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Behavioral Expectations

I. Introduction

It is our conviction that as members of a Christian community we should guide our behavior not solely by adherence to civil and criminal law but by principles of personal conduct and life in community that are presented to us in Scripture. In addition, we draw on insights provided by contemporary developmental psychology and are guided by commitments to personal health and responsible life in community. Because of these convictions, Whitworth's behavioral expectations have two things in common: 1) They are reflections of values that are foundational to the character of the Whitworth community – values that are interrelated with Whitworth's mission to glorify God through commitment to educational excellence, liberal learning, Christian faith and growth. 2) They are community expectations, applicable to all students, faculty, staff and visitors while they are on university property. All of Whitworth's behavioral expectations, whether stated here or established elsewhere in university publications, proceed from our Christian convictions and from our commitment to provide the best possible education for all Whitworth students. Whitworth University does not discriminate on any illegal basis in the administration of its admission, educational or employment policies and practices, nor in the recruitment, training, promotion, financial support or compensation of its faculty, students or staff. The university complies with all applicable state and federal laws, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Washington's Law Against Discrimination
  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA);
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended by the Older Worker's Benefit Protection Act (ADEA)
  • Any other applicable federal, state or local law addressing nondiscrimination and/or equal employment opportunity

Members of the university community, guests and visitors have the right to be free from discrimination, harassment, retaliation and violence. All members of the campus community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others. The university will not tolerate bias-based misconduct (e.g. based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity, age, etc.) toward students.

II. Jurisdiction

The policies and procedures described in the student code of conduct are intended for students at Whitworth University. This includes undergraduate students on the main campus, those participating in off-campus programs, graduate students, continuing education students, and those who have been admitted to Whitworth but have not yet started their coursework. These policies apply at all times while a person is a student at Whitworth, including during breaks and between academic terms. The policies contained in these Behavioral Expectations pertain to behavior that occurs on and off the Whitworth campus. The university will generally respond to off-campus behavior if the alleged violation occurs while students are participating in a Whitworth-sponsored event, the behavior raises concern for the safety of those on campus, or the behavior jeopardizes the university's interests in the community.

III. Behavioral Policies

In addition to our adherence to civil and criminal laws, we have established the following policies that represent the behavioral expectations of the Whitworth community. As with all behavioral policies, Whitworth's goals are as follows: (1) End the offending behavior, (2) prevent its recurrence, and (3) remedy its effects on the complainant and the university community.

The Big Three

  1. There is to be no on-campus possession, consumption or distribution of alcohol, illegal drugs/mood-altering substances or controlled medication without a prescription. This prohibition includes drug paraphernalia. In compliance with federal law, medical marijuana is not allowed on Whitworth's property. Exceptions may be considered by educational support services. This policy reflects our conviction that possession or consumption within the Whitworth community is inappropriate for moral, educational and developmental reasons. Civil and criminal law informs us of the illegality of the possession and use of alcohol and of most drugs and mood-altering substances by persons under the age of 21; the health risks associated with the use and abuse of these substances are numerous, including exaggerated mood swings from mania to severe depression, loss of memory and reduced cognitive ability, physical deterioration, and, in some cases, serious injury or death. In addition, the potential of these substances to promote behavior that is destructive to both property and lives makes them unacceptable in a community committed to healthy development. For all of these reasons, we strongly believe that the presence and use of alcohol, drugs, and other mood-altering substances on campus is counterproductive to the educational and relational objectives of the Whitworth community.
  2. There is to be no cohabitation on campus. We understand the term "cohabitation" to include genital sexual contact outside marriage, and/or the spending of a night together by two people engaged in a romantic or sexual relationship or encounter. The Whitworth community's commitment to the authority of Scripture leads us to believe that the genital sexual relationship is to be understood and experienced within the context of marriage, and that to express it otherwise would diminish the high regard we have for this gift from God. These beliefs are based on our understanding of God's design for our sexual lives and on our knowledge of human development and relational dynamics. While the explicit intent of this policy is to encourage members of the Whitworth community to reserve sex for marriage, the practical application of the policy requires that it be used also to address persons who spend extended hours of a night together, who sleep together, and/or who engage in genital contact, even if it falls short of actual intercourse.
  3. There is to be no violent or destructive behavior or other conduct that threatens or endangers the safety or emotional well-being of any person on campus. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as fighting, vandalism, falsification of documents and any behavior that results in destruction or loss of property (including theft) or disruption of community life. This prohibition also includes, but is not limited to, physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, as well as behaviors including assault, sexual assault, harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct.

