Disruptive Behavior Defined

Behavior that interferes with other students, faculty, or staff and their access to an appropriate educational or work environment is considered disruptive. These behaviors are usually a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Examples of Disruptive Behavior

  • Yelling or screaming
  • Persistent and unreasonable demands for time and attention
  • Words or actions that have the effect of intimidating or harassing another
  • Words or actions that cause another to fear for his/her personal safety
  • Threats of physical assault

Dealing with Disruptive Behavior

Remain calm. Many disruptive situations involve anger. Recognize that the period of peak anger usually lasts 20–30 seconds. If the person de-escalates, then you can refer to the Dos and Don'ts listed for further steps to resolve the conflict. If, however, the person does not de-escalate, then you may need to remove yourself from the situation and contact Campus Police.

Documenting Disruptive Behavior

Disruptive behavior should be documented. Write a factual, detailed account of what occurred. Use concrete terms.

What to Do

  • Do allow the person to vent and tell you what is upsetting him/her. Use silence to allow the person to talk it out.
  • Do acknowledge the feelings of the individual.
  • Do set limits. Explain clearly and directly what behaviors are acceptable: “I will be willing to speak with you as soon as you lower your voice.”
  • Do be firm, consistent, and honest.
  • Do focus on what you can do to help resolve the situation.
  • Do offer to make referrals. When possible, give the name of an individual who might be able to help.
  • Do ask the student to leave the room if disruptive behavior persists.
  • Do report the behavior to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards and/or the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

What Not to Do

  • Don't interrupt, particularly during the first 20–30 seconds of peak anger.
  • Don't minimize the situation.
  • Don't get into an argument or shouting match.
  • Don't blame, ridicule, or use sarcasm.
  • Don't touch.
  • Don't ignore safety issues if the person is becoming more agitated.
  • Don't assume you can resolve all situations; call for assistance when needed.