Students In Distress Guide
Welcome to the Division of Student Affairs. This page is for you, the faculty member of FAU. Below is some useful information to assist you in the classroom about today's college student.
Today's College Student
Today many students come to Florida Atlantic University with complex issues that can have a major impact on their lives as students. The stress typically associated with the college years may be compounded by social, health, financial, family and work issues. As a result, some students may experience a decline in academic performance, engage in harmful behaviors such as substance abuse and attempts at suicide, or exhibit other symptoms of distress. As a faculty or staff member you may come into contact with students who share information or exhibit behaviors that indicate that they are in need of assistance with a problem and/or concern. This contact provides you with a unique opportunity to refer students to appropriate resources. Such action may be a critical factor in saving students' academic careers - or even their lives.
How to tell when a student needs help
The following indicators will help alert you to a student who may need assistance. Unfortunately, there is no magic number or combination of indicators which definitively prove that a student is in need of assistance. The existence of several indicators, however, may show a pattern of behavior that needs to be investigated. In such instances you may wish to share your concern directly with the student, consult one of the campus resources for advice, or refer the student to an appropriate resource.
- Radical/abrupt change in behavior
- Sudden withdrawal from interaction with faculty, staff, and peers
- A dramatic decrease in academic performance
- A decline in class attendance and/or participation
- Sudden outbursts of anger or crying
- Chronic fatigue or low energy
- High levels of irritability
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Marked changes in personal hygiene
- References to suicide References to hopelessness and despair
- Recent major life trauma, such as the death or serious illness of a loved one
- Excessive use of alcohol or other drugs
Sometimes problems cross the line and disrupt the education process.
Disruptive behavior can assume many forms. It may be:
- The student in your class who persistently arrives late or leaves early
- The students who talk incessantly while you are delivering a lecture
- The student who loudly and frequently interrupts the flow of class with questions or interjections
- The student who becomes belligerent when you confront his or her inappropriate behavior in class.
It is important to differentiate disruptive classroom behavior (that which directly interferes with the ability of an instructor to teach or the ability of other students to benefit from the classroom experience) from behavior that is merely rude or uncivil. While the latter may become disruptive when it is repetitive or persistent, it usually is best addressed by example and persuasion.
Disruptive student behavior is a detriment to the academic community -- both faculty and students -- because it interferes with the learning process for other students, inhibits the ability of instructors to teach most effectively, diverts university energy and resources away from the educational mission, and indicates a significant level of personal problems or distress on the part of the disrupter.
Disruptive behavior and disciplinary action
When less formal interventions prove inadequate or ineffective, it is appropriate for an instructor to initiate disciplinary action. Intervention by FAU PD results in the report of the matter being forwarded to the Dean of Students. When FAU PD officers have not been involved, the instructor can write and forward a report including information identifying the student, the date and location of the incident and a summary of the incident.
When disruptive behavior is reported to the Office of the Dean of Students, the instructor reporting the behavior will be contacted concerning the desired outcome. Remedies provided through the office may include disciplinary probation, a behavior contract concerning the class, anger management counseling or other educational interventions, or, in more severe cases, removal from the class (a student may not be removed from class permanently without a judicial hearing).
Following this consultation, the student will be required to meet with a judicial officer to discuss their behavior. It is possible that the matter can be resolved administratively without further direct involvement in the process by the instructor. In some cases, it may be necessary to convene a board and conduct a formal hearing in the matter. In these cases, the instructor is involved as the complainant at the hearing.
Consultation concerning disruptive behavior
The Office of the Dean of Students or Associate Deans on the partner campuses provide consultation concerning preventing and addressing disruptive and inappropriate behavior. Instructors may contact the office with any questions or requests concerning student behavioral issues.
Student Accessibility Services
Below is helpful information for assisting students requesting accessibility services.
The student will present each instructor with two copies of a Letter of Notification each semester from the Office for Student Accessibility Services attesting to his/her approved accommodations. One copy of the letter is for the instructor to keep. The other copy is to be signed and returned to Student Accessibility Services (SAS) for record keeping.
On the letter instructors must indicate whether they wish to provide the test accommodations or whether the testing will take place at the SAS. The instructor is not required to accommodate a student due to a disability unless they have received an SAS “Letter of Notification”.
When a volunteer notetaker has been approved by SAS, the professor is asked to assist the student in obtaining a volunteer notetaker by reading aloud the notetaker announcement and/or soliciting a student from the class.
Accommodations for a student with a disability must not compromise course content or the requirements for satisfactory course completion.
Faculty need not fundamentally alter the nature of their classroom materials. Faculty are strongly encouraged to include a statement regarding students with disabilities on their syllabus. For example: “In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) - Students who require special accommodations due to a disability to properly execute coursework must register with the Office for Student Accessibility Services (SAS).