In keeping with Whitworth's commitment to building a community of respect for one another, it is important that standards related to relationships be understood and observed. It is likewise important that we are clear as a community about those behaviors that violate well-being, threaten community and will not be tolerated. The following are definitions of specific destructive behaviors that are prohibited at Whitworth: harassment or other forms of bias incidents are destructive to individuals and to community and will be considered a violation of this policy.

Further explanation of "violent and destructive behavior":

  • A bias (or hate) incident is an act of conduct, speech or expression to which a biased motive relative to race, religion, disability status, ethnicity/national origin, gender or sexual orientation, or any other legally protected category is evident as a contributing factor. An "incident" is an act that does not rise to the level of a crime.
  • A hate crime is a criminal offense committed against a person that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias.
  • Hate speech is speech that reflects the perceived inferiority of a targeted group by denying or belittling its humanity. It is directed at a person of a different identity group and includes references to his or her group's differences with the intent to cause distress. Hate speech typically contains recognizable slurs against the targeted group. Whitworth sees hate activity on a spectrum from prejudice to violence, where words are often a first step in a progression toward physical confrontation. As a community of educated individuals, we believe we can find ways to communicate and disagree with one another without using words that are hateful or that incite violent acts.
  • Bias incidents and hate crimes fall under Whitworth's policies relating to, "violent and destructive behavior," which include an expectation that discrimination and harassment are not acceptable within this community.

The Anti-Defamation League's "pyramid of hate," available at, represents a progression of destructive behavior. The foundation and most common offense is made up of words, with the most drastic and least common offense being genocide. Each level of the pyramid builds upon the previous level in separating people into groups that appear less than human. The sense of "other" often begins with jokes and unexamined vocabulary.

Sexual Misconduct

One of Whitworth's three primary behavioral policies is related to sexual encounters. "There is to be no cohabitation on campus. Whitworth understands the term ‘cohabitation' to include genital sexual contact outside marriage and/or the spending of a night together by two people engaged in a romantic or sexual relationship or encounter." The sexual-misconduct policy addresses abuses of sex, which fall under a different Big Three policy: "There is to be no violent or destructive behavior or other conduct that threatens or endangers the safety or emotional well-being of any Whitworth community member or visitor to campus." Students who report sexual misconduct are not held accountable to the cohabitation policy; sexual harassment and/or assault falls under the "Violent and Destructive Behavior" or "Title IX" policy. (See immunity and bystander-engagement statements.)


Believing that "[social] integration [and] a sense of fitting in and being accepted by peers are important to student satisfaction and retention" (Tinto, 1987), Whitworth supports activities that are designed to develop community and to impart group traditions. We are committed to introducing new students to campus traditions, language and customs that enhance a sense of belonging and encourage involvement in university life. "An ethic of membership communicates to students ‘that this is your home'" (Kuh, Schu and Witt, 1991). Understanding this, it is our desire to accomplish the following goals as students become members of campus activities, teams or groups: 1) to help students build positive relationships with others, 2) to familiarize students with current and historical traditions, and 3) to provide an atmosphere in which students may come to understand that they are part of Whitworth's history, present and future.

