A short list of things every UC Davis student should do to be respectful to your peers and professors. More general lists of classroom etiquette, from a prof or TA perspective, can be found elsewhere. See also UCD Email Etiquette.

  • Don't SPAM your professor. Excessive emails can be annoying. If you have several questions, ask them after class or in office hours. Do not send emails asking professors about what is going to be on tomorrow's exam.
  • Turn your cell phone off.
    • This is a huge distraction for everyone in the class. Apart from showing a cute little video at the beginning of every class (like at a movie theatre), I'm not sure what to do about it. What is most frustrating, I guess, is when the offender doesn't even look embarrassed. —CovertProfessor
      • Yep, I remember once when a phone went off in class... and the person actually answered it and said "Hello?" The whole class laughed, I guess at the person's audacity or cluelessness. However, I don't think this is a big deal overall. People are usually appropriately embarrassed (especially if the ring tone is something like "In Da Club") and quickly silence their phone. I've also been in more than one lecture where the professor's cell phone goes off. —DanielWorthington
  • Avoid food distractions. Ideally you wouldn't eat in class, but sometimes there's no time to eat in between classes. If you eat in class, be respectful. Don't bring smelly food, crunchy food, and avoid plastic wrap which is really loud when manipulated.
  • Humility is a virtue. Do not think that you are smarter than anyone else in class, even if you are. You are not. Therefore, don’t patronize your classmates with obnoxious comments directed at them.
    • I think it's great when students comment on other students' comments – voilà, we have a dialogue! It just needs to be done respectfully. —CovertProfessor
    • Is it just me, or do a lot of these "rules" seem patronizing in of themselves, at least the way they are worded? For instance, perhaps this one could simply be changed to "Be Respectful of Other People's Opinions" or something along those lines. —DanielWorthington
  • If you have to be late, at least be polite about it. If you think you are late for a class, and you see people hanging around outside your classroom, ask those people first if they are waiting for your class, don’t open the classroom door, stick your head in, this may only make yourself look bad as you interrupt some other class. If you are late for class, even a little bit late, enter the class from the back of the room and take the first available seat that doesn't require you climbing over the students who got there on time. If that seat is down in front, don't take it, just sit on the floor in the back. Your going to the front of the class, or coming in the front of the class across the path of a teacher who is lecturing, is really rude. So don't do it.
  • And if you're early... Move to the center of the row to sit down. That way people who get there later don't have to climb over ten people to get to the only open seat in the center, because you sat on the very end for no reason. Exception to this rule: left-handers sitting in lefty desks.
  • Ask good questions at appropriate times. If the class is a lecture-only class, find out the professor's policy on asking questions. Most professors encourage students to ask questions. Participation engages the students and is sometimes the only opportunity for the professor to gauge how well the students absorb the material. That said, the classroom should not be used as an arrogance showcase. Don't ask questions just to inflate your ego, and remember that nobody likes a know-it-all. If you find yourself the only student asking questions, keep in mind that students who monopolize class time can unintentionally intimidate other students from asking questions. When you do ask questions, try to stay on topic. Tangential questions can steer the professor off course, and can make the core material difficult to digest for other students.
    • As a professor, I welcome all questions. In fact, I wish more students asked questions. What I don't welcome is when people pontificate. Make it short and sweet, and remember that the classroom isn't your personal soapbox. Also, keep in mind that a professor may call on someone who hasn't spoken in awhile, even if you had your hand up first — and sometimes we just need to get back to the material, and so some questions may need to be asked during office hours. (Speaking of which: please come to office hours! It is one of the most underutilized resources on campus. Yes, some professors miss office hours, or don't like questions; all I can say is, seek out the professors who will give you the education that you deserve). —CovertProfessor
    • Listen when your fellow students ask questions and make comments; often those are the most insightful things said during the class period. —CovertProfessor
  • Be polite. When someone says to you, for your kindness, "Thank You," reply, "You’re welcome," not "No Problem." the former shows better that you care for the other individual rather than that you are begrudgingly lending them aid.
    • I'm not sure what this has to do with classroom behavior, in particular, but I've never thought that "no problem" implies begrudging aid. To me, it implies, "please don't worry that you've inconvenienced me." —CovertProfessor
    • Ive never been annoyed by people saying no problem i agree with covertprofessors analysis of such a statement. However i dislike it when i say thank you, and the other person says "uh huh." It just sounds rude like, oh yeah i was expecting a thank you and your not really welcome. -MattHh
  • Be respectful. The overwhelming majority of college students are over 18, and thus adults. So, female students are not "girls," but women; male students are not boys, but "men." And no one is a "kid." (Sadly, some professors also break this rule; maybe we need a page for professor etiquette, too).

