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The Accountability Process

Spring Arbor University’s goal is to provide a safe and orderly environment for its students. In keeping with that goal, the purpose of accountability is to assist individuals within the community to grow personally and to help the University community maintain a safe environment conducive to growth.

Personal growth and maturity are encouraged most when the entire University community shares in supporting each other. Therefore, deviations from community expectations may be best handled among peers using the redemptive model found in Matthew 18:15-16. We understand this scripture to mean that individuals care enough to confront each other individually and when that is not effective to involve the campus community.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’”

Anyone can report a violation of SAU’s Community Standards. When community standard violations come to the attention of University faculty and/or staff one or more of the following responses may be given with regard to any rule or policy violations at the University. When deemed appropriate by the University, SAU reserves the right to notify parents, coaches, and appropriate faculty and staff of an accountability matter. In situations where the safety of students, faculty, or staff may be involved, the University reserves the right to conduct an emergency student accountability meeting, and if necessary at the discretion of the University, remove a student or individual from campus prior to or at any time during the accountability process.

Fair and Impartial Process

It is Spring Arbor University’s desire to treat all students equitably when there is a situation that warrants confrontation that could lead to an accountability response. All students will receive a fair and impartial hearing, an oral summary of the reported behavioral infraction and a written determination of the case in question. Students, as noted, do have an appeal process. The University reserves the right to deviate from the accountability procedures set forth herein, in its discretion, when the University feels that such action is required due to special circumstances.  In matters involving allegations of sexual harassment that are within the Title IX definition of sexual harassment and in which either one or both parties are students, the Title IX grievance procedure will be used to process the complaint, and the hearing process and appeal rights contained in the Title IX grievance procedure will be followed. The Title IX grievance procedure also will be used to process complaints of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.   

Inquiries pertaining to Spring Arbor University’s compliance with state and federal non-discrimination regulations should be directed to the Vice President for Student Development and Success.

Growth Initiative

If a student’s behavior has violated the policies of the University, and if the student desires to confess and be supported in reflecting and making better choices in the future, the student is encouraged to take the initiative to discuss the behavior or concern with a student leader, faculty member, counselor, coach, or a Student Development and Success staff member. Upon doing so, the student may be exempt from certain disciplinary actions for behavior up to the time the growth initiative begins. The following requirements must be met in order to take advantage of the growth initiative:

  • The student must initiate the contact. Once a student has been confronted and/or formal accountability has begun, the situation can no longer be addressed within the framework of the growth initiative.
  • The student must sign a behavior contract with a Student Development and Success staff member. This contract will specify the desired behavior changes, the obligations to the University and/or selected mentors, and the type of assistance the student will receive from the University in accomplishing goals for change. Breach of contract may subject the student to formal accountability (probation or dismissal).

It is Spring Arbor University’s desire to respect the integrity of a student who has initiated a request for help by offering them support. It should be noted that in cases where behavior is repetitive, self-destructive, hazardous to others or of significant legal concern, the University may respond accordingly. Depending upon the behavior in question, the University reserves the right to require the person to enter a professional setting where adequate help is available. Also, it may be the case that, because of the nature of certain behaviors, specific University or civil consequences may be unavoidable even when a growth initiative is in place. A student leader, because of his/her community responsibilities may be asked to take leave from their leadership role while on a growth initiative.

Accountability Hearing Process

SAU is committed to a hearing process and responses that are neither capricious nor arbitrary. The student will be notified of the reason for an accountability hearing.

Committee Structure

A Student Development and Success staff member will chair the hearings.

Other members of the committee may include: Resident Directors associated with the student, other Student Development and Success staff and occasionally coaches or faculty members when appropriate.

The chairperson will meet with the committee members and provide the details of the discipline situation. The committee will review Student Handbook policy and procedure regarding the specific offense.

The student will meet with the committee alone. Recording devices are not permitted. Cell phones must be turned off. If others wish to offer information, a typed statement submitted to the committee chairperson prior to the hearing will be considered.

