Critical MASS Program
Students found responsible for a violation of the Code of Student Life may be placed on Disciplinary Reprimand or Disciplinary Probation for a specified period of time. Anecdotal experience is that students without a good support system will often will have additional Code violations during the probation period, especially first-year students. These violations could lead to a suspension of a student for at least one semester. To assist students, the Critical Mentoring and Student Support program (Critical MASS) has been established with UI faculty, staff, and graduate students serving in the mentor role. It is expected that Mentors have at least one year with the University of Iowa.
Critical MASS mentors provide support and a faculty/staff/graduate student connection for referred students.
Goals of the Critical Mass program
- To provide a connection between referred students and a knowledgeable, caring faculty or staff member on campus.
- To create a “check-in” system meant to increase accountability for personal behavior on the student’s part.
- To implement an early intervention system that will facilitate referrals for needed academic and other support services.
This program is assessed by measuring reductions in second violations of the Code of Student Life.
Meeting with the student
A Critical MASS mentor will be asked to meet regularly (4 times) with an assigned mentee. This check-in should be in person (about sixty minutes), but email or phone check-ins at other times can be used. The purpose of the check-in is to see how the student is doing, monitor their progress toward their substance use goals (e.g., not using alcohol at all, or using moderately, depending on the student and the situation), and provide them with information about additional resources on campus, if needed.
As a mentor meets with a student, the mentor will certainly find that the student may benefit from connection with other services on campus, such as the University Counseling Service, Student Health Service, or academic support services, such as a writing center, a tutor, or academic advising. A list of common resources will be provided to mentor. If a mentor becomes concerned about a student’s safety or well-being, please contact the Office of the Dean of Students.
What’s expected of Critical MASS mentors
All Critical MASS mentors will be asked to attend an annual training session and to provide regular updates to the Office of the Dean of Students. Mentors will meet with their mentee a total of four times over three to four months. These updates can be brief utilizing the online template with the main focus on anything requiring action by the Dean of Students. The average time committment is 6-8 hours total.
A note about boundaries
Faculty, staff, and graduate students are volunteering to take on this role because they care about students and their success. The mentor’s role as a Critical MASS mentor is to provide support and connect students with appropriate resources. However, it is the student’s responsibility to take action. A mentor is not expected to make calls or accompany students to appointments, etc. While, mentors are certainly welcome to form a more personal relationship with your student(s)—for instance, having your meeting over lunch—it is not required. Mentors are expected to understand and uphold FERPA guidelines.
What’s expected of the student
The student should contact the mentor within three days of notification and meet in person within two weeks of notification. The student is expected to set up each meeting and attend each meeting. If a student is unable to attend a meeting there should be communication with the mentor and a meeting rescheduled. Failure to attend a meeting may result in further Code of Student Life violations.
Reflections from Mentees:
- "It was a very informative program and I believe it should be offered to more than just the students who get in trouble." 2015-2016 Mentee
- "I enjoyed this program. I liked how my mentor was not judgmental and was willing to help me if I did indeed need it. I think this program is beneficial." 2014-2015 Mentee
- "[The program] didn't just focus on what you did, but helped find clubs and programs that will help with my future career option(s)." 2013-14 Mentee
- "My mentor was great. We never had a problem scheduling a time or place to meet. I didn't dread the meetings like I thought I would." 2013-14 Mentee
- “I learned there are great people here at the University of Iowa that I can go to if I need help.” 2012-13 Mentee
- “Developing a good relationship with my mentor really made things easy and I can now contact her whenever I need guidance or someone to talk to.” 2011-12 Mentee
Reflections from Mentors:
- "...this program has reminded me to view situations from the perspective of the individual who is experiencing the situation. Everyone will see things differently, and although one thing may seem like a cut-anddry decision to make for someone, it can be totally different for someone else." 2015-2016 Mentor
- "Connect about more than just what the student is there for. From my experience, my student seemed intimidated at first, but when I was able to talk about basketball, rapport started to build. We both enjoyed the conversation around this topic so much that our second appointment took place in the Fieldhouse so we could shoot baskets. I felt like this really helped my mentee open up to me and feel more comfortable." 2014-2015 Mentor
- "Students have a lot going on in their lives besides school work. I know this, but it never hurts to be reminded that students are complicated human beings just like the rest of us and being a student is only one facet of their life." 2013-14 Mentor
- “This experience has helped me appreciate the difficulties students have today when adapting to a new environment. It also helps me have a greater appreciation of our mission of helping students learn and become better citizens” 2011-12 Mentor
- “It’s not always easy to have difficult conversations, but my experience with CMASS has certainly improved my ability to listen, empathize, and advise.” 2011-12 Mentor