We will make every reasonable effort to ensure that students who voluntarily participate in campus activities and groups are treated with dignity and respect, in accordance with the university's mission, and that any induction or other activities fit within the mission statement as well as within common and civil law. Thus, induction and other group activities will be governed by the following requirements:

There is to be no behavior that causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or serious mental or emotional harm, regardless of a person's willingness to participate. Even if a participant claims that no one was forced to participate, such an activity or behavior is still considered hazing. Group-think behavior, peer pressure and coercion often play a role in such activities. Specifically, please note the following:

  • Activity that may cause bodily danger or physical harm includes physical activity such as, but not limited to, forced calisthenics or exposure to the elements, sleep deprivation or confinement. It also includes the forced consumption or application of food, liquid, alcohol or harmful substances.
  • Mental or emotional harm includes embarrassment, ridicule, verbal abuse and personal humiliation.
  • No activities are allowed that induce, cause or require students to violate local, state or federal law or campus rules and regulations.
  • Only currently enrolled Whitworth students may be involved in team or group induction activities, unless they are given explicit permission to include others by their group advisor, coach or instructor.

Violation of this policy could also be a violation of Washington state law, which could result in a student's loss of financial aid. Any group/club/team member violating these standards risks suspension from group/club/team activities. Consequences may also involve sanctions for the entire group. Violations of the Hazing Policy for Washington State Law will be assumed to constitute violations of university policy, as well.

If you have any questions regarding campus policies or procedures, please contact the associate dean for student life, community standards and compliance (509.777.3749).

IV. Other University Policies

In addition to The Big Three, the following section details additional policies important to the Whitworth community.

Community Responsibility

Behavioral expectations, along with their application and their enforcement, are the responsibility of all members of the Whitworth community. Because of this, if one of us is present at the commission of a known violation, and if we fail to confront those who are in violation, our silence will be considered passive approval and participation, making us responsible for the violation as well.

Community Cooperation Expectations

The cohesiveness of any community depends upon the willingness of its members to cooperate in promoting community values and ideals that help to keep the campus safe. While this cooperation should extend to all members of the community, it is especially important that we cooperate with those members of the Whitworth community who have been entrusted with responsibility for the enforcement of behavioral policies. At a minimum, such cooperation must include a willingness to identify oneself when asked to do so and a commitment to exclude all actions clearly identifiable as hostile, threatening, or that could endanger the health and safety of the community. Students who fail to cooperate with community employees as prescribed in this policy are subject to disciplinary action, which may include suspension from the university for the remainder of the academic term and for the term following any violation.

Off-Campus Behavior

Students are viewed by the larger community as representatives of Whitworth, and they must understand that their behavior reflects on the university. While the university treats students as private citizens who are responsible for their own behavior, there are instances in which the university reserves the right to address students for behavior that occurs off-campus. Examples of off-campus behavior that may warrant disciplinary sanctions include, but are not limited to, criminal offenses, behavior that indicates the student may present a danger or threat to the health or safety of any community member, and behavior that is seriously or chronically disruptive to the community.

Pet Policy

Whitworth recognizes the important role animals can play in the lives of employees, students and our neighbors. At the same time, in the interest of safety, and the health of all employees, students, guests and visitors, animals are not allowed in campus facilities or in university vehicles except as provided under the terms of this policy.

Animals are allowed on Whitworth owned or controlled outdoor public spaces under the following conditions:

  • The animal owner is responsible for caring for the animal, and ensuring the animal's safe and responsible behavior.
  • Animals must be kept on a leash or in an appropriate transport container at all times.
  • Animals may not be attached with a leash or other device to any tree, pole, fence, sign, building, fire hydrant, vehicle or other object.
  • Animals must be prevented from chasing other animals or wildlife.
  • The animal owner is responsible for cleaning up after the animal and properly disposing of waste in appropriate containers.
  • Animals must meet local license requirements and wear tags as required by local and state regulation.
  • Animals are not allowed on athletic fields.

Only service and working animals are permitted in Whitworth academic, administrative and support facilities.

  • Students must work with the Educational Support Services office to secure approval to bring a companion or working animal into a Whitworth facility.
  • Companion/emotional support animals owned by students are restricted to the owner's assigned Whitworth residence halls or theme houses only.

Please contact student life to view the Pet Policy in its entirety.

