College staff has two critical roles on campus - both providing a service or fulfilling a function in a specific office/department at the college, but also educating our diverse student body about how to act civilly and responsibly outside of the classroom.
It can be challenging to balance the need to provide quality customer service while holding students accountable to the standards of the College. Student conduct offers both resources and support to staff who may face difficult situations regarding student behavior. If you face a situation where you have an immediate concern for safety, please contact AWC Police. If you aren't sure how to handle a situation, read more on this website, or contact the Dean of Students.
While prevention can go a long way, it doesn't prevent ALL inappropriate behaviors. It is important to keep in mind the difference between "inappropriate" behavior and behavior that warrants a formal response from the College, such as the student conduct process or a police response. There are some suggested strategies to help you with some of the more common behaviors that students (and other office visitors) might exhibit.
For more concerning behaviors (such as threats and significant disruption), you may need to contact AWC Police, Campus Life, or the Student of Concern Team A guide to Identifying Types of Behaviors is available for your reference in managing these situations.
Even if you have communicated your expectations, some students will still try to push those boundaries. So long as there is not a threat to physical safety, you are encouraged to speak to students about behaviors that may be concerning, disruptive, or annoying. This maximizes the opportunity for learning by letting the student hear directly from you how their behavior may have impacted others. If you decide not to confront a student about his/her behavior, at least one of these things usually happens:
- You will continue to be frustrated and the student may never know why, and therefore is not likely to stop the behavior. Or, worse, the student thinks that is how to get things done at AWC.
- The student will engage in more egregious behaviors if he/she thinks your boundaries can continue to be pushed.
- Other students may experience an unsatisfactory visit to your office if they perceive inappropriate behaviors are not being addressed, or they may emulate the behaviors of a disruptive student if they sense that is how to get things done at AWC.
- You determine later that you wish you would have done something about it, but then it feels too late.
- The student leaves your office and you feel relieved, but then you wonder if he/she will do something worse. Inevitably, the student returns and causes further problems.
The following outline can be helpful as you determine how to discuss behaviors of concern with students:
- Build rapport and explain why you want to talk to the student. Remember that you both have the same goal - for him/her to be successful at AWC.
- Describe (in detail) the behavior that occurred.
- Describe the effects of the behavior - both on you as the instructor as well as on others in the class, including the student him/herself.
- Ask the student why this may have occurred, and then listen to the student's perspective. Don't interrupt them, and don't get defensive.
- Inform the student what your expectations are for the future. Ideally, this will just be reiterating what is already on your syllabus or in the Student Code of Conduct.
- Offer ways that you can help the student to be successful in changing the behavior. An example might include that if the student attempts to interrupt, you will motion discretely with your hand for the student to stop talking. It is also helpful to ask if the student is connected to any campus resources (such as Health and Wellness Services, an advisor/counselor, or Accessibility Services). If not, you can offer to provide the student with contact information for these offices.
- Describe what will happen if the student continues with the same behavior. Examples might include meeting with the Chair of the division or being asked to step outside until he/she can control the behavior.
- Inform the student how you plan to follow up on the situation. Frame this as you are attempting to ensure that you have communicated clearly, so that you are both on the same page. Often an email is a convenient way to do this - you can summarize the conversation and offer information about campus resources. This also ensures that you have documented the situation in case it happens again. Depending on the situation, you might also inform your department Chair and/or Dean, or provide an fyi referral to Student of Concern Team.
The College offers a variety of avenues for formal complaint procedures, depending on the nature of the complaint. First, it is important to remember that if a situation can be managed through office management techniques, that is preferable since it enables you give the student timely feedback about their behavior. If the situation is egregious (involves a threat to physical safety or significant disruption that can't be managed), consider one of the following:
- If the incident requires an immediate response, contact the AWC Police Department at 928-314-9500. Examples include:
- A person or student with a weapon
- A person or student who appears intoxicated or in a similarly altered state of mind
- An unknown person who is a significant disruption to the campus
- To report a crime
- Other concerns can be reported online for review and response by the College. The information will be reviewed and routed to the appropriate College entity: possible threats will be forwarded to Student of Concern Team and all other incidents of student behavior will be reviewed by the Student Conduct Officer. Examples of incidents to report include:
- A person who jokes about bombing the College or shooting someone
- A student who is not complying with your clearly communicated instructions
- Harassment or aggressive behavior
- Students who engage in theft, disruption, or other policy violations
- Students who engage in sexual misconduct
- If the complaint pertains to sexual or gender-based misconduct or harassment, review the College's Title IX/Sexual Misconduct website, where you can also report an incident online.
