As a Resident Manager of an on-campus apartment living complex at the University of Mississippi, I interact with a multitude of residents on a daily basis. Most students are successfully making the transition into college life by joining social groups, taking responsibility for their academics and living in a tight budget. However, there are some individuals that are considered difficult or threatening to the campus community. There is a stark difference between a “difficult student and a threatening student”.
A “difficult student” could be defined as an individual that requires some guidance and assistance by student affair professionals in order to ensure a successful college career. College is the first time living away from home for many students. Maintaining a budget, waking up early for classes and living with a stranger in a confined residence hall can be stressful for anyone. A student who is deemed difficult may have problems with time management, attending class regularly and experimenting with drinking for the first time. These are all issues that can transform into serious problems; however, they are normal experiences for most students attending a post-secondary institution. Academic advisors, resident assistants and counselors have an obligation to identify the needs and resources that students require in order to be academically successful and develop professionally. Overall, “difficult students” are capable of changing their disruptive behavior, and possess the ability to develop into ideal students and citizens.
“Threatening students” are more difficult to identify on a college campus than “difficult students.” A threatening student is someone that is willing to physically or emotionally harm another individual. These particular students also violate serious university policies which may include bomb threats, property damage/theft and academic dishonesty. One of the best predictors of violent behavior is previous occurrences involving violence in the past. Students who have a violent record should be monitored through mandatory meetings with counselors and academic advisors. According to professor Ken Jones (2010), “when a student’s behavior becomes intimidating or threatening, it is important not to manage such a situation alone.” Various offices on campus can help by conducting positive interventions with a student to address any issues and provide assistance. It is crucial to the safety of campuses nationwide that efforts be taken to identify students who may be a threat, and intervene at early stages before anyone is harmed.
Jones, K., (2010). Adapted from: “Dealing with Rude and Disruptive Students: Being Proactive”. University Counseling and Testing Center.
Dunleavy, K., Martin, M. M., Brann, M., Booth-Butterfield, M., Myers, S. A., & Weber, K. (2008). Student Nagging Behavior in the College Classroom. Communication Education, 57(1), 1-19.