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Advocacy & empowerment

A page within Student Life

The Student Life Office supports students in distress through the lens of advocacy and empowerment. We believe it is important to advocate for students as well as empower students to utilize their strengths to develop self-efficacy to persist through distressing events.

To begin this process Student Life staff will listen to the unique situations that students are in and help develop options to support their continued success at UWL. 

Who is a student in distress?

We view a student in distress as someone who is experiencing anxiety, sorrow, grief, stress, or pain. This could be, but is not limited to, the result of a specified or unspecified event; such as, a physical or mental health issue, social or emotional health issues, death of a family member or friend, academic concerns, financial concerns, roommate struggles, etc. We understand that distress can look very different for every student we work with.

If you or someone you know may be in distress, please contact the Student Life Office at 608-785-8062.   

Advocacy and Empowerment services takes into account a student's unique experience. Students are asked to share their situation and hear from professionals about University, community, and national resources that might support them. Our robust referral services ensure students get the support that they deserve. We work individually, as needed, with students, parents, families, faculty, and staff to develop an understanding of the situation and provide information.

Advocacy and Empowerment Services

We offer services to currently enrolled students, transfer students, and those on medical leave, military leave, and/or those who have withdrawn from the University for any reason.

Below is a list of the types of services we offer, please know that this is not an inclusive list, as we view each student situation as unique and provide holistic services to meet your needs: 

  • Non-clinical case management services
  • Interventions for students and communities in distress
  • Facilitating communication between students and their instructors
  • Individual and community harm and violence prevention efforts
  • Coordinating campus and community referrals
  • Providing crisis management support
  • Assisting with UWL's CARE team efforts
  • Coordinating the withdrawal process
  • Consulting about the readmittance process
  • Navigating university complaint and grievance procedures
  • Other services as applicable to your situation

Please visit our webpages below for more specific information about some of the services we offer:

What do we mean by Advocacy and Empowerment? 

There are many definitions and meanings of the terms Advocacy and Empowerment. In an effort to clarify our services, we use the following definitions, provided by Adams, et al. (2014):


"A case manager as an administrative advocate is responsible for speaking and often acting on behalf of the student.... Advocacy for student occurs in four ways: 

  1. coordinating services,
  2. managing the system,
  3. empowering students, and
  4. negotiating the system" (p. 453)

Student Life Staff will advocate for students by communicating with faculty/staff, referring students to appropriate resources, and helping students navigate university processes. 


Empowerment "most often occurs simultaneously with student advocacy" (p. 455). Students are encouraged to learn from the situation and identify their personal strengths in moments of distress. Empowerment has two factors: 

  1. Becoming a self-advocate, and
  2. Initiating change (p. 455)

Through Advocacy and Empowerment services, students will gain the necessary tools to become self-advocates and initiate change in their own lives. 

  • Adams, S. D., Hazelwood, S., & Hayden, B. (2014) Student affairs case management: Merging social work theory with student affairs practice. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 51(4), 446-458. doi: 10.1515/jsarp-0044

If you or someone you know may be in distress call the Student Life Office, 608-785-8062.

If you or someone you know may be in imminent danger call 911 immediately.