Classroom disruptions not limited to behavior

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From whispering jokes to mak ing fashion statements, students may disrupt class in numerous ways, and blurred perceptions make dealing with distractions more difficult.

Hurricane Middle School made national headlines when administrators removed a student from classes because her hair color was too distracting. Administrators informed the 15-year-old student her hair looked unnatural shades of color in certain lights—spawning numerous questions in regards to what situations cause in-class disruptions and how they should be handled.

Marci Jones, a junior general education major from Oakley, said she respects other people’s fashion and doesn’t feel it’s her place to judge what’s acceptable. However, professors dictate when students’ choices create awkward or inappropriate situations.

“I think that teachers could ask someone to leave if they were too exposed and if a lot of skin was showing because that can be distracting to everyone,” she said. “I’m sure the teacher doesn’t want [other students’] eyes to keep awkwardly wandering that way.”

A student’s actions can easily draw attention, but addressing the problem poses large ramifications. Julio Rodriguez, a sophomore business major from Las Vegas, said classmates’ bright, at times ambitious, clothing choices catch his attention, but professors should think before intervening.

“…That would be putting someone on the spot for who they are, and that’s unethical,” Rodriguez said, referencing a professor or school administrator’s choice to confront a student for fashion.

Students said classmates’ clothes or physical appearances haven’t been a problem, and it’s behavioral elements that constitute major disruptions.

English professor Brad Barry said fashion choices aren’t an issue, and he expects diversity on a college campus.

“If somebody comes in [to class] in a suit and tie or a mohawk and 18 rings on their face, I don’t care; it’s how people behave that matters,” he said.

There is much experimenting and opportunity for students to find what they like in college, Barry said. Students’ attitudes are the main force behind issues. He said often it’s surprising when students come into class late and attract as much attention as possible.

Jones said a majority of students garner negative attention with their words, rather than style.

“The biggest disruptions in class are when people don’t know how to whisper, and they are having a loud conversation with someone two seats in front of them,” Jones said.

Rodriguez said phones ringing during class are the worst, and many students speak so often that Jones suggested a limit.

What are the most effective ways students and professors can combat distractions?

Barry said professors must notice poor classroom etiquette early; if not, the issues build into much more. Early on, Barry didn’t address every in-class problem immediately. Now he does.

Andrew Jensen, a sophomore biology major from Logan, said distractions occur, but classes consist of so much work and lecture that he zones them out by prioritizing. Rodriguez said the same; he focuses harder on notes.

When discussing distractions students cause, whether it be appearance-wise or attitude-based, Barry quoted Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”