In recent years there has been an escalation of students displaying concerning behaviors. These incidents have occurred in the residence halls, classrooms or offices. Often University personnel are involved in situations where they are responding to a student who disrupts a class or are recommending a referral for a student who is having personal problems. These incidents are especially alarming when they interfere with academic purpose of the institution or infringe on the rights of others. No matter how experienced a professor or administrator is, these situations which require sensitivity, insight and calm, often develop unexpectedly and may catch them unprepared. This section is designed to give a better conceptual framework to respond to those incidents. The following are not University policies, but rather helpful suggestions when responding to a difficult student.
It may be best to differentiate the students behavior into three distinct categories
It is important to remember these behaviors are not exclusive, and it is entirely possible to have a student displaying signs from more than one category.
Usually this behavior comes to our attention, but does not necessarily negatively impact others or diminish the professor’s ability to conduct class. Examples of disturbing behaviors may include:
Helping with Disturbing Behaviors
Because Alfred is fairly small and personable, students who are experiencing distress may be more noticeable than in other academic communities. A sign of such stress is a change in the student’s “typical” behaviors—i.e. being late, missing assignments, requests for extensions. Since our faculty and staff are highly accessible, students often seek them out for advice or help when they are feeling overwhelmed.
There are many options for responding to student behavior that is disturbing. The options include: doing nothing, initiating a private conversation with the student, consulting with a colleague and/or referring the student to the Counseling and Wellness Center.
It is most preferable to risk communicating concerns directly with the student and in private. Often times they are unaware that their behavior is noticeable and welcome suggestions on resources available. An additional advantage is that early intervention may diminish the escalation of the problem. Suggestions for getting started include:
This can include using the University Counseling and Wellness Center. If the student is not ready to use professional counseling, some other sources of help may be useful (parents, clergy, trusted adult, etc.). If you are unsure of the appropriate place to send the student and want referral information, call the Counseling and Wellness Center (2300 from a campus, 607-871-2300 from a cell phone) and ask to speak to a staff member about various campus resources.
This is when the student’s behavior interferes with the academic process, the living/learning environment or the rights of others. Even though the student may not be responsive to intervention, some level of action is recommended. Examples of disruptive behavior include:
Helping with Disruptive Behaviors
Maintaining a safe environment is always the first priority. If you are concerned about safety, call campus security at 2108 from a campus phone, 607-871-2108 from other your cell phone or Alfred Police at 9-911, from a campus phone or 911 from your cell phone. Talk with the student, preferably in private. If you are fearful of violence, ask a colleague to be present. Inform the student of the specific behavior(s) that need to change, a timeline of when the change needs to be made, and detail the consequences if the change does not occur. Follow through with the consequences if the agreed changes do not transpire. After the meeting, write down a detailed description of the events. It is usually beneficial to provide the student with a written copy of the expectations and consequences.
Other procedures for intervention include:
While rare, every college campus occasionally has a student who engages in dangerous behaviors. Their, and your, personal safety is paramount. Dialogue is not as high of a priority as getting help to defuse the crisis. When a student’s behavior becomes threatening: