Disruptive Students

We work to maintain a learning environment that encourages students to discuss and debate a variety of subjects. We want our students to actively engage with peers and faculty members as they explore new ideas.

However, students' behavior should never disrupt the learning environment, whether in person or online. Disruptive behavior can take a variety of forms, from minor inconvenience to significant disruption. It can be a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and result in loss of privileges.

Behavior Expectations

Faculty members should set expectations for appropriate classroom behavior by establishing rules on topics such as:

  • Use of electronics in class.
  • Visitors to class.
  • Tardiness.
  • Use of respectful and inclusive language.
  • Acceptable class participation.
  • Threatening statements and behavior. (If a student threatens or implies direct harm, call 911 immediately.)

Please note: Our students have the right of free speech and freedom of expression under the U.S. Constitution. While the use of disrespectful language can be disruptive, it may or may not constitute a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Addressing Disruptive Behavior

Students must behave appropriately in class, including following reasonable directives from faculty members. If they fail to do to, they may face consequences such as the loss of the privilege of attending or receiving credit in the class.  

Faculty members should refer incidents to their department chairs, who will investigate and make recommendations. The complete process for responding to disruptive behavior is outlined in the section of the course catalog.

Faculty members may also refer the incident to the Student of Concern Committee, which monitors and responds to reports of disruptive behavior and signs of distress in students. The committee helps connect students with the resources and services they need to succeed at NIU.

Face Masks and Disruptive Behavior
(What to Do if a Student Comes to Class and Isn't Wearing a Mask)

  1. Gently approach the student — exercising social distancing — and ask them to put on a face mask. Remind the student of the Protect the Pack Pledge they agreed to.
  2. If the student doesn't have a face mask, offer them one of your disposable masks. Disposable masks are available in your department office and you should always have a few with you.
  3. If the student refuses to wear a mask, politely ask the student to please leave the class.
  4. If the student refuses to leave the class, explain that your only option is to cancel class and send all the students in attendance home. Then cancel and dismiss class for the day.

If you arrive at Step 4, remember that the student who fails to follow your reasonable directives has created a disruption in your classroom. You can and should report the student to your department chair and file an incident report with Student Conduct.

Some students might be unable to wear a mask due to a documented disability. Those students should make you aware of their situations before coming to class. Those students should have discussed appropriate accommodations with you and should have documentation from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) approving their accommodation.