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Community Standards

Introduction to Community Standards

In keeping with the distinctive Christian nature of our community, Spring Arbor University establishes the following lifestyle expectations and standards. It should be noted that this list is considered a baseline and is not necessarily comprehensive and all-inclusive in nature. The University faculty and administration reserve the right to confront and address other behaviors both on and off campus that are complex and/or viewed by the University as disruptive, dangerous, destructive, unbiblical or inconsistent with the Spring Arbor University mission.

By enrolling at SAU, all students agree to abide by these Community Standards during the academic year. We recognize that some students may personally disagree with an SAU Community Standard. All students are welcome to join the student body as long as they are committed to adhering to these behavioral guidelines. Because Spring Arbor University promotes community cooperation and interpersonal respect, all students are required to abstain from hosting, promoting or being part of scenarios where a fellow student, or any other individual, is encouraged or given opportunity to violate the letter and/or the spirit of the aforementioned standards and expectations.

Resident and commuting students are responsible to abide by the Community Standards both on and off campus from the day they arrive on campus until they leave in the spring semester and/or May term.

All Community Standards must be adhered to if a student chooses to live, work or attend classes on campus during the summer. Additionally, SAU does reserve the right to address the nontraditional student who resides off campus, on an individual basis.

The University fully expects all of its students to abide by the legal standards of the county, state and federal governments. The University reserves the right to hold students accountable when made aware of any such violations, or any violation of federal, state or municipal law, whether on or off campus.

Community Policies

Alcohol and Tobacco

On- and off-campus, students are obligated to abstain from the use, possession or distribution of alcohol (including “near-beer” or drinks with any alcohol content) or tobacco (including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, hookah, vaping and e-cigarettes).


The University has established the following policy regarding illegal drugs, marijuana, mind-altering substances, prescription and non-prescription drugs (See the University’s Policy regarding the Use of Alcohol, Tobacco and Illegal Drugs in the Appendices of this Handbook for complete details):

  • It is a violation of University policy for any student to use, manufacture, possess, sell, trade, offer for sale or offer to buy illegal drugs, or otherwise engage in the illegal use of drugs on or off campus.
  • It is a violation of University policy for any student to be under the influence of, or possess in his or her body, blood or urine, any illegal substances in any detectable amount.
  • It is a violation of University policy for any student to use prescription drugs illegally — that is, to use prescription drugs that have not been legally obtained or for a purpose or amount other than as prescribed.
  • The possession or use of marijuana, including prescribed medical marijuana, is prohibited on- or off-campus.
  • It is a violation of University policy to possess drug paraphernalia.
  • Violations of this policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the University.

Spring Arbor University reserves the right to require that any student submit to a physical examination or clinical testing designed to detect the presence of drugs, including, but not limited to urine or hair follicle, when reasonable suspicion exists that the student is under the influence of or is improperly using drugs in violation of this policy. Reasonable suspicion for testing is determined at the sole discretion of University officials. Reasonable grounds for drug-testing may include, but are not limited to:

  • Unexplainable incoherent behavior
  • Drug-related odors on person, clothing, equipment, or in living quarters
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Observable phenomena, such as direct observation of substance abuse or physical symptoms or manifestations of being impaired due to substance abuse
  • A report of substance abuse or use provided by a reliable and credible source

Testing for drugs will be administered at a local clinic or hospital selected by the University. Refusal to comply with testing when it is requested will be considered a violation of the University’s drug policy and may result in discipline up to and including dismissal from the University. If a student’s test results are positive for drug use, the student will be responsible for the expense of the test. If a student’s test results are negative for drug use, the University will be responsible for the expense of the test.

Discrimination and Harassment

Spring Arbor University is committed to creating a community that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment. SAU endeavors to prevent all forms of discrimination and does not discriminate against any protected classes as defined by law and in accordance with the University’s standards of Christian behavior and its statutory exemptions and designation. The University prohibits behavior which creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive environment, or which prevents free academic interaction and opportunities for critical discourse. Examples of such inappropriate behavior may include but are not limited to: insensitive verbal or written comments via social media and/or hardcopy, slurs, threats, jokes, teasing, racial profiling, prejudice or overt bias. Violation of this community standard will not be tolerated and will be addressed through the student accountability system. When necessary, consultation will be sought from SAU’s Chief Diversity Officer. (See “Baseline Levels of Accountability Process” in the next section and Appendices for full Policy and University Response for more information.)

Sexuality and Relationships

Scripture teaches that we are all created in the image of God, male and female, and the biblical definition of marriage is an intimate union to be entered into by one man and one woman. Therefore, intimate sexual expression is to be confined to the marriage relationship. We believe that all human families were established by God to perpetuate humankind and to provide a stable community nurturing faith and living.

All students, regardless of age, sexual preference, residency or status, are required to abstain from cohabitation, inappropriate sexual behavior, any involvement in premarital or extramarital sexual activity, and same-sex dating behaviors. Cohabitation is defined as being unsupervised with a member of the opposite sex at inappropriate times in a room, apartment or other area.