Public Health Crisis Policy

In the case of a public health crisis, such as a pandemic or other public health threats, you must comply with health orders that are put in place to protect the community and mitigate the spread of disease or illness. Students who fail to cooperate with health directives as prescribed in this policy are subject to disciplinary action, which may include suspension from the university for the remainder of the academic term and for the term following any violation.

Public Intoxication

Because Whitworth believes the effects of intoxication are disruptive to an educational community, no student should be publicly intoxicated on campus. Public intoxication is defined as being under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other mood-altering substances or controlled medications.

Evidence of public intoxication could include engaging in behavior that is offensive or causes a community member to voice concern or requires the assistance of others.

Recording and Livestreaming Policy

It is expected that faculty, students, and staff will respect the privacy of other individuals in the workplace and educational setting. Consequently, the secret recording or live streaming (audio or video) of classes, meetings or other conversations, including telephone calls, is prohibited, as not compatible with the law and/or the promotion of an open exchange of ideas. The university does not condone recording or live streaming of any university activities when participants are unaware that such recordings are being made. To see this policy in its entirety, please see Appendix G of the Faculty Handbook.

Weapons, Fireworks and Explosive Devices

Whitworth is a weapons-free campus. Firearms, fireworks, explosives and explosive devices, and other weapons are prohibited anywhere on property owned or leased by Whitworth, including campus buildings, neighborhood houses, Whitworth downtown, and university-sponsored off-campus events. The term "weapons" includes, but is not limited to, flammable gasses/materials or components that could become explosive (propane tanks, helium tanks, hoverboards, etc.), firearms, pellet/BB guns, paintball guns, tasers, home-manufactured cannons, bows and arrows, martial-arts devices, switchblade knives, and other knives (with the exception of kitchen knives) with blades longer than 3 inches.

This prohibition applies to all members of the Whitworth community as well as to visitors. Violations of this policy by students may result in sanctions up to and including suspension. Violation of this policy by faculty or staff may result in disciplinary action up to and including loss of the offender's position at Whitworth.

The two exceptions to this policy are 1) weapons, etc., used by law-enforcement offices in the course of their duties; and 2) explosives used by faculty for academic purposes. Exceptions must be authorized by the director of security.

Reporting violations of this policy: The university expects all members of the community to help maintain safety and security on campus and at university-sponsored off-campus events. Anyone who has knowledge of violations of this policy has an obligation to report that knowledge promptly to the director of campus security at 509.777.3712 or to an on-duty security officer at 509.777.4444.

V.  Student Conduct Process

We believe that our behavioral expectations must apply equally to all members of the Whitworth community and that their enforcement must be consistent and equitable. Implementation of these policies is regulated by the Student Bill of Rights.

Student Conduct Process

In Whitworth's student conduct process, legal terms like "guilt," "innocence" and "burden of proof" are not applicable. The university never assumes that a student is in violation of university policy. The campus conduct process is designed to take into account information available from relevant sources.

The university reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary to respond to an allegation of misconduct in order to protect students' rights and personal safety. Such measures include, but are not limited to 1) modification of living and dining arrangements, 2) interim suspension from campus pending a conduct meeting, and 3) reporting the matter to the local police.

The university will consider the concerns and rights of both the complainant and the person accused of misconduct (the respondent).

Reprisal, retaliation or false accusations against anyone who reports or participates in or is thought to have reported or participated in allegation(s) or investigation(s) is prohibited and will be treated as a violation of policy, regardless of whether any alleged policy violation is substantiated. False accusations are prohibited and will be treated as violations of this policy. Submission of a good- faith complaint or report will not affect the complainant's or reporter's future employment or grades, or his/her educational, living or working environment.

Conduct Meetings

The goal of the conduct meeting is to provide an equitable resolution via an equitable process, respecting the rights of all participants. Whitworth uses the preponderance-of-evidence standard ("more likely than not") in determining student responsibility.

