Abilene Christian University is committed to maintaining an alcohol-free campus. The ACU community cares deeply about the health and safety of our students, and is committed to educating students about the physical and spiritual dangers of alcohol abuse.
Furthermore, ACU realizes the heightened dangers in some social settings off campus and thus discourages students from attending establishments such as dance clubs, bars, and private parties where the principal purpose is known to be the sale and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages. The history of activities associated with these establishments (such as alcohol abuse, underage drinking, and drunkenness) is counter to our Christian values and lifestyle. The life choices and decisions that students make extend far beyond the college experience, and ACU is committed to challenging students to make decisions that ultimately glorify God.
In accordance with our educational mission, and for the well-being of our students and the ACU community, the University has established the following policies related to alcohol:
Students who are found guilty of violating the University policy concerning the possession, consumption, or distribution of alcohol or related disturbances will be subject to a range and/or combination of the following sanctions: (1) fines ranging from $100 to $250; (2) completion of an alcohol education program, which involves a $75 fee to students; (3) counseling; (4) disciplinary probation; (5) indefinite suspension; and (6) dismissal from the University. Violations of under-age drinking, serving, or making alcohol available to those who are under the legal drinking age will result in strict sanctions (up to and including dismissal), and will be turned over to the appropriate legal authorities.
This information is intended to give students a range of expected outcomes or consequences regarding violations of the University’s alcohol policy. Depending on the level of severity involved per violation, and at the discretion of the Vice President for Student Life or his/her designee, sanctions may vary from what is outlined above. Subject to privacy laws, parents or legal guardians may be contacted where deemed appropriate.
The university desires that students engage Chapel as a significant experience in their educational and spiritual formation while attending ACU. “In keeping with the mission of the university, daily Chapel will be held as a part of the curriculum. Regular attendance by undergraduates is required.” (ACU Board of Trustees Policy Manual, Policy Number 2.7.4)
Daily Chapel Attendance Procedures
Chapel meets daily, Monday through Friday, from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. during the fall and spring semesters, except on university-approved holidays (Fall Break, Thanksgiving Break, Christmas Break, Martin Luther King Day, Spring Break, and Good Friday). Daily Chapel on the first day of classes during the fall semester is the official Opening Assembly for the university.
Undergraduate students under the age of twenty-five are required to earn 55 Spiritual Formation Event credits each semester of fulltime enrollment (12 or more hours), except when exemptions have been granted for one or more days during a given semester for student teaching, full-time enrollment in the Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing, or for some work related reasons.
Each regularly-scheduled daily Chapel counts toward the fifty-five (55) Spiritual Formation Event credits required each semester. Additional Spiritual Formation Event credits are offered to students who attend approved programs at alternative times (Small groups, Summit, special speakers or series). These programs are approved by the Spiritual Formation/Chapel Office and are listed on the Spiritual Formation Events calendar at au.edu/spiritual-formation. All Spiritual Formation Events earn one (1) credit unless otherwise noted.
Many students choose to attend daily Chapel five days per week to fulfill the credit requirement. A student who accumulates just four Spiritual Formation Event credits per week will easily meet the fifty-five (55) credit requirement each semester.
Attendance Requirement Exemptions
Students approved to be exempt one or more days per week for some work related reasons have their required number of Chapel credits per semester adjusted according to the following scale:
Number of Days Exempt Required Credits
0 days per week- 55 required of 70+
1 day per week = 45 required of 70+
2 days per week = 35 required of 70+
3 days per week = 25 required of 70+
4 days per week = 12 required of 70+
5 days per week = 5 required of 70+
Please note that students who receive a “5 days per week exemption” still have to earn a minimum of 5 Spiritual Formation Event Credits each semester. Typically twenty+ (20+) or more Spiritual Formation Event Credits are offered each semester outside of the 11:00 am daily Chapel time, so the minimum number of credits can be earned even if a student is required to work during the 11:00 am hour each day of the week.
