Teaching Resources

Civility in the Digital Era

Digital social media has made it possible for individuals within and beyond the campus community to communicate with faculty or publicize faculty activities in a manner that is intended to provoke controversy or that is intimidating, harassing, or threatening. This memo provides information for faculty members who may be concerned about classroom civility in the digital era.

Relevant Campus Policies

SDSU's Student Conduct Code prohibits:

  • Conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person within or related to the University community, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation or harassment.
  • Participating in an activity that substantially and materially disrupts the normal operation of the University or infringes on the rights of members of the University community.  
  • Unauthorized recording, dissemination, or publication of academic presentations for commercial purposes. 
SDSU's Senate Policy File's intellectual property provisions (pages 79-89) give creators of scholarship and creative work rights to copyright or final disposition of work. 
Article 37 of the CFA Collective Bargaining Agreement requires that the university provide a safe workplace and establishes pathways for filing safety complaints. 
Information from CSU General Counsel (12/5/16): Faculty may include a statement on course syllabi stating that students must obtain permission to record a class lecture or discussion and that without prior permission the student can be reported for misconduct (see link).

Other Useful Resources

  • Faculty may include expectations for classroom conduct and civility in their course syllabi.  SDSU’s institutional membership with the National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development provides access to free resources on how to protect and promote civility in classroom and other academic spaces.  For more information, visit the Faculty Development page of our website.
  • Faculty may add a statement to their course syllabi stating that students must obtain permission to record a class lecture or discussion and that without prior permission the student can be reported for misconduct.
  • Faculty who have concerns about workplace safety should report them to their chair / director and / or dean, as per CBA 37.4 - 5.  Any acute safety concern should be directed immediately to University Police, x4-1991.  Faculty, staff and students may request a safety escort from dusk to dawn, seven days a week, through the Aztec Shield mobile application available for Apple or Android devices, by calling  (619) 594-6659, or by using any blue emergency “duress” phone on campus.  During periods of high call volume, callers may experience a wait time. Additional safety services and programs may be found on the University Police website.
  • Faculty may opt to not provide office location or office hours information on the department / school website but instead only to enrolled students via Blackboard or syllabi.
  • If intimidating or harassing email becomes an issue, faculty can contact the Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) Help Desk at [email protected].  The Help Desk can walk faculty members through establishing Gmail settings, including blocking future mail (for more information on blocking, see Gmail Help), and referring harassing email to Public Safety if appropriate.  For urgent or sensitive cases, Chris Clement, ETS Help Desk manager, can be contacted directly at x4-5261.  If the source of the cyberbullying is on-campus, the Information Technology Security Office (ITS) can provide additional support;  contact Gene LeDuc or Rick Norholm: (619) 594-0142.   Faculty who are concerned about unwanted contact now may consider adjusting privacy settings on personal social media accounts (like Facebook) to ensure greater privacy for personal content.