-Debatable for sure, I never understood why they are called college kids... As a kid I was like wtf they are grown... Possessing hindsight it's a different story StevenDaubert

  • Do not engage in private conversation in class during lecture. This should be obvious, but I'm amazed how often it happens. It is so rude. If you missed something, make a note to ask your pal after lecture to fill you in. Also, when the professor stands up in front of the class to begin lecture, and you should know this by knowing the time, immediately be quiet. This is not hard to do, but again, I'm amazed how often it doesn't happen. We are in class to hear the teacher or each other discussing the material in an organized fashion, not to hear how drunk you got last night.
  • Don't sleep in class. You may be ejected.
    • Maybe the better advice here would be: get enough sleep so that you don't fall asleep in class. If it happens once or twice... well, it happens. But if it's happening regularly, there's definitely a problem.
    • i think as long as the student doesn't disturb anyone else and providing that it's a decently sized room where it's not conspicuous, it should be let go. considering how often students skip classes, it should be taken under consideration that the student willingly came to lecture despite being so tired —FredChen
  • Don't read the newspaper in class. Why are you in the room if you aren't going to pay attention?
    • Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with reading the newspaper in class, given certain circumstances. If you are reading something, you are most certainly awake, which cannot be said of many students during many lectures. Furthermore, most people don't "read" the newspaper, but rather glance at certain articles/pictures. Thus, this type of reading shouldn't interfere with one's ability to take down notes. — PatrickSing
      • From one perspective, reading and sleeping are the same — neither sleepers nor readers are fully paying attention. (People can doze and catch things here and there). From another perspective, the newspaper readers are worse than the sleepers. Sleepers are tired and can't help it, whereas the newspaper readers can. I have a lot more sympathy for the sleepers. Remember, this is a page on etiquette. Imagine what it is like to have spent hours preparing a presentation, only to stand in front of a bunch of people who are reading the paper, texting their friends, etc. Let's just say that it's a bit "deflating" — and yes, it's rude. —CovertProfessor
      • Some professors and students find reading the news paper even worse than sleeping because sleeping is usually less distracting. Its one thing when someone has folded up the NP really small so they can do the sudoku (even though i don't agree with this) and its another thing to have it all laid out and big. Also there is noise that is associated with the newspaper. As a student i find it really irritating when someone is reading one next to me. MattHh
  • It isn't over until it's over. Don't start collecting your things while the professor is still talking, unless the class is running over time; the rustling of backpacks, papers, etc., is very distracting. If your professor isn't ending class on time, you could try discussing this politely with him/her during office hours, pointing out that you have another class to attend which is all the way across campus, etc. It is your professor's responsibility to end the class on time, and he or she should be sympathetic to your concerns. If the professor continues to end late, sit in the back or next to an aisle so when you leave you minimize the disturbance.
  • Show some interest in your own education. Don't pick a class solely on the basis of how it fits into your schedule. Pick your classes based on the topic and the professor who is teaching the class. It might seem as though you will be happier with the cozy schedule; trust me, you won't. I see those students all of the time, and it's ultimately frustrating for them and frustrating for me. At the risk of being trite, college is an opportunity to learn all sorts of amazing things; don't squander it.
    • The idea of having three consecutive 2-hour engineering lectures is not pleasant. The possibility of having three tests/quizzes in a row on one day, or having three homework assignments due on one day. Scheduling matters! — PatrickSing
      • Good point. I think it is wise to schedule classes so you can handle the load. (But you can still try to pick classes that interest you, given the constraints of scheduling). Some students, however, will do the opposite — they will schedule all of their classes in a bunch to get them over with. I realize that many students have other commitments they are trying to fit in: work, family, etc. But they do themselves a disservice when too many are packed together (as Patrick's post suggests), and they do themselves a double disservice if they take courses that they are not interested in. —CovertProfessor
        • one of my freshman mistakes was bowing to the pressure of a quick graduation and scheduling 3 major classes in the same quarter. needless to say, my gpa was not happy
  • If you are absent, come back with your manners intact. Professor Pet Peeve #1: "I missed class on (fill in the date). Did I miss anything?" Nope, not a thing — we were waiting for you.
  • Raise your hand. If you want to ask a question or make a comment, it is best to raise your hand. If the professor does not see you and appears to be moving on to a new topic, then an interjection may be warranted.
  • Take a shower before coming to class. This shouldn't mean that you literally take a shower 20 minutes before class, but more like shower within the last 24 hours of the class. If you are going to sit between two people in one row, and maybe among dozens of people in one section, there is nothing else in the world that will ruin the lives of those other people than the smell of BO for a one or two hour lecture.
    • for god's sake, when you are sitting elbow to elbow in the middle of a lecture, dont take out a cotton swab and start cleaning your ears
  • Cheesy classroom etiquette I saw the best one yesterday. I don't know if this qualifies as etiquette; it definitely qualifies as ethics. The infraction took place in a discussion group. A student came in that day and he/she hadn't done the reading. No, it wasn't me. He/she scrambled to get clued in by asking us, his/her session mates, the Cliff Notes version of the assigned reading. We happily updated him/her so he/she could play along too, but I was slightly cheesed by it all. What got me (and I don't know if I'm so much annoyed as I am galled) was how he/she acted when called upon by the teacher assistant to give his/her impressions of the book. He/She produced a pretty crafty answer but took it too far by talking at length about that which he/she had no idea. I think the TA was on to him/her, but maybe not. So, you be the judge: ethics or etiquette. I think it is a question of humility as well.


