Faculty and staff have the professional responsibility to treat students with understanding, dignity, and respect. Students are also expected to demonstrate appropriate, respectful behavior toward other members of the university community, both faculty/staff and peers.

Listed below are resources for identifying and assisting students of concern and addressing disruptive behavior. If at any time you have concerns about a student, are unsure how to engage, or would like to talk through a challenging situation; please contact a member of the CARE Team or the Office of the Dean of Students for a one-on-one consultation.  These consultations can be held over the phone, in your office, on a virtual meeting platform - wherever you prefer. 

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Student Support 

The Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation (CARE) Team is a group of faculty and staff that respond to student issues that may impede student success. If you are struggling with life circumstances, mental or physical health or other issues that are negatively impacting your academic success, please reach out to the team by contacting the Office of the Dean of Students at 810.762.5728

How to identify students in distress in an online setting

As an online faculty member interacting with students, recognizing a student in distress may be slightly more challenging than if you were in person. Below is a list of some behaviors that you can consider when working with student in an online environment.

Academic Signs:
  • Repeated absence from class, exams, and other online activities 
  • A significant change in work quality  
  • Missed assignments or appointments 
  • Continual requests for unusual accommodations or special considerations, ie, extensions, late papers, postponed or missed exams, etc. 
  • Papers or essays expressing social isolation, hopelessness/helplessness, rage, despair or racial,  political or other aggression
  • Lack of engagement in participation-oriented classes 
  • Inappropriate disruptions or monopolizing online classroom time
Physical and/or Psychological Signs:
  • Excessive anxiety or panic 
  • Apathy, lack of energy
  • Marked changes in work habits, or social behavior, social isolation or withdrawal
  • Mood elevation; easily agitated 
  • Overtly suicidal/homicidal thoughts, such as referring to suicide/homicide as a current option 
  • Increased irritability or aggressive behavior 
  • Bizarre thinking or seemingly a decline or loss of reality-based thinking  
Other Considerations
  • Direct or written statements indicating family problems or personal losses such as the death or serious illness of a family member, divorce, a breakup or relationship problems, dire financial issues or uncertain living arrangements
  • A recently new mental health or medical diagnosis communicated by the student
  • Peers expressing concern about the student’s behavior  
  • An unsettling sense that something is seriously wrong

Identifying & Assisting Students in Distress

What You Might Notice
  • Declining academic performance
  • Excessive absences and missed assignments
  • Depressed, apathetic mood
  • Lost of interest, withdrawal
  • Intense stress and anxiety
  • Excessive alcohol/substance use
  • Excessive weight loss or gain, preoccupation with weight
  • Alarming writings, emails or comments
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Inability to concentrate during class or while completing assignments
  • Unusual or noticeably changed interaction patterns
  • Depressed, crying, or apathetic mood, excessive activity or talkativeness
  • Neglect of appearance or hygiene
  • Repeated attempts to obtain deadline extensions or postpone tests
  • New or continuous disruptive behavior
  • Inappropriate, exaggerated emotional reactions to situations, or lack of emotional response to stressful events
  • Obvious loss of contact with reality: seeing, hearing, feeling things not apparent to others, thoughts or behaviors inconsistent with reality
  • Disturbed speech or communication content: incoherent, grandiose, disorganized rambling
  • Communication or references to financial, food, and/or housing issues
  • Suicidal or other self-destructive thoughts or actions
How to Assist
In a private setting:
  • Express your concern for the student and observations of them, “I’m a little worried about you. You have been missing class, you seem down and you wrote a lot about death in your paper. How are things going for you?”
  • Help the student identify specific concerns/sources of stress.
  • Explore possible alternative solutions to the problem
  • Remain objective – avoid judging or evaluating the student’s circumstances or situation
  • Follow up with the student. If it seems the student needs professional help, e.g., they say "I've been feeling depressed"; "I'm so stressed"; "I've been missing most of my classes"; then make a referral to the CAPs. State, "I'd like you to talk to a professional". Provide the number or have the student call from your office.
  • Follow up by completing a CARE concern report.
  • Follow up with the student later. “Did you make an appointment at the Counseling Center?” Further, persuade the student to get help if they did not.
  • When in doubt, consult.

Submit CARE concern

Identifying & Responding to Disruptive Behavior

Warning signs of a student exhibiting disruptive behaviors
  • Behavior which may include hostility, aggression towards others, or in serious cases, violent outbursts
  • Inattentiveness, rude, attention-seeking behavior
  • Demanding behaviors
  • Yelling or inappropriate outbursts
  • Garbled or slurred speech with unconnected or disjointed thoughts and rambling
  • Stalking behavior or repeated unwelcome advances
  • Inappropriate communications including threatening or intimidating messages, e-mails,  verbal harassment, or excessive communication
  • Monopolizing class discussion time and office hours
  • Threats to harm self or others
  • Excessive talking to others around them
  • Focus on phone or technology instead of the topic at hand
  • Odd or inappropriate emails, letters or voicemails
Preventative Measures for Faculty
  • Build behavioral expectations into your course syllabus
  • Devote time during the first class to discuss those behaviors you view as unacceptable
  • Outline the consequences for non-compliance with expectations
  • Refer to the Code of Student Conduct, if applicable
  • Model respectful communication with your students
  • Facilitate a respectful exchange of ideas among your students
  • Respond to problems consistently and in a timely manner
  • When possible, meet with students in a private setting to address concerns
Tips for Responding to Disruptive Behavior
  • Do not overlook the disruptive behavior
  • Speak with the student individually outside of the classroom
    • Explain the behavior you observed
    • Describe how the behavior impacts you and the class
    • Discuss behavioral expectations and an agreement that the behavior will cease
    • Send the student a follow-up email regarding your discussion and expectations
    • Follow any department protocol (i.e. inform your Department Chair and/or College/School Office)
  • If the behavior continues, speak with the student again
    • Explain the behavior you observed
    • Document the meeting and behavior
    • Inform the student that any further disruptions will be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students

If student behavior persists or becomes so disruptive that immediate action is necessary, ask the student to leave for the remainder of the class period and follow up with the Office of the Dean of Students.

Meeting with an Angry Student
Do not meet alone with a student whom you feel may be a threat to your personal safety. If comfortable, speak with the student over the phone, via a virtual platform (Zoom, BlueJeans,etc.), or ask another faculty/staff member to attend the meeting. You may call a member of the CARE Team for consultation or assistance prior to the meeting.


Submit CARE concern