Disruptive or Distressed Behavior

What is Disruptive Behavior?

There are times when behavior is so disruptive that an immediate referral to The Office of Student Conduct and Mediation is appropriate. The term "classroom disruption" means behavior a reasonable person would view as interfering with the conduct of a class. Examples of increasing seriousness include:

  • Making distracting noises.
  • Persistently speaking without being recognized.
  • Repeatedly interrupting.
  • Resorting to physical threats or personal insults.

When a very serious or threatening incident of disruptive behavior occurs in the classroom, academic building, or on campus, Oregon State Police should be contacted immediately by calling 7-7000 or 541-737-7000.

What is Distressed Behavior?

Faculty and staff can play an extremely important role in referring students for help. You are frequently in a position to first observe signs of distress and although it's not always apparent, students typically hold faculty and staff in high regard.

Signs that a student is distressed include:

  • Excessive class absences.
  • Declining academic performance.
  • Poor emotional control.
  • Excessive moodiness.
  • Sleeping and/or eating habits that change dramatically.
  • Excessive concern about personal health or persistent depression.
  • Talking openly about suicide.
  • Repeatedly engaging in risky behavior.
Helping the Distressed Student

A simple and straightforward expression of concern is, in most cases, the most powerful way of helping a student. Tell them what you have observed and that you are concerned about their well-being and their success. Explain that there are services available on campus, see below, to help students get back on track when life circumstances are getting in the way. In some cases, it may be helpful to offer to walk over to Counseling Services (5th floor, Snell Hall) with the student or to call and let the office know a student is coming over. Assure the student that Counseling Services is a confidential place to discuss their concerns.

If you are unsure about whether or how to intervene with a student who appears to be distressed, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this student's behavior distressingly out of the ordinary? 
  • Is this beyond my skill level? 
  • Is the behavior getting worse? 
  • Does the behavior place anyone at immediate risk? 
  • Am I feeling like I want to talk with someone about my observations and concerns?

If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, it is probably a good idea to consult with a colleague. Call University Counseling & Psychological Services, 7-2131 or 541-737-2131 and ask to talk with the on-call counselor. If that person is not immediately available and you don't feel you can wait, ask if someone else is available for consultation. UCPS can help you evaluate the situation and assist you in considering your options for intervention.

If you have answered the question, "Does the behavior place anyone in immediate risk?" in the affirmative and the very serious or threatening incident of distressed behavior occurs in the classroom, academic building, or on the campus, Oregon State Police should be contacted immediately by calling 7-7000 or 541-737-7000.