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Addressing Behavioral Problems

Behavioral Issues Before & During the Program

Preventing Behavioral Issues

Sample Group Expectation Agreement

Dismissing a Student Before or During your Program

After Dismissing a Student While Abroad


Behavioral Issues Before & During the Program

Most students are well behaved before and during the Program. However, there have been instances in which behavioral issues have disrupted Program activities and preparations. As a Faculty Director, you will have both an academic and a disciplinary role with students. You are responsible for supervising students and monitoring behavior during official Program activities. You also play a crucial role in preparing students for the experience and ensuring that they meet pre-departure expectations.  To appropriately address behavioral issues, a comprehensive and coordinated approach is necessary to protect the student, the group, and the University.  It is important to recognize that Programs are an extension of our on campus community. As such, behavioral issues are not isolated to the Program. They have may manifest themselves before departure and there may be on campus repercussions after a Program ends as well. It is also important to understand that many students choose to participate in multiple Programs.  Failing to report a behavioral issue could create problems for other Faculty Directors in the future.

With the assistance of University Counsel and the Dean of Students Office, we have developed a 3-step process for addressing behavioral issues before and during Programs.  A team effort between Faculty Directors, the Dean of Students Office, Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute, and onsite partners (if appropriate) is needed to implement these protocols.

Preventing Behavioral Issues

Most behavioral issues can be prevented. The following tips will enable you to address behavioral issues before they become disruptive.

  • Think of pre-departure as part of the Program.  Behavioral issues often appear before the Program starts.  When students commit to a Program, they also commit to the pre-departure expectations in their applications and in the Learning Abroad Handbook.  If students are non-responsive or aren’t meeting pre-departure requirements, contact Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute to initiate the dismissal process.
  • Get to know your group before departure. Having a sense of students’ personalities and the group dynamic before departure will give you a head start on recognizing red flags.
  • Communicate your expectations in advance. Talk about your expectations in pre-departure and onsite orientations.
  • Incdude behavioral expectations in your syllabus. Students take their syllabi seriously.   Discussing behavioral expectations in your syllabus sends a strong message to students.
  • Reaffirm positive behaviors. If your students are doing well, let them know. They will appreciate the feedback and it will likely encourage them to continue on a positive path.
  • Consider creating an Expectation Agreement in orientation. Creating an expectation agreement is a good team building activity.  Although these agreements are not binding contracts, they set and communicate expectations for students.  A sample agreement is found in the Faculty Directors Guide.
  • Review the health information submitted by your students. Some perceived behavioral issues are related to medical conditions. Being aware of student medical conditions prepares you for early warning signs.
  • Address behavior during free time that impacts official Program activities. If a student’s choices during free time impact the group or the student’s participation in Program activities, reach out to them and talk about the situation.
  • Be proactive and open about your concerns. If there’s a problem, address it. Students typically respond well to honesty. If you let a student know that you’re concerned about their behavior, they typically modify their behavior voluntarily.
  • Develop a preventative Program itinerary. Too much free time sets you up for behavioral problems onsite. Create an itinerary that gives students some time to explore, but generally keeps them busy throughout the Program.
  • Create a list of free or inexpensive suggestions for free time. Provide students with good suggestions for their free time. A list of free activities or sites that encourage a constructive use of personal time may reduce problems.

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Sample Group Expectation Agreement

Program Name:

Program Dates:

Learning Abroad challenges students physically, emotionally, and intellectually.  Each student is a representative of the University of Utah, the group, their academic department, and the United States.  For this reason, all activities and energies should be focused on maintaining and developing positive relationships with peers, faculty, Program assistants, and the host community.

I understand that my actions have consequences. This experience will require hard work, dedication, discipline, growth, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with trying and succeeding at new things.