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(on WS's advice to not ask questions during lectures) is ridiculous. I'm not paying thousands of dollars every quarter so I can sit silently and "politely" in lecture, not asking my questions, just to avoid offending some prick in the front row. If I've got a question and I feel like asking it, I'm damn well going to ask it. -ph

I find it ironic that this page was written with such negativity. Perhaps this should in the future be expanded to a general compendium of student etiquette for beyond the classroom, as there may be cultural differences in dealing with townsfolk, other students, and the like? ~DavidPoole

2007-01-26 09:00:08   College is a mental playground - that costs thousands of dollars. When someone says "Thank You," reply with whatever the fuck you want. —JoshFernandez

2007-01-30 17:07:38   Hmm... I was going to post a large amount of text here, but I won't. I'll just leave it at this: if you follow these guidelines, great! If not, well, you're probably just an inconsiderate slob. Myself included. —TusharRawat

2007-06-09 20:15:21   Learn the difference between affect and effect. Seriously, you were supposed to have learned that in high school. I hate reading papers where students mix them up. —AmyGoogenspa

  • Also, please learn the difference between "its" and "it's", which you should have learned in grade school. One way to remember the proper usage is that "it's" is a contraction for "it is." If you can substitute "it is" in the sentence, then use "it's." But if you can't, then use "its." ("Its" is a possessive, as in the sentence: "Davis has a lot of bikes for its size."). You should also know the difference between "your" and "you're"; between "their," "there," and "they're"; and between "too" and "to." —CovertProfessor

2007-06-09 20:18:17   I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing to take a class because it fits in with your schedule. In college you don't always know what you are interested in because you haven't taken the class yet, so deciding between classes with something like class time puts in a little bit of randomness. Sometimes the randomness leads you places you never would have thought about, but end up loving. Plus, if you're not a morning person, you're not going to go to your 8 am class. —AmyGoogenspa

I can see your point, Amy. If you are the type of student who is open to learning new things, then it won't matter if you pick a random class because you will give it half a chance. But not everyone is like that, unfortunately. —CovertProfessor

2007-06-09 22:17:35   I have to disagree about arriving early to class and sitting in the center. When I get there early I like to sit towards the edge of the row so I can get out faster. People can choose where ever they want to sit. —SimonFung

Well, then, I am absolutely sorry when I bump across you and everyone else in my way to the center as everyone has a need to leave faster. Is that few seconds advantage in leaving such a big issue anyway, I prefer to not have my feet stepped, and not be hit by backpacks. ~DavidPoole

Dave, don't worry about my knees. I took food science 10 last quarter and in a lecture hall of 500 freshman, it takes 5 minutes just to be able to stand up and leave. I am glad I didn't have a class right afterwards because there would have been no way for me to leave and make it on time.

