Standards of Conduct
The purpose and qualities of life sought in this campus community are determined by the board of trustees in cooperation with faculty, staff and students. Bluffton affirms that rules controlling smoking, drinking and drugs serve purposes with are appropriate on grounds of health, cleanliness, safety and regard for others. Bluffton realizes that its rules can scarcely be expected to regulate behavior when student are not under its jurisdiction. However, that is not to say that off-campus behavior is a matter of indifference to the Bluffton University community. Off-campus conduct may detrimentally affect a student’s own academic effectiveness and the lives and activities of others.
Bluffton retains the right to exclude students whose conduct does injury to themselves or to the Bluffton University community. Persons are admitted to Bluffton with the understanding that they will be responsible members of the academic community.
In this campus community both students and faculty share in the responsibilities of maintaining campus standards. The student life and academic affairs staff handle campus disciplinary cases. Infractions of the rules and any serious misconduct become the particular concern of the university.
For students’ welfare and in the best interests of the campus community, Bluffton University reserves the right to suspend or dismiss any student at any time when the university authorities deem such action imperative.
Any students found to have committed or to have attempted to commit any of the following misconduct is subject to disciplinary procedures as outlined in the Campus Conduct Process.
There are some specific expectations which members of the community have developed as important to the quality of life desired for Bluffton. As members of the campus community, students are encouraged to worship regularly on campus and in the church of their choice. In addition, they are expected to:
- Practice openness and honesty in all relations with members of the community: faculty, staff and students.
- Conduct themselves with respect for persons and property.
- Practice the honor system in taking examinations and writing research papers, lab reports and other assignments.
- Follow the rules and regulations necessary for orderly community life which are established in areas such as the library, residence halls and Marbeck Center.
- Refrain from patterns of behavior which do injury to self and others: e.g. smoking,
drinking, drug use, gambling, sexual exploitation, promiscuity and profanity.
Bluffton forms, as part of its foundation, a community of respect. Respect includes
an understanding of how individual actions impact a community. In an academic community,
learning for life happens outside the classroom as well as in the classroom. It is
the desire of Bluffton for students to learn and to be encouraged in behavior that
will positively contribute to their whole person as individuals created by God.
Consumption of alcohol may promote unhealthy lifestyle choices: create dependencies, waste money, abuse health and take lives. The consumption of alcohol may generate behavior offensive to other people and to the public, including the Bluffton University community. Students are not full participants in the community of learning and respect at Bluffton if they are under the influence of alcohol
Bluffton expects students to understand the consequences of consuming or possessing alcohol on campus as well as the ramifications of consuming alcohol off-campus, particularly as it relates to the potential impact for on-campus behavior. The possession and consumption of alcohol on campus at all campus-related activities is prohibited. Students are also reminded that the possession and consumption of alcohol on or off-campus is illegal for those under the age of 21.
In brief, Bluffton’ policy states that members of the campus community may not possess
or use alcohol on campus or possess alcohol-related containers.
The following behavior would be considered a violation of the campus alcohol policy:
- Drinking alcohol on campus;
- Being present in a room or other area on campus where an alcohol violation is occurring;
- Possession of alcohol-related container(s) in the residence hall, common area, vehicles on campus or anywhere else on campus;
- Window exhibits that display items relating to alcohol are prohibited, as are displays in windows, on room doors, in hallways and other public areas on campus.
- Disruptive actions associated with the possession and/or consumption of alcohol, including
disruptive behavior on campus when a student is under the influence of alcohol
The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession or use of a controlled substance is prohibited at Bluffton University. Any member of the campus community who participates in such activities will be subject to disciplinary actions which may range from a warning to suspension. In addition, he/she may be required to participate in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program. Those who distribute controlled substances to others will normally be suspended from Bluffton. In addition, those involved in these kinds of activities will generally be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Penalties may range from fines to imprisonment.
In brief, Bluffton’s policy states that members of the campus community may not possess or use controlled substances on campus or possess drug-related paraphernalia. In addition, the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession or use of a controlled substance is prohibited. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in the university's drug/alcohol education programs and activities that are held throughout the year.
Information about special counseling, rehabilitation and assistance programs can be obtained from staff in the student life office.
- Bluffton University prohibits the unlawful use, possession, purchase, distribution, sale or manufacture of a controlled substance (including marijuana), and of designer drugs.
- Bluffton University strictly enforces all local, state and federal laws related to possession, use, sale or distribution of controlled or illegal substances.
- Bluffton University prohibits the possession of drug paraphernalia. Individuals who are involved in any drug-related violation may be subject to criminal action, as the university may report these individuals to the legal authorities. Students who are convicted of any criminal offense involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance risk continued eligibility to receive financial aid.
The following behavior would be considered a violation of the campus drug policy:
- Being present in a room or other area on campus where a drug violation is occurring;
- Possession drug paraphernalia in the residence hall, common area, vehicles on campus or anywhere else on campus; drug paraphernalia includes but is not limited to roach clips, bongs, hookahs, blow tubes, papers, scales or any material or apparatus containing drug residue.
