Critical Mentoring and Student Support (CMASS)

Note: These policies are from the 2011-2012 academic year. Some policies that reside on other websites have not been archived.
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Critical MASS Program ©

Quick Links:

Program Overview

Register to be a Mentor

Training Sessions

Returning Mentor Training Sessions

Brown Bag Lunch Dates 2012-2013

Feature Publications


We are accepting volunteer mentors. 

Reflections from Mentors:

  • “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” 11-12 Mentor
  • “I learned how students think, their struggles, their growth, and the support they need to be successful.” 11-12 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.” 11-12 Mentor
  • “I learned how students think, their struggles, their growth, and the support they need to be successful.” 10-11 Mentor
  • One mentor reflected, “It will have some effect on my teaching, as I think about what their (student’s) lives are actually like.”
  • “It’ll inform how my colleagues and I communicate with students and help me feel more connected to the University’s education mission.” 10-11 Mentor

Reflections from Mentees:

  • One mentee shared, “I learned there are great people here at the University of Iowa that I can go to if I need help.”
  • “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.” 10-11 Mentee
  • "We talked about this [career goals] a lot actually, and because we have similar interests he was able to give me much needed advice and direction on how to approach collage and the career I am seeking." 10-11 Mentee

Program Overview 

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 will provide support and a faculty/staff/graduate student connection for referred students. The goals of the Critical MASS program are:

  • 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.

The primary assessment of this program is a reduction 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 (a template follows) with the main focus on anything requiring action by the Dean of Students. The average time committment is 6-8 hours total.


Student Name: Jane Doe
Date and Time of the meeting
Latest steps: (a brief description of latest meeting)
Next steps: (date or time frame for next meeting, note regarding any pending referrals or actions)
Action required by Dean of Students: (e.g., do you need the Dean to initiate a referral, to notify the student of noncompliance, etc.)

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.

The University of Iowa is a large institution, but programs such as this can make it smaller.

Register to Volunteer as a Mentor 

(Registration is kept confidential in the Office of the Dean of Students unless indicted otherwise on the questions.)

Contact Program Coordinator Heather Ockenfels at or e-mail the program at

Mentor Training sessions: 
(All trainings are 90 minutes and held in 245 Iowa Memorial Union.)

  • Monday, July 09, 2012 @ 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM [FULL]
  • Wednesday, July 11, 2012 @ 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM [FULL]
  • Friday, July 20, 2012 @ 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM[FULL]
  • Tuesday, July 24, 2012 @ 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM [FULL]
  • Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM [FULL]
  • Thursday, July 26, 2012 @ 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM[FULL]
  • Monday, July 30, 2012 @ 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM[FULL]
  • Wednesday, August 01, 2012 @ 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM[FULL]
  • Thursday, August 02, 2012 @ 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM[FULL]
  • Friday, August 03, 2012 @ 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM[FULL]
  • Monday, August 06, 2012 @ 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM[FULL]
  • Tuesday, August 21, 2012 @ 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Thursday, August 30, 2012 @ 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Thursday, September 13, 2012 @ 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
  • Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Additional training will be held in January, 2013

Returning Mentor Training Sessions: 

Returning mentors can view the training on-line on ICON, or attend an in-person training session. The training will take approximately 30 minutes either on-line or in-person.

Returning Mentor Training will be available in mid-August.

2011-2012 Brown Bag Lunches for Critical MASS Mentors: 

Brown Bag Lunches (BBL) offer mentors a chance to connect with each other, learn about additional campus resources, and stay up-to-date on the Critical MASS program. BBL are optional. Mentors are encouraged to bring their lunch.

First Brown Bag Lunch will be on Friday, September 7, 2012 in the IMU South Room

Feature Publications 

Contact with any questions.