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Dealing With a Disruptive Person


From time to time faculty/staff will have a person who is truly disruptive in the classroom or office, making it difficult or impossible for teaching or business to take place. The following guidelines will assist faculty/staff members in dealing with these situations. They are not intended to provide information on classroom management or to tell staff members how to conduct their business.

Who is a disruptive individual?

  • An individual who makes threats of physical harm to you, others, or themselves.
  • An individual who has a weapon. Refer to Safety Guidelines for Armed Subjects.
  • An individual who behaves in a bizarre manner or exhibits unstable behavior patterns.
  • The individual who appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance.
  • Some disruptive individuals may have emotional or mental health disorders. Although such individuals may be considered disabled and are protected under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, they are expected to meet the same standards of conduct as any student.
  • It is important that faculty establish the standards for his or her classroom and enforce them for all students, in conformance with the principles of academic freedom.
  • Some individuals behavior may seem to be bizarre, but not threatening. You may want to discuss the individuals’ behavior with professionals, such as a member of the counseling staff.
  • You may also contact the Dean of Students who will consult with appropriate members of the professional staff in developing suggestions for working with the individual.
  • Care must be taken to protect the privacy of students.


In extreme cases in which, in the judgment of the faculty/staff member, an individuals conduct threatens his/her own health and safety or the health and safety of others, or a student is so highly disruptive that instruction cannot take place, immediate removal from the classroom is appropriate.

In such cases, the procedure to be followed is:

What action should I take?

  • Contact FGCU Campus Police at 1900 from a campus phone or 239-590-1900 from any phone.
  • Give your name and campus location with a brief explanation of the situation.
  • Take note of the individual’s age, personal appearance, clothing, vehicle, or any other information that would help identify the individual.


Express your authority with non-verbal cues:

  •   Sit or stand erect.
  •   Square your shoulders
  •   Smile and make eye contact
  •   Speak clearly and distinctly
  •   Maintain a constant voice volume – do not shout

Cues to avoid:

  •    Do not touch your face
  •    Observe the individual’s personal space – do not stand too close
  •    Do not touch the person
  •    Do not slouch, glare, or sigh at the individual

Anger management tactics:

  •    Get their attention: Use their name, ask them to sit down
  •    Acknowledge their feelings: Paraphrase what they say so they will know you are listening
  •    Get them moving: Offer a chair, move them to a private area if possible

   Offer assistance:

  • Use the word “we” to include them in the solution process
  • Tell them exactly what you can do for them and when
  • Offer an alternative if appropriate
  • Advise co-workers of the potential problem if possible
  • Call for aid immediately if you sense the situation is getting out of hand
  • Always remain calm – don’t get into a shouting match or altercation