Classroom Civility Policy
Student Disruption in Learning Environments: Toward a Model of Community Civility
Purdue University Northwest supports the principles of freedom of expression for both faculty and students. The University respects the rights of faculty to teach and students to learn. Maintenance of these rights requires conditions in the learning environment that do not impede the learning process. Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. An individual engaging in such behavior may be subject to disciplinary action.
Definition of Civility
Purdue University Northwest places a priority on student learning. We value the inherent worth and dignity of every person, thereby fostering a community of mutual respect. We believe that in order to achieve these ideals, all Purdue University Northwest students are expected, while in the role as student or representative of the university, to exhibit and practice civil behaviors, defined as behaviors that:
- Respect faculty, staff, fellow students, guests, and all university property, policies, rules and regulations
- Take responsibility for one’s choices and actions
- Accept consequences of one’s inappropriate choices and actions
- Communicate in a professional and courteous manner in all forms, and at all times, whether verbal, non-verbal or written
- Learning environments shall include any gathering of faculty member(s) and students for the purposes of teaching and learning authorized by Purdue University Northwest or any of its units.
- Faculty member shall include all persons authorized by Purdue University Northwest or any of its units to conduct instruction of students enrolled in the University’s courses or programs.
- Obstruction or Disruption of a University activity means unlawful or objectionable acts or conduct (1) which seriously threaten the ability of the University to maintain its facilities available for performance of its educational activities, (2) which are in violation of the reasonable rules and standards of the University designed to protect the academic community from unlawful conduct, or (3) which present a serious threat to person or property of the academic community.
- University activity means any teaching, research, administrative, disciplinary function, proceedings, ceremony, or activity conducted by or under the authority of the University.
- University property means property owned, controlled, used, or occupied by the University.
Students’ Rights and Responsibilities
Students have the right to a learning environment free of disruptive behaviors.
Faculty Rights and Responsibilities
Faculty has the right and responsibility to define expected behavior consistent with university policy, as well as address and manage disruptive student behavior.
Faculty reserves the right to make adjustments to behavior expectations at any given time.
Learning Environment Behavior
In order to effectively communicate behavioral expectations to students, it is recommended that faculty include expected behaviors in their course syllabus. Students are expected to comply with regulations regarding civility, attendance and appropriate behavior.
Recommended Guidelines for Managing and Addressing Student Incivility in a Learning Environment:
- Include a clear statement of behavior expectations as part of your syllabus, and also explain them at the start of the course.
The most important step in managing and/or addressing student behavior is to define behavior expectations at the start of the course and reinforce (communicate) them throughout the semester, or as needed. Many problems arise in the learning environment when there is a difference of opinion in what is acceptable behavior. A student may assume certain types of behaviors are appropriate and then proceed to practice them. As the instructor, you are the authority and it is your expectations, as consistent with university policy, which must be followed. Therefore, define your expectations and explain them to students so that all students will know acceptable standards of behavior in our university setting. Consult addendum for sample wording on syllabus regarding civility.
- Reinforce behavior expectations by explaining them, and therefore reinforcing them (communicate) throughout the semester, or as needed.
Because students may enter the university without adequate knowledge of the behaviors that are appropriate to our educational environment, you may need to educate and remind them of the expectations.
- Explain that your clearly defined statement of behavior expectations is not an exhaustive list; therefore, no disruptive behavior will be tolerated.
Disruptive behavior is a violation of the Regulations Governing Student Conduct, Disciplinary Proceedings and Appeals, and may be sanctioned under these regulations. The latest copy of the Regulations Governing Student Conduct, Disciplinary Proceedings and Appeals is available on-line.
Recommended Progressive Approach to Handling Disruption in the Learning Environment
We recommend a progressive approach; however, there are some behaviors that may require more immediate and severe action, including dismissing the class or calling the University Police. Faculty may go directly to step three, if needed. Some examples of when this may occur could include but are not limited to the following: physical violence is being threatened or has erupted, appears imminent, and/or loud arguments have ensued, to the point that the entire integrity of the educational environment has been seriously diminished or compromised. Actions addressing the disruptive behavior will be recorded on the Handling Disruption in Learning Environments form (DOC).
1st Incident of Disruptive Behavior
Personal, Specific Informal Warning
An instructor engages the student in a synchronous (e.g., face-to-face discussion, phone conversation) or asynchronous communication (e.g., email) to explain and define appropriate behavior in the learning environment. Instructors may wish to review the behavioral expectations again with the entire class. They may remind the class that their list is not exhaustive and no disruptive behavior will be tolerated. This communication serves as the first warning. Instructors are encouraged to document this communication through electronic modes such as email, as appropriate.
The instructor will record disruption and discussion/action on Handling Disruption in the Learning Environment form (DOC), give the student a copy, keep a copy as part of their files, and forward the original document to the department head. Also, the student should review the Regulations Governing Student Conduct, Disciplinary Proceedings and Appeals. The student may also record his/her comments on form.
