Faculty Resources

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.

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 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 the 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 the Dean of Student's office 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 Florida Atlantic University Police Department(FAUPD) results in the report of the matter being forwarded to the Dean of Students. When FAUPD 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 to the Dean of Students office.

When disruptive behavior is reported to the Dean of Students offce, 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 in more severe case 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 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 Dean of Students Office provides consultation concerning preventing and addressing disruptive and inappropriate behavior. Instructors may contact the office with any questions or requests concerning student behavioral issues.


Resources for Faculty in Assisting Students with Disabilities

What faculty need to know:

The student will present each instructor with two copies of a Letter of Notification each semester from the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) 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 the OSD for record keeping, as well as State and Federal data collection purposes.

On the letter, instructors must indicate whether they will provide test accommodations or whether the tesing will be conducted at the OSD. The instructor is not required to accommodate a student due to a disability unless they have received an OSD “Letter of Notification”.

When a volunteer notetaker has been approved by OSD, 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 Students with Disabilities (OSD).

 Last Modified 11/8/16