Disrupting vs. Disturbing Behaviors

Identifying Disruptive Behavior

Disruptive behavior is student behavior that interferes with the educational process of other students. It may or may not be responsive to faculty or staff intervention. It is behavior that may prevent faculty members and staff from carrying out professional responsibilities. Specific examples of disruptive behavior include 

  • A student who physically confronts another person. 
  • A student who verbally abuses another person. 
  • A student who interrupts the educational process in class by making remarks out of turn,taking over the lecture, or dominating class discussion. 
  • A student who physically acts out toward University property by breaking windows, throwing furniture or smashing doors.

Interventions for Disruptive Behavior

Talking with the student, preferably in the privacy of the faculty or staff member’s office may be an effective intervention for disruptive behavior. If you are fearful of violence erupting, ask another colleague, Department Chair, or supervisor to be present for the conversation. After meeting with the student, inform the student in writing of the behavior that needs to change, a timeline for when the change needs to be made, and delineate the consequences if the change does not occur. Follow through with the consequences if the change does not occur. It is sometimes helpful and/ or necessary to provide the student with a written copy of your requirements and the consequences. Some procedures for intervention in the classroom or offices of the University are: 

  • Verbal request to stop the behavior. 
  • Verbal request to leave. 
  • Call Police at 911 from any campus phone. 
  • Consult the Department Chair about dropping the student from your class. 
  • Consult the Dean of Students Office about possible violations of the Student Code of Conduct. 

Securing a safe environment is always top priority. If you have any questions about immediate safety, call UNM Police at 911 from any phone. 

Identifying Disturbing Behavior

Disturbing behavior usually causes people to feel concerned, alarmed, afraid or frustrated. A student exhibiting disturbing behavior might hold no negative impacts on other students, the professor’s ability to teach or conduct class, or the implementation of other professionals’ roles in the University. However, such behavior may indicate that a particular student is having difficulties that affects his/her academic performance. 

  • A student who jokes in class about killing themselves. 
  • A student who appears to be losing significant weight yet speaks with pride about how little they eat. 
  • A student who reports that FBI agents are following them around campus.
  • A student who has loss interest in many activities they previously enjoyed and were actively involved in

Interventions for Disturbing Behavior

Faculty and staff have options for responding to student behavior they find disturbing. They can initiate a private conversation with the student about the behavior that concerns them. They can consult with other professionals on campus. They can refer the student to other professionals on campus. We highly encourage faculty, staff, and UNM community members to refer students exhibiting disturbing behavior to the Behavioral Assessment and Response Committee.