- Possession or use of prescription drugs without a valid/current medical prescription; use of prescribed medication not as directed (over-use, snorting prescribed medication, etc.); huffing, snorting, smoking or otherwise possessing or using legal substances not as intended.
- Window exhibits that display items relating to drugs are prohibited, as are displays in windows, on room doors, in hallways and other public areas on campus.
- Disruptive actions associated with the possession and/or consumption of drugs, including disruptive behavior on campus when a student is under the influence of drugs
In summarizing our position, Bluffton is opposed to the illegal use and selling of drugs. The health risks are well documented and this type of behavior disrupts the life of the individual and the campus community. Our response to this activity is one of counseling coupled with compliance with the standards of campus conduct and the law.
Bluffton University is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment in which to live learn and work for all members of the community. In efforts to promote good health and wellbeing, the university expects members to refrain from patterns of behavior which do injury to self and others.
As such smoking and vaping are prohibited on campus and on all official Bluffton University trips (e.g., athletic trips, student teaching) and at all Bluffton University-sponsored activities. The sole exception to this rule is the provision of two designated outdoor areas on campus where smoking and vaping is permitted. Smoking is defined as the act of lighting and inhaling/exhaling burning tobacco or other plant material usually in the form of a cigarette, cigar or pipe. Vaping refers to the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems or electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-hookahs and e-cigars.
Bluffton University affirms the principle that students, faculty and staff have the right to be free from all forms of sexual misconduct, examples of which can include acts of sexual assault, sex/gender harassment, sex/gender discrimination, sexual exploitation and indecent exposure. Oftentimes, incidents of sexual misconduct also involve other prohibited conduct such as bullying/intimidation, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation. The university prohibits such conduct, regardless of whether it is related to an instance of sexual misconduct. All of the conduct referenced in the prior sentences will be referred to collectively throughout this policy as “prohibited conduct.”
Bluffton University, as an educational community, will promptly and equitably respond to all reports of sexual misconduct in order to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its recurrence and address its effects on any individual and/or the community.
This policy applies to all members of the university community, including students, employees, volunteers, independent contractors, visitors and any individuals regularly or temporarily employed, studying, living, visiting, conducting business or having any official capacity at the university.
The complete Bluffton sexual misconduct policy is available in print or on online.
If you are uncomfortable at any time and would like a security escort on campus, you can call the following numbers:
7 a.m.-8 p.m.: 419-303-5116
8 p.m.-7 a.m.: 419-303-3121
Sex offender registry
The federal Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act requires institutions of higher education to issue a statement advising the campus community where law enforcement agency information, which is provided by a state, concerning registered sex offenders may be obtained. It also requires sex offenders already required to register in a state to provide notice, as required under state law, of each institution of higher education in that state at which the person is employed, carries on a vocation, volunteers services or is a student.
In the State of Ohio convicted sex offenders must register with the county sheriff of the county of residence address within seven days. The registry was established pursuant to 2950.01 to 2950.14 of the Ohio Revised Code. Every person convicted on or after July 1, 1997, including juveniles tried and convicted in the courts pursuant to ORC 2950.03, whether sentenced as adults or juveniles, of an offense for which registration is required shall be required as a part of the sentence imposed upon conviction to register and re-register with the county sheriff of the residency county as provided in ORC 2950.04.
In addition, all persons convicted of violations under the laws of the United States or any other State substantially similar to an offense for which registration is required shall provide to the local agency all necessary information for inclusion with an Ohio county sheriff within seven days of establishing a residence with the Ohio county. Any person required to register shall also be required to re-register within seven days following any change of residence, whether within the county or any other county.
Bluffton University maintains a Web link to the Attorney General's Office of the State of Ohio for registered sex offenders within the state. Click on the sex offender search and locate the county of your choice.
Bluffton University is committed to a healthy campus community in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Each individual has the right to live and work in an atmosphere that promotes equal opportunities and prohibits unlawful discriminatory practices, including harassment and retaliation. Therefore, Bluffton University expects that all relationships among persons in the campus community will be free of discrimination and harassment.
It is the policy of Bluffton University that no person shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other status protected by law, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in employment or in any educational program or activity of the university. To that end, and in compliance with federal and state laws, the university prohibits any member of the faculty, staff, administration, student body or visitors to campus, whether they are guests, patrons, independent contractors or clients, from discrimination, harassment and retaliation against any other person in the university community in violation of this policy.
- DISCRIMINATION is defined as unequal, adverse treatment of an individual because of a protected legal status, noted in the policy statement above, that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive such that it unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits someone’s employment access, benefits or opportunities, or the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally made available to students at the institution, to include the administration of policies, participation in educational, social and residential programs or activities, scholarship and loan programs, athletic programs and other school-administered programs.
