3.3.a The Honor Code
A cherished aspect of community life at Westminster is the Honor Code. The responsibility for maintaining all aspects of this code lies directly with each member of the community.
The Honor Code is, of course, based upon the entirety of Scripture, but it finds its roots particularly in the eighth and ninth commandments (Exodus 20:15-16) as those commandments are expounded and applied in the Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 140-145.
Students are required to sign the “Response to the Honor Code” as part of New Student Orientation prior to matriculation. In this statement, the student is required to affirm that he or she has read the materials describing Westminster’s Honor Code, understands what the responsibilities are, and affirms his or her willingness to abide by the policies indicated.
Two specific expressions of this Honor Code are the pledges required on all examinations, papers, and projects at the Seminary.
Students are asked to affirm the following statement for all examinations and tests and may be asked to sign this pledge on the cover or first page of examinations:
I pledge my honor that I have neither given nor received any assistance—verbal, written, or electronic—on this examination beyond that specifically permitted by the instructor in charge.
Students are asked to write out and to sign this pledge at the end of every paper:
I understand and have not violated the Seminary’s position on plagiarism.
For projects, theses, and dissertations, students are asked to sign the statement regarding plagiarism when they submit their approved copy.
All members of the community are asked and expected to uphold and protect this Honor Code that “we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness,” which “is good and pleases God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:2-3). For procedures for dealing with, and consequences of infractions of the Honor Code, please see the Student Directory and Handbook. Students may not transfer to Westminster credit hours for courses taken at another school during the period of suspension.
For a lengthy example of what plagiarism is and is not, please refer to the Seminary’s webpage on plagiarism.
3.3.b Procedure for Dismissal of Student for Habitually Unbecoming Behavior
Westminster Theological Seminary seeks to shape students in academics and in character, as stated in Westminster’s character learning goal in which upon graduation students would exhibit a deep love for the triune God, his word, his truth and his church and an increasingly Christ-like humility in relation to others. The Honor Code policy addresses academic violations. Westminster’s Procedure for Dismissal of Student for Habitually Unbecoming Behavior policy outlines the procedure for addressing obvious character and spiritual violations – issues that are habitually unbecoming of one preparing to be a leader of Christ’s flock. The goal of this disciplinary process is the restoration and well-being of the student, the preservation of Christ’s name, and upholding the integrity and reputation of the seminary. The Seminary refers to the Westminster Standards (particularly chapter XXX), as based on Scripture, as a standard for behavior.
- Student conduct is under the supervision of the Dean of Students. The institution reserves the right to dismiss from the institution a student whose conduct is found to be unsatisfactory. Unsatisfactory behavior includes the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees on school property or as part of any activity of Westminster. Smoking is not permitted in any Seminary building, and the use of alcoholic beverages and firearms are prohibited on campus. In addition, students may be dismissed by the seminary for serious breaches of moral behavior or ethical standards.
- Analogous to Matthew 18, the Dean of Students, Associate Dean and/or the International Student Advisor will speak to the student about their present circumstances as the first step of intervention. This initial investigation will determine a course of action to assist in correcting the problem including, but not limited to, offering counsel, soliciting advice from additional seminary faculty/staff, and communication with the student’s supporting church(es).
- If the student would benefit from additional, more intensive counseling, the Dean of Students may utilize some of the student counseling funds as designated by the Student Association.
- If the student persists in unbiblical conduct, the Dean of Students will actively seek to work with the local congregation where the student is a member/attending and the elder(s)/pastor(s) who have spiritual oversight over the student.
- If the student persists in unbiblical conduct and ignores the recommendations of his local church and the recommendations of the seminary the Dean of Students will present a report to the Academic Dean and the President, and the student may be withdrawn from the institution.
- If events warrant administrative withdrawal the Dean of Students will present a report to the Academic Dean and the President. The student will be administratively withdrawn and any scholarships would immediately be revoked. In the case of international students they and their families must return to their home country within 15 days, as stipulated by the Federal Government (see NAFSA 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f) (5) (iv).
3.3.c Grievance Policy
The Student Development Office should be regarded as the umbrella for addressing all complaints. For information regarding the process of filing a grievance or to file a grievance, please contact the Student Development Office.
The Student Association is also available to hear student concerns. Representatives of the Student Association can be contacted to formally present such concerns to the Dean of Students.
For a full description of the grievance policy, please refer to the Seminary’s campus policies online.