Therefore, to ensure that this a positive experience for everyone involved, I agree to the following guidelines, stipulations, and values:

  1. I am expected to act responsibly the entire time. I will be an obvious outsider, and my every action will be seen. Therefore, I am willing to be a good example to my peers and the communities with whom I interact. As a part of that example, I agree to make responsible choices regarding the use of alcohol, drugs, apparel or foul language.
  2. I understand that the faculty and staff are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the group. I will respect the authority of these individuals and will follow their directions so as to create a safe and productive atmosphere for all.
  3. I believe that this is an academic experience. I recognize that treating this experience as a "vacation" would be inconsistent with this idea.
  4. I understand that we will be living in close quarters, and that certain rules exist for using our housing facility. I will respect the housing regulations of my host. I will remember that my actions affect others living in my housing facility. To ensure the safety and well-being of all, I will refrain from activities that are disruptive or destructive.
  5. I understand that being part of a true community requires time together.  I am willing to participate fully in this experience. This includes attendance at classes, field trips, lectures, and any special events.
  6. I understand that punctuality is important in any group activity. I agree to be on time and come prepared for all events. I also understand that our itinerary is tentative, and that necessary adjustments will be made on-site. I will respect those changes and adjust my behavior and schedule accordingly.
  7. I appreciate the challenges of living and working across cultures. I understand that some behaviors must be modified to avoid offending the communities that we visit. I also agree to refrain from making cultural judgments based on my own values.
  8. I accept that part of this experience is learning a new language. I will refrain from speaking English exclusively in front of non-English speakers as these behaviors are inconsiderate of our host culture. I commit to speaking in the host language for the duration of the Program.

I understand that I need to adequately prepare for this experience, and I am committed to collaborating with my peers and faculty director to do so. I also recognize that I will need to independently prepare myself for certain aspects of the Program. This includes reviewing the Learning Abroad Handbook, reading the application materials, attending orientation sessions, and meeting deadlines.

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In addition to these expectations above, I agree to the following expectations developed by my fellow students, faculty, and staff.

  1.  
  2.  
  3.  

The guidelines listed above, and any others that may be discussed throughout the orientation, must be agreed to in order to participate in this Program. 

Should a member of our group fail to meet these expectations, we will take the following actions:

  1.  
  2.  
  3.  

I have read the Group Expectation Agreement for the ________________________________ Program. I agree to these terms and understand that I will be expected to adhere to these expectations for the duration of the Program. I understand that, in addition to this agreement, additional terms may be added based on the circumstances onsite. I understand that I am also expected to adhere to the University of Utah Student Code and all regulations and rules set forth in the Learning Abroad Handbook.

Signatures of Group Members, Faculty, and Program Assistants:





































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Dismissing a Student Before or During Your Program

Learning Abroad Programs and Hinckley Global Internships are an extension of on-campus programming.  As a result, any disciplinary actions taken against a student must align with University policy and protocol.  The University has developed a 3-step process for dismissing students for student behavioral issues.  This process is outlined for students in the Learning Abroad Handbook.  The process:

  • Integrates Learning Abroad & Hinckley Global Internship Programs with on campus policies
  • Protects students, faculty, and staff
  • Ensures that the University handles these situations professionally, legally, and appropriately.

The process can be implemented before or during a Program.  To initiate the process, contact Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute.  We will help you implement the process in accordance with University protocols!

Examples of behaviors that warrant a verbal warning include, but are not limited to:

  • Failure to follow directions
  • Not completing Application steps or orientation requirements
  • Tardiness or poor attendance
  • Missing deadlines
  • Not checking Umail or responding to communication (verbal, written, or electronic) within 1 business day
  • New or pending violations with the Student Conduct Office or Housing & Residential Education
  • Personality conflicts between Program participants
  • Indifferent or rude behavior toward guests/guest speakers
  • Behavior that is culturally insensitive to the host country
  • Activities during personal time are negatively impacting the Program or other students
  • Actions that may inadvertently put the student, group, or community at risk

If you need to issue a verbal warning to a student:

  • Talking points are available. Contact Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute for more information.
  • Have the conversation on “neutral ground” and in a confidential manner. A quiet classroom or meeting area would be preferable.
  • Take notes during the discussion. This sends a powerful message to the student and lets them know that you are paying attention. Send a follow up e-mail to the student after the conversation. Be sure to copy Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute on your correspondence.  Learning Abroad and the Hinckley Institute have email templates that can be used.   

