Accountability and discipline serve an important purpose in the growth of the individual and the well-being of the community at Gordon College. Each member of the community has committed to live within the College’s expectations of life and conduct which are included in this handbook. When an individual fails to meet the responsibilities that are inherent in membership in this community, there is a need for accountability. The purpose, therefore, for accountability and discipline at Gordon is to create an opportunity for change and growth in the life of the individual, and to create an environment that is distinctively Christian and conducive to learning.
Any discussion of accountability begins, of course, with self-discipline. One of Gordon’s primary goals is to help students become less dependent on rules to govern their behavior and more dependent on their own ability to discern what is right, independent of peer pressure and external props. The highest objectives of self-discipline at Gordon are consistent with the biblical principles that are foundational to our community and are emphasized in the College’s Life and Conduct Statement: “Life within a Christian community must be lived to the glory of God, daily conforming ourselves to the image of Christ and recognizing the Lordship of Christ in every activity." Members of the Gordon community are called to “assume responsibility for their own behavior as it reflects upon their Lord, their community and themselves, particularly in the area of personal freedom, (see Life and Conduct, General Principles). It is with these goals in mind that members of the Gordon community are expected to hold themselves accountable for their own behavior.
When self-discipline breaks down, peer accountability becomes necessary. Members of the Gordon community are expected to share responsibility for each other’s growth, to willingly express concern and to caringly confront one another. This type of accountability is a necessary element of responsible biblical relationships in our community, including those among students, faculty and staff. Gordon’s expectations for life and conduct call us to become a community where our actions “are not solely a private matter.” We are called to “be concerned about the welfare of other individuals within the community and of the community as a whole” (see General Principles). This level of concern and accountability is essential to produce the support and impetus that enables an individual to change inappropriate behavior and to effect significant growth in a person’s life and in the life of the community. Because of this strong belief in peer accountability, Gordon students who assist or encourage other students to violate the behavioral standards of the community also may be subject to the disciplinary action outlined below.
Failure to comply with the directions of College officials or being uncooperative or disrespectful to College officials in the performance of their duties will not be tolerated. This includes, but is not limited to, resident directors, resident advisors, apartment coordinators, Gordon Police officers and any faculty or staff member.
If behavioral change does not occur as a result of peer accountability and behavior continues that is inappropriate to community life at Gordon, community accountability will take place. Community accountability entails confrontation from a Resident Assistant (RA), Resident Director, Dean, or the Vice President for Student Life. It is desirable that this accountability occurs at the level closest to the infraction. Consequently, inappropriate behavior may first be confronted by the RA. In instances where an RA’s involvement does not bring the appropriate change in behavior, the RA will take the situation to the resident director. Issues unresolved at that level may be taken to the Office of Student Life.
At any point in the process of community accountability, a disciplinary response may occur. RAs and resident directors may administer some disciplinary sanctions. Certain behaviors that have been judged by the community to be of a more serious nature may be confronted by an RA, Resident Director, Dean, or Vice President for Student Life. However, the disciplinary response to these more serious behaviors will be determined by a disciplinary hearing in the Office of Student Life.
Cases that are referred to the Office of Student Life will be heard, depending on the nature of the violation, by a vice president, dean or a staff hearing panel. The dean of student life or vice president for student life will determine the appropriate hearing venue of all hearings. For procedures related to sexual misconduct (including sexual harassment and sexual assault), please see the Handbook's section on Nondiscrimination & Protection Policies, Title IX as well as the College's website on sexual misconduct. For procedures related to Academic Dishonesty, see Academic Policies, Academic Dishonesty. All records and outcomes of cases are forwarded to the Vice President for Student Life.
There are a variety of sanctions that may be invoked as disciplinary responses. They include: fines, letters of contract, counseling and educational programs, disciplinary probation, community work hours, restriction of housing and other privileges, leaves of absence and suspension. Suspensions may be administered only in disciplinary hearings. Parents of dependent students will be notified that disciplinary sanctions have been assessed.
Suspension normally follows continued violations of the College’s policies, compromises to personal integrity, disruptions to community life, and threats to the health and safety of others. Although suspension is normally reserved for multiple infractions, it can be used after a first offense if the violation is considered particularly egregious or involves concerns over the health and safety of others.
Suspension is the separation of the student from the College for a full academic semester or more. Returning to the College after suspension is conditional upon application and readmission to Gordon; and a student’s readmission is at the discretion of the College. Parents of dependent students are notified and a record is kept in the student’s file. No refunds are made.
Expulsion is a permanent suspension and will only be used as a last resort.
Gordon College offers a range of support services to address the medical and psychological needs of students within the context of the campus community. At times, students may experience health needs requiring a level of care that exceeds what the College can appropriately provide. In such cases, students may decide to take a voluntary leave of absence and, when applicable, file a tuition insurance claim for the semester.
Gordon College may initiate a mandatory leave of absence when:
When the College has evidence of the behavioral issues listed above, a medical/psychological evaluation may be required. The results of the evaluation will be provided to the dean of student life. In addition, the vice president for student life or her designee may consult with the student about his/her behavior and, to the extent permitted by law, may also notify the student’s parent, guardian, or another appropriate adult. The vice president for student life will make the final decision regarding approval of a mandatory leave of absence. The student has the right to be informed of all pertinent information leading to the leave of absence decision. The length of the leave of absence will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and the conditions under which a student may return to the College will be identified at the time of the leave of absence.
As a way of supporting and encouraging students to live healthy and faithful lives, Gordon College has developed an approach to encourage godly living and reconciliation to the community standards. Students who have engaged in behaviors outside the Life and Conduct Statement, and who are seeking to change those behaviors, will have the opportunity to access our on-campus support network rather than adhere to the routine disciplinary process. Issues of special concern may include such things as use of illegal drugs, abuse of alcohol, use of pornography, or inappropriate sexual behaviors. Requests must precede any disciplinary confrontation resulting from behaviors contrary to the Life and Conduct Statement. Students who seek help will be given supportive, appropriate, and confidential assistance for accountability from caring staff.
When a student reaches out to a staff member for amnesty under this policy, the staff member will report it to the dean of student life and/or the assistant dean of student life. The assistant dean of student life and/or the dean of student life will reach out to the student to set up a meeting to discuss a support plan for the student. Attendance at this meeting and consistent engagement with the agreed-upon support plan are necessary to the student avoiding any disciplinary consequences. Students who have applied for amnesty but consistently demonstrate an unwillingness to engage with the support structure may face standard disciplinary consequences for their behavior.
Please contact the Office of Student Life at extension 4263 or [email protected] for more information.