Administrative Conduct Meeting Guidelines:

  • Such meetings should take place in a timely fashion and in accordance with the student handbook.
  • The student involved will be notified via his/her email address of the date and time of the conduct meeting. This notification will include the policy alleged to have been violated by the student and a summarization of the alleged policy violation.
  • Meetings will be scheduled no sooner than two business days after the notification is sent to the student. The student can request a meeting that occurs before the two-day period if the conduct officer agrees to the request.
  • Meetings should include a review of evidence pertaining to the alleged violation of policy and should be conducted by the associate dean for student life, community standards and compliance or a designee. They should be attended by the confronted, the confronter(s) or a representative, by any necessary witnesses and by appropriate representatives from student life.
  • In addition, a student involved in the conduct process as a complainant or respondent may bring a support person. The role of the support person is to advise and support the student.
  • If a student chooses not to attend the conduct meeting, the meeting may take place with the student in absentia.

Based on the preponderance of evidence, the conduct officer will determine whether the student is responsible or not responsible for the alleged violation. If the student is deemed responsible for the alleged violation, the conduct officer will determine appropriate sanctions. If a student feels that the conduct officer did not follow appropriate procedures, new information is discovered, or if sanctions are not consistent or appropriate for the violation a student may request a review of their conduct meeting. Please see “Review Process for Conduct issues” for more information and how to submit a request for review. 

False accusations will be treated as a violation of the university's policy against violent and destructive behavior. However, no matter the outcome of the investigation, submission of a good-faith complaint or a report of a potential policy violation will not affect the complainant's or reporter's future employment, grades, or educational, living or working environment.

A written notice of the outcome of the conduct meeting will be delivered to the student's email address. This notice is kept and considered to be part of a student's educational record. Records are kept for seven years and are then destroyed. In cases of suspension or expulsion, records are kept indefinitely.

Review Process for Conduct Issues

A student may request a review of disciplinary proceedings and the resulting consequences by a regularly constituted review committee that includes both faculty and staff members. The committee should have a quorum to review a student's disciplinary proceeding and/or its consequences. A quorum will constitute three people, one of whom is a faculty member and one of whom is a staff member. The original conduct officer will not participate on the review committee. The committee will be chaired by a person chosen by the vice president for student life (or her/his designee).

A student may request a review by contacting the vice president for student life (or her/his designee) in writing within five business days of the student's notification of the outcome of his/her case. The request will be reviewed for timeliness and for citation of the reason the student is petitioning. Grounds for requesting a review are as follows:

  • A student believes the university did not follow the procedures listed in the student handbook. Examples: Notice was not provided to a student that a conduct meeting was going to take place, or the student was not given the opportunity to speak during the conduct meeting.
  • New information has been discovered that was not available at the time of the original conduct meeting. A summary of this new information and its potential impact must be included in the request for review. If new information is discovered after the five-day appeal time frame, a student is still encouraged to bring the new information forward.
  • A student believes that the sanctions are not consistent and appropriate for the violation. Simple dissatisfaction with the sanctions does not meet this requirement for requesting a review.

The vice president for student life & dean of students will have five business days to review the request. If the request for review meets the conditions of timeliness and grounds, the student and the original conduct officer will be notified. The conduct officer will have five business days from the notification to provide the rationale for the decision and sanctions for the case.

The review committee can uphold the decision and sanctions, reduce the sanctions, or send the case back to the original conduct officer for further consideration. The chair will communicate the outcome of the review to the student and the conduct officer in writing within five business days of the committee meeting. The committee's decision is final.

A student's admission status should not be altered, and her/his right to be present on the campus, to live in residence and to attend classes should not be suspended during the review process. Exceptions to this policy should be made when a student's presence constitutes a threat to any member of the community.

Potential Consequences and Sanctions

Student members of the Whitworth community who are found responsible for violating a Whitworth policy are subject to disciplinary sanctions. Actual consequences may vary, depending upon the severity of the behavior and the previous conduct of the student. A range of sanctions is listed below.