Students are required to apply (or re-apply) for exemptions each semester. Exemptions must be processed within the first two weeks of any semester, or within two weeks from the beginning date of any reason given for the exemption (new employment, diagnosed chronic illness, etc.). Students must submit evidence of the reason for the exemption, e.g. letter from new employer on company letterhead, doctor’s note, etc. The process and required forms for exemptions are available on the Spiritual Formation website at acu.edu/spiritual formation, and in the Spiritual Formation/Chapel Office. Students failing to submit an exemption by the appropriate deadline may fail to earn Spiritual Formation Event credit and be subject to further disciplinary action.
Attendance for daily Chapel in Moody Coliseum is registered by sliding a student ID through one of the card readers between 10:45 and 11:03 a.m. and again within 10 minutes after Chapel is dismissed. A student must slide his or her card at the beginning and again at the end of Chapel in order to be counted present. Attendance is not registered for any student sliding in late or sliding out early. An official from the Spiritual Formation/Chapel Office slides an administrative ID card through a card reader after the closing prayer. Any student who slides his or her card before this official time stamp will not receive attendance credit.
Attendance for approved Spiritual Formation Events (SFEs) that meet outside of Moody Coliseum is registered by portable card readers or by signing in with the approved advisor. Sign in sheets are processed within three class days after receiving them from the advisor of any small group or SFE. Credits from portable card readers post within two class days.
Consequences for Failure to Fulfill Spiritual Formation Event Requirements
Students are responsible for monitoring their own Spiritual Formation Event credits online in the myACU portal. The Spiritual Formation/Chapel Office strongly recommends that students check their SFE credit balance on a weekly basis. Students who have a question or concern about their credit balance are encouraged to contact the Spiritual Formation/Chapel Office by phone (325) 674-2867, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or in person. The office (#29) is located in the lower level of the Campus Center. Upon the completion of any semester, students who did not attain sufficient SFE credits will be placed on Chapel probation and notified by email to their ACU email account during the week following the last day of finals. Students placed on Chapel probation may contact the Spiritual Formation/Chapel Office with questions. This process is outlined in the email and also on the Spiritual Formation website at acu.edu/spiritual-formation.
Chapel Attendance Probation
Chapel probation is in effect for the following full semester after a student fails to earn the required number of SFEs. During the semester of probation a student will be restricted from participation in certain extracurricular activities, including but not limited to all student productions, intramurals, leadership positions, and/or award nominations. Students who ignore this loss of privilege by participating in extracurricular activities while on Chapel probation will be subject to stricter sanctions up to and including suspension from the university. Graduating seniors who do not earn the required credits during their final semester will be subject to appropriate sanctions.
Chapel Integrity Violations
Students are not permitted to slide someone else’s card to indicate SFE attendance, slide their own card and not attend all of an event, or in the case of Small Groups and other SFEs, sign their name and not attend or sign in for someone else who is not there. A “slide and glide” first offense will result in a mandatory meeting with the Spiritual Formation/Chapel Office and may result in being placed on conduct probation. Upon a second occurrence a student will be placed on conduct probation and required to meet with the Office of the Dean of Students. Subsequent “slide and glide” offenses may result in further sanctions up to and including suspension from the university.
See “Responsible Use for Information and Technology Resources” for more information.
ACU is committed to creating a strong Christian environment, where students have opportunities for appropriate social interaction as young adults and develop lifelong relationships. Many forms of dance and cultural expression are embraced by our society, some of which are consistent with our Christian mission and values, while others are more likely to distract us from a Christ-centered life. Therefore, in keeping with the Christian mission of the university, only certain dance forms and venues will be considered for approval. Requests for events involving dance may be submitted by officially recognized ACU student organizations and must be approved by Student Life.
ACU recognizes the right of students to dissent as long as such behavior does not limit the freedom of others, damage university property or delay the opportunity of the student body, faculty or staff to proceed regularly with their work, school or scheduled activities. Students may use public areas approved in advance by the university for assembly as long as they do not restrict the movement of traffic. When a rally or other such gathering requires building space or public areas, clearance must be obtained in advance from the Dean of Students. Such clearance must be obtained at least 48 hours prior to the event, and the university reserves the right to make reasonable restrictions of location, time or format for such events, using the following guidelines:
The university reserves the right to review, alter or otherwise restrict events, demonstrations, speakers or groups whose nature or presentation is contrary to or inconsistent with the university’s mission and Christ-centered character. This determination shall be at the sole discretion of the president or his or her designee.
