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Behavioral Misconduct: Dealing With Disruptive Students

Students and faculty share responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment

Faculty have the professional responsibility to treat students with understanding, dignity and respect. Students are also expected to demonstrate appropriate, respectful behavior toward other members of the university community, both faculty and peers. Disruptive students in the academic setting hinder the educational process. Disruptive student conduct is prohibited by the Student Conduct Code (Oregon Administrative Rule 577-31-125), which also enumerates formal actions and remedies for resolving student misconduct issues.

What constitutes Disruption?

"Disruption," as applied to the academic setting, means behavior that a reasonable faculty member would view as interfering with normal academic functions.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Persistently speaking without being recognized
  • Interrupting other speakers
  • Behavior that distracts the class from the subject matter or discussion
  • In extreme cases, physical threats, harassing behavior or personal insults
  • Refusal to comply with faculty direction

Prevention

The best time to deal with disruption is before it begins. Faculty can take steps to reduce the likelihood of disruptive behaviors in the classroom.

  • Explicitly state expectations for conduct in the syllabus. Include specifics, such as "turn off pagers and cell phones before entering the classroom." Explain consequences for inappropriate behavior.
  • Review these expectations with students during the first class meeting
  • Model respectful communication with your students.
  • Facilitate respectful exchange of ideas among your students.
  • Respond to problems consistently and in a timely manner.

Handling classroom disruptions

In cases of IMMEDIATE THREAT to you or others, immediately call Campus Public Safety 502-725-4404.

Otherwise...

  1. Have a private conversation with the student to discuss the disruptions you are observing, and possible remedies for the situation.
  2. Follow up with a written summary to the student, re-stating your expectations and consequences for continued disruption.
  3. Students who chronically disrupt classes and interfere with the learning environment may be asked to leave the class. Campus Public Safety may be called to remove the student if necessary.
  4. Consulting your Department Chair or College Dean may be helpful in developing a plan for dealing with a disruptive student.
  5. Faculty can consult with the Dean of Students, and may consider filing a Complaint of Misconduct with Office of the Dean of Students.
  6. Formal disciplinary action may include: Disciplinary reprimand, probation, suspension or dismissal.
  7. Keep records of the difficulties, and your efforts to resolve them, including all written communication. These will be helpful in the case of formal actions.

Need to talk to someone?

Faculty are educators and academicians. Being forced into another role -such as counselor or friend - by a student situation can be uncomfortable, and is outside the range of faculty responsibility. In such situations, consider consulting with campus resources that may be helpful in resolving issues with the student. A range of support and information services is available to faculty and to students.

Disability Resource Center consultation regarding equal access to education and maintaining academic standards

Counseling & Psychological Services consultation regarding mental health issues, mental disorders, working with disturbed and disturbing students, crisis debriefing

Office of the Dean of Student Life information and support regarding application of the Student Conduct Code

Although some disruptive students may have emotional or mental disorders and thus are disabled and protected under the Rehabilitation Act/ADA, they are held to the same standards of conduct as all other students.

Resources

Campus Public Safety
1939 SW Broadway
Emergency: 503-725-4404
Non-emergency: 503-725-4407

Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
Suite 200 Univeristy Center Building
1880 SW 6th Ave.
503-725-2800

Disability Resource Center
435 Smith Memorial Center
503-725-4150

Office of the Dean of Student Life
433 Smith Memorial Center
503-725-4422

References

Student Conduct Code is available at:
http://www.pdx.edu/dos/codeofconduct

Faculty Tips: Dealing with Disruptive Students is brought to you by:
Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) & the Office of the Dean of Student Life (DOSL)