When a co-worker shrieks with rage because someone left papers on top of the coffee machine, it’s difficult to know what to do.’
The ‘Dealing with Workplace Violence and Fear or Threats of Violence’ presentation by the CSUN Department of Public Safety was designed to address this issue and others like it.
Police Chief Anne Glavin and Jill Smith, the Senior Manager of the Office of Human Resources conducted Monday’s one-hour presentation, the first of two parts, at the Oviatt Library.
The basic message behind the first presentation was to recognize red flags, assess the proper response to a situation and seek the proper support. One aspect of the discussion focused on how to recognize when behavior is getting out of hand.
‘We don’t want you to overreact, and we don’t want you to under react. You need to strike a balance,’ said Glavin. ‘Behind every act of behavior is not a Virginia Tech situation,’ she said, comparing the chances of another Virginia Tech incident to the chances of being struck by lightning.
However, learning to notice red flags is an important part of determining whether or not certain behaviors belie a real, palpable threat that should be reported, said Smith. But whether a threat is real or not, a tense situation should never be exacerbated by responding to anger with anger.
‘You have to figure out who you are in that situation,’ said Glavin. ‘You can’t solve everything yourself, you have to talk to people higher than you in the hierarchy.’
Glavin said this could be a number of different people, such as resident assistants, housing management, professors and, for immediate threats, the police.
The second part of the presentation will be held on Nov. 10 and, like the first, will be available to faculty and staff only. The second part is scheduled to focus more on what to do about questionable behavior after it has been identified.
Glavin said the department was exploring ways in which they can bring the presentation to a student audience as well.
Steve Roberts, a junior economics major, said he thinks he would attend if the department offered it to students.
‘If you say the wrong thing to the wrong person, their reaction can be extreme,’ said Roberts, who added that it can be even more of a problem during a tense political climate.
Smith also said people should be aware when dealing with a potentially volatile situation. ‘Understanding we have a diverse community and that people respond differently to different situations’ is important, said Smith.