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 disorders. Although such students may be considered disabled 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.


What happens when you report?

When a faculty member contacts our office regarding a classroom disruption, Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (SCCR) determines if a policy violation occurred (common violations might include preventing the class from occurring or disrupting the ability for 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 for violating policy by not complying with directions from a university official.