2007-06-28 21:01:48   Ever have that child in class who thinks he or she is not only smarter than all of the other students, but smarter than the professor as well? This is really a superclass of the children who think they are smarter than all the other students. Yes, you know who you are. You are the one who thinks the professor is having a private conversation with you. You are the one who answers 36 questions without raising your hand (I counted, jackass) and without waiting more than a femtosecond to exhibit your severe case of the verbal runs. You are Einstein reincarnate. Maybe even smarter, more like God or something. Anyway, shut up, you sound like an ass, and you are acting really stupid. The best part is that when the professor shuts you down you are too full of yourself to realize that you were just humiliated in front of 50 students who want to throw pencils through your eyes and force you to wander alone for a few years before returning.

Best, ColinMcEnroe

2007-09-21 12:11:03   What about doing homework for other classes during class? I had a class where the prof covered the material rather slowly. I was one of the few people in class answering questions and participating in discussions, and was acing the quizzes without studying, but was bored most of the time in class. I felt it was the best use of my class time to quietly do homework since I had plenty of it. I was able to listen and take notes at the same time, but the teacher took offense and asked me to quit. Is doing homework in class rude in general? Do other teachers have issues with this? I feel that if I'm paying for the class and not being disruptive, how I keep my hands and mind busy is up to me. I also see how it could drive the prof nuts if I'm seemingly "not paying attention" to the lecture they've prepared. Thoughts? —~~~~ —NoahElhardt

Speaking for myself, I put a lot of time into preparing for a class, and expend a lot mental and physical energy during the class itself. So, it's rather... deflating when people are doing other things during class, as well as distracting, and yes, I do think it is a bit rude. While it's true that you are paying for the class, it's also true that we are not machines, and so we are motivated by interested students, demotivated by uninterested students, no matter how hard one tries to be "on" all the time, regardless. Having said that, if someone were answering questions and participating in discussion — and thus, obviously listening — I'm much less likely to have an issue with it. I can only imagine that you were in a small class, or at least sitting up front, because otherwise how would the professor have known? I do think the rules are a bit different, if, say, you are sitting around a small seminar table where everyone can see that you're doing something else. (By the way, I'd also be open to a student telling me that they thought I was going a bit too slowly — that kind of feedback, given in an email or during office hours, can be very useful. Of course, sometimes it just happens that students are learning at very different paces, and that's a tough problem to solve). —CovertProfessor

I've recently taken to sewing during class. I worry about it being a distraction to others and try to stay towards the back or sides of the class, but for me, it's a miracle solution to the problems I've always (since grade school) had with being able to stay awake and attentive, regardless of teacher and interest level of the class. I'm able to pay closer attention and take better notes when occupied with something relatively brainless. It sounds like NoahElhardt may be in a similar situation (not to imply the other homework is brainless). I'm guessing this is a situation where it's probably best to talk to the professor and explain that it isn't anything personal or a lack of desire to be in the class. Noah - not to suggest you take up sewing, but maybe something more neutral to work on would be taken less personally. I do have a professor who will kick students out of class for doing other homework. Thankfully, I'm taking it as a telecourse (WCC), so he can't see me being less than 100% attentive :) —JessicaLuedtke

Talking to the professor about it is a good suggestion, especially if you frame it as a way to help you concentrate. I've never had a student say something like that to me, but I have had students tell me that they work the night shift, so if they sleep in class, please don't take it personally; or that they are diabetic, so sometimes they have to eat in class... things like that. Of course, I can't vouch for my fellow professors for sure, but in my book, an explanation like that goes a long way. —CovertProfessor

2007-09-21 12:36:11   I hate when people pass around various materials during class, although it only happens the first week. —GregWebb

2007-09-22 02:24:12   GregWebb- When the materials gets to you, you can... 1) Put the pile of flyers on the ground in front of you and basically stop the chain 2) Yell "I got SPAM BLOCKER!" and smack the person who's passing it to you 3) Say no thank you to the person passing it to you so he's forced to direct the materials elsewhere and end up looking like an idiot. —KaiWan

  • This is gold.

