Student Affairs

Dealing with Aggressive Students: A Roadmap for Student Affairs Professionals

Duration: 1 hour
Facilitator: Dr. Aaron Hughey
Price: $50.00

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“Students may become verbally abusive when they encounter frustrating situations which they believe are beyond their control. Aggression varies from threats to verbal abuse to physical abuse and violence. It is very difficult to predict aggression and violence. They can displace anger and frustration from those situations onto the nearest target. Explosive outbursts or ongoing belligerent, hostile behavior become this student’s way of gaining power and control in an otherwise out-of-control experience. It is important to remember that the student is generally not angry at you personally, but is angry at his/her world. You may have become a convenient object for his/her pent-up frustrations.”  - University of Rochester Counseling Center


Students who exhibit aggressive behaviors can adversely impact their own development as well as undermine the primary goals of the overall educational process. It is important that student affairs professionals know how to appropriately intervene in these situations for the ultimate benefit of everyone involved.  In this interactive webinar, we will explore the detrimental influence students who exhibit aggressive behaviors can have on the college experience both in terms of the students themselves as well as the institutions they attend. Included in the discussion will be the unique challenges these individuals present for college and university professionals who are charged with facilitating the college experience.

Specifically, evidence-based best practices will be outlined that student affairs professionals can immediately use to minimize the harmful impact these aggressive students often inadvertently have on the campus community. We will also describe concrete strategies that can be used with these students and examine successful programs and initiatives from across the nation that are currently addressing this issue. Equal emphasis will be placed on helping both institutions as well as individual students mitigate the actions of these students and achieve their mutually complementary objective: graduation and job placement.


  • Characteristics of Today’s College Students
  • The Psychological Dimension: What’s Really Going on Here?
  • Being Developmental: The Key to an Effective Response
  • Setting the Stage: Preparing the Campus
  • Being Proactive: Getting Ahead of the Symptoms
  • In the Moment: Techniques and Tactics
  • Meeting Needs/Defusing Motivations
  • Case Studies: What to Do/What Not to Do

Learning outcomes:

Participants will:


  • Review the general characteristics of students who exhibit aggressive behaviors and how this phenomenon has evolved over the last few decades.
  • Dissect the psychological dimension of students who exhibit aggressive behaviors, including their motivations and how to mitigate or neutralize them.
  • Investigate the role of leadership in identifying and responding to students who exhibit aggressive behaviors.
  • Discuss what can be done before college students arrive on campus to minimize the influence of students who exhibit aggressive behaviors have on their day-to-day lives.
  • Explore proactive ways of addressing the problem before it becomes manifest in a consistent manner.
  • Investigate techniques and tactics for defusing the influence of students who exhibit aggressive behaviors without insulting or alienating them.
  • Examine mechanisms for meeting the emotional needs of students who exhibit aggressive behaviors in more healthy and acceptable ways.
  • Critique real-life examples of effective and ineffective ways of responding to students who exhibit aggressive behaviors.

Who should attend:

Student Affairs Professionals at all levels, especially those who work in:

  • Orientation and Advising
  • Academic Advising and Retention
  • Housing/Residence Life
  • Career Services/Career Center
  • Enrollment Management
  • Alumni Affairs/Placement Services
  • Student Financial Assistance
  • Student Conduct


Dr. Aaron W. HugheyDr. Aaron W. Hughey is a Professor in the Department of Counseling and Student Affairs at Western Kentucky University, where he oversees the graduate degree program in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Before joining the faculty in 1991, he spent 10 years in progressive administrative positions, including five years as the Associate Director of University Housing at WKU. He was also head of the Department of Counseling and Student Affairs for five years before returning to the faculty full-time in 2008. Dr. Hughey has degrees from the University of Tennessee at Martin, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Western Kentucky University, and Northern Illinois University. He has authored (or co-authored) over 65 refereed publications on a wide range of issues including leadership and student development, standardized testing, diversity, legal issues (including compliance), technology, and educational administration. He regularly presents at national and international conferences and consults extensively with companies and schools. He also provides training and professional development programs on a variety of topics centered on student success; how to respond to Covid 19 effectively and realistically is one of his specialties.

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