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Staff Resources


Dealing with Disruptive Students

Sandra Rhoten, Associate Dean of Students, Judicial Affairs

I. What is disruptive behavior?

Behavior which directly interferes with the goals of the office and the mission of the university. Be clear on the goals of the office. Failure to enforce standards disadvantages other students.


II. Strategies for preventing disruptive behavior

  • Set standards/clarify expectations/notify students

  • Develop office protocol for dealing with issues

  • Establish consequences including conditions under which a student would be asked to leave the office

  • Train staff

III. Strategies for responding to disruptive behavior

  • Early intervention

  • Progressive

  • Consistent

  • Consult with supervisor

  • Meet with student

  • When appropriate, report student to Judicial Affairs

  • When appropriate, report to University Police

IV. Meeting with the disruptive student

  • Remain calm

  • Be specific about the inappropriate behavior the student has exhibited. Describe the behavior, don’t focus on the person. Explain why the behavior is a problem

  • Ask questions and summarize

  • Conclude by summarizing any resolution and articulating expectations for the future. Be clear that continued inappropriate action may result in a referral to the Dean of Students Office, Judicial Affairs for disciplinary action and possible loss of services.

  • Maintain written documentation of the interaction

  • Terminate the conversation if it becomes apparent that the student is unwilling or unable to listen to your concerns and requests

These recommendations are based on the expectation that students can and will be reasonable if they have adequate information, clearly understand parameters, and are treated with respect. The expectation is that students can change their behavior. However, if they demonstrate unwillingness or inability to change, then additional interventions, including removal from the office, may be necessary.


V. University Resources

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