2007-09-22 13:36:03   This page was getting texty, so I added condensed points in bold. Feel free to improve my summaries. The page was getting hard to read, that's all. —TaniaG

2007-11-06 00:22:57   I don't agree with the part that says you have to move to the center of a row of seats if you are one of the first to arrive in the hall. A lot of people arrive early so that they can get comfortable seats in the lecture hall, and generally speaking, the most comfortable are the ones that are along the aisles where you are guaranteed to have some breathing room (e.g. not completely surrounded by seats and other people). Thus, why should late people be rewarded with those seats?


  • Agreed. I always ended up picking my seats based on how much space I have versus how much other people will hassle me. Trying to get the aisle seat, but near the front, or side, or where the rows are unevenly spaced so that you can slip in and out against the wall. *Especially* during a test. One of the worst experiences I had was when a TA forced me and others to move to the middle of a row during a midterm in Young Hall. I finished my test early and was stuck. And it was during winter quarter, when the heater is on and the room gets muggy and stuffy and ugh... The early bird should get the worm. Aisle seats are highly desired. -ES
  • one time for a chem midterm in chem 194, i was 1 minute late to the test and saw an open seat next a guy in the top left corner. it was a row of 5 seats and 2 people were sitting on seat 1 and 4. knowing the every other seat rule for midterms, i asked the guy on seat 4 if he could scoot over so that i could sit in seat 3 and take the test. the guy actually had the nerve to look me in the face and refuse me FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON. i spent 2 precious minutes looking for a seat before i took my test. end rant-fredchen

2008-10-21 08:39:25   I agree with the above comments. The early bird gets the worm. I would arrive early at my first class of the day and sit on an end in the back so I could exit ASAP to get to my next class, to prevent being late. It takes serious time hoof it from Meyer to Young on foot! I think the reward for getting to class on time is getting to sit where you please. Just don't complain when people need to climb over you to get to their seats in the middle. —AmLin

2008-10-21 11:29:24   During my NPB 101 final (back in the day), this girl's cell phone started ringing. In the middle of the exam. It was loud and it had one of those truly obnoxious ring tones (I'm sure the owner thought it was just so cute though). Anyway, the girl did not shut it off right away. She just let it ring and ring while continuing to work on her exam.

Normally, when people forget to turn off their phones and it starts to ring, they realize they screwed up and have the decency to immediately silence the phone. Not this girl. She didn't seem concerned that she was causing a huge disturbance during a final (and for a lot of us, an extremely important one). She wasn't properly ashamed, either. Her cell phone just kept ringing and ringing (you'd think that it would have stopped and just gone to voice mail after so many rings, but not this one). And then finally, my buddy (who was also taking the final) turned to her and yelled, "Turn it off!".

Oh it was ridiculously awesome. —CurlyGirl26

* This one still seems open to interpretation. I personally say "no worries", and I don't think that that is a big deal. If someone complained about it, I would probably think they were reading too much into the specific phrasing of my response. As a corresponding example, it bugs the hell out of me when people say 'nukyeler' as opposed to nuclear, but I don't correct them because I know what they are going for. —JoePomidor

2008-11-12 21:16:42   I CANNOT stress enough how annoying it is to eat in class. Sometimes the smells (combined with body heat and B.O.) is so bad I feel like throwing up or passing out. I do have two out-of-classroom etiquette questions: do Professors get bothered if you ask questions through email? I don't live in Davis, so sometimes it is difficult for me to make Office Hours, so emailing my prof is a lot easier. Also, is it rude to ask a prof if you can take a test early or at a later date (early, given they have enough time to prepare, and later in the event that you are very ill)? —ArianeMetz

