AWARE Network

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Forwarding Information to Student Conduct

Disruptive behavior inside or outside the classroom and the appropriate follow up from the instructor or staff member should be documented. Documentation should include information regarding the behavior such as dates and times, brief description of the behavior and any interventions. Names of other witnesses who may have observed the behavior or follow up interactions can also be included.  Upon consultation with the department chair and/or the Office of the Dean of Students, it may be necessary to forward all information to the Office of Student Conduct for appropriate action and follow up.

Please note: While an instructor or WSU Police may request a student be removed from a class session in which they are displaying disruptive behavior, permanent removal from the class cannot occur without a hearing from the University. The Vice President of Student affairs (or a designee) may invoke an interim suspension (WAC 504-24-406), when circumstance warrant such action.

Student rights and responsibilities

As always, in situations involving students, you should observe appropriate confidentiality. FERPA protects the privacy of student education records (including disciplinary records). Disciplinary records are kept separate from academic records. If a student is suspended or expelled a letter may be sent with their transcript if the Office of Student Conduct rules the offending behavior is egregious. It is prudent to communicate only with those directly involved with the situation.

Often students will have a misunderstanding of the jurisdiction of their First Amendment Rights. The Standards of Conduct for Students (WAC 504-26-203) states: “Students have the right to freedom of
speech, including the right to dissent or protest, but this expression cannot interfere with the rights of others or disrupt the university’s activities. Prohibited behavior includes: disruption or obstruction of teaching…”

As long as you do not discriminate or seek to punish students for expressing their pertinent viewpoints you can and should feel free to set limits for discussion and make the determination of behavior that extends beyond expressing a viewpoint and becomes disruptive or threatening.

WSU expects our students to act as independent, responsible, and adult members of the university community. Students are afforded due process rights during the conduct process. A student who believes that he or she has been treated improperly in the aftermath of an incident may seek assistance through established university grievance procedures (University Ombudsman).

Faculty/Staff rights and responsibilities

As a faculty or staff member you have the right to conduct your business in a reasonable and respectful environment. Disruptive and threatening behavior tests the boundaries of what can be deemed reasonable. As such, you have certain assurances when reporting violations.

The risk of liability for making such a report is minimal. There are strong public policy reasons to support and protect individuals who make good faith reports of wrongdoing to appropriate officials, even if those reports later prove to be mistaken. Common law (or statues in some states) gives people who report misconduct to proper authorities a “qualified privilege.” Simply stated, that means they cannot be held liable for defamation unless the report was made in bad faith, with knowledge the information they provided was false, or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.