Group Constitutions

In order for a student to serve as a Nightline peer counselor, s/he must have participated in the Nightline Peer Counselor Training Program, offered in the Fall semesters, and must have been certified as a Nightline peer counselor. If the individual is "not ready" at the time of certification that individual has the option of participating in the Retraining process in which additional training is conducted. Re-certification is also offered, and if the individual is "ready" after that time, the individual may then join the staff. If the individual is still "not ready" after re-certification, s/he has the option of repeating the complete fall training and certification.

I. Policies

  • After certification, the student must sign the Nightline contract and must perform his/her duties according to the contract in order to serves as a Nightline peer counselor {see nightline contract for further policies]
  • In order for a student to remain a Nightline peer counselor, s/he must attend all debriefings, role playing sessions, and ongoing training workshops. One who misses more than two of any of these sessions will not be permitted to sit a phone shift until a full month of attendance has been fulfilled, during which s/he must attend all debriefings, and after which s/he will be reinstated.
  • Nightline peer counselors will not give out any part of their real names or telephone numbers to callers; nor will they give out any other staff members' name or telephone numbers to anyone not associated with Nightline. Counselors will also not reveal their association with Nightline nor that of any other staff member and will remain anonymous as long as they remain on the phone staff.
  • No Nightline peer counselor will ever leave the office in order to meet or transport a caller.
  • If concerns arise concerning a particular staff member's actions or performance, his/her partner or peer will first address them. If this proves insufficient, the phone staff coordinators will address them (after discussion with the student coordinating committee). If further action is necessary, Nightline's advisors will address th4m additionally . Following this, a student will no longer be allowed to work on the phones , or other arrangements will be made.


    • In order to begin a shift, a Nightline peer counselor must wait until his/her partner has arrived to turn off phonemail. Nightline peer counselors must arrive at least fifteen minutes before the shift begins and must read the log book.
    • If a problem arises during the shift, the Nightline peer counselor may contract the Director, the phone staff coordinators, or any of the other staff members.
    • If a crisis call (e.g. someone's life is in immediate danger or at great risk) comes in, the Nightline peer counselor is required to take th4e following step:
    • Keep the caller on the telephone and continue to counsel
    • Have partner contact either the Director or the phone staff coordinators for feedback, advice, or assistance
    • Notify campus security and CAVA , if appropriate
    • Notify a residential life staff member, if appropriate
    • Contact the doctor on call if necessary
    • Nightline counselors find themselves at times being called by certain callers with unusual frequency and usual lack of results. Although it is our responsibility to be available to all callers, whatever their issue, if a caller becomes problematic or needs more help than Nightline can offer, the Coordinating Committee may discuss policies to help the caller and protect the Nightline from potential abuse [See Coordinating Committee duties]

Coordinating Committee

The Coordinating Committee is set up to facilitate the operation of Nightline, both in the goals of the individual positions, described below, and in the collective goal, with the entire phone staff and in consultation with the advisors ,of establishing new policies or procedures when necessary concerning either the phone staff or concerning frequent and/or abusive callers.

As well as fulfilling the specific duties of his/her position, all members of the Coordinating Committee must attend Coordinating Committee (CC) meetings, which are held every other week, on the alternate weeks of the debriefings. CC meetings are also open to the entire phone staff, with the exception of the meeting in which selection of new CC positions are made. CC members may be responsible for weekly check in calls. ON the night of his/her check in call, the staff member must call the office around 10pm, inform the counselors that s/he is the check in person and that s/he will be available during the evening and/or periodically checking his/her messages in case anything should come up.

For all positions except where noted, the student may hold office for as long as desired. The Coordinating Committee reserves the right however to discuss and decide action if the student is not fulfilling his/her specific duties.

Positions and descriptions

Nightline Director:

This student is responsible for overall maintenance and continuing development of Nightline, keeping a Nightline archive, facilitating all Coordinating Committee meetings, working with the Nightline advisors, serving as a liaison to on-campus student groups, faculty, administrators, and community health professionals, as well as serving as a resource to all interested or involved in Nightline. The director is the only public figure of Nightline and is no longer a counselor on the phones. The director reserves the right to dismiss any member of the Coordinating Committee or phone staff if deemed necessary.. The director is appointed at the end of the fall semester, and s/h e serves as director from January to December, at which time a new director is appointed.