All members of our community are responsible for the way they present themselves and how the decisions they make communicate what they value. Through the way they dress, students are encouraged to reflect their God-given worth and professional aspirations. ACU believes that God has uniquely designed each person and as God’s creation, we are called to respect ourselves and our bodies. There is nothing shameful about the human body. However, the university is a professional and educational environment seeking to prepare students for their chosen careers. Part of the educational process, then, is learning to dress professionally and teaching students that from the first day at ACU, the way you present yourself to faculty, staff, visitor, future employers, and fellow students matters.
Because bright line rules are often needed when we talk about dress, the following outlines a few guidelines that will allow our community to address these issues with grace and respect. Implementation and enforcement of the dress code are the responsibility of the entire university community. In addressing these issues, it is usually best for a member of the same gender to talk to another member of that gender. These guidelines apply to all on or off campus university-sponsored activities including class, chapel, and athletic events. Colleges, Departments, faculty, staff and specific facilities may adopt additional guidelines or expectations based on professional standards, decorum or need.
Questions about the interpretation and enforcement of these standards should be directed to the Dean of Students.
In keeping with the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, ACU has implemented a “zero-tolerance” policy prohibiting the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illegal drugs and controlled substances, including prescription medications or steroids. Also prohibited is the possession, use or distribution of any simulated or synthetic psychoactive substance, including synthetic marijuana/cannabinoids, which are designed, intended, possessed or used for the purposes of producing an intoxicating, hallucinogenic or psychoactive effect on the user. These substances may include, but are not limited to, salvia, “spice”, “K2” or any other substance categorized as such.
The university upholds local, state and federal laws about the possession, use and distribution of illegal drugs and/or drug paraphernalia. Offenses involving on-campus possession, use or distribution of illegal drugs and controlled substances may be referred to the ACU Police Department for investigation and possible filing of applicable criminal charges. Violations of this policy will be assessed the full range of disciplinary responses, including the possibility of immediate dismissal from the university.
Students suspected of or reported to have been using illegal drugs or controlled substances, on or off campus, may be required to submit to drug testing. Failure to comply may result in further disciplinary action. Any student testing positive for any illegal drug or controlled substance, including steroids, or found in violation of the university drug policy, may be suspended or dismissed from the university.
Under the Higher Education Opportunities Act of 2008, federal law requires the university to notify students that a criminal conviction for any drug offense may result in the student losing his/her financial assistance related to any Title IV, HEA grant, loan, or work-study programs. Therefore, a student’s ability to obtain financial assistance upon returning to the university after completion of a suspension may be impacted.
At ACU, we strive to comply with all applicable legal requirements prohibiting, preventing, and responding to harassment against any member of the ACU community (e.g., Title VI, VII, and IX). Moreover, as a Christian community, ACU has committed itself, unequivocally, to ensuring a working and learning environment in which the dignity of every individual is respected.
Our Anti-Harassment Policy outlines specific definitions and procedures related to discriminatory and sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, assault, stalking, and relationship violence. If you experience harassment in any of these forms, we encourage you to report it so that we can help maintain a work and academic environment free of unlawful harassment.
ACU will not tolerate hazing as defined by Texas law. Moreover, ACU strongly discourages any action which degrades, intimidates, humiliates, or endangers any individual. The University reserves the right, for its administrative disciplinary purposes, to define conduct as "hazing" whether or not it would constitute hazing under the Texas law. All acts of hazing and any act which transgresses ACU's Student Handbook will receive the full range of discipline set forth by the current Student Handbook. Ignorance of Christian principles, cultural meanings, and Texas law will not constitute immunity from appropriate University discipline, including dismissal from the University.
