volume 43, number 3
Temple UniversityFaculty Herald

Students Behaving Badly

By Karen Turner, Associate Professor of Journalism

  These are representative scenarios experienced by Temple faculty, including adjuncts and teaching assistants:

You’re passing back papers. You notice a student has placed a hunting knife on her desk. You ask her to put it away. She does.

It’s time to begin class. You notice a student standing in the back of the classroom. You ask the student to take his seat. He doesn’t. You ask for an explanation. The student says, "I'm okay right here." He continues to stand throughout the class period. The next class the student returns. He assumes his seat.

A student follows you to your office. He begins yelling because he doesn’t like the grade he received on an assignment. He blocks your office door.

   More often than not, instructors gripe about such examples of student disruptive behavior in the hallways of our schools and colleges. Many feel ill-equipped and in many cases unsupported when dealing with difficult student situations. In an effort to highlight the seriousness of this problem, the Faculty Senate has formed The Disruptive Students Task Force. Its purpose is to work with the Dean of Students and others to address situations where faculty and students feel threatened by students behaving badly, but the behavior may not merit disciplinary action through the current Student Code of Conduct. The Task Force held its first meeting in November to begin to identify the issues. It’s clear faculty don’t know whom to contact when such situations arise and the procedures when a circumstance escalates. There’s also concern that complaining faculty, especially women, won’t be taken seriously. Also, non-tenure track, adjuncts and teaching assistant faculty, in particular, may not want to bring attention to such situations for fear they may be blamed for an inability to control their classes. These are serious workplace environment issues that impact instructors and students and should be treated as such. The Task Force plans to meet this spring with the Dean of Students and others to begin addressing these matters. We invite faculty to get engaged by contacting any Task Force member with your stories, concerns, and/or suggestions.

Karen M. Turner (SMC), Task Force Chair kturner@temple.edu
Scott Gratson (SMC) sgratson@temple.edu
Michael W. Jackson (STHM) pierre@temple.edu
Lois Millner (SSW) lmillner@temple.edu
Steve Newman (CLA) snewman@temple.edu
Michael Sachs (CHP) msachs@temple.edu •