- HARASSMENT is verbal, written or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of a protected legal status, noted in the policy statement above, or that of his or her relatives, friends or associates, and that: a) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive community or work environment, b) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance, or c) otherwise adversely affects an individual’s academic, social or employment opportunities. Harassing conduct includes epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping, threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes; and written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group that is placed on publicly-visible areas on the university’s premises or circulated within the university, during class or work time or using university equipment by e-mail, phone (including voice messages), text messages, social networking sites or other means.
- RETALIATION of any sort will not be tolerated against an administrator, faculty, staff or student who, in good faith, reports discrimination, harassment or retaliation or cooperates with investigation regarding same. Retaliation may come in the form of harassment, as described above or as adverse academic or employment actions. This policy is intended to encourage and enable employees and others to raise serious concerns within the university prior to seeking resolution outside the university.
More policies and procedures are in the Employee Handbook.
As a religious institution, Bluffton University expressly reserves its rights to appoint faculty and staff who share a commitment to the Christian faith which is consistent with the Mennonite/Anabaptist beliefs of the university’s founding and supporting church.
Bluffton University does not discriminate against qualified disabled students. The mission of disability services at Bluffton University is to ensure that qualified students with disabilities are provided access to all programs in order to maximize their educational potential, develop independence to the fullest extent possible and perform at a level limited only by their abilities, not their disabilities.
Any disabled student who seeks modifications in accordance with counselor for disability services of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, such as academic adjustments or auxiliary aids or services, must submit a request to the university's counselor for disability services. The counselor for disability services will work with the student and other persons as necessary to determine the appropriate accommodations. The office of the counselor for disability services/counselor for disability services is located in College Hall within the Learning Resource Center and the counselor can be contacted at 419-358-3215.
This policy outlines how the university will respond in situations where students have engaged in behavior such that the university determines there is a significant risk of substantial harm to members of the campus community. The university will strive to work with such a student to resolve the situation through a voluntary leave of absence or voluntary withdrawal. However, if no voluntary resolution can be reached or if emergency circumstances exist, the university may need to place such a student on involuntary leave or involuntarily withdraw the student from the university.
Conditions which could warrant involuntary leave or involuntary withdrawal
Involuntary leave or involuntary withdrawal of a student will occur only in situations where the university determines there is a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of a member(s) of the campus community.
The following are some examples of situations that may be covered by this policy. They include, but are not limited to:
- Threats of damage or harm to other persons;
- Behavior indicating that the student is not in contact with reality or not aware of the consequences of his/her actions such that there may be a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of a member(s) of the campus community.
The vice president of student affairs, when made aware of a student's request for a voluntary leave of absence or withdrawal or of a situation which could warrant involuntary leave or withdrawal, will work with the university's counselor for disability services, the campus counselor, director of residence life and other appropriate persons knowledgeable about the student s condition (e.g., parents, healthcare providers) to determine the student's ability to safely participate in the university's programs.
The determination that a student poses a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of a member(s) of the campus community shall be based on an individualized assessment of the student's present ability to safely function at the university. This assessment shall be based on a reasonable medical judgment that relies on the most current medical knowledge and/or on the best available objective evidence. In determining whether an individual would pose such a risk, the factors to be considered include:
- the nature, duration and severity of the risk of harm;
- the likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and
- whether reasonable modifications of university policies, practices or procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk.
If it is determined through the above process that a student's behavior poses a direct
threat to a member(s) of the campus community, the vice president of student affairs
or designee may withdraw the student or restrict the student’s access to campus for
an interim period before a final determination is made. Every attempt will be made
by the vice president of student affairs or designee to meet with the student before
deciding on an interim withdrawal of the student. If the student is to be withdrawn
on an interim basis, the decision will be communicated in writing to the student.
A student withdrawn on an interim basis shall be given an opportunity to appear personally
before the vice president of student affairs within two school days from the effective
date of the interim withdrawal. Notification of an informal meeting with the vice
president of student affairs will be communicated to the student in writing and/or
orally. The request will include a statement of the reasons for the university's concern.
Appropriate university personnel may be present and/or consulted at this meeting.
A parent, spouse or any person who would be of support to the student may, with the
consent of the vice president of student affairs and of the student, participate in
the informal meeting. At the meeting, the reasons for the university’s concern will
be stated and the student will be given an opportunity to respond to the concerns.
If, after the meeting, it is determined that the student does not present a significant
risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of a member(s) of the campus community,
the student will be informed in writing by the vice president of student affairs and
permitted to continue as a student.
If, after the meeting, the vice president of student affairs, in consultation with appropriate personnel, decides that the student should withdraw from the university, the student shall be informed in writing of the decision and the basis for the decision within five (5) school days of the informal meeting. The student may be required by the university to provide information from a healthcare professional to the vice president of student affairs indicating the student’s ability to continue at or return to the university. The counselor for disability services will be involved where a student seeks a return to the university.
