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Handling Class Disruption

Instructors are neither expected nor encouraged to put up with disruption in the classroom or harassing behavior by students. The Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA) provides non-emergency advice and assistance to faculty regarding such behavior, which is prohibited by University policy. Specifically, Section 102.13 of our Standards of Conduct for Students prohibits "obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, or other University activities," and students may be referred to OSSJA for violations of this standard.

Disruption and obstruction refer to conduct that distracts, disturbs, interferes with, or prevents normal campus functions and activities, including lectures, labs, class activities, office hours, or research functions. Examples include: creating a disturbance or disrupting class by excessive talking, making inappropriate noises, repeatedly interrupting others, monopolizing class discussion, or verbally abusing others. 

Call Student Support and Judicial Affairs at (530) 752-1128 to consult if a student disrupts or obstructs class, lab, office hours, or other teaching or research functions.

Contact the UC Davis Police at (530) 752-1230 if an individual makes implicit or explicit threats of violence, or you believe there is significant risk of physical harm to you, to others, or to the student; if the student has a weapon; or if the student behaves in an intimidating or bizarre manner. The police will respond to investigate the threats or other circumstances, warn any intended victim, and determine whether the individual is dangerous, has committed a crime, or needs medical/psychological help.

Responding to Disruption in Class:

  • For minor disruption, remind students of their responsibilities.
  • If a student repeatedly disrupts class or office hours, talk to them individually (if you are comfortable doing so) and warn them that they may be subject to discipline if the disruptive behavior continues.  Follow up with a short email in which you put in writing what you discussed with the student -- and the warning that continued disruption will result in a referral to the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs.  
  • If you are not comfortable talking with the student, simply send them an email in which you tell them very specifically what they are doing that you find disruptive.  In addition, clarify your behavioral expectations and warn the student that continued disruption will lead to their referral to OSSJA.
  • If the behavior continues, report the student to OSSJA. 

Always treat students with the respect you would like them to show you.

For more tips, see below.


Edited 2/18/2019 by slh