Students are issued an official ACU identification card at the beginning of their academic enrollment with the university. Students are required to carry their card with them at all times and to present the card to any university official upon request. Students failing to render an ID card upon request, using an ID card of another student, allowing an ID card to be used by another student, or falsifying information used for identification purposes will be subject to disciplinary response. The ACU identification card issued to each student remains the property of the university and must be returned to Student Life when a student withdraws or is suspended from the university. Any lost or stolen identification card must be reported to Wildcat Central immediately.
Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as ACU, from participating or intervening in political campaigns on behalf or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Where applicable, this policy also applies to all students and student organizations. Violations of these prohibitions could result in loss of the university’s tax-exempt status, imposition of taxes on the institution and its responsible managers, federal or state government lawsuits, audits, investigations or other penalties.
For detailed information related to the political campaign policy, refer to ACU’s Employee Handbook Section 440.
All materials of a pornographic nature, including magazines, videos and the Internet, are considered immoral and therefore not conducive to the mission of ACU. Students who struggle with addictions to pornography should seek confidential counseling from the Counseling Center.
ACU deplores racism and will not tolerate behaviors associated with expressions of hatred or intimidation. Scripture teaches that all people are created in the image of God and have been purchased by the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ. Attitudes and behaviors acting against these truths are unacceptable and will be subject to the full range of disciplinary action, including dismissal from the university.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are reminded of the significance of being good stewards of the gifts the Creator has provided, including our sexuality. Abilene Christian University is a community that seeks to uphold the teachings and examples of the Bible in all things, and expects all members of its community to glorify God through their words and actions.
Abilene Christian University affirms the biblical model, in which sexual relations are experienced only within the marriage bond between a man and a woman.
Relationships or their behavioral expressions outside of this example are not condoned by Abilene Christian University and are subject to disciplinary or other appropriate action.
All students are expected to maintain a lifestyle of sexual purity. We acknowledge the range of temptations that exist within our world, including sexual temptation, and encourage students to seek appropriate help in this regard. Abilene Christian University offers support services for all members of our community who may have struggles that can compromise one’s ability to practice chastity. Professional counseling and pastoral care are available, with the intent of receiving students in a constructive and redemptive manner.
In all things, and regardless of differing opinions on any subject, Abilene Christian University seeks to affirm the personal dignity, worth, and participation of every member of its community – acting in grace and love. Furthermore, Abilene Christian University is committed to maintaining a safe environment for all students, and will not tolerate sexual harassment or bullying of any kind, and for any reason. Please refer to the Abilene Christian University Anti-Harassment Policy for additional assistance.
Privately owned business enterprises may not be operated on campus. The Dean of Students must approve solicitation by any individual student, student group or outside entity, including advertisements, donations, patrons or any other type of financial support for any ACU or outside activity.
Information regarding disciplinary decisions, harassment, discrimination, residence hall assignments, the residence hall living/learning experience and parking citations may be found in other sections of the Student Handbook.
For all other student complaints, please see the Student Complaint Policy and refer to the appropriate section.
Students should be aware of the many physical dangers associated with the use of smoking and tobacco products. To maintain a healthy environment and to encourage healthy lifestyles for all students, staff and faculty, use of all tobacco products (including smokeless tobacco) and electronic cigarettes / vaporizers is strictly prohibited on the ACU campus and other university property and at all university-sponsored activities, including sporting events. As part of the university disciplinary response, fines will automatically be assessed for all violations of this policy. Use of any of these products in the residence halls and in University Park is a serious violation of this Handbook. The safety of all residents requires that students and their guests respect this policy. Students should be aware they may be held responsible for the actions of any of their visitors or guests.
ACU prohibits the possession of any illegal knives and other dangerous weapons, as well as firearms, either open carry or concealed carry. This includes any replica or facsimile weapon designed, intended, or displayed to appear like a functional firearm or weapon (realistic appearing water guns, air-soft guns, BB/pellet guns) on all university owned or controlled facilities and properties, including athletic venues and any passenger transport vehicles used for university related activities. Other dangerous weapons not listed may be subject to sanction. If a student is found in violation of this university policy, they may be subject to the university student conduct policy and may be suspended or dismissed.
