How to Deal with Disruptive Students

What Constitutes Disruption?

"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.
  • Interrupting other speakers.
  • Behavior that distracts the class from the subject matter or discussion.
  • In extreme cases, physical threats, harassing behavior or personal insults.
  • Refusal to comply with faculty direction.


The best time to deal with disruption is before it begins. Faculty can take steps to reduce the likelihood of disruptive behaviors in the classroom.

  • Explicitly state expectations for conduct in the syllabus. Include specifics, such as "turn off pagers and cell phones before entering the classroom." Explain consequences for inappropriate behavior.
  • Review these expectations with students during the first class meeting.
  • Model respectful communication with your students.
  • Facilitate respectful exchange of ideas among your students.
  • Respond to problems consistently and in a timely manner.

Handling Classroom Disruptions

In cases of immediate threat to you or others, call Campus Public Safety (740) 351-3232 immediately.


  1. Have a private conversation with the student to discuss the disruptions you are observing, and possible remedies for the situation.
  2. Follow up with a written summary to the student, re-stating your expectations and consequences for continued disruption.
  3. Students who chronically disrupt classes and interfere with the learning environment may be asked to leave the class. Campus Public Safety may be called to remove the student if necessary.
  4. A student so removed should be asked to meet with the Dean of Students before returning to class.
  5. Consulting your Department Chair or College Dean may be helpful in developing a plan for dealing with a disruptive student.
  6. Faculty can consult with the Dean of Students, and may consider filing a Complaint of Misconduct with the Office of the Dean of Students.
  7. Formal disciplinary action may include: Disciplinary reprimand, probation, suspension or dismissal.
  8. Keep records of the difficulties, and your efforts to resolve them, including all written communication. These will be helpful in the case of formal action.

Need To Talk To Someone?

Faculty are educators and academicians. Being forced into another role -such as counselor or friend - by a student situation can be uncomfortable and beyond the scope of faculty responsibilities. In such situations, consider consulting with campus resources that may be helpful in resolving issues with the student. A range of support and information services is available to faculty and to students.

Office of the Dean of Students or the Vice President for Student Affairs: information and support regarding application of the Student Conduct Code. Referrals can be made to Counseling and Psychological Services and/or Disability Support Services.

Although some disruptive students may have emotional or mental disorders and thus are disabled and protected under the Rehabilitation Act/ADA, they are held to the same standards of conduct as all other students.

Resources, Locations, & Contact Information

Department of Public Safety
David Thoroughman, Chief
Art Annex Building
Emergency: (740) 351-3232
Non-emergency: (740) 351-3243

EMERGENCY 911 SERVICE from any Campus Desk Phone -- DIAL 9 - 911

Counseling & Psychological Services (CPS)
Michael J. Hughes, Ed. D., P.C.C.-s, Director
University Center - 205
(740) 351-3608

Disability Services
James Weaver, Coordinator
Student Success Center – Massie Hall, 1st Floor
(740) 351-3276

Office of Student Affairs
University Center – 223
(740) 351-3280

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