2nd Incident of Disruptive Behavior
Personal, Specific Formal Warning
The instructor will tell the student very clearly that he/she must stop the disruptive behavior immediately. The student will be given a written warning and the specific disruptive behavior exhibited will be documented on the Handling Disruption in the Learning Environment form (DOC). The instructor discusses further consequences for the student should the behavior continue. The student will receive a copy, a copy will be kept as part of their files, and the original document will be forwarded to the department head. Also, the student should review the Regulations Governing Student Conduct, Disciplinary Proceedings and Appeals.
If after receiving the Handling Disruption in the Learning Environment form (DOC), the student wants to discuss the incident, they should schedule an appointment to speak with the instructor about it. The student may also record his/her comments on the form. Instructors are encouraged to document this communication through electronic modes such as email, as appropriate.
3rd Incident of Disruptive Behavior
If disruptive behavior continues, the instructor will petition for action to be taken as follows:
- Administratively Withdraw student from class (must have signature approval of Dept. Head or Dean). Student may appeal. See Appeal Process, or
- Administratively Withdraw student from class (must have signature approval of Dept. Head or Dean and send to the Dean of Students Office for further discussion/actions). Student may appeal. See Appeal Process, or
- Change student to another section with knowledge and permission of instructor, department head and/or Dean,or
- Other action as deemed necessary
Record disruption and discussion/action on Handling Disruption in the Learning Environment form (DOC), give the student a copy, keep a copy as part of your files, and forward the original document to the department head. Also, refer the student to the Regulations Governing Student Conduct, Disciplinary Proceedings and Appeals. Student may also record his/her comments on form. Instructors are encouraged to document this communication through electronic modes such as email, as appropriate.
The student may appeal in writing within 24 hours of the withdrawal notification. The student must appeal in writing to the Office of the Dean of Students. Decision will be at the discretion of the Dean of Students or designee and will be determined thusly: is it more likely than not that the student was disruptive in the classroom? All appeal decisions will be final. The burden of proof is on the student to prove disruption did not occur. The student will be notified of a decision within 24 hours after receipt of the appeal in the Office of Dean of Students in Student Union Library, Room 313 on the Hammond campus and Library-Student-Faculty Building, Room 103 on the Westville campus.
When to Call the University Police?
If, at any time, a student is posing a threat of violence or unlawful behavior to him/herself or others by being verbally or physically abusive, aggressive, or refusing to leave the classroom upon your request, call, or instruct a student to call, the University Police immediately. Any threat of violence should be taken seriously. Err on the side of caution. Dial 2911 University Police Emergency from any phone on the Hammond campus and 911 on the Westville campus. If calling from a non-campus phone, dial (219) 989-2911 on the Hammond campus, and (219) 785-5220 on the Westville campus. Police are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Office of the Dean of Students
The Office of the Dean of Students acts as a Student Liaison Office on campus. In this role, the Office of the Dean of Students will advise students of their rights as outlined in the Student Bill of Rights that is found on the Office of the Dean of Students’ webpage or in the Student Handbook.
Hard copies of the Student Bill of Rights can be picked up in the Office of Dean of Students in Student Union Library, Room 313 on the Hammond campus and Library-Student-Faculty Building, Room 103 on the Westville campus. The contact number for the Office of Dean of Students on the Hammond campus is (219) 989-4141 and on the Westville campus is (219) 785-5230.
A primary purpose of the Counseling Center is to provide counseling and psychotherapy to Purdue Northwest students experiencing emotional concerns. Counseling Center personnel are also available to consult with staff and faculty members on how to help emotionally distressed students. The contact number is (219) 989-2366.
Sample Syllabus Language
In order to effectively communicate behavioral expectations to students, it is recommended that the following language be included in each course syllabus:
Students are expected to comply with University regulations regarding civility, attendance, and appropriate classroom behavior. Some specific examples of disruptive behavior that may not be tolerated in this class are:
- Mobile phones
- Use of laptops or tablets
- Eating or drinking in the classroom
- Chewing or popping gum in class
- Excessive tardiness
- Leaving the lecture early
- Leaving the lecture and coming back with food and/or drink
- Missing deadlines
- Prolonged chattering
- Reading newspapers during class
- Shuffling backpacks and notebooks noisily
- Coming to class inebriated
- Bringing children or other guests to class
- Noisily packing up to go when class is not over
- Posting rude, disrespectful, offensive or inappropriate comments in discussion boards
- Unauthorized sharing of information posted in a course discussion board
- Posting inappropriate links to websites
- Spamming classmates email with inappropriate messages
- Violating netiquette rules
The preceding list of disruptive behaviors is intended as an example only. Faculty may select, add to or delete from this list as they prepare their individual syllabi.
Faculty reserves the right to make adjustments to learning environments behavior expectations at any given