If a student wishes to appeal a decision of the vice president of student affairs, the appeal must be made in writing to the president within five (5) university working days of the receipt of the decision. (All decisions sent to the student via U.S. Mail will be considered received in three (3) working days.) Following notice to the student, the president will conduct a meeting with the student, the vice president of student affairs, other appropriate university personnel and a representative or family member selected by the student to serve as his/her advisor. In addition, the president may require the student, at his or her expense, to obtain a psychiatric/medical evaluation from sources external to the university to be presented. The decision of the president is the university’s final decision.
Grievance procedure for complaints of disability discrimination
Bluffton University’s policy is to provide a prompt and fair method of resolving complaints of discrimination based upon a disability.
- Complaints of discrimination based on a disability must be forwarded in writing to the counselor for disability services, Bluffton University, 1 University Drive, Bluffton, OH 45817-2104. For additional information, call 419-358-3215.
- A complaint must be filed in writing within 15 working days after the complainant becomes aware of the alleged violation.
- Following the filing of a complaint an appropriate investigation shall follow due process procedures including an opportunity for the complainant to be heard and present witnesses and other evidence. The investigation shall be conducted by the counselor for disability services.
- A written determination of findings and a description of the resolution shall be issued by the counselor for disability services and forwarded to the complainant as soon as the investigation is completed, normally no later than 30 working days after the filing of the complaint.
- For complaints in which the counselor for disability services is involved in the decisions and/or actions challenged in the grievance, the university's ADA/504 coordinator will serve as the alternate investigator.
Setting fires with the intention of destroying property is not permitted.
- No partitions of any nature may be erected in a room. Sheets or fabrics may not be hung from the ceilings or walls in student rooms. This does not include posters on walls or other common wall hangings.
- The burning of incense is not permitted in residence halls.
- The burning of any object with an open flame (e.g., candles and lanterns) is not permitted in residence halls. Burnt candles are also not permitted. Candles must have a new wick or no wick at all.
- Live Christmas trees are not permitted in any building on campus.
- Halogen lamps are not permitted in the residence halls.
- It is a violation of state law to tamper with smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire alarm systems. Any students involved in this type of activity will be subject to suspension from the university.
Smoke detectors have been installed in each room for the safety of the residents. These should be tested once a week by pressing and holding the test button 1-5 seconds and listening for the alarm. When the battery begins to weaken, a warning chirp will sound at least once per minute for seven days. Hall directors should be contacted when the battery needs to be replaced. Residents will be given a new battery to place in the alarm.
An encounter with blows or other personal violations between two or more persons. This includes but is not limited to actual or attempted pushing, hitting, kicking, spitting, wrestling, pulling hair, etc.
Any on-going behavior directed at or about an individual that is degrading, humiliating, malicious, defamatory, threatens to do bodily harm, addresses any words or language of a lewd, lascivious or indecent character, nature or connotation is prohibited by Bluffton University and may be in violation of Ohio law. Behaviors may occur in person, in print, telephone, via electronic means or through social networking (cyber-bullying). Examples include, but are not limited to: ongoing pranks or ridicule directed against an individual, graffiti, posting insults against a student in a public setting or any website. Bullying on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation is included in the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Lockers may be reserved for free for a semester or an academic year on a first come first serve basis but a university issued lock must be used on the lockers. All other locks will be removed. A $10 deposit for the university lock is also required but will be refunded to the student when the lock is returned.
Lockers reserved for fall term must be vacated by the end of the last day of fall exams. Those reserved in the spring term must be vacated by the end of the last day of spring exams. Lockers cannot be reserved in the summer.
To reserve a locker, please come with your $10 deposit to the student life office in Schultz Hall in Riley Court.
Bluffton University computers and the campus network are the property of Bluffton University and are maintained as an educational resource for use by members of the campus community and guests with authorized network passwords. Authorized users agree to use the Bluffton network in accordance with the Bluffton standards for campus conduct and to abide by all relevant academic standards and laws with respect to copyright and the responsible use of network and internet resources.
Violations of this policy by students will be referred to the campus conduct system and violations by employees would be referred to the human resources policies. Violations that fall within the sexual misconduct policy will be referred to the Title IX coordinator. Violations may result in disciplinary action, including, but not limited to, suspension of internet access, suspension of email privileges, suspension of computing privileges, suspension or expulsion from the university, suspension or termination of employment, fines and legal action.
As with all networks, Bluffton users should understand that network activity is shared. Network users are responsible for the use of their password and all associated activity. The university does not guarantee that network activity, including websites visited and information downloaded, is private.
In a shared computing environment, individuals must assume responsibility for using available tools to maintain the security of information stored on computer systems and to maximize educational computing resources. All users are responsible to:
- Secure network accounts and authorization codes that are assigned to individual users and not share them with others.
- Be aware of destructive programs or viruses and take steps, as directed by the university, to prevent their unwanted distribution.
