Community Life Agreement
(Adopted by Board of Trustees on January 22, 2010)
Huntington University is a Christ-centered liberal arts institution with a strong relationship with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Huntington University desires to be a community that honors Jesus Christ and that emphasizes that the Christian life is primarily positive rather than negative. Creative, loving service to others is more important than adherence to a list of detailed prohibitions. As Huntington University strives to become a more Christ-centered community, we agree together to accept the following community life standards.
Members of the university community are urged to follow the Bible’s guidelines for Christian living. We should be relating to each other in a spirit of mutual dependence and accountability, loving others, sharing the Gospel throughout the world, demonstrating evidence of the Holy Spirit working through our lives, seeking justice, working for peace, working to reduce poverty, seeking reconciliation, being good stewards of our bodies as well as our talents and resources, reflecting Christ in our appearance and behavior, and taking care of the world God has created for us.
It is recognized that Huntington University expectations of behavior, based on Biblical teaching and community standards, may be different from behavioral expectations of societal laws and norms.
The Bible clearly calls Christians to maintain high standards of sexual purity. Sexual relations are reserved for the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. Possession or use of sexually obscene or pornographic matter in all forms is prohibited. These guidelines apply both on-campus and off-campus.
The Bible condemns drunkenness but does not categorically forbid the use of alcohol. The use of alcohol, the possession of alcohol, or being under the influence of alcohol is prohibited on-campus and at all university-sponsored events. Students in the traditional undergraduate program are prohibited from using, possessing, or being under the influence of alcohol off-campus. All other members of the campus community are urged to avoid the use of alcohol off-campus and are prohibited from the following: the abusive use of alcohol, the use of alcohol in the known presence of traditional undergraduate students, and the use of alcohol while representing the university.
The use of any tobacco products on-campus and at all university-sponsored events is prohibited. Members of the campus community are urged to abstain from the use of tobacco products off-campus. The use of tobacco products when representing the university is prohibited.
Gambling on-campus and at all university-sponsored events is prohibited. When members of the university community are off-campus, they are urged to abstain from gambling.
Members of the university community are urged to follow the Bible’s injunction to encourage each other through conversation and to avoid lies, profanity, gossip, obscenity, and other negative uses of language.
Entertainment guidelines are summarized in the Huntington University student handbook.
Any activity that is prohibited by law, where the nature of the offense and circumstances pose unreasonable risks to Huntington University or its staff, faculty, or students, is also prohibited for members of the Huntington University community, whether on-campus or off-campus. This includes, but is not limited to offenses against another person or his/her property and offenses involving the use or possession of illegal drugs, harassment, intimidation, and public health and decency.
RATIONALE FOR COMMUNITY LIFE AGREEMENT
(Adopted by Board of Trustees on January 22, 2010)
Huntington University’s mission statement points out that the university “…is a Christ-centered liberal arts institution of higher education with a strong historic and ongoing relationship with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.” Early in the discussion process, the task force agreed that no one single principle could be used to establish specific community life standards that further the university’s mission while also being fair and consistent. Ultimately, the task force settled on three guiding principles that form the underlying rationale for the community life agreement.
The first principle is Biblical doctrine. It is essential to be consistent with what the Bible teaches. The Bible prohibits some activities, warns against excess in other areas, and does not directly address some additional practices. This sometimes creates a tension between Christian liberty on the one hand and, on the other hand, Christians’ responsibilities to each other in the body of Christ.
The second principle is the developmental process that college-age students are undergoing. Young people may not be ready to make wise decisions about particular activities at a point in their lives when their values and priorities are still emerging and their self-identities are still in flux. This developmental principle includes physical, social, mental, and spiritual development.
A third principle is community. Each choice that is made by a member of the Huntington University community can either add to the feeling of community or detract from it. The community life agreement should reflect the values of the community and should challenge members of that community to grow in positive ways. Members of the community should be willing to confront each other in a spirit of Christian love and should hold each other accountable for their behavior.
In addition to the three guiding principles, respect for the laws of our society dictates that Huntington University employees and students should observe federal, state, and local statutes, except in those cases where society’s laws are in disagreement with God’s laws as expressed in the Bible.
Living as Christians in Community
All students and employees of Huntington University are also members of various other communities, such as families, churches, neighborhoods, professional groups, vocational groups, and hobby groups. Those communities sometimes have different behavioral expectations for their members than does Huntington University. The campus itself is the heart of the Huntington University community. It is the primary gathering place for the community and the only location in which the community meets in its entirety. Therefore, it is particularly important that on-campus lifestyles should reflect the values of the Huntington University community. Members of that community should be conscious of the impact that their behavior might have on those around them. It is recognized that Huntington University expectations of behavior, based on Biblical teaching and community standards, may be different from behavioral expectations of societal laws and norms.
