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Disruptive Student Policy

At DePauw University, academic discourse within the framework of our courses is of fundamental importance. In our classrooms we strive to encourage the free exchange of ideas always in an environment of courtesy, respect and professionalism. A student’s inappropriate behavior can sometimes seriously undermine that environment.

Frank yet respectful informal discussions between faculty members and students are the preferred response to disruptive behavior. Each case is different, however, and given the complexities faculty members may wish to consult with the student’s academic advisor, colleagues, and/or a designated member of Academic Affairs (currently the Dean of Academic Life), even at the stage of informal interventions.

(Please note: The Disruptive Student Policy is not meant to cover behavior that occurs outside the classroom and/or involves harassment. Other policies are in place to handle those situations; the University’s harassment policies are published in the Student and Academic Handbooks. Incidents of harassment should be reported immediately to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the Dean of Students, or Campus Safety officers.)

If informal measures taken to address a student’s disruptive behavior are unsuccessful, faculty members should follow these procedures:

  1. The faculty member should warn the student in writing that the disruptive behavior is unacceptable and that if it continues the student may not be allowed to remain in the course. Depending on circumstances, a warning may need to be made during class, as well; for example, the faculty member may ask the student to leave the classroom for the day. The faculty member should also encourage the student to talk to an academic advisor or dean in Academic Affairs.

  2. The faculty member should keep notes on the dates, times, and details of the incidents of disruption, the impact of disruption on those present, and warnings conveyed to the student, as these are useful in later stages of the proceedings.

  3. If the behavior continues after a written warning has been given, the faculty member should notify the Dean of Academic Life in writing, giving a summary of what happened and the action that has been taken. Upon receipt of this summary, the dean sets up a three-way meeting involving the faculty member, student, and dean. In order to minimize the procedure’s interference with courses, this meeting is scheduled as soon as possible, preferably before the next class meeting.

  4. At the meeting, the faculty member and student are invited to discuss the situation. The goal of the meeting is to give both parties a chance to discuss, in a safe space, what has happened. Such a discussion may enable the faculty member and student to see the problem from a different point of view or to hear the perspective of the other person in a new way. The dean’s role is to moderate the discussion, insuring that the conversation remains civil and on target. Either party may, but neither must, bring an advisor (DePauw student, faculty member, or staff member) to the meeting. Advisors may consult privately with the person whom they are accompanying, but they do not enter the discussion.

  5. As soon as possible after the meeting the faculty member makes a recommendation to the Dean of Academic Life.

    • If the faculty member recommends that the student be allowed to remain in the course then the dean and faculty member should consult regarding how best to convey this decision and any stipulations or conditions to the student.

    • If the faculty member recommends that the student be dropped from the course, he or she reports this conclusion in writing to the dean of Academic Life; the dean then conveys the faculty member’s conclusions along with a written summary of the three-way meeting to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

    • A recommendation to dismiss the student from the course must be approved by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. If the student is not allowed to return to the course, the Vice President for Academic Affairs decides what appears on student's transcript for the course: W, F, or no entry.

  6. A pattern of disruptive behavior in several courses may be addressed by representatives of the offices of Academic Affairs and Student Life.

Revised and adopted by the Faculty, Dec. 7, 2008