- Limit the nonacademic use of network resources, i.e., connect time and information storage space for entertainment purposes.
As members of a community of respect, whether using a university computer or a personal computer connected to the network, all users are expected to:
- Use only authorization codes assigned to them.
- Access only files or data that they are authorized to use.
- Abide by all campus standards and all local, state and federal laws, including copyright laws and those governing the distribution of inappropriate content.
Bluffton recommends, as a guide for fair use of electronic resources, the following statement on software and intellectual copyright distributed jointly by the Information Technology Association of North America and by EDUCAUSE, the nonprofit consortium of colleges and universities committed to the use and management of information technology in higher education:
Respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital to academic discourse and enterprise. This principle applies to work of all authors and publishers in all media. It encompasses respect for the right to acknowledgement, right to privacy and right to determine the form, manner and terms of publication and distribution. Because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy, unauthorized access and trade secrets and copyright violations, may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.
Bluffton University must maintain a standard bluffton.edu email for all users of the campus information system. A student’s official email address is his/her bluffton.edu mail account. Bluffton faculty, staff, registrar, financial aid and business office personnel will contact students at this official address. Therefore, students are responsible to check this account on a regular basis. Refer any questions regarding email to the Help Desk at 419-358-3600, on campus at extension 3600 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Additional information about information technology and its responsible use is available through the Bluffton Technology Center.
As of 2009 the Higher Education Opportunity Act, H.R. 4137, requires Bluffton University to make provisions that will reduce the number of illegal file sharing activities. Specifically, we would like to eliminate illegal uploading, downloading and file sharing practices of copyrighted materials via Bluffton’s network. These provisions include:
- Educate students on copyrighted work and file sharing
- Clearly and concisely state Bluffton’s policy on file sharing
- Describe the consequences of such illegal sharing
- Offer alternatives to illegal file sharing
- Publish these documents and policies in both the student handbook and the bluffton.edu Web site
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of copyright is: the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical or artistic work). In most cases, if you do not have permission from the appropriate source to download, upload or share, you are violating the law. Doing so without permission, is neither appropriate nor acceptable use of Bluffton’s network. Some examples of copyrighted works include: books, articles, songs, movies, television productions, pictures and computer software.
Bluffton University copyright policy
It is the policy of Bluffton University that all constituents respect and adhere to the intellectual rights of others. All rights remain with the original creator. In violation, Bluffton reserves the right to take appropriate action.
Consequences/appropriate action for misuse
Copyright infringements could result in temporary and/or permanent loss of network connectivity. In addition students may be referred to the vice president of student affairs for violation of Bluffton’s code of conduct. As always when breaking any law there could be criminal charges and/or civil penalties assessed.
There are legal alternatives for obtaining legal digital content:
Destruction, damage or defacement of personal, public or college property; including, but not limited to: defacing structures, bulletin boards, equipment and facilities; parking/driving on grass and sidewalks; grinding or rail sliding with skates or skateboards; littering; and removing window screens.
Any behavior that is disruptive (regardless of intent) to the rights of others, behavior which disrupts the daily productive functioning of self or others. Examples include, but are not limited to: intentionally preventing others from listening or presenting their ideas in class; manipulating others to gain sympathy or attention, use of cell phones in classrooms or during campus events; excessive noise; engaging in public urination or defecation; horseplay, practical jokes, hiding from college officials, hall sports and general pranks or annoyances.
Any behavior that disrupts the orderly process of a college investigation and/or the college disciplinary process. Examples include, but are not limited to: failure to respond to notice of a college official, providing false testimony, making a false report, misrepresenting information during an investigation or a hearing, attempting to influence the testimony or participation of a witness or attempting to influence the participation of an individual in official capacity, threatening or intimidating any individual's participation in the disciplinary process, failure to comply with a disciplinary sanction.
Drones must be registered with the student life office prior to operating on campus. Owners of recreational drones must register their devices with the Federal Aviation Administration. Drones weighing between .55 and 55 pounds must be registered. Operators caught using their drones without registration could face heavy fines. You will need to provide proof of FAA registration to complete the registration with student life office. Please contact the vice president of student affairs to register any drone.
Bluffton University recognizes the importance of “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and “Emotional Support Animals” (ESA). ESA are a separate category of animals that provide necessary, disability-related emotional support to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual’s disability, but which are not considered Service Animals under the ADAAA. The university is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities full-participation and equal access to the university’s programs and activities, including university housing.
This policy explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an ESA in university housing. The university may amend this policy as circumstances require, as determined by the university’s sole discretion. This policy applies solely to Emotional Support Animals. It does not apply to “Service Animals” as defined by the ADAAA.
Although it is the university’s policy that individuals are generally prohibited from having animals of any type in university housing (other than fish), the university will consider a request by a student with a disability for reasonable accommodation from this prohibition to allow an ESA. However, no ESA may be kept in university housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation. The presence of only one ESA will be approved for a student, in order to fulfill the intent of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requirements in providing support to a student with a mental health disability.
