In recent years many college and university professors, administrators and mental health professionals report a growing number of students on campus who become disruptive to the educational mission of the institution. Although a small portion of an entire student population, managing these students often requires a great deal of resources.
It is clear that institutions need to address the trend of increased disruptiveness on campus and provide guidelines to university personnel that are neither too punitive nor too permissive, and strike a proper balance that reflects the educational mission and values of the institution, and are morally and legally sound. For instance, those with mental illness have the same rights as anyone else to pursue higher education and are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, provided they abide by the student code of conduct while pursuing their education. The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for Temple University. The following definition of disruptiveness is adapted from Gerald Amada’s article: Dealing With the Disruptive College Student: Some Theoretical and Practical Considerations,
“The disruptive student is one who persistently makes inordinate demands for time and attention from faculty and staff, habitually interferes with the learning environment by disruptive verbal or behavioral expressions, verbally threatens or abuses college personnel, willfully damages college property, misuses drugs or alcohol on college premises, or physically threatens or assaults others. The result is disruption of academic, administrative, social, or recreational activities on campus.”
There is an acknowledgment in this definition of a range of potentially disruptive behaviors from those that are simply annoying to those that are criminal. For this reason it is important to present guidelines that take into consideration this range and to present a range of responses on the part of the institution that mirrors the breadth and complexity of the issue. The suggestions that follow include measures that are designed to prevent disruptiveness in the first place, moving on to interventions to try when a student becomes disruptive, and finally to emergency procedures needed when a situation is potentially dangerous. Our recommendations are assembled into three broad categories:
- Emergency Response
In addition, a description is given of Temple University’s CARE (Crisis Assessment Response and Education) Team at the end of this document. This group is available to consult with you to determine how best to help you to address a situation.