The Kalamazoo College Honor System applies to classroom behavior as well as other types of interpersonal interactions on campus under the auspices of “Respecting Others.” While Kalamazoo College is committed to the fundamental principles of freedom of speech, including controversial positions taken in the classroom, all types of speech and behavior must be balanced with principles of appropriate classroom behavior. It is ultimately the faculty member who manages the classroom, and if a situation develops in which, in the opinion of the faculty member, the class is being disrupted, the faculty member has the right to ask a student to leave the class. Resolutions under this policy will be dealt with according to College’s Student Code of Conduct.
What is Disruptive Behavior?
Generally, disruptive behavior is any behavior that interferes with the instructor’s ability to conduct the class, or the ability of other students to profit from the teaching and learning environment. Such behavior may take various forms, and the impact of such behavior can be dependent upon many factors including class size, subject matter, and the relationship between faculty and students.
Disruptive behavior may be viewed on a continuum ranging from the isolated incidents of mildly annoying or irritating behavior to more clearly disruptive, dangerous, and/or violent behavior.
Examples of disruptive behavior may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Persistent speaking
- Inappropriate use of electronic devices
- Poor personal hygiene
- Sleeping in class
- Entering class late or leaving early
- Eating/drinking in class
- Disputing authority and non-academic argumentation
- Conduct that impedes group work/projects
- Threats of any kind and/or harassment
- Physical disruptions or physical altercations
Faculty Rights and Responsibilities
Kalamazoo College respects the right of instructors to teach and the right of students to learn. Protection of these rights requires certain classroom conditions. To ensure these rights, faculty members have the prerogative:
- To establish and implement academic standards;
- To establish and enforce reasonable behavior standards in each class;
- To involve appropriate offices/resources when a classroom disruption arises;
- To address problematic behavior with students and articulate expectations
- To make a determination about an appropriate response or outcome, within the scope of that faculty member’s class, excluding permanent removal from class.
- To document any incidents and outcomes.
The college classroom isn’t a “public forum” like a city street or a park. Faculty members can define the course agenda, set and limit topics for discussion, give grades that reflect a student’s class performance, and maintain order in the classroom. Faculty members freely complete these important functions, as long as they refrain from unlawful discrimination, or seek to punish students solely for expressing unpopular viewpoints pertinent to the course.
What if a disruptive student claims the disruptive behavior is the result of a disability?
Students – with or without disabilities – must adhere to reasonable behavioral standards.
Disability claims and accommodation requests should be discussed with the Disability Coordinator. There are established procedures students should follow if reasonable accommodation is required. If a student has provided documentation of a disability to the College, faculty will be notified in writing at the beginning of the quarter of any student requiring accommodations. Faculty members are not obligated to provide accommodation or ignore behavior if a student claims a disability, but the student has not followed the established procedures for registering with the Disability Coordinator. In this case, faculty members are encouraged to notify the Disabilities Coordinator promptly.
An institution of higher education does not have to tolerate or excuse violent, dangerous, or disruptive behavior, especially when that behavior interferes with the educational opportunities of other students. Colleges and universities may discipline a student with a disability for engaging in misconduct if it would impose the same discipline on a student without a disability.
Documentation of Incidents and Outcomes
Faculty members at Kalamazoo College have been encouraged to report and document inappropriate classroom behavior and outcomes to the Associate Provost and the Dean of Students.
Sections of this document have been taken in part or in their entirety, with permission, from the sources listed below:
- Office of Judicial Affairs, Northeastern University, “Disruptive Students in the Classroom”
- Office of Student Affairs, University of West Florida, “Classroom Disruption: Prevention and Resolution”
- SYNFAX: Weekly Commentary on Critical Issues in Higher Education. From the Editors of
- SYNTHESIS: Law and Policy in Higher Education. Week of July 9, 2001, pp. 2024-2025.