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Disruptive Behavior in an Instructional Setting

Policy Information

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Effective Date: 
January 26, 2004
Policy Number: 
Responsible Unit: 
Dean of Students Office

Purpose and Summary

The University seeks to promote a teaching and learning environment free from material and substantial classroom disruptions. Faculty members and teaching staff have the authority and responsibility to effectively manage their classroom environments. Instructors may determine the time and manner for student questions and expression of points of view in the instructional setting. Accordingly, instructors should establish, communicate, and enforce reasonable rules of classroom behavior and decorum via the syllabus and classroom discussion. This policy is not intended to discourage appropriate classroom expression, discussion, or disagreement, but to promote respectful interactions.


This policy applies to all enrolled students at the University of Arizona.


“Disruptive behavior” means conduct that materially and substantially interferes with or obstructs the teaching or learning process in the context of a classroom or educational setting. Disruptive behavior includes conduct that distracts or intimidates others in a manner that interferes with instructional activities, fails to adhere to an instructor’s appropriate classroom rules or instructions, or interferes with the normal operations of the University.


  1. Instructional Rules and Decorum

Rules and expectations for the instructional setting should be established by the instructor and communicated to the students via the syllabus and classroom discussion at the outset of the course. Such rules may contain reasonable restrictions in light of the instructional setting, teaching method, and learning objectives; and may vary depending upon the educational context. Instructional rules may include, but not be limited to, prohibitions on cell phone use, refusing to be seated, talking during lectures, sleeping, eating, newspaper reading, entering the classroom late or leaving early without authorization, etc.

  1. Prohibited Behavior

"Disruptive behavior" is prohibited. Students who engage in disruptive behavior may be directed by the instructor to leave the class for the remainder of the class period. If the student refuses to leave after being requested to do so, the instructor may summon the University Police. For involuntary removal for more than one class period, involuntary withdrawal from class, or more serious sanctions, the disciplinary procedures set forth in section C, below, must be utilized.

  1. Disciplinary Procedures for Significant Disruptions

Before a student can be involuntarily removed for more than one class period or involuntarily withdrawn from a class or from the University for disruptive behavior, the following procedures must be utilized. For serious disruptions, the instructor may start at Step 2 or Step 3 as appropriate.

Step 1. The instructor of record for the course should communicate with the student as soon as possible after the first incident of disruptive behavior to identify the behavior, review the classroom rules and this policy, and instruct the student on the behavior that is required in the future. 

Step 2. If the disruptive behavior continues, as soon as practical the instructor should provide a written warning to the student identifying the prohibited behavior that occurred, the rules that were violated, and the behavior that is required in the future. The warning should also include notice that any subsequent violation of the classroom rules or this policy will result in the instructor filing a Student Code of Conduct Complaint with the Dean of Students Office for failure to comply with this policy, the directions of a University official, and/or interfering with classroom-related activities (see ABOR Policy 5-308). The Dean of Student’s Office and the instructor’s Department Head or Dean must also be copied on the warning. 

Step 3. If the disruptive behavior is serious or continues after a written warning, the instructor must document the disruptive behavior in writing and file a Student Code of Conduct Complaint with the Dean of Students Office. The Complaint should also include a copy of any written warning provided to the student, as well as any documentation related to prior incidents and the names of any witnesses. The instructor must notify their Department Head or Dean of the matter as well. The Dean of Students Office will investigate the Complaint in accordance with the Student Disciplinary Procedures (ABOR Policy 5-401 et seq.). The Student Disciplinary Procedures shall govern all proceedings involving such complaints. Sanctions, if necessary, will be imposed in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.

Revision History*

10/04/2023: Updated to reflect gender neutral pronouns.

* Please note that sections titled Frequently Asked Questions, Sources, Related Information, and Revision History are provided solely for the convenience of users and are not part of the official University policy.

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