Working with Disruptive Individuals

If someone is an immediate threat to self, others, or property it should be considered an emergency and directed to the UTC Police Department at 423-425-HELP/4357 or 911 (from on-campus phone).

Disruptive Student Behavior is an action or combination of actions by an individual that unreasonably interferes with, hinders, obstructs, or prevents the rights of others to freely participate in an activity, program, or service, including the prevention of faculty and staff members from carrying out their professional responsibilities.

  • Disruptive Individuals

    • Interfere in UTC’s learning environment with behavior that is reckless, disorderly, paranoid, aggressive, defiant, destructive, threatening, and/or dangerous to self or dangerous to others.

    • Signs to help identify a disruptive student:

        • The student in class who persistently arrives late or leaves early.

        • The student writes outrageously violent stories and does not want constructive, or any, feedback.

        • The student intimidates the professor and others.

        • The student who talks incessantly while you are delivering a lecture.

        • The student who loudly and frequently interrupts the flow of class with questions or interjections.

        • The student who becomes belligerent or abusive, thereby interfering with the business operations of the University or your professional duties.


If an individual exhibits behavior that poses immediate danger to him/herself, is a risk to others, or makes threats of violence, immediately contact 911 or the University Police Department at 423-425-HELP. Other behavioral or psychological concerns may be addressed to the Student CARE Team.

  • Begin by speaking to the student, whether it is a face-to-face conversation, giving a verbal warning in class, or providing a written warning and requesting the student abstain from the disruptive behavior. Some tips for how to approach the situation are below.
  • Be sure to maintain a record of all incidents/events.
  • Keep all correspondence (notes, letters, emails, voicemails, Facebook messages, text messages, etc.). 
    • Make note of any informal conversations had and share that information with the Student CARE Team and/or your department head.
  • When less formal interventions prove inadequate, you should consult with your department head and submit a notification to the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS). 
  • The Office of the Dean of Students will schedule a meeting with the student to discuss appropriate classroom behaviors. Should the student continue to be disruptive in class, the student will be held accountable to the Student Code of Conduct and may receive sanctions based on their actions.
  • Safety first. The welfare of the individual and the campus community is our top priority when someone displays threatening or potentially violent behavior.
  • Be proactive. Engage students early on by setting limits on disruptive behavior. If a student seems angry or belligerent, it is recommended that behavior be addressed first and these individuals should be confronted regarding their behavior. You can remind students verbally or in writing of standards and expectations for classroom conduct.
  • Trust your instincts; seek consultation from your department chair, supervisor, Student Outreach & Support, Human Resources, or the Counseling Center.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the person if they feel their functioning is impaired, or have thoughts of harming themselves or others.
  • De-esculate and support. Avoid threatening, humiliating, or intimidating statements and instead help students connect with available University resources.
  • Share information. To ensure we engage in a coordinated and timely response, be sure to inform the appropriate campus resources, such as Student Outreach & Support or Human Resources, when there is a concern. Misconduct may be formally addressed through the Student Conduct process and additional campus resources may be necessary to help reduce or eliminate the student’s disruptive behaviors.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows university faculty and staff to share observations about student behavior, student statements, and concerns about students with UTC personnel who have responsibility for the welfare of students, including law enforcement. FERPA and other privacy regulations allow UTC staff to release information to police, parents, or others whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the safety and health of the student or others. Consideration for student privacy should be given before information is shared with people other than those suggested above. Questions about when such disclosure is appropriate can be answered by the campus general counsel.