Specific to the August 1, 2016 implementation of the Texas Senate Bill 11:Campus Carry Statute; please be aware that ACU, as allowed by the law, did extensive consultation with campus constituents and chose to opt out of Campus Carry. ACU will continue to be a firearms free campus and will continue to ban the concealed carry of all firearms by anyone, including Texas handgun license holders, on all university owned or controlled premises as defined by Texas law: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/GV/htm/GV.411.htm#411.2031.
Please be advised that the open carry of any handguns or any firearms, even by handgun licensees, continues to be prohibited by Texas law on all college/university campuses. Students who are Texas Handgun Licensees, are allowed by Texas Law and ACU policy to store their licensed and legal handguns inside their LOCKED vehicle parked on any ACU owned or controlled parking facility. Such students are strongly encouraged (but not required) to consult with ACUPD regarding appropriate crime prevention strategies aimed at preventing firearms from being stolen from their vehicles and compliance with this new law. Questions regarding the Texas Campus Carry Law can be directed to ACUPD by phone, 325-674-2305, or via email at email@example.com.
Students deciding to withdraw from the university will initiate this process with the Dean of Students. Appropriate paperwork is located in the lower level of the Campus Center in the Student Life Office. For more information about medical withdrawals, please see below. To withdraw from specific classes, but not from the university, students should consult the Academic Policy section of this Handbook or the University Catalog. Policy regarding refunds of tuition and fees may be found in the FAQ section of the Registrar’s website.
Voluntary Medical Leave of Absence
The University recognizes that students may experience medical situations that significantly limit their ability to function successfully or safely in their role as students (e.g., serious injury, illness, or mental-health issue). In those situations, students should consider a voluntary medical leave of absence, which permits students to take a break from University life and their studies, so that they may receive treatment and later return to the University with a better opportunity to achieve their academic and co-curricular goals. ACU seeks to ease those student-initiated transitions and has designed this policy to ensure that students are given individualized attention, consideration, and support needed to address medical issues that may arise.
The Leave Process
Students may initiate a voluntary medical leave from the university for the reasons set out above by contacting the Office of the Vice President for Student Life (“VPSL”). Appropriate paperwork is in the lower level of the Campus Center in the Student Life Office. Along with the paperwork, students must submit supporting documentation. Acceptable documentation would be a letter or note from the student’s physician, psychologist, or counselor, on their letterhead, which may indicate the following: (1) the reason the student is requesting a medical leave, including your diagnosis; (2) the date of initial treatment; (3) the dates of subsequent treatment (if applicable); and (4) the expected semester of recovery. Additionally, health permitting, a student may be asked to submit to an examination by ACU’s Counseling Center or Medical Clinic so that an individualized treatment recommendations can be made and provided to the VPSL.
If approved, students on a medical leave receive non-punitive withdrawal grades regardless of the point in the semester that the leave is granted. And depending on the situation, requests for tuition refund or crediting to ease the student’s transition will also be considered. A student on medical leave of absence is away from the campus and classes for the remainder of the semester and cannot return until a re-entry assessment has been approved by the VPSL or designee. A Student Life hold will be placed on the student’s account until the VPSL or designee approves return.
The Return Process
In order to return from leave, a student should submit a Return from Medical Leave Form to the Office of the VPSL. Although a request for return will be assessed whenever requested by a student, a medical leave is generally for a period of at least one long semester. The normal processing time for a return request is one month.
In reviewing requests for return from medical leave, all students, regardless of their situations or basis for the leave must sufficiently demonstrate that the situation or basis that led to student’s inability to perform have been addressed. Specifically, evidence that student has maintained stability and demonstrated follow through with treatment for a sufficient period of time to enable him or her to be a successful student. Additionally, evidence of productive functioning (i.e., employment, volunteerism, etc.) is looked upon favorably. In order to be approved for return, student must have complied with any recommendations given to student for treatment at the time of his or her medical leave. Moreover, the students are encouraged to inform the VPSL of any help, resources, or reasonable accommodations that the university can provide to support the student’s return.
If students have not returned from or re-applied to extend their medical leave, they will be administratively withdrawn from the university after more than one long semester and will need to re-apply if they choose to return at a later date. Moreover, a Student Life hold may be placed barring the student’s admission for future semesters until approval is obtained pursuant to this policy.