An Emotional Support Animal is a category of animals that provide necessary emotional support to individuals with a mental or psychiatric disability and is selected to play an integral part of a person’s treatment process.
Unlike service animals that are trained to perform specific tasks that are important to the independence or safety of their disabled handler, ESAs are generally not trained to perform disability-specific tasks. Their therapeutic support is a function of their presence and interaction with the person with a disability. ESAs are not pets, but they typically are animals commonly kept in households as pets. An ESA may be a dog, cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, fish, turtle or other small, domesticated animal that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure. Under guidelines from HUD, reptiles (other than turtles), barnyard animals, monkeys and other non-domesticated animals are not considered common household animals. Dangerous, poisonous and illegal animals are not permitted as Emotional Support Animals. Exceptions to these guidelines regarding animals serving as ESAs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The question in determining if an ESA will be allowed in university housing is whether or not the ESA is necessary because of the individual’s disability to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy university housing and its presence in university housing is reasonable. However, even if the individual with a disability establishes necessity for an ESA and it is allowed in university housing, an ESA is not permitted in other areas of the university (e.g. dining facilities, library, academic buildings, athletic buildings and facilities, classrooms, labs, etc.).
To be allowed to have an ESA reside in campus housing, the student must first contact the disability services office and complete the appropriate documentation requirements. These requirements include:
- a letter from an appropriate medical professional indicating:
- That the student has a disability requiring the use of an ESA; and
- That an ESA is required for a disability-related purpose
The university will consider each request for an ESA on a case-by-case basis, and, in doing so, will engage in an interactive process with the requesting student.
Once the ESA request has been approved by the disabilities services office, the student must request a meeting with the director of residence life or designee to review the requirements related to housing an ESA under this policy.
Approval for an ESA in campus housing must be re-approved annually by the director of disability services and the coordinator of residence life. The approval of an ESA is animal-specific and is not transferable to another animal.
The student will provide written consent for disability services to disclose the presence of an ESA to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the ESA including, but not limited to, residence life personnel, buildings and grounds staff, and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s). This information shall be limited to information related to the ESA and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability, in accordance with state and federal law.
The presence of the ESA may be noticed by others visiting or residing in university housing. The student will agree that staff may acknowledge the presence of the ESA and explain that under certain circumstances Emotional Support Animals are permitted for persons with documented disabilities, without disclosing information related to the individual’s specific disability.
Guidelines and requirements for ESAs
Bluffton University has determined that the university residential setting, in most cases, is not an appropriate environment to raise a young animal.
- ESAs that are dogs: Generally, dogs must be 12 months of age and must have a current rabies immunization before they can live in university housing. Exceptions to this requirement are rare but considered based on extenuating circumstances.
- ESAs that are cats: Generally, cats must be at least 6 months of age, and must have a current rabies immunization before they can live in university housing. Exceptions to this requirement are rare but considered based on extenuating circumstances.
- ESAs that are other animals: An animal can be considered immunized 28 days after the first vaccination. With any subsequent vaccination, the animal is considered current immediately (from the CDC).
An ESA’s behavior, noise, odor, and/or waste shall not exceed reasonable standards for a well-behaved animal. An ESA may be removed if the ESA or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the University housing community. The University may use the following factors (among others) in determining whether the presence of the ESA is grounds for removal, or in the making of housing assignments or adjustments for students with ESAs:
- The ESA cannot be accommodated in the assigned small housing space;
- The ESA is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
- The ESA's vaccinations are not up-to-date, or the owner has otherwise failed to abide by any laws, ordinances, and/or regulations pertaining to the licensing, vaccinations, or other requirements for animals;
- The ESA poses a direct threat to the health or safety of an individual or others or has been deemed a dangerous animal.
- Where the accommodation for the ESA would impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the Residence Life Department of the University.
If a request is made during the academic year for an ESA placement, the decision will be made on a case by case basis considering the existing situation.
Owner responsibilities for Emotional Support Animals (ESA) in Bluffton University housing
- ESAs require daily food and attention, as well as daily assessment of their general health, behavior and overall welfare. Student-owners are solely responsible for attending to the ESA’s daily needs. The student must abide by current city, county and state ordinances, laws and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination and other requirements for animals. It is the owner’s sole responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws and regulations. The university has the right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws and/or regulations at any time.
- The student is solely responsible for ensuring all veterinarians’ recommended vaccinations and flea and tick prevention (when appropriate) are completed and documented. Proof of vaccination flea/tick prevention are required before moving the ESA into the residence. The university reserves the right to request an updated verification at any time during the ESA’s residency.
- The student is solely responsible for properly containing and disposing of all ESA waste in appropriate outside trash dumpsters. Litter boxes must be placed on mats, to prevent feces and urine from being tracked onto carpeted surfaces. While it is preferable that litter boxes are placed on a tiled floor, this may not always be possible, due to structural limitations within certain residence areas; nevertheless, precautionary measures will still be expected, in order to maintain a standard level of cleanliness within the student's living space.
