What is disruptive?

"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 or interrupting other speakers
  • Behavior that distracts the class from the subject matter or discussion
  • In extreme cases, physical threats, harassing behavior or personal insults, or refusal to comply with faculty direction (see the Student Classroom and Course-Related Behavior Policy)

Civil expression of disagreement with the course instructor, during times when the instructor permits discussion, is not in itself disruptive behavior and is not prohibited.

Some disruptive students may have emotional or mental health struggles. Although such students may be considered as having a disability and are protected under the Rehabilitation Act/ADA, they are held to the same standards of conduct as any student.

According to the university Student Conduct Code, prohibited student conduct includes:

  • Materially and substantially interfering with, obstructing, or disrupting normal university activities such as teaching, research, or meetings.
  • Failing to comply with the direction of university staff who are performing their duties.

Strategies for handling classroom disruptions

Managing classroom behavior can be challenging. Online resources are available and you can contact Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution to discuss problems you are having.

The Center for Teaching and Learning offers a wide range of excellent resources including consultations and workshops. The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) also facilitates Skills-based workshops and the Fall 2020 Guide for Establishing Course Expectations and Managing Classroom Dynamics is available to support effective classroom management.​

What happens when you report?

When a faculty member contacts Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (SCCR) regarding a classroom disruption, their staff determines if a policy violation occurred (common violations might include preventing the class from occurring or disrupting the ability of the faculty to proceed with class, direct or indirect threats, and/or abusive conduct).

If the disruption is not an immediate policy violation, the SCCR advises that the faculty provide feedback about the student’s behavior, re-assert expectations around classroom discussion and participation or email communication to the faculty member, remove participation points, and/or ask the student to leave class. The SCCR can also do an informal outreach to the student to offer the opportunity to discuss the incident and their faculty member’s expectations.

Should the behavior continue after the faculty member has documented that they addressed it, the SCCR can begin a formal conduct process because the student may be charged with violating policy by not complying with directions from a university official.