  • In general, I don't mind getting asked questions via email, but it depends on the question. If it only requires a relatively short answer, then it's fine. But if it requires a longer answer, then usually those are too hard to get across over email and face-to-face would be better. Also, if you are asking for something (e.g., a letter of recommendation, an extension on an assignment), these requests have a bit more weight if they are asked for in person. As for asking to take an exam early: generally I would never allow this, because it would mean that I'd have to have a completely separate version of the exam just for that person, and often I don't have the exam ready early in any case. (Professors procrastinate too, you know). But if someone was genuinely ill or had some other serious emergency that prevented them from taking the exam at the scheduled time, then I wouldn't hesitate to let them take it late. —CovertProfessor
  • If you're ill enough to want to delay an exam, make sure you get even a cursory check up at Student Health and get a doctor's note from them. It may seem trivial, but do it - many professors really don't like the change up. Especially in smaller upper division courses. I was once severely sick during finals week, took two exams and decided I couldn't handle the other three and tried to delay them. It was extremely awkward, but each professor handles it differently. One was extremely nice about it, the other was just fine and cordial, and one was a huge jerk about it and didn't want to let me delay it despite the doctor's note from student health. I argued with him (I believe there's some sort of policy somewhere saying they have to), and he ended up honoring it reluctantly. He didn't want to rewrite the test and take the time away (he was young, his second year teaching) I was scared as hell he'd give me a monster test (and he actually threatened to give me a hugely different format/questions, with a followup of if I just want a normal test, why don't I just bring a few tissues to class, but that's another story). They may have to modify an exam, or in the case of some courses, completely rewrite it, but it's really a lot harder on you. You're sick, stressed, and trying to study. In my case, I was diagnosed with a severe respiratory infection (chest x-ray in my hometown showed it was huge - I hate student health) and given some heavy duty antibiotics. I was really sick :( I ended up going back to the professors whose exams I delayed to either thank them or inform them I actually was very sick. I didn't want the last one in particular to think I was trying to wuss out due to the sniffles (which he had implied). TLDR; each professor handles it differently, if you're really sick visit student health and be sure to get an excuse note. Policy will be on your side. -ES

2011-01-20 13:19:47   THE BIGGEST concern for me is the inappropriate use of left handed desks. In a society that prides itself on equality dominant hand usage is a highly overlooked difference. It might not seem like a big deal to people who use everyday objects with their right hands without difficulty, but for a lefty like me, a left-handed desk is an invaluable resource. In most classes there are only a handful of left-handed desks out of the total number in the room; in fact, in some classes there are NO lefty desks even offered (in Olson it's often only ONE). If you are NOT left handed, DO NOT use one of these desks.

I realize that people like lefty desks because they are always on the end, and thus you can get out faster after lecture, but I get more than frustrated when I enter a class and see all of the lefty desks taken by right-handed people. Do you realize how difficult it can be to use a righty desk if you are not right-handed? Especially in science-type lecture halls like Chem or Everson? Those desks are literally a tiny plank of wood that rests on your right knee, and are of NO USE to a lefty like me.


Sincerely, That one girl in your English class who you hear bitching about the left-handed desks every day,


2012-06-05 23:36:18   To the above comment: Wouldn't it just as hard to use a left handed desk if you were right handed? For me it makes almost no difference... —MarleyWH

  • The left-handed desks are not the mirror image of the right-handed ones. They have a bigger desk space overall, and so can be used easily by either right-handers or left-handers. (And so why aren't all the desks like that?? $$$, I imagine). —CovertProfessor

2012-06-06 19:45:33   Interesting page. I'm a TA and a largely agree with most comments, although some, like where to sit, do feel a bit nitpicky. Also, I'm a lefty, and have never really had a problem with regular desks. :-)

One comment that has come up a few times is the "I pay for this so X" argument. I don't think this holds water. Paying tuition at a university is similar to holding stock in a company. You certainly have a say in how things run, but this doesn't give you license to do anything you want. Nor should you. One certainly 'pay's at a restaurant, but this doesn't justify acting however one pleases, being rude to the waiters and other guests, etc.

If you were the sole patron of a professor, and paid her individually to teach you twice weekly, then the 'I pay' argument might work. Paying tuition certainly gives us a say, but it certainly doesn't entitle us to do whatever we want.

To close, after being here for a few quarters I've had a great experience with 99.99% of my students—it's the 0.01% that give us something to talk about. :) —Profe