- The student shall not bathe and/or groom the ESA, or clean its cage/crate, or bedding using residence hall facilities shared by other student residents (bathrooms, showers, dorm rooms or apartment facilities).
- The student must immediately notify residence life staff if the ESA escapes or is unable to be located.
ESAs in residence halls and apartments
- The ESA must be contained within the student’s private room at all times, except when transported by the student outside the private living space. It may not be taken into hallways (except for access and egress to/from the facility), lounges, bathrooms, laundry facilities or other areas of the residence facility, except when taking the ESA outside for natural relief. When an ESA is outside the owner’s private room, the ESA must be in an animal carrier, or otherwise controlled by a leash or harness, or otherwise fully under the dominion of the owner at all times outside of the living accommodations. An ESA may not roam freely outside of the student’s private room.
- The student is responsible for ensuring that the ESA is contained, as appropriate, when the student is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities. An ESA must dwell in a locked crate, aquarium or cage when the owner is not present. If the student is assigned to live in an on-campus apartment, the ESA’s crate, aquarium or cage must be located in the student-owner’s bedroom. In the case of an emergency, in which the ESA must be cared for unexpectedly, the student will name someone, other than another resident, as the emergency contact to make decisions about the care of the ESA.
- The student’s residence may be inspected by the university for fleas, ticks or other pests as needed. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a college-approved pest control service. The student will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment if caused by the ESA.
- ESAs may not be left overnight or over breaks in university housing to be cared for by any individual other than the student. If the student is to be absent from their residence hall overnight or longer, the ESA must accompany the student.
Additional owner responsibilities
- The student is financially responsible for any and all actions of the ESA, involving bodily injury or property damage. This includes, but is not limited to, any replacement of furniture, carpet, window or wall covering as well as cleaning costs associated with the ESA’s presence.
- The student must notify residence life and the disability services immediately if the ESA is no longer needed as an emotional support animal or is no longer in residence. To replace one ESA with a different ESA, the student must file a new request and comply with all terms and conditions herein specified.
- The student agrees to continue to abide by all other residence life and university policies. An exception to policy that otherwise prohibits having an animal does not constitute an exception to any other university policy.
- Residence life administrators have the authority to relocate a student and the ESA as necessary if circumstances are contrary to the terms of this agreement and/or other university policies. The ESA must not disrupt others (e.g. barking continuously, growling, howling, crying, etc.). If the behavior of the ESA can be addressed by the student and the student can change the behavior of the ESA so that the ESA does not cause a disruption to the residential environment, then a written action plan must be submitted to the director of residence life or designee by the student. The action plan must include the steps that will be taken to alleviate the problem(s) in behavior and must also state a deadline for addressing the problem behavior. Any action plan must meet the approval of the residence life office.
- If university personnel are aware that an ESA is present when an emergency occurs, then the personnel will notify the responding emergency personnel that an ESA is present. University personnel will relay information concerning the type of ESA.
- In the event of a building evacuation, emergency personnel may try to rescue both the student and the ESA. The ESA may have to be left behind, however, in some circumstances. Signage indicating the presence of an ESA in a room for emergency purposes will be given to the student by the university. It is the student’s responsibility to place the sign on the door.
Removal of the Emotional Support Animal
The university may require the individual to remove the ESA from university housing if:
- The student does not comply with the responsibilities and requirements listed in the policy above;
- The ESA poses a direct threat to the health or safety of the individual or others, such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others, or the potential of transmission of diseases;
- The ESA causes substantial physical damage to the property of others:
- The ESA’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of a university program;
- The ESA causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.
If the university requires the removal of an ESA, the owner must remove the ESA from university housing within seven (7) days of receiving such notification. Should the ESA be removed from the premises according to this policy, the student is expected to fulfill her/his housing obligations, including financial obligations, for the duration of the housing agreement.
The student has a right to appeal the decision in writing within five (5) business days to the vice president for student life. To the extent reasonable, a decision will be returned to the student within five (5) business days of the receipt of the appeal. The decision of this administrator is the final decision for the university.
Direct disobedience of an order/request of a college employee. This includes, but is not limited to, failure to evacuate a building, campus or area of campus when so ordered by a college official, failure to identify self/procedure college ID when requested to do so, failure to comply with a reasonable request of a faculty or staff person, or failure to complete prescribed sanctions as given by an administrative hearing officer or by the college hearing board.
Self -selective fraternities and sororities are not permitted.
Any act prohibited by law that is motivated because of a victim’s actual or perceived race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability or sexual orientation (or other protected category under federal, state or local law) is prohibited.
