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Additional Resources

When you have a concern about a campus community member that you aren’t sure what to do with, submitting a Report of Concern is the best place to start. Our office works closely with partners across campus to gather and/or share information and resources to best serve the reported individual. We develop a plan of action that is most appropriate for the specific situation while being caring and supportive and developing solution-focused interventions.

Distressed Students

Distressed students generally behave in ways that inhibit learning for only themselves, but may also create concern or worry for their well-being among others. Their behaviors can be described as an outward display of their inability to manage emotional difficulties. These students usually are unaware that others have noticed their behavior and may think they are managing their struggles adequately. Situations such as these are often addressed easily with a personal reach out to the student letting them know you have noticed their distress and can connect them with helpful resources.


    • Stop showing up for class, turning in assignments, or engaging in the coursework to the same extent and level of excellence they previously did.

    • Submitting assignments that include content that is odd or alarming in nature.

    • Displaying disproportionate levels of emotional response to grades or other evaluations.

    • Making direct statements indicating they are experiencing distress, family issues, personal loss, etc.

    • Exhibiting a deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene.

    • Being excessively fatigued and/or falling asleep in class repeatedly.

    • Contracting frequent or chronic illnesses.

    • Displaying disorganized thoughts, speech, erratic performance or other odd behaviors.

    • Disregarding faculty, staff, and/or peer outreach.

Disruptive Students

Disruptive students behave in ways that inhibit learning for themselves as well as for their classmates. Typically their behavior is not intentionally malicious, but rather may be a result of personal issues they are struggling with, a lack of awareness of how their actions impact others, or even attention seeking. These situations can often be resolved with timely conversations redirecting students to class expectations, making a personal connection with their instructor, connecting them with appropriate campus resources, and re-establishing classroom boundaries.

    • Arriving late to class, leaving early, or taking extensive breaks to the point of disruption to others.

    • Consistently having side conversations during class or in online activities.

    • Making inappropriate jokes and/or comments during class activities. 

    • Repeatedly speaking over other students, instructors, or guests.

    • Utilizing technology inappropriately or at inappropriate times (e.g. cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc.).

    • Becoming belligerent when confronted about their behavior or when anyone disagrees with their opinion.

    • Participating in class or course activities while seemingly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    • Sharing irrelevant or inappropriate materials/topics during class time or in online forums.

    • Sending disrespectful, inappropriate, or unprofessional communication to other students and/or instructors.


Threatening Students

Threatening students behave in ways that cause a reasonable person to be worried about physical harm to people or property. Their behaviors may be described as strange or odd, but also cause alarm, fear, or frustration. Even actions that are not overtly threatening but which can be red flags include lack of empathy, objectification of others, anger management issues, a sense of entitlement, displaying repeated themes of violence, feelings of superiority over others, general feeling of the world being against them, inability to accept responsibility for their actions, and blaming others for their situations. In these situations, the best approach is to de-escalate the situation in the moment (if you are comfortable) and address the behavior at a later time. When there is concern for safety, individuals should seek assistance from Public Safety or 911 depending on the imminence of danger. These students are often in crisis and need of immediate intervention.

    • Making or implying threats of violence to themself or others.

    • Throwing objects

    • Physically destroying property or vandalizing. 

    • Challenging others to fight.

    • Engaging in shoving, pushing, spitting, or other actions that cross physical boundaries.

    • Sending threatening voicemail messages, emails, forum posts, or other communication.

    • Engaging in stalking.

    • Displaying a weapon or threatening to get or use a weapon.

Levels of Concern

These descriptions are meant to be guidelines to help determine the urgency of the situation you are addressing. We urge any community member who is unsure or worried about the behaviors they are seeing to seek assistance from the Dean of Students office. In situations in which there is concern for the immediate safety of people or property, 911 should be called.


The concern you are having might be due to a brief, situational, or one-time issue.  The issue has little to no impact on the student’s ability to be successful in your class but is something you would like to address before it gets worse.



The concern you are having is about a complex, significant, or long-lasting behavior.  The issue is impacting the student’s ability to be successful in your class.



