Any student may become a person of concern requiring an appropriate response by college faculty, librarians, and staff. Concerns related to disruptive classroom conduct are discussed in detail in the next section. More challenging are concerns that arise from uncertainty about a student’s ability to cope effectively with the demands of his or her personal and academic life. At times, that uncertainty includes a fear that students may harm themselves or others.
Whenever a student’s conduct, expression, or behavior gives rise to concern, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to notify their department chairs or supervisors or the Dean of Students Office (716-878-4618) with the name of the student and the reason for their concerns. The Dean of Students provides an online form for non-emergency reporting of students of concern.
Information about the student of concern will be shared with Buffalo State’s Students of Concern Care Team to determine if similar reports of concern have been received from other sources. The Students of Concern Care Team includes academic, administrative, and student service professionals who meet regularly to review reports about students of concern in order to design intervention strategies best suited to the needs of the student and the safety of the campus community.
Faculty and staff should not, on their own, attempt to solve problems raised by a student of concern. The Care Team is committed to getting the right support for students, and their work is confidential. Questions about the Students of Concern Care Team can be addressed to the dean of students or your school’s associate dean.
Our faculty and staff are entitled to conduct classes or other activities and to perform their assigned responsibilities without disruption. Accordingly, a faculty or staff member has the right to ask any individual who is disruptive or menacing to leave the classroom or vacate the area in which he or she is misbehaving. Resources for dealing with disruptive students are available on the Dean of Students website.
The college maintains a Code of Student Rights, Freedoms, and Responsibilities that governs the conduct of students on this campus. This code, in concert with New York State Education Law, prohibits students from physically harming, verbally abusing, or intimidating anyone, or intentionally interrupting a class for purposes of stopping a speaker. All individuals, students or non-students, are subject to legal recourse under the New York State Penal Code articles concerning criminal trespass or disorderly conduct and harassment.
Since considerations of due process and an assumption of innocence guide the student judicial system, faculty and staff should be aware of the precautions and procedures necessary to minimize the risk of personal or institution liability for violation of an individual’s rights. Formal proceedings are required for students to be prohibited from attending or returning to class or other campus functions. Misconduct adjudicated through the college judicial system or the conviction of a criminal charge under the Penal Code may result in temporarily or permanently barring individuals from campus activity.
When a student or other individual is deemed to be acting in a disruptive or threatening manner:
In situations where a person is perceived to be a clear danger to himself/herself or to others, the University Police Office, (716) 878-6333, should immediately be called. The University Police Office should always be contacted if the person displaying the behavior is believed to be a non-student. The responding officer will determine whether an arrest should be made, or, in the case of a student, whether a referral to the Counseling Center, and/or a formal complaint with the College Judicial Board should be filed. If a student is perceived to be a danger to himself/herself or to others, the dean of students has the right under the Buffalo State code to recommend that the president impose an interim suspension until the case can be brought to a hearing.
Any student, faculty, or staff member may file a charge and refer a student to the college judicial system with or without intervention by a University Police officer. The College Judicial Board can be contacted through the Dean of Students Office, (716) 878-4618.
A faculty or staff member alleging misconduct of a student should be prepared to document that the student was asked to stop inappropriate behavior. When the faculty or staff member files charges of alleged misbehavior through the judicial system, documentation such as a description of the behavior, attempts made (if any) to stop the behavior, and any other relevant corroborating evidence must be provided.
In some cases, a course of action, short of a referral to the college judicial system, is a voluntary referral to the campus Counseling Center, Weigel 219, (716) 878-4436. Counselor-client information remains confidential unless the student is deemed to be a danger to herself/himself or others.
Concerned faculty and staff members have several campus resources to assist them in dealing with disruptive students, including department chairs, the Academic Affairs Office, and University Police. Additional guidance regarding procedural and due process considerations, including advice on documentation, is available from the Dean of Students Office, Campbell Student Union 311, (716) 878-4618.
The dean of students recommends the following suggested action steps for dealing with disruptive students using a progressive discipline procedure.
Publish criteria, standards, and expectations. Include a statement in the course syllabus defining the criteria for grading and standards for student conduct in the classroom, including grade penalties that may apply for disruptive behavior. Examples of disruptive behavior can be provided, such as use of cell phones or text messaging, but any conduct the professor determines to be disruptive to the class can be considered disruptive behavior. Sample syllabus statements are provided below for reference.
Provide notice of disruptive conduct. At the first instance of disruptive behavior notify the student, orally at least but preferably in writing, of the date, time and description of the disruptive conduct and review the conduct standards and expectations described in the syllabus.
Assign the grade penalty (if applicable). At the second instance of disruptive behavior, notify the student in writing of the date, time, and description of the disruptive conduct and inform the student of the grade consequence applied, if provision for a grade penalty is included in the syllabus for the course. If not applicable, file a judicial complaint, as described under “Third offense,” below.
Refer to the Judicial Affairs Office. At the third instance of disruptive behavior, refer the student to judicial affairs in the Dean of Students Office and provide a written complaint detailing the immediate instance and any preceding disruptive behaviors, including information about any prior corrective notices issued to the student. The Judicial Affairs Office will seek:
Informal resolution, if responsibility for the disruptive conduct is accepted by the student. The minimum penalty is a warning that repeated disruption will result in a formal hearing and the possibility of suspension; more severe penalties, short of suspension, may also be imposed, depending on the case circumstances.
Formal hearing, to be held if responsibility is not accepted. A judicial hearing board will determine whether the disruption is a violation of the Code of Conduct and, if so, what penalty under the Code should be applied.
Refer to the Judicial Affairs Office. If additional instances of disruptive behavior occur, refer the student to judicial affairs and provide a written complaint detailing the immediate instance and all previous incidents of disruption. A formal hearing will be held and the hearing board may recommend suspension of the student from the campus; removal from only one course is not an option.
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