Any action or situation created, either directly or through innuendo that jeopardizes an individual’s psychological, emotional or physical well being, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate is prohibited. As stated in the Ohio Revised Code 2903.31, this includes any act of initiation into any student or other organization or any act to continue or reinstate membership in or affiliation with any student or other organization including coercing another to consume alcohol or a drug of abuse. Additional examples include, but are not limited to:
- Subtle hazing: behaviors that emphasize a power imbalance between new members/rookies and other members of a group or team.
- Harassment hazing: behaviors that cause emotional anguish or physical discomfort in order to feel like a part of the group. Harassment hazing confuses, frustrates and causes undue stress for the recipients of this behavior.
- Violent hazing: behaviors that have the potential to cause physical and/or emotional or psychological harm or injury.
Due to the fire concerns surrounding self-balancing personal scooters, also known as “hoverboards,” Bluffton University has chosen to prohibit the use and possession of hoverboards on campus.
Unauthorized use of college property including, but not limited to, unauthorized use of college keys, duplication of keys or unauthorized use of or access to college spaces, college vehicles or college equipment.
Bluffton University believes it is important that while attending the university, students can be referred to by the name they choose to use (referred to at Bluffton University as “campus name”) even if that chosen name is not the student’s legal name. It is the university’s policy to allow students to change their campus name as they desire or need. However, Bluffton University reserves the right to decline changing a name to something that is considered inappropriate or offensive. A university representative may also contact you to confirm yor submission information.
Students and employees can request a campus name on my.bluffton.edu.
Campus name will be used for:
- Display name on my.bluffton.edu
- University email
- Class rosters
- Grade rosters
- Advising reports and advising portals for faculty
Legal name will be used for:
Transcripts, enrollment verifications, financial aid documents, payroll, W2s, refund check, degree verifications.
If you are formally changing your legal name, we will require documentation before changing this on campus. 1099 1098Ts form, charitable gift contributions.
Campus ID Card
Once you set your campus name, you can also request a new ID with your new campus name free of charge. If there are requests for another ID after your first request, the ID replacement fee is $10.
All students are required to abide by the laws of the local, state and federal governments
and are subject to college disciplinary action for violation of any law.
Note: College disciplinary action does not preclude the possibility of civil or criminal charges being placed against an individual, nor does the filing of civil or criminal charges preclude disciplinary action by the college. This provision also requires students to comply with the laws of foreign jurisdictions in which they may be visiting or studying.
Outside speakers scheduled to address a Bluffton University audience must be invited and sponsored by a campus organization, academic department or administrative division with advance approval from the group’s faculty or staff advisor(s). Guests from outside the university community are expected to adhere to university policy while on campus or otherwise representing Bluffton University.
Possession of property reported to be or known to be lost or stolen, regardless of the item’s place or origin; possession of traffic cones, signs, markers and/or other public property.
Regarding solicitors, student businesses and fundraising on campus.
- Solicitors, salespersons, peddlers and canvassers seeking student contact are not permitted to operate on the Bluffton campus or in any of its buildings or facilities.
- Students are allowed to operate their personal businesses on campus with the following
- Advertising must be placed on bulletin boards on campus. Print advertising is not allowed in residence halls with exception of on the student’s individual door.
- If students are part of larger national corporations, regional or national representatives of these companies are not allowed on campus.
- Businesses that would compete with services provided by Bluffton University are not allowed to operate on campus (bookstore, food service, linen service, etc.)
- All fund raising efforts by student groups gain permission by filling out the Fundraising and Sponsorship Proposal Application
- Any questions or problems concerning on-campus sales or solicitations will be resolved by the student life office.
Bluffton University understands that social media use is for many a regular part of daily life. The university does not actively monitor social media use by members of its community. Nor does it wish to dampen academic freedom or the free exchange of ideas. University students and employees using private social media accounts are asked to clearly indicate in their profiles that they are speaking or posting in a personal capacity and do not speak on behalf of the university.
However, private social media that violates applicable law or impacts campus operations in a manner that violates university policy—for example, the university’s nondiscrimination policies, student or medical privacy laws, and the like—the university is obligated to take appropriate remedial action, including informing law enforcement in the appropriate case. Finally, there’s an old saying, “it’s not what you are trying to say, it’s what they hear.” The university urges users to practice empathy and to think before they post or click.
Unauthorized taking or using of property or possessions of the college or of another person or organization. Examples include, but are not limited to: “borrowing” items without prior permission, consumption of food without prior permission, taking another individual’s belongings, unauthorized possession of permits or parking decals.
Videotaping, audio taping or photography (video phones and drones included) of students, faculty or staff in private spaces without their prior expressed knowledge and consent is not allowed. Similarly, in public spaces (where an expectation of privacy is not assumed), recordings of this nature are not permitted to be done secretly, or to cause embarrassment or other undesirable attention.
Firearms or other kinds of weapons are not permitted in any of the Bluffton University buildings or on any part of the campus, including vehicles. Knives may not have blades longer than three (3) inches. Airsoft guns or any toys that look like weapons are not allowed on campus.