Student Support and Advocacy Services (SSAS)

When Life Happens, We Are Here to Support You

If you’re hitting some bumps in your journey through URI, Student Support and Advocacy Services (SSAS) can provide direct support and help you find the necessary resources to get you back on track. 


Student Support and Advocacy Services (SSAS) at the University of Rhode Island fosters student growth and development by assisting students with their emotional, mental, and financial wellbeing by providing outreach, advocacy, resources, and follow-up services.

Student Support and Advocacy Services receives referrals, provides case management, and makes recommendations for students experiencing personal, emotional, financial, or medical concerns. Our team collaborates and consults with students, parents, faculty, staff, and other on- and off-campus resources (e.g., Campus Police, Community Standards, Counseling, Dining Services, Disability, Access, and Inclusion, medical providers, Financial Aid, Housing and Residential Life, and Violence Prevention and Advocacy Services) to best address the diverse needs of each student.

About Us

SSAS serves both the University and the individual student by working in a holistic manner with students who are experiencing significant distress, life challenges, or barriers which could be interfering with their ability to be successful. 

SSAS case managers can step in to assess basic needs security and assess threats/risks to self and community. SSAS case managers advocate for, assist, and work with students to provide them with or connect them to the appropriate resources, while considering what is best for them academically and personally. SSAS staff oversee the Rhody Outpost food pantry, manage the Student First Fund, provide faculty notifications following a major life event/traumatic loss, and serve as members of the ANCHOR (students of concern) and Behavior Intervention Teams. SSAS staff are a part of the URI Mental Health First Aid instructor team

Most of our work is done privately in one-to-one meetings. Students who are going through difficult points in their journey feel comfortable opening up, as they’ve reached the point of recognizing outside support could be beneficial. Here’s the path of support provided by SSAS staff: 

If you’ve reached out to us (or we’ve reached out to you), meeting with us is a first step to identifying and addressing what you’re experiencing and supporting you through the process, so that we can minimize roadblocks to your personal success. 

Case Management

The case manager may help a student:

  • Identify and problem solve barriers to academic and personal success.
  • Assess the type of assistance and resources needed.
  • Explore personal strengths, self-care and wellness strategies.
  • Develop or strengthen their support system.
  • Navigate and access on- and off-campus resources.
  • Stay on track with identified goals.
  • Overcome obstacles in accessing help.
  • Transition back to campus after a medical leave of absence, hospitalization, or difficult life circumstance.
  • Proactively address problems/stressors to avert more serious difficulties.

When to Reach Out

Always reach out to consult or refer a student (including yourself) before a situation gets more severe. If referring another person, it can be helpful to let them know that you’re referring them so they can get support beyond what you’re capable of providing yourself. This makes our outreach efforts seem connected and anticipated.

Students (including yourself):

  • You’re concerned about a student’s ability to keep themselves safe 
  • You’ve heard/witnessed unhealthy or unsafe actions
  • There has been a recent involuntary hospitalization
  • There is concern about a student’s ability to adjust to the college environment
  • The depth of concern is significant, but not an emergency
  • You do not know where else to get help

Faculty & Staff (in addition to the student list):

  • Repeated behavioral concerns that you’ve addressed and haven’t seen change/growth (be sure to use classroom management strategies for more minor disruptions in/out of the classroom)
  • You’ve referred the same individual in the past to SSAS or Early Alert Services.

For URI Employees (including student staff): recognize that for many situations you have a duty to report to professionals. This is to ensure that students who have shared sensitive information have the opportunity to get connected to support.

Education and Training

The team provides educational sessions about mental health and wellness, food and housing insecurity, and works with campus partners to identify and share appropriate resources for each situation. The Mental Health First Aid curriculum began at URI in Fall 2017 and is available to members of the URI community as a basic training or as a “for credit” course. Be on the lookout for our advanced MHFA trainings coming in winter 2024!

Basic Needs Resources

Are you having a difficult time affording or getting access to your basic needs (e.g.,  food, housing, transportation)? URI has a number of ways to reduce hunger, secure funding for public transportation, and help students incorporate available resources into their budgets. 

Our Team

Dr. Jacqui Springer

Assistant Dean of Students

Barbara A. Sweeney, MSW, MPH, LCSW, CFLE

Coordinator, Food Security Outreach

Lukas Chaves




Student Support and Advocacy Services primarily manages non-academic concerns. The team works closely with Early Alert Services to assist students in need of an academic intervention, Substance Abuse Prevention Services for students seeking assistance regarding alcohol and other substances, and the Disability, Access, and Inclusion office for individuals with qualifying disabilities.

If you need assistance and/or are concerned about a student’s behavior or well-being, please utilize the URI “Report It” page.