Responding to Disruptive Behavior
Students, whose harmful or disruptive behavior has come to the university’s attention, may be allowed to continue their studies pending adherence to conduct or behavior restrictions over a specified period of time. Such conditions could include, for example, stopping classroom disruptiveness, allocating alternative or more suitable living accommodations if available, undergoing a mandated assessment (as described below) or continuing only if the student avails him or herself of supportive services or treatment. However, such conditions are not appropriate when a student’s behavior indicates harm or danger to any member of the university community. Failure to comply with such conditions and/or further disruptive behavior may result in the advancement of pending or previously deferred conduct code proceedings or involuntary leave.
In making determinations under this policy or if a student subject to this policy or conduct proceedings notifies the university that information concerning a mental/behavioral disorder will be introduced, the VPSL may refer or mandate a student for evaluation by a campus or independent licensed mental health professional chosen or approved by the institution. Students referred or mandated will be informed in writing. The evaluation must be complete on the date specified in the notice unless an extension is granted by the VPSL. A student who fails to complete the evaluation or give permission for the results to be shared with the appropriate administrators may be place on interim leave and/or referred to the Dean of Students.
The VPSL may impose an interim separation when a student presents an immediate danger to the fulfillment of the educational mission of the university or to the life, health, welfare, safety, or property of any member(s) of the university community. Such separation will only be used pending the outcome of an initial conference or disciplinary hearing, which shall be scheduled as expeditiously as possible. Notification of interim separation and the reasons for it will be communicated to the student, in writing, within 24 hours of the decision. If this is not possible because of a student’s absence or the VPSL or designee is not able to locate and/or correspond with the student, the VPSL or designee may place a Student Life hold on the student’s account. The leave will remain in effect until a final decision has been made pursuant to the standard procedures, unless, before a final decision is made, the VPSL or designee determines that the reasons for imposing the interim separation no longer exist or a voluntary medical leave is granted. This action may be taken, but is not limited to, situations involving physical and/or sexual violence, drugs and other controlled substances.
Involuntary Medical Leave
Unfortunately, there are times when a student’s behavior renders them unable to effectively function in the residential or university community without harming others or disrupting the community, and the student refuses and/or cannot be helped by emotional or medical treatment or voluntary leave. In those situations, university officials may consider the appropriateness of utilizing the regular student conduct policies and/or undertaking an involuntary medical leave as described below:
1. The Dean of Students may require a mandatory assessment if a student's condition render him/her unable to function in the university community without harming others and/or disrupting the educational mission of the institution.
2. The Dean of Students may require any documentation or assessment that he/she deems necessary in making this determination, including medical assessment or evaluation by a licensed mental health or medical professional of the university's choosing, which will be disclosed to appropriate university personnel. Failure to appear for a mandated assessment will result in an involuntary medical leave of absence without further process.
3. When in the opinion of a medical or mental health professional the student is unable to function in the university community without harming others and/or disrupting the educational mission of the institution, the professional member shall notify the Dean of Students or designee of the situation as soon as possible.
4. When the Dean of Students receives notification, described above, he/she or his/her designee will review appropriate documentation and make a decision regarding the student's status. If the Dean of Students determines that the student should be placed on involuntary leave, he or she or his/her designee may inform the student and student's parents(s), spouse, or other close relative.
5. A student may appeal this decision to the Vice President for Student Life within two business days of receiving notification on one or more of the following bases:
a) To consider new information, unavailable to the Dean of Students, that could be outcome determinative;
b) To assess whether a material deviation from this policy impacted the fairness of the decision; or
c) To determine if the conclusion evidence provided did not support the finding.
The appeal is deferential to the original decision, making changes only if compelling justification to do so exists. A written decision will be provided to the student summarizing the decision, and will typically be issued within no more than five (5) business days after requested.
Although a request for return will be assessed whenever requested by a student, involuntary medical leaves of absence are generally for at least one month. A student may apply for re-enrollment by following the re-enrollment process described in the procedures for re-enrollment from a medical leave of absence.