Hearing Structure

Portion with the Student:

  • The chairperson will introduce everyone present and begin the hearing.
  • The student will give his/her account of the situation and any other information.
  • The committee will ask the student questions to clarify any inconsistencies, etc.

Committee Review, Decision, and Implementation:

  • The committee will review the student’s statement and the information provided to the committee.
  • The committee will once again refer to the Student Handbook to ensure proper procedure and policy enforcement.
  • The committee will make its decision concerning its response to the student’s actions.
  • The student will be contacted as soon as the committee reaches a decision.
  • The chairperson will prepare an accountability statement for the student. The student will receive a printed copy and an electronic copy will go into the student’s file held in the Student Development and Success office.

Appeals Process

Every student has the right to apply for one appeal. All applications for appeals must be made within 24 hours of the student’s receipt of the initial decision.

The appeal application must be typed and emailed to the Associate Vice President (AVP) for Student Development and Success ( The AVP may meet with the student to discuss the appeal. An appeal committee will be convened if the written appeal, in the judgment of the AVP, meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. The procedures stated in the Student Handbook were significantly violated.
  2. New evidence is presented that would likely have changed the accountability committee’s decision.

If the appeal application is approved, an appeal committee will be assembled by the vice president for Student Development and Success (SDS) and will consist of two faculty members, two SDS staff members who did not serve on the original accountability committee and a member of the President’s Cabinet other than the vice president of SDS. This appeal committee will make a decision based on the policies stated in the Student Handbook. Notes from the accountability hearing and information from the AVP regarding the appeal application will be reviewed. The Vice President for SDS will meet with the student involved and share a letter from the appeal committee outlining their decision. The decision of the appeal committee is final.

Disciplinary Responses

The following list includes representative examples of disciplinary responses. The goal of our disciplinary process is personal growth and community development. Although there is often a progression in sanctions, responses for violations of University policy are at the sole discretion of the accountability officer(s) who take each situation’s individual and community impact into consideration.


The student in contacted personally and a discussion is held about behavior or attitudes.


Students who receive an accountability sanction will be placed on probation for a specified time determined by the accountability committee. Probation is meant to be an encouragement and a reminder to respect and uphold SAU community standards. The following means of accountability may also be applied during part of the probationary period to encourage growth:

  • Completing an online educational program. Cost of this program will be at the expense of the student.
  • Writing an essay
  • Mentoring relationship with a faculty/staff member
  • Community service hours
  • Counseling
  • Restitution, (i.e. payment or service)
  • Fines
  • Loss of Privileges (including, but not limited to):
    • open hour visits
    • extracurricular or co-curricular privileges (Students involved in leadership activities such as Student Government Association, drama, choir, athletics, ministry teams, music teams, etc., may forfeit a certain percentage of their participation and/ or compensation.)
    • parking on-campus
  • Offense-specific project/education program

Eviction / Removal from University Housing

The University reserves the right to remove a student from University housing. Access to other University-owned facilities can also be restricted. Examples of behavior that could result in such removal or restrictions would be disruptive, rude or threatening behavior or destruction of community/University property. The parents of the student may be notified of the student’s status. Housing costs will be forfeited as specified by the University’s refund policy (see Business Office for details); meal plan costs may be refunded at a pro-rated rate.

Removal from Campus / Trespassing

In addition to any of the above sanctions, a student or visitor may be officially notified that their presence on Spring Arbor University’s campus is disallowed for any period of time in the future and may result in formal arrest and “Trespassing” prosecution. If it is deemed necessary for the safety of the individual or the campus, the University reserves the right to require a student to leave campus immediately while an investigation is being conducted. Parents may be notified of the student’s status.


The student’s enrollment will be terminated and he or she typically will be required to leave campus within 24 hours after the dismissal is announced. The University reserves the right to require the student to leave the campus immediately, while an investigation is conducted, if it is deemed appropriate. The student’s parents may be notified of the student’s status. The student may reapply for admission in the term stated in the letter outlining the terms of the dismissal. As a condition of re-enrollment, the University may require mentoring, educational programming and other accountability measures. Tuition, room and board costs will be forfeited as specified by the University’s refund policy (see Business Office for details).