The concern you are having is precipitated by a dramatic and/or sudden change in behavior.  The issue is impacting the student and their peers’ ability to be successful in your class.  You may be worried about the safety of this person or those associated with the student.


Addressing Concerning Behaviors

Concerning behaviors of any kind are best addressed immediately and with the end goal of helping the student to be successful in their academic endeavors. 

    • Determine the level of concern.

    • Confer with your department or college to determine whether there are specific requirements for addressing specific student behaviors.

    • Meet with the student.

    • Document your meeting with the student and notify other appropriate staff or faculty.

    • If you continue to be worried about the student, submit a Report of Concern.  You may also confer with the Dean of Students Office to determine if the student’s actions are a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.


Tips for Successful Student Meetings

Meeting with a student can provide an excellent opportunity to build personal connections, gain a greater understanding of the things students are struggling with, and set the tone for a great classroom experience. While the issue bringing the student to the meeting initially might seem less than positive, a good meeting can help set the standard for what students' understanding of what relationships with faculty can look like (tremendous resources, mentors, networking connections, etc.). These types of conversations are best had in person and that should be the first choice. If geographic locations or other considerations make this impossible, Zoom would be the next best option because it allows for visual cues to be picked up on. If neither of these are possible, then a phone call can be considered. Having these types of conversations over email alone can prove problematic and should be avoided.

    • Find a time and place that will allow for private conversation.  After class or during office hours are good times.  If you’re concerned about your safety, don’t meet with the student alone.  If you feel some discomfort in meeting with the student alone, other considerations are to include your Teaching Assistant, to ask your colleague across the hall to be in their office for the duration of your meeting and leave your door partially open, etc.

    • Set aside adequate uninterrupted time to meet.

    • Remain calm and be aware of your body language, tone of voice, and other non-verbal cues.

    • Listen carefully.  Understanding the issues underlying the situation can help you to better address the behavior and lets the student know you genuinely care about them.

    • Be specific and direct about your concern. Identify the concern and explain why the behavior is a problem.

Example: I’ve noticed you have been nodding off in class lately.  Are you okay?  I’m worried you are missing important content that could impact your ability to do well on the next exam.  I’d like to help you be successful in this class.

Example: I’ve noticed you frequently have side conversations with your friend during class.  Are you doing alright in class?  I’m concerned that you could be distracting your classmates or are missing content yourself.  Can you help me understand what’s going on? 

Example: I received the email you sent to me on Sunday night.  I was surprised by the tone and language you used. You seemed angry and I am unsure of how I can be most helpful.  Can we talk more about where your head was when you sent that email?

    • Allow the student to respond to your concern.  Try not to be defensive.  Take notes and ask for clarification when needed. 

    • Express interest and care for the student and their situation.  

    • Clarify your expectations for the student moving forward and provide them with contact information for appropriate resources. Remember, it’s okay to set limits with students and to outline the scope of your work, authority and availability.  Refer to your syllabus, classroom expectations, campus policies, or other documents that outline expectations which the student should be aware of.  

    • Ask questions, summarize the conversation, highlight areas of agreement between you and the student, reiterate important points.  

    • Document your meeting with the student. 

    • Follow-up with the student within a week to see how they are doing.  This also lets them know that they can still work with you and that the issue isn’t personal.


If a student’s behavior does not change or escalates, you may need to have additional meetings and or bring additional departmental members into the conversation.


Documentation Considerations

Documenting student interactions is an essential part of student accountability. We understand that it can feel tedious, cumbersome, and even outright mean at times. It doesn’t have to feel this way. Not all situations require extensive or formal documentation. Depending on the level of concern and any departmental standards you might be required to fulfill, a simple bulleted email may work.

    • Include the name of the student and the date of your meeting.

    • Thank the student for meeting with you and let them know you were glad to meet with them.

    • Outline the reason(s) you asked the student to meet with you.

    • Spell out the final outcomes from your meeting, including any decisions made, accommodations offered, expectations of behavior reviewed, etc. 

    • Make note of how similar situations should be handled in the future.  

    • Share any campus resources that might be helpful to the student. 

    • Close with your hopes for future interactions with the student.

If you choose to send an email, be sure to use the student's ISU email account.