Dealing with Disruptive Student Behavior

A guide for CSUEB faculty and staff


California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) is committed to establishing and maintaining a safe and courteous environment for the teaching and learning process. Civility, courtesy, and mutual respect among all persons are intrinsic to such an environment.

Occasionally, that environment is disturbed by the actions or behaviors of a disruptive student or students. The Student Code of Conduct, set forth in the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 41301, prohibits disruptive student behavior. Any student who violates the Code is subject to disciplinary and/or civil or criminal prosecution. For more detailed information, go to the Standards for Student Conduct page.

What Constitutes Disruptive Behavior?

Behavior that impairs, interferes with or obstructs the mission, purpose, order, academic atmosphere, operation, process and functions of the University is considered disruptive behavior. In other words, a disruptive student is one who disturbs the teaching and learning process in the classroom or the day-to-day functions of the university.

Here are some examples of disruptive classroom/campus behavior:

  • Threatening or abusive language or behavior – including vulgar language, gestures or expressions.
  • Making unreasonable demands on faculty or staff for time and attention.
  • Erratic and/or irrational behavior.
  • Continually speaking without being recognized by the faculty or staff.
  • Persistent disruptions resulting from ringing cell phones, pagers and other electronic devices.
  • Other verbal or behavioral expressions that interfere with the classroom/university environment.

What Can Faculty Do About Disruptions?

As a faculty member, you are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing and/or curtailing disruptive behavior. There are steps you can take:

  • Include behavioral norms and expectations in the course syllabus.
  • Discuss what constitutes disruptive classroom behavior at the first meeting of the class with periodic reminders as necessary.
  • Establish an environment in which opposing views may be expressed in a civil and respectful manner.
  • Exhibit the type of behavior you expect from the students.

It is important to deal with disruptive student behavior in a calm, courteous and direct fashion before it escalates or becomes an ongoing pattern. Ask the disruptive student to meet with you after class or during office hours so that you may address the issue in private. If you are more comfortable with a third party present, ask a colleague to sit in on your meeting with the student. Warn the student that further disruptions can result in disciplinary action. Do document this verbal warning for your own records. Keep supervising faculty members informed of problematic interactions with students.

If You Need Assistance

If a student continues to exhibit disruptive behavior despite your warning, you may wish to take the following steps:

What Confidentiality Standards Should I Follow?

Please note that all information and discussion regarding the disruptive student shall be handled in a confidential manner. The privacy of the student’s educational records, including misconduct cases, is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), and the California Information Practices Act (Civil Codie Section 1798). For information on FERPA, go to:

Disruptive Behavior and Disability

A student with a disability is not exempt from the University's behavioral expectations, rules, and regulations. Disruptive behavior by such students must be responded to as any other disruptive activity.

When to Call the University Police?

If, at any time, a student is exhibiting unlawful behavior or posing a threat of violence to him/herself or others by being verbally or physically abusive; or refusing to leave the classroom or location upon your request, you should call University Police. Any threat of violence should be taken seriously. Err on the side of caution. Dial 9-1-1 from any campus telephone or dial (510) 885-3333 from any other phone. Police are available 24 hours a day.

Campus Resources

  • Student Conduct, Rights and Responsibilities
    Student Services Building 1111
    (510) 885-3763
  • University Police
    Library 1063
    Non-Emergency: (510) 885-3791
    Emergency: 9-1-1
    Cell or off campus phone (510) 885-3333
  • Student Health & Counseling Services
    Student Health Center
    (510) 885-3735
  • Accessibility Services
    (510) 885-3868