Christians are called to relate to each other in a spirit of mutual dependence and accountability (I Corinthians 12:12-31, Ephesians 4:1-6). As we grow together in our Christian community at Huntington University, we should display a Christ-like emphasis on loving others (John 13:34-35), sharing the Gospel throughout the world (Matthew 28:19-20), demonstrating evidence of the Holy Spirit working through our lives (Galatians 5:22-23), seeking justice (Micah 6:8), working for peace (Matthew 5:9), working to reduce poverty (Luke 12:33), seeking reconciliation (Matthew 18:15-17), being good stewards of our bodies (I Corinthians 6:18-19) as well as our talents and resources (Matthew 25:14-30), reflecting Christ in our appearance and behavior (Colossians 3:17), and taking care of the world God created for us (Genesis 1:26-31).
The Bible states that God created sex to be enjoyed within the marriage relationship between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:31). Other types of sexual relations are clearly condemned (Romans 1:24-27, I Corinthians 6:9-10). As a community, Huntington University affirms the importance of adhering to the Biblical standards of sexual purity.
Pornography’s purpose is to produce the sort of lustful thoughts that the Bible rejects (Matthew 5:27-28). That concern is reflected in the Social Standards of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (“…distribution of pornographic material in various media is one of the causes of the moral decline in our nation.”).
Alcohol use is a complex and controversial issue for Christians. While the Bible speaks strongly against drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:21, Romans 13:13), it is also true that Jesus’ first miracle involved turning water into wine (John 2:1-11) and that the use of alcohol is not condemned in the Bible. So, the guidance of the Bible on this issue seems to put the responsible use of alcohol into the area of personal liberty.
The developmental principle is certainly relevant to the use of alcohol. University students may lack the maturity necessary to make responsible choices about drinking.
The community principle is also of major concern when considering the use of alcohol. Allowing alcohol on campus or even allowing students to be on-campus while under the influence of alcohol would be likely to change the character of the institution in ways that would not be desirable.
Most Huntington University students are not yet old enough to drink legally. While 21-year-olds could be allowed to drink without violating the law, the difficulties of keeping the campus alcohol-free would be much greater in that situation. And, students under the age of 21 would be much more likely to find themselves in social situations in which their slightly older classmates were using alcohol, thus creating more temptations for illegal under-age consumption of alcohol.
Another consideration in establishing an alcohol policy is the statement in the Social Standards of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, which says “…the abuse of alcoholic beverages is harmful to our physical bodies and is a detriment to the best stewardship and witness of our lives. Therefore, we urge all of our members to avoid using alcoholic beverages.”
An additional example for consideration is one in which the University is providing financial resources to enable an employee to attend a conference; he or she is considered to be representing the University at programmed activities and meals of the conference but not during social events outside of the conference program.
Finally, the task force believes that the Student Development Office should provide ample educational resources to students in the traditional undergraduate program to enable those students to make wise decisions about alcohol use, both while they are at Huntington University and after they leave the institution.
Tobacco is not mentioned in the Bible. However, the need to be good stewards of our own bodies (I Corinthians 6:20) implies that the use of tobacco is not a wise choice for Christians. The harmful effects of tobacco use are well known in modern societies. Certainly the impacts of tobacco use would not enhance the quality of community life on the Huntington University campus.
Gambling, according to the Social Standards of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ “...stimulates the desire to get something for nothing and…seeks material gain by a fatalistic faith in chance.” As such, gambling violates the Bible’s emphasis on keeping free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). Christian stewardship of money and the Christ-centered focus of life at Huntington University certainly would not by enhanced by gambling.
Gambling is defined by the task force as risking one’s money for the chance to win more money, including lottery games. However, the following activities would not be considered as gambling: playing cards for chips but without an exchange of money, games or contests with minimal entry fees and a prize for the winner (for example, euchre tournaments), and fundraising raffles for charitable causes.
The Bible emphasizes that Christians should be careful in how they speak. For example, lies should be avoided (Proverbs 6:16-19), as should profanity (Exodus 20:7), gossip (Proverbs 20:19), and obscenity (Ephesians 5:4). Instead, Christians should focus on building up those around them through their speech (Ephesians 4:29). In addition to the Biblical principle, the principle of community suggests that Huntington University would be more Christ-like if employees and students would consider those Biblical guidelines when engaging in conversations, whether they are on-campus or off-campus.
The field of entertainment presents some challenges for Christians. For example, dancing is not forbidden in the Bible but has sometimes been viewed negatively by Christians because of its association with other undesirable behaviors. R-rated movies have been a concern because the content of many of those movies is not compatible with the Christian standards that Huntington University supports. The developmental principle suggests that students may benefit from some guidance in making mature decisions about entertainment. The principle of community supports the desirability of being particularly sensitive to Christian principles when dealing with entertainment on-campus.
Respect for Laws
The Bible urges Christians to respect the laws of the society in which they live (Romans 13:1). However, the Bible also points out that if societal laws are in conflict with God’s laws, then God’s laws should take precedence (Acts 5:28-29).