Academic Integrity of Students

Disruption of Academic Process

Reference: USF Regulation 3.025

(1) Disruptive students in the academic setting hinder the educational process. Although disruptive student conduct is already prohibited by the University of South Florida Student Code of Conduct, the purpose of this regulation is to clarify what constitutes disruptive behavior in the academic setting; what actions faculty and relevant academic officers may take in response to disruptive conduct; and the authority of the Office of Student Affairs to initiate separate disciplinary proceedings against students for disruptive conduct.

(2) Disruption of the academic process is defined as the act, words, or general conduct of a student in a classroom or other academic environment which in the reasonable estimation of the instructor:

  • (a) Directs attention away from the academic matters at hand, such as noisy distractions, persistent, disrespectful or abusive interruption of lecture, exam, academic discussion, or general University operations, or
  • (b) Presents a danger to the health, safety or well-being of self or other persons.

References to classroom or academic area include all academic settings (live or online, including field experiences). References to Instructor include the course instructor, USF faculty, administrators, and staff.

Misconduct occurring in other campus areas on University premises or which adversely affects the University community and/or the pursuit of its mission is already prohibited by the Student Code of Conduct and will be handled by those procedures.

Academic discussion that includes disagreement with the course instructor during times when the instructor permits discussion is not in itself disruptive behavior and is not prohibited.

Some disruptive students may have emotional or mental health disorders. Although such students may be considered disabled and are protected under the Rehabilitation Act/ADA, they are held to the same standards of conduct as any student.

The following applies to all institutions of the University of South Florida System; however, non-substantive procedural modifications to reflect the particular circumstances of each institution are permitted. Information concerning these procedures is available through the Student Affairs office at each institution.

(3) Procedures for Handling Disruption of Academic Process.

(a) General Guidelines for Instructor:

1. If a student is disruptive, the Instructor may ask the student to stop the disruptive behavior and/or warn the student that such disruptive behavior can result in academic and/or disciplinary action. Alleged disruptions of the academic process will be handled initially by the instructor, who will discuss the incident with the student whenever possible. It must be noted that the Faculty Senate considers the traditional relationship between student and instructor as the primary means of settling disputes that may arise.

2. The instructor is authorized to ask a student to leave the classroom or academic area and desist from the disruptive behavior if the instructor deems it necessary. If the instructor does this, s/he will send an Academic Disruption Incident Report within 48 hours simultaneously to

  • (a) the department chair (if applicable),
  • (b) the Assistant/Associate Dean of the College (as determined by the College),
  • (c) the Office of Student Affairs, and
  • (d) the student.

If the situation is deemed an emergency or circumstances require more immediate action, the instructor should notify the appropriate law enforcement agency, Student Affairs and other authorities as soon as possible. Any filed Incident Report can, and should, be updated if new information pertinent to the situation is obtained.

3. An instructor may also further exclude the student from the classroom or other academic area pending resolution of the matter. If the instructor recommends exclusion (temporary or permanent) from the classroom pending resolution, the student must be informed of the exclusion before the next scheduled class (either by phone, email or in person). That notice must:

  • (a) inform the student of the exclusion, and
  • (b) inform the student of his/her right to request an expedited review of the exclusion within two days to the Chair of the Department (if applicable) or to the appropriate Dean or Dean's designee in the College.

If such academic exclusion occurs, and if the student requests a review, the Chair of the Department (or College designee) shall review the exclusion within two days of the date the student requests the review and decide if the student can return to the specific class and/or any academic setting. This decision may be appealed in writing by the student within two days to the Office of Graduate Studies (or institutional designee as appropriate) for review and decision within two days. Any decision rendered at that point must be in writing and will serve as the final and binding academic decision of the University.

Each academic decision or sanction must be communicated to the Office of Student Affairs as soon as possible.

(b) Possible Academic Sanctions and Grading Guidelines:

Authority of an instructor and the appropriate Chair or Assistant/Associate Dean's office may result in any of the following sanctions:

  • Warning to the student
  • Voluntary withdrawal by the student from the class(es)
  • Temporary exclusion and/or permanent dismissal from the instructor's classroom or academic area, program, or college, pending an expedited appeal.
  • Academic sanction, including assignment of a final grade – if the final determination is a dismissal from class, the grade assigned for the class will depend on the student's status at the time of dismissal. If the student had a passing grade in the class at the time of dismissal, a grade of "W" will be assigned for the course. If the student had a failing grade in the class at the time of dismissal, a grade of "F" will be assigned for the course. These grades will become a part of the student's permanent record. In addition, if the academic disruption results in dismissal from more than the classroom or academic area of the incident, this grading policy may be applied in all classes affected.
(c) Documentation and Academic Disruption Incident Report:

Instructors should be aware that notes of the dates, times, witnesses and details of the incidents of disruption and the impact of the disruption on those present may be important in any future proceedings which may be necessary. Referrals to the Office of Student Affairs or designated office require written documentation containing factual and descriptive information. The student is entitled to see this documentation.

The Academic Disruption Incident Report must be submitted by hard copy or scanned and sent by email to the student's USF email address simultaneously within 48 hours to:

  • (a.) the department chair (if applicable),
  • (b.) the Assistant/Associate Dean of the College (as determined by the College),
  • (c.) the Office of Student Affairs and
  • (d.) the student.

The form can be downloaded from the designated website in Student Affairs or completed by way of memorandum containing the following information:

  • Date of report
  • Student's name
  • USF Student ID number
  • Instructor's name
  • Instructor's phone number
  • Instructor's email
  • Title of course, course number and section
  • Date/time/location of incident
  • Detailed summary of the incident, including a description of the disruptive behavior
  • Witnesses
  • Action, if any, taken by the instructor (e.g., student warned, asked to leave the class, etc.)
  • Recommended course of action and reasons for this recommendation
  • Instructor's signature
(d) Possible Disciplinary Sanctions for Conduct by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities:

Upon receipt of the Academic Disruption Incident Report or other academic referral for disruptive conduct, the Office of Student Affairs may initiate the disciplinary process resulting in the imposition of any of the following sanctions in addition to any academic sanctions imposed (in section b):

  • Educational sanctions to include but not limited to educational programs/classes and written assignments
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Provisional suspension
  • Suspension
  • Restriction from certain or all class(es), program, college, residence hall, or any part of all of USF
  • Expulsion

When an incident is being reviewed by Student Affairs for possible disciplinary sanctions, current provisions affecting the student's academic status (temporary or otherwise) will be communicated by the Office of Student Affairs to the instructor and appropriate academic administrators/instructors responsible for the student's current academic standing as soon as possible, but within two weeks of the reported incident. Only final disciplinary sanctions that affect the academic status of the student will be communicated to the Instructor(s) and appropriate academic administrators after the disciplinary process is complete.

Specific Authority: Art. IX, Section 7, Fla. Constitution and Resolutions issued by the FL Board of Governors, 1006.60, 1006.61 F.S. History – New 12-11-08; amended (technical) 11-28-11.