SAU affirms the full humanity and dignity of every human being and recognizes that human sexuality is a complex and sometimes-divisive topic. SAU welcomes individuals who ascribe to views on sexuality that do not always align with University beliefs as long they commit to abide by SAU’s Community Standards while enrolled as a student. As a Christian community, SAU encourages discourse to be approached with a spirit of humility, civility and respect. For more information regarding SAU’s policy on sexuality, see the SAU “Sex, Sexuality, and Gender Identity Statement” located in the Appendices.

Students who violate our community standards regarding sexual behavior will meet with an accountability committee and be treated in a loving redemptive manner throughout the accountability process. To that end, the University will offer counsel and support to encourage students towards living lives consistent with the biblical teaching on sexuality.

Our University is committed to the sanctity and preservation of life. In the case of pregnancy outside of marriage, for the health of mother and baby, the student may be required to live off-campus in a residence approved by the Associate Vice President for Student Development and Success, depending on the circumstances involved. Students may be assisted by Student Development and Success in securing support from the campus community.

Appropriate Attire

Since living in community calls for respect and concern for others, students are expected to wear clothing that is modest. Men are expected to wear shirts on all University-owned property, including the fieldhouse and outside sport/recreation areas. All students should abstain from wearing revealing clothing, including apparel that exposes their midriff. Modesty concerns may be addressed by University faculty or staff.

For the safety of self and others, as well as courtesy and respect, students are required to wear shoes in all academic and administrative buildings.

Sexual Harassment

Students are expected to treat each other with respect. The Spring Arbor University sexual harassment policy has been developed to promote an environment that encourages appropriate conduct among all community members. Sexual harassment means conduct on the basis of sex if:

  • An employee conditions aid, benefit, of service of the institution on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct, (sometimes referred to as ‘quid pro quo’ sexual harassment)
  • Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the institution’s education program or activity (sometimes referred to as ‘hostile environment’ sexual harassment
  • Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, as defined in the Clery Act. 

Examples of such conduct that will not be tolerated by the University include, but are not limited to:

  • Persistent or repeated unwelcome flirting or persistent pressure for dates
  • Sexual comments or inappropriate touching
  • Sexually suggestive jokes or gestures
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • The open display of sexually oriented pictures, calendars, posters or other material offensive to others

Students are encouraged to:

  • Express their displeasure concerning any conduct that might be considered sexual harassment
  • Tell the individual engaging in the conduct that it is unwelcome
  • Report the concern to the Title IX Coordinator, Dan Vander Hill.

Reported cases of sexual harassment, as defined above, will be investigated and handled through the University’s Title IX Grievance procedure, which includes a hearing process. The University’s policy against sexual harassment applies equally to students, faculty, and staff. The University reserves the right to include local law enforcement when deemed appropriate. More information is located in the “Title IX Grievance Policy” and the “Policy Statement on Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking and Sexual Assault” which can be found in the Appendix.

Disruptive Behavior

Spring Arbor University’s goal is to provide a safe and orderly environment for its students. In keeping with that goal, students whose behavior is disruptive to the community may be subject to accountability action up to and including dismissal from the University. “Disruptive” is here defined to include behavior that causes emotional/psychological or physical distress to self, fellow students, faculty or staff that is significantly above what is normally experienced in daily life, as determined by the University. Such disruption may be in the form of a single behavioral incident or a somewhat less severe but persistent disruption over a more extended period of time.

Spring Arbor University has a Behavioral Risk Assessment Team. This team of professionals will assess students that have exhibited disruptive behavior which may be considered threatening and will take steps deemed appropriate to protect the safety of the individual and the campus community. This may include informing appropriate family members of particular concerns.


Students persistently not attending classes and no longer being a “student” may be removed from housing and/or administratively withdrawn as a student. The recommendation will be made to the VP for Student Development and Success after multiple conversations or attempts to communicate with the non-participating student have been made.

Intimidation and Hazing

As a Christian community it is the goal of Spring Arbor University to be a safe place to study and work. Physically or emotionally intimidating another individual through written, electronic or verbal communication is unacceptable and may lead to accountability sanctions. Because hazing or initiation practices can involve intimidation and harassment, these practices are not allowed at Spring Arbor University. Individuals involved in initiation practices will be subject to accountability action up to immediate dismissal. (Any of these actions should be reported to a Resident Assistant (RA), Resident Director (RD), Campus Safety, or call 911.)

Other Expectations

Gambling (including raffles); theft (including violations of copyright law); pornography; immodesty; profane, crude, vulgar, racially/ethnically charged, or offensive language; and disrespectful behavior, such as gossip, dishonesty and malice are also viewed as inappropriate behavior for all students.

Students must comply with the reasonable directive, verbal or written, of a University official (Campus Safety Officer, RD, RA, Faculty, etc.), acting within the scope of his/her prescribed duties. Failure to pay a fine or complete assigned work, and/or obey any other directive or sanction following a properly conducted accountability action is a separate violation of University rules.