The University of South Alabama respects the right of instructors to teach and students to learn. Maintenance of these rights requires an academic environment that does not impede their exercise. To ensure these rights, faculty and staff members have the responsibility:
- To establish and implement academic standards.
- To establish and enforce reasonable behavior standards in each academic setting.
- To document and report incidents of academic disruption.
- To refer for disciplinary action those students whose behavior may be judged to be
disruptive under the Code of Student Conduct (refer to USA Policies in the student
handbook “The Lowdown” for specifics).
Disruptive academic behavior is defined as individual or group conduct that interrupts or interferes with any educational activity or environment, infringes upon the rights and privileges of others, results in or threatens the destruction of property, and/or is otherwise prejudicial to the maintenance of order in an academic environment. An academic environment is defined as a classroom, laboratory, library, study hall, field trip or similar setting in which formal learning is taking place. Though dependent upon the size and nature of the academic setting, disruption refers to behavior a reasonable person would view as substantially or repeatedly interfering with the conduct of an activity. Disruptive behavior may range from the mildly annoying (which should be tolerated as much as possible) to clearly disruptive, dangerous and/or violent
behavior which should never be tolerated.
Common disruptive behavior
Common examples of disruptive student behavior include (in part from Gerald Amada “Coping with the Disruptive Student”):
- Threatening, stalking, intimidating, or harassing of anyone in an academic setting,
such as another student, instructor, librarian or other academic staff person in an
attempt to address some grievance.
- The formation of close and sometimes erotic attachments to a professor resulting in
shadowing or persistent and unwanted phone calls or letters.
- The badgering of an instructor with questions with the intent to interrupt lectures
and gain attention (this problem is even more severe if related to alcohol or substance
- Sleeping in class.
- Routinely entering class late or departing early.
- Personal hygiene problems impacting others.
- Repeatedly talking in class without being recognized, talking while others are talking,
or dominating class discussion.
- Loud keyboarding or playing computer games.
- Physical display of anger (such as throwing books or other items).
- The use of cell phones or pagers.
- Tampering with equipment, altering computer software or hardware, or damaging
furnishings in any academic setting.
University procedures for dealing with disruptive behavior
All incidents must be documented and reports (Classroom Disruption/Behavior Concern Report) must be routed promptly. The instructor should provide a copy of any report to the appropriate administrator (i.e., Dean of Libraries) or academic department chairperson. The department chairperson (who may possess other reports filed against a particular student) will then choose one of the following three options:
- If the faculty member and/or chairperson believe that the situation is salvageable, a conference between the faculty member and the student – possibly involving others such as the department head, the Student Conduct Administrator, the University Police – may be held. The consequences of continued improper behavior and strategies for ending such behavior should be discussed at this meeting. The student needs to articulate why his/her behavior was inappropriate for the meeting to be successful. If the student cannot do this, further action is necessary.
- If the department cannot resolve the situation, the report should be forwarded to the Student Conduct Administrator and charges should be brought against the offending student. There must be a complainant for this to occur. The complainant may be the involved faculty member or academic staff person, the department head, a witness to the event, the campus police, or any other knowledgeable third party, including students. The report or a written statement by the complainant must be given to the Student Conduct Administrator, who will then notify the accused student that he/ she is being charged with violating the Code of Student Conduct. The Student Conduct Administrator will follow necessary procedures in dealing with the student as explained in the Code of Student Conduct in the student handbook “The Lowdown”. The Student Conduct Administrator may take unilateral action or the involved parties may be asked to appear before the University Disciplinary Committee, a group made up of students and faculty charged with deliberating upon non-academic Code of Conduct violations and issuing appropriate sanctions.
- If there is a perceived threat or act of violence, or if and when disruptive behavior violates federal or state laws, the report should be forwarded to the University Police who have arrest powers and may issue trespass warnings when appropriate. Once the University Police action or investigation is completed, they will share the report with the Student Conduct Administrator or the University Behavioral Assessment Team for consideration of additional action.
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