Review the Tips for Documenting Incidents for more information. It is most helpful for reports to be made in first-person and in a timely fashion. Feel free to consult with your supervisor, but please keep in mind that the timeliness of the report may be critical to investigation and/or resolution of the issue.
Even on a bad day at work, we need to remember that we are here to serve students. It may be tempting to make policies or procedures "staff-friendly" instead of "student-friendly." Instead, remind yourself what it is like to try to navigate a process you might not understand, or to seek help from an office when you aren't sure where to go. This is especially important after experiencing several frustrating students - make sure you aren't projecting your frustrations on the next student who walks in your door. By making your physical space, your office procedures, and your online presence student-friendly, you can minimize the stress some students feel when they try to navigate AWC College, which ultimately results in less disruption and stress for you and your colleagues. Here are some tips to help ensure your office is student-friendly:
- Ensure that everyone in your office understands when and why appeals of decisions might occur.
- Remember that students and their families don't often know what office is responsible for what - they just need their concerns resolved.
Communicate Your Expectations
Post expectations where visitors can see them. Even if students don't act like adults all the time, remember that most of our students are adults. Use friendly and reasonable language (such as "Please put cell phones on silent while in waiting area" instead of "LEAVE ALL PHONES OUTSIDE IF YOU WANT TO BE HELPED BY THIS OFFICE!"
Welcome All Visitors
Greet visitors with "Welcome" and a smile, and make eye contact with each person who walks in the door. This not only tells someone that you acknowledge they are here, but also reminds the person they are being observed.
Make Use of Sign-in Sheets
Encourage the use of sign in sheets so that you can call students by name. People respond better when they feel treated like an individual.
Make Your Space Inviting
Invite a co-worker from a different office to walk into your space and experience it "as a student." Is the space comfortable? Is the temperature reasonable? Does a person know who to approach upon entering a space with multiple staff members? Are the chairs comfortable? Eliminating these simple sources of stress can help more than you might anticipate.
Help Students Prepare for Their Appointment
Publish anticipated "low wait" times and tips for expediting your wait time online - such as completing paperwork ahead of time or bringing certain information with you.
Standardize Your Office Procedures
Develop office protocol for:
- Phone scripts for common difficult situations
- When to report or refer situations to supervisor or colleague
- When and how to document concerns
Prepare Staff for Busy Work Periods
Discuss the "high-risk" times when students (or parents/family) are most likely to be stressed or triggered, and develop interventions to help. For example, hire additional student workers to work long lines and talk with students to ensure they are in the right place, have paperwork ready, etc.
Work as a Team
As an office, discuss what kinds of behaviors or situations you might choose to:
- Address and document just in your personal notes
- Address and document for your office (meaning this is subject to FERPA)
- Address and report to Student Conduct
- Contact AWC College Police to respond
If you have another question that is not answered here, please email the Dean of Students.
How can I learn about the campus conduct process and what is expected of students?
The Student Code of Conduct outlines what is expected of students, as well as the process that the campus follows if it appears a student may have violated those standards of behavior. While campus offices should determine specific parameters for behavior in their unique offices, there are general behavioral guidelines that apply across disciplines and activities at AWC, and extend beyond the walls of any specific office. By applying to AWC College, all students agree through the online admissions process to uphold these standards; however, it is helpful if you can include information on your website, posted in the office, or on common office forms that reiterate these standards.
How does the campus conduct process relate to the criminal process?
The campus conduct process may occur before, during, or after a criminal process for the same behavior. For example, a student may face campus conduct charges for assaulting another student on campus, and he/she may also face charges in court. The campus conduct process has the goals of providing education to individual students while maintaining the campus standards for behavior, so the process and the outcomes are often very different than those of the criminal process, whose goal is justice. If you are a victim of a crime, you may choose to pursue both processes.