  • Educational Sanctions
    Educational and/or corrective experiences may be incorporated into the consequences for violation of any behavioral policy at any time in the disciplinary history of a student. These experiences are designed with the specific violation and student in mind in an effort to address root causes for students' behavior and to reduce the likelihood of similar behavior in the future. Examples of educational sanctions include, but are not limited to, community service, professional counseling, an online educational module paid for by the student, and/or substance-abuse treatment. In those cases in which substance abuse is suspected, students may be referred to the school's counselor for assessment and/or to a local treatment program.
  • Behavioral Probation
    Students may be placed on behavioral probation on the basis of their cumulative record of behavioral policy violations. This includes repeated violations of the Academic Honesty Policy, violations of civil law, or in the event of other behavior that places or has the potential of placing the offender or the Whitworth community, its mission or any of its members in jeopardy. As such, behavioral probation will be considered and applied in situations where it is believed that such action may redirect a student's behavior and thereby render behavioral suspension unnecessary. The terms of behavioral probation may include suspension from the residence halls and neighborhood houses. Behavioral probation consists of a contract between a student and the university specifying behavioral criteria for the student's continued enrollment. A student's violation of these criteria may result in behavioral suspension. The decision to place a student on behavioral probation is made by the dean of students or their designee.
  • Suspension in Abeyance
    An administrator may offer to hold a suspension in abeyance, that is, to not immediately impose a suspension for certain offenses. An abeyance sanction sets forth conditions under which the school agrees to not impose a suspension. If the student violates the agreement, the suspension will automatically be reinstated at that time without further process.
  • Behavioral Suspension
    A student may face behavioral suspension on the basis of his/her cumulative record of behavioral policy violations, failure to comply with the terms of behavioral probation, violation of civil or criminal law, or other behavior which places or has the potential of placing the student or the Whitworth community, its mission or any of its members in jeopardy.
    Behavioral suspension includes suspension from classes as well as from all other Whitworth facilities and services; it may be imposed at any time that a student's behavior warrants such action. The decision to suspend a student on behavioral grounds is made by the dean of students or their designee.
  • Expulsion
    A student may face expulsion on the basis of their cumulative record of behavioral policy violations, failure to comply with the terms of behavioral probation, violation of civil or criminal law, or other behavior which places or has the potential of placing the student or the Whitworth community, its mission or any of its members in jeopardy. Expulsion is a permanent separation between the student and the institution.

Immunity for Complainants and Witnesses

The Whitworth community encourages the reporting of student-handbook violations. Sometimes complainants or witnesses are hesitant to report to university officials or to participate in investigations or conduct processes because they fear that they may be charged with policy violations, such as underage drinking, at the time of the incident. It is in the best interest of this community that as many complainants as possible choose to report violations to university officials and that witnesses come forward to share what they know. To encourage reporting, the university will not charge complainants and witnesses with a policy violation (e.g., alcohol possession or cohabitation). While complainants and witnesses will not be charged with a policy violation, they may be required to complete educational sanctions.

Bystander Engagement

The welfare of students in our community is of paramount importance. At times, students on and off-campus may need assistance. The university encourages students to offer help and assistance to others in need. Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer such assistance, for fear they may get themselves in trouble (for example, an underage student who has been drinking might hesitate to help walk a sexual-assault complainant to Whitworth Security). The university will not charge a policy violation to students in need. While "good Samaritans" will not be charged with a policy violation, they may be required to complete educational sanctions.


Violations of behavioral expectations accrue over the entire period of a person's membership in the Whitworth community. Behavioral records are kept on file for seven years after each student's graduation. Records of students who have received a behavioral suspension or Title IX violations are kept indefinitely.

Notification of Outcomes

The outcome of a campus-conduct process is part of the educational record of the accused individual and is protected from release under federal FERPA laws. However, there are legal exceptions for Title IX-related complainants (those who report sexual harassment, assault, etc.) to know the outcome, essential findings and sanctions imposed at conduct meetings related to their incident.

The university may also release the student's name, the nature of the violation and the imposed sanction for any student who is found in violation of a university policy that is a crime of violence, including arson, burglary, robbery, criminal homicide, sex offenses, assault, intimidation (which may encompass stalking and/or bullying), hazing, destruction/damage/vandalism of property and kidnapping/abduction. Regardless of the outcome of the conduct meeting, the university will release this information to the complainant in any of these offenses.