The University and onsite personnel may skip the verbal warning step and move directly to a written warning if the student’s conduct warrants a stronger response.  Contact Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute for more information about this option.

Examples of behavioral issues that might warrant a written warning include, but are not limited to:

  • Failure to follow directions
  • Not completing Application steps or orientation requirements
  • Tardiness or poor attendance
  • Missing deadlines
  • Not checking Umail or responding to communication (verbal, written, or electronic) within 1 business day
  • Failure to comply with the instructions issued in a verbal warning
  • A continuation of the behaviors for which they received a verbal warning
  • The need to issue multiple verbal warnings for different offenses
  • New or pending violations with the Student Conduct Office or Housing & Residential Education
  • Behaviors that disrupts planned Program activities
  • Blatant refusal to follow instructions
  • Instigating poor behavior in peers
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Destruction of property
  • Violations of the rules and regulations of the housing facility
  • Actions that put the student, group, future viability of the Program, or community at risk
  • Conduct that violates the University of Utah Student Code
  • Behavior that is disruptive and detrimental to the group learning process

If you need to issue a written warning to a student:

  • Template letters MUST be used for written warnings.  Contact Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute to access a copy of the letter.
  • Give the letter to the student in person and on “neutral ground.” Do this in a confidential manner. A quiet classroom or meeting area would be preferable.
  • Talking points are available for your conversation with the student. Contact Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute for more information
  • Take notes during the discussion. This sends a powerful message to the student and lets them know that you are paying attention.

Give the student the opportunity to read the letter and ask questions. 

The University and onsite personnel may skip the verbal and written warning steps and move directly to a dismissal if the student’s conduct warrants a stronger response.  Students cannot be dismissed without authorization from Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute and the Dean of Students Office.  Contact Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute for more information about this option. 

Dismissal can occur before or during a Program.  Examples of situations in which a dismissal may be justified include, but are not limited to:

  • Failure to follow directions
  • Not completing Application steps or orientation requirements
  • Tardiness or poor attendance
  • Missing deadlines
  • Not checking Umail or responding to communication (verbal, written, or electronic) within 1 business day
  • Failure to comply with the instructions issued in previous warnings
  • A continuation of the behaviors for which the student received a previous warning
  • The need to issue multiple warnings for different offenses
  • New or pending violations with the Student Conduct Office or Housing & Residential Education
  • Becoming academically ineligible for the Program
  • Illegal drug infractions
  • Breaking host country law
  • Violence against peers or community members
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Destruction of property
  • When a host institution dismisses the student from the Program
  • Actions that put the student, group, future viability of the Program, or community at risk
  • Conduct that violates the University of Utah Student Code
  • Behavior that is disruptive and detrimental to the group learning process
  • Repeated infractions of the rules and regulations of the housing facility
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Harassment
  • Possession of a weapon
  • Theft

If you need to dismiss a student from the Program, contact Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute to obtain authorization.  Dismissal proceedings must be coordinated with multiple offices including the Dean of Students Office.  We will draft a formal dismissal letter and coordinate the process with you.  Protocols are different if the dismissal occurs before departure or while the student is abroad.  Students who are dismissed from a Program while abroad are not entitled to a judicial hearing before returning to campus.

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After Dismissing a Student While Abroad

When a student is dismissed from a Program, it affects the group. In some cases, the group may be relieved. If the dismissed student caused problems for the group or made others feel uncomfortable, the group dynamic may actually improve. Alternatively, the group may experience post-traumatic stress as a result of the situation. Participants may seem subdued and some students may struggle with the outcome of the situation. Faculty Directors may need to talk with the group about the situation. Talking points are available to help you with this conversation.  Contact Learning Abroad or the Hinckley Institute for a copy of the talking points.  REMEMBER: The dismissed student has a right to privacy. The group does not need details on the situation.

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Last Updated: 7/12/22