Phone staff Coordinators (2)

Two students occupy this position and share the tasks involved. They are responsible for the management of the Nightline Phone staff; this includes scheduling the phone staff for shifts, planning and conducting bimonthly "debriefings" with the phone staff, and updating the referral directory. The phone Staff Coordinators are appointed at the end of the fall semester and serve from January to December, at which time new phone staff coordinators are appointed.

Training Coordinators (2)

Two students share the responsibilities of facilitating and conducting the Nightline Training Program. These responsibilities include ensuring the rooms for the training, inviting the necessary speakers for each topic, possible teaching part of the training, overseeing the trainers [see "trainers"], and setting up the Certification process. Training Coordinators are only members of the Coordinating Committee during the semester of the Training Program (Fall semester).


The number of trainers vary from year to year, depending upon the discretion of the Training Coordinators. Trainers and staff members who help with the Training program; they head a group of 5-10 trainees, again the numbers varying from year to year. For their individual groups, they further clarify the topic being discussed, listen to the role plays, offer feedback, criticisms, and advice, and in general facilitate the training process for all the trainees. They may also demonstrate role plays as part of the topic presentation. Trainers are not members of the Coordinating Committee and serve as trainers only for that particular training. Trainers must reapply to be trainers for following trainings.

Retraining Coordinators (2)

Two students are responsible for the tasks involved and may not be "new staff"--those who were certified in the most recent training. The requirement is not due to lack of experience of the new phone staff, but due to the possibility of any awkward or uncomfortable situations which may arise from having staff conduct retraining for members from their own training class.

Retraining is the further training of those individual who were 'not read" at the time of certification and course in the semester directly following training. The retiring coordinators are on the coordinating committee only during the semester retraining takes place (spring semester)


The treasurer is responsible for the accounting of nightline's finances as well as on-campus fundraising (soliciting campus organizations and offices). The treasurer may also, in conjunction with the Coordinating Committee, call for a budget committee for further analysis of Nightline's budgetary needs (see 'subcommittee")

Publicity Coordinators (2)

Two students are responsible for publicizing Nightline within Columbia University. This includes designing and printing flyers and distributing them at each "debriefing" reserving banner space at Barnard and Columbia and delivering the banner to facilities as necessary, and designing and coordinating special publicity events such as Ballooning or other publicity ideas.


The student is responsible for keeping records of the Coordinating Committee meetings, sending out the calendar of the phone staff, and updating and sending out the phone list of staffers and numbers and addresses.

Special Projects Coordinator

This student is responsible for the upkeep and continuance of the constitution and the contact with alumni (for example through mailings). The student is also responsible for any new assignments which fall under the heading of "special projects."

Ongoing Training Coordinators (2)

Two students are responsible for conducting two on going trainings for the staff per semester. The student must fist determine in which areas the phone staff needs additional training, and they must then contact the necessary speakers and schedule the ongoing training. The ongoing training coordinators are also responsible for conducting any additional role play sessions they may deem necessary for the staff.

Appointment Process

For all positions on the Coordinating Committee

When a position is open on the Coordinating Committee, either due to resignation of the student or due to the end of a finite term such as in the case of Director, the opening is announced at a debriefing and applications are distributed to the entire phone staff. Two students from the Coordinating Committee, preferably including one or two of those currently holding the position, then interview the applicants. The two students then make a recommendation at the Coordinating Committee meeting, and after discussion, only the CC members, then vote. The majority rules, and in the case of a tie. Further discussion may be necessary to break the tie.

    • In the case of the appointment of Director, the interview is conducted by the present Director and advisor [see "Advisor"].

For the position of trainer:

At the beginning of the semester of Training, the Training coordinators distribute applications to the phone staff and use their discretion to select those to be trainers.


Other subcommittees may be formed as deemed necessary by the Coordinating Committee, such as budgetary committee or committee to update the referral book, and the selection of the members of the subcommittee may depend upon the nature of the subcommittee needed. Subcommittee members are not official members of the Coordinating Committee but are encouraged to attend CC meetings.


Four advisors (although the number may change yearly) serve as support and as sources of feedback and advice. They are selected by the coordinating Committee (and often they can be recommended by current advisors) from any of the Columbia schools, and may currently be Residence Directors, Deans, Heal professionals, and/or Professors. The advisors may serves for as long as they wish. A separate advisor may also be appointed to be an advisor for the Nightline Training.

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