The Right Resource for Your Specific Situation

A variety of resources and staff are available on the ETSU campus to help faculty determine the optimal response to a disruptive or dangerous student or situation. The key is to determine the appropriate contact to make for the specific situation you are facing. Contacting the right department with your first call will help reduce your stress and minimize the time required to connect to the most effective intervention. As a reminder, here are the resources prepared to assist you in dealing with student of concern.

Below are some situations that might arise and an appropriate response:

If you are facing an immediate threat from a dangerous or currently disruptive student:

If a student is actively disruptive in your classroom, and fails to modify his/her behavior at your request, OR if you believe the student poses an immediate threat to yourself, classmates, or him/her self, you should contact the ETSU Public Safety by calling 911 on a campus phone or 439-6900 from your cell phone. Do not delay appropriate intervention by calling The Counseling Center or your department chair for review or discussion. If you believe the student poses an immediate threat, call ETSU Public Safety immediately.

If you have an initial or growing concern about a student who seems as though they may be disturbed or experiencing distress:

Often a student may experience mental health problems that have a negative impact on their academic work, and they find it difficult to follow through on their academic responsibilities. Such a student may come to faculty with involved tales of interpersonal or family difficulties, which they hope will elicit sympathy and produce an incomplete/extension from the faculty member.

To assist you in separating a legitimate excuse ("beyond the student's control") from one that is more manipulative, you may request that the student visit ETSU's Counseling Center to meet with a counselor. If the student signs a release of information form, the counselor will be happy to assist you in determining the potential impact of the student's mental health status or their legitimate ability to complete required coursework.

Faculty are invited to contact Dr. Steve Brown, Director of Counseling Services ,at (423) 439-4841 to discuss a student of concern and to seek advice about referral and/or intervention.

If you are working with a student who is requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability:

Occasionally a student will tell you s/he has a learning or psychological disability and may request special academic accommodations. In these circumstances a referral to Disability Services will be appropriate. Disability Services, the ETSU office responsible for verifying documented disabilities, will make specific recommendations regarding reasonable academic accommodations that are compliant with federal regulation.

Client confidentiality will be maintained; therefore, we may not be able to share with you any specific details about the student's situation. However, all recommendations for accommodations will be sent by memo on letterhead from the Disability Services office. Each faculty member is asked to sign this memo, indicating that they are in agreement with the accommodation and that it does not create a problem for the academic integrity for the course. If the faculty member has a concern regarding the suggested accommodation, s/he should contact Disability Services at (423)439-8346 to discuss alternatives.

If you are responding to a student who has violated or whom you suspect has violated a campus rule or policy:

Any student who engages in behavior prohibited by the ETSU Code of Conduct should be reported to the Dean of Students (423)439-4210.

Behaviors which may represent a violation of the Code of Conduct include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Use of electronic devices such as cell phones, MP3 players, PDA's while class is in session
  • Inappropriate communication while class is in session – speaking while the instructor is speaking; mimicking or mocking the instructor or another student; constantly repeating an instructor's words, etc
  • Personal attacks against another student or instructor – yelling at another person, abusive criticism of another person, challenging an instructor's authority in front of the class, using profanity aimed at another person in the class
  • Overt inattentiveness – sleeping in class, snoring in class, reading a newspaper or doing other homework in class, sitting with your back to the classroom, etc.
  • Threatening behavior – using gestures or language in an attempt to intimidate another person
  • Disrespectful behavior – persistent tardiness, persistent late arrivals or early departures without permission, etc.
  • Plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct

If you receive a class assignment which causes you to believe the student may be disturbed or threatening:

As a proactive strategy, class syllabi should include ground rules for assignments and classroom discussion. Faculty will want to state their expectations with regard to how students address one another, how they address the instructor, how class members can disagree without becoming disagreeable, and what topics are or are not acceptable as the basis for assignments.

However, a student may still submit a class assignment which includes content that the faculty member finds to be disturbing or threatening. If this should happen, it is important that faculty members share the concern with others that can help evaluate the situation and help determine a plan of action. Faculty should plan to consult with their department chair, as well as with the (423)439-4841 to discuss the best plan of action based on the specific circumstances of the case. If a specific threat has been made, ETSU Police should be contacted immediately.