all personnel at the Campus, including WSU Spokane, EWU, SIRTI, and SIRTI tenants.


Campus Alert Line:

509-358-7760 or 509-358-7994