When can/should I call the police?
The AWC Police or other 911 responders can respond to immediate emergencies. This includes:
- If you feel physically threatened due to a weapon, direct threat of physical violence, etc.
- If any person is in physical danger - this can include if someone passes out
- If a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point he/she cannot care for oneself
- To report a crime
AWC Police can also provide escort service for you if you feel concerned for your safety when walking from/to your vehicle. They can also provide support if you are going to confront a student about his/her behavior and you have a reason to fear for your physical safety.
When and how do I report a concern to the College?
You can submit a report any time of day, and from any computer where you have an internet connection. Reports are reviewed during regular College business hours.
When you submit the information, please be detailed and objective. Describe the incident with as many relevant details as you can. Avoid making judgments or assumptions about the student. Remember that the student may be able to read your complaint form. (You should go ahead and include witness information and your on-campus contact information. Any personal contact information and possibly witness names will be redacted from the report as appropriate.)
For more information about writing quality referrals, review the Tips for Documenting Incidents. You may wish to consult with your supervisor prior to filing a complaint, but be cautious of the time-sensitive nature of many of the situations.
What happens after I report a concern?
Threats of possible violence are routed to the Student of Concern Team for their review and action. If it appears a student may have violated college policy, the student conduct process and/or a campus investigation can be initiated.
If the student conduct process is initiated, the student is sent an email notifying them of the nature of the complaint. For complex cases, an investigation may occur and then a hearing may occur with a hearing officer. Most cases are heard by the Student Conduct Officer. You may be asked for more information as part of the hearing or investigation.
Will a student know if I referred him/her?
If the report leads to a student conduct investigation, the student would be able to know your name as the referring party. Please be aware that the College does not tolerate retaliation of any form, and if you have any concerns for your physical safety you are encouraged to communicate those to the Student Conduct officer.
A person may or may not necessarily know that you referred him/her to the Student of Concern Team, depending on the circumstances. Certainly, if you are scared or feel threatened, you should refer the individual and request that your identity be kept as private as possible.
What can I do if I don't feel threatened, but I am still concerned about a student?
It is helpful if you can talk with the student to see if he/she would benefit from a campus or community resource. Good questions to ask include, "Is there anyone on campus that you trust?" or "Are you connected with an advisor/counselor?" If not, there are a variety of campus resources available, including:
- Academic Advising
- Health and Wellness
- Campus Life
Ideally, you can help connect a student to one of these resources by informing him/her about them or even walking him/her over to the office.
If you are unsure of how to best approach this, feel free to review Having Difficult Conversations or call one of these offices or the Student Conduct Officer for assistance in how to approach having this conversation. Given that you are the one that likely has a relationship or rapport with the student, it helps the student feel their privacy is respected if you have the conversation with him/her but you can get support for how to approach it.
What if I feel "creeped out" by someone?
While there is no law or rule against being creepy or odd, you are also not expected to ignore your own feelings. It helps to pause and think about the behaviors that are evoking the reaction in you, not just the personality of the student. Depending on the situation, you can always report it to Student Conduct, Student of Concern Team, or the police. Sometimes a person has already been referred and your information might help complete an understanding of the person's current state of mind. While there is not a hard rule about when to report "creepy" behaviors, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If it is a student who often visits your office, it helps to have already built a relationship so that you can better understand the individual and assess if the behaviors are new/unusual, or if they are just part of someone's personality. You are always welcome to call Student Conduct or contact Student of Concern Team and consult with someone if you are not sure what to do.
What are common sanctions in the conduct process?
Sanctions vary from a warning to expulsion. More information is available in the Student Code of Conduct. The most common sanctions are typically warnings and educational conversations, where the student and the Student Conduct Officer discuss the incident and the student explores better ways to act in the future. Other sanctions include: visiting another campus office to learn about resources, probationary status, and suspension from the campus for a designated period of time. The goals of sanctions are to help the student learn and succeed, and also to uphold the standards of the AWC campus community.