Guide for those impacted by disruptive behaviors

If you have been impacted by disruptive behaviors in your unit, there are a number of options for sharing your concerns with someone who has the authority to address them.

These guidelines do not apply if the disruptive behavior you are concerned with involves sexual violence and sexual harassment (SVSH). If you are a survivor of SVSH, or are supporting a survivor, the best place to start may be a Confidential Resource, such as the PATH to Care Center. Please remember that most employees of the university have 'Responsible Employee' obligations. This means that they must share what they know about sexual violence or sexual harassment affecting a UC Berkeley student (or potentially any university employee) with the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD), the campus Title IX office. OPHD office is specifically charged with responding to SVSH concerns. 

How to get support for your well-being

Responding to disruptive behavior is challenging and may be distressing. The first thing you should do is check in on your own well-being and take steps to care for yourself. These resources offer support:

How to understand expectations for behavior

Your unit should state behavioral norms clearly and often. If you are not sure what the norms are, ask.

  • If you aren’t sure whether behavior you (or another) experienced violates a norm or crosses a line, the offices listed below can assist, in a confidential or private space, with gaining insight about how to address a concern about behavior that is concerning:

How to raise a concern about somebody else's behavior

Reporting disruptive behavior to somebody who can do something about it can have the beneficial effect of getting the behavior to stop. It is also a way to hold the individual accountable for their behavior.

It can be hard to figure out who to report to. 

Ideally, you would report concerning behavior to someone you trust who is in a position of responsibility within your unit; they can in turn pass the concern up the 'chain of command,' as appropriate, depending on its severity or their ability to respond. 

  • Sharing concerns with a person who has responsibility within your unit
    • Faculty might go to the equity advisor or chair.
    • Graduate students might go to the staff or faculty graduate adviser.
    • Undergraduate students might go to the  staff or faculty undergraduate adviser.
    • Staff might go to the MSO or chair.
    • Anyone might go to members of a climate committee.

However, sometimes the individuals described above are themselves the problem, or they have not responded to your concern, or the behavior is so concerning you wish to report it directly to a disciplinary authority. In that case, who you go to depends on who the individual of concern is:

If you are not sure who to report to, that is okay. Anyone you report to can refer your report to the appropriate authority. A confidential resource can also help you understand your reporting options. The list of Additional Campus Supports includes a variety of confidential resources that are available to you.

Note: Some folks prefer to make an anonymous report, whether through a departmental suggestion box, the campus Whistleblower portal, or other means. Anonymous reporting can feel safer for those who are worried about retaliation. It can be useful in calling attention to areas of concern. However, anonymous reports are challenging for those in positions of responsibiltiy to follow up on with a formal investigation or disciplinary response.

Hoped for outcomes/best practices after a concern is raised

The more information you are able to provide about a concern, the more steps are likely to be possible in response. It is good practice to keep a record of dates and any documentation (e.g., emails).

These are some of the things you could expect to happen after raising a concern.

  • The person raising the concern can expect to be listened to and supported.
  • The impacted party (if not the one reporting the concern) could be contacted, privately and sensitively, to see what would be helpful, and what outcome they are hoping for.
    • If you are raising a concern about someone else (a student or fellow employee), they may or may not feel comfortable discussing it if contacted by the person you’ve raised it with. Due to privacy considerations, you may not know details about responsive conversations with other individuals, nor whether a matter has been escalated to the appropriate investigative office because of a potential violation of university policy.
  • Special care should be taken to protect those who don’t want their identities disclosed, though this may limit the options for responding to a concern.
    • Power differentials make some individuals especially concerned about discretion. Graduate students, for example, are especially vulnerable if the disruptive behavior is from their adviser.  Caution needs to be taken to protect the identity of the graduate student if they do not want their identity disclosed.
  • The general concern could be discussed by unit leadership and/or a climate committee.
  • Some targeted preventive action could be taken, depending on the situation; for example:
    • Efforts to stop the problematic behavior.
    • Efforts to make a reasonable change to the environment by limiting or setting guidelines for interactions.
  • If the reported behavior appears to violate university policy, an investigation and subsequent disciplinary action may ensue.
  • The person sharing the concern, unless anonymous, can expect acknowledgment with assurance that the concern was followed up on. (As noted above, details of what was said to another party may or may not be shareable; it depends on the circumstances.)