Rights and Representation
The work of YDS is carried on through the Governing Board (tenured faculty), the General Faculty, and the Standing Committees of the Faculty: Admissions and Financial Aid, Community Life, Curriculum, Ministerial Studies, Professional Studies, and Spiritual Formation. Each committee has an equal number of faculty and students. Faculty members of the committees are appointed by the dean and confirmed by the General Faculty; student members are elected by the entire student body, with the exception of student members of the Standing Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, who are chosen by the associate dean of admissions and financial aid.
General Conduct and Discipline
Seeking to foster the knowledge and love of God through critical engagement with the traditions of the Christian churches, Yale Divinity School upholds the value of broad inclusivity and diversity in our academic, worship, and communal life. Its members freely associate themselves with the University and in doing so affirm their commitment to a philosophy of tolerance and respect for all members of the community. They pledge to help sustain the intellectual integrity of Yale University and to uphold its standards of honesty, free expression, and inquiry.
Students of Yale Divinity School are expected to abide by the regulations of the University. Students are also expected to obey local, state, and federal laws, and violations of these laws may be cause for discipline by Yale Divinity School as well as subject students to legal action. Students are required to report within fourteen days misdemeanor and felony charges to the associate dean of student affairs.
Yale Divinity School specifically prohibits the following forms of behavior by its students:
- Cheating on examinations, quizzes, and any other form of test.
- Plagiarism, that is, the failure in a thesis, essay, or other written exercise to acknowledge ideas, research, or language taken from others.
- Multiple submission of substantially the same work without obtaining explicit written permission from the instructors involved before the material is submitted.
- Misuse of the materials or facilities of University libraries.
- Unauthorized use of University services, equipment, or facilities, such as telephones and photocopying equipment.
- Violation of University rules for using information technology services and facilities, including computers, the University network, and electronic mail. (See Information Technology Appropriate Use Policy, https://your.yale.edu/policies-procedures/policies/1607-information-technology-appropriate-use-policy).
- Assault on, or coercion, harassment, or intimidation of, any member of the University community, including harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a protected veteran, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression; or the use of a leadership position to harass or intimidate another student.
- Actions in violation of the University’s “Policy on Teacher-Student Consensual Relations” or the YDS “Statement on Consensual Relations.”
- Disruption of a legitimate function or activity of the University community, which might include disrupting classes and meetings, blocking entrances and exits to University buildings, and unauthorized occupation of any space on the Yale campus, in such a way as to interfere substantially with the educational mission of the School, or prevent the free expression or dissemination of ideas. (See Freedom of Expression, below.)
- Refusal to comply with the direction of University police officers or other University officials acting in the performance of their duties.
- Misuse, alteration, or fabrication of University credentials or documents, such as an identification card or a transcript or grade list, including grade lists submitted by teaching fellows.
- Misrepresentation or lying during a formal inquiry by University officials.
- Misrepresentation in applying for admission or financial aid.
- Theft, misuse of funds, or willful damage of University property. Off-campus misconduct may result in disciplinary action if such conduct imperils the integrity and values of the University community. Off-campus violations committed in the course of a Yale-sponsored program anywhere in the world could also be subject to disciplinary charges.
- Trespassing on University property to which access is prohibited.
- Possession or use of explosives, incendiary devices, or weapons on or about the campus.
- Interference with the proper operation of safety or security devices, including fire alarms, electronic gates, and sprinkler systems.
- Unlawful manufacture, possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs or alcohol on University property or as part of any University activity.
Violations of any of the above regulations (with the exceptions noted in the following paragraph) will be referred to the YDS Disciplinary Committee, which shall be appointed by the dean and shall be composed of three faculty members (one junior faculty member, if possible), three students, and the associate dean of student affairs ex officio.
Violations involving academic dishonesty will be referred to the Professional Studies Committee. Violations of regulations pertaining to sexual misconduct or the University’s Consensual Relations policy will be referred to a Title IX coordinator and, in some cases, to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. In situations involving potentially serious criminal behavior or posing significant risk to the safety or security of members of the community, a student may be placed on emergency suspension, following the procedures outlined below under “Emergency Suspension.”
Students found guilty of any violations noted herein by the relevant Yale Divinity School authorities will be subject to one or more of the following disciplinary penalties:
- Removal from campus housing
Penalties of suspension or dismissal will be noted on the student’s transcript. The decision to dismiss a student is made by the General Faculty on recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee, Professional Studies Committee, or University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. Pending disciplinary charges will be noted on a student’s transcript if the student withdraws from Yale Divinity School after being formally charged but before such charges have been resolved. A student will not receive a degree while charges are pending or while serving a suspension. A student dismissed for misconduct will not receive a degree from Yale Divinity School regardless of requirements fulfilled before the infraction occurred. Yale Divinity School reserves the right to impose fines as appropriate, in addition to requiring payment for costs resulting from or associated with the offenses. In addition to imposing these penalties for offenses subject to disciplinary action, Yale Divinity School may refer students for prosecution, and students found guilty of unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs or alcohol on University property or as part of any University activity may be required to complete an appropriate rehabilitation program.
A copy of the procedures is sent automatically to any student who is charged with a violation of Yale Divinity School’s regulations.
The dean of Yale Divinity School, or a delegate of the dean, may place a student on an emergency suspension from residence or academic status when (1) the student has been arrested for or charged with serious criminal behavior by law enforcement authorities; or (2) the student allegedly violated a disciplinary rule of Yale Divinity School and the student’s presence on campus poses a significant risk to the safety or security of members of the community.
Following an individualized risk and safety analysis, the student will be notified in writing of the emergency suspension. A student who is notified of an emergency suspension will have 24 hours to respond to the notice. The emergency suspension will not be imposed prior to an opportunity for the student to respond unless circumstances warrant immediate action for the safety and security of members of the community. In such cases, the student will have an opportunity to respond after the emergency suspension has been imposed.
When a student in Yale Divinity School is placed on an emergency suspension, the matter will be referred for disciplinary action in accordance with school policy. Such a suspension may remain in effect until disciplinary action has been taken with regard to the student; however, it may be lifted earlier by action of the dean or dean’s delegate, or by the disciplinary committee after a preliminary review.
A student may be dismissed from YDS for the following reasons:
- Failure to maintain a satisfactory academic record.
- Lack of aptitude or personal fitness for the ministry.
- Behavior that violates generally acknowledged canons and standards of scholarship or professional practice.
- Behavior that is disruptive to the educational process.
- Violation of the regulations detailed in the YDS policy concerning General Conduct and Discipline (above).
Disciplinary actions are initiated by the Professional Studies Committee or the Disciplinary Committee. The student concerned has the right to appear before the initiating committee. The decision to terminate the relationship of a student with YDS is made by the General Faculty on recommendation of one of these committees. The committees may also impose lesser penalties such as reprimand or probation.
The faculty reserves the right to withhold a degree from a candidate where there is compelling evidence of serious moral misconduct, or while disciplinary actions or criminal proceedings are pending.
Freedom of Expression
The Yale Divinity School is committed to the protection of free inquiry and expression in the classroom and throughout the school community. In this, the School reflects the University’s commitment to and policy on freedom of expression as eloquently stated in the Woodward Report (Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale, 1974). See https://studentlife.yale.edu/guidance-regarding-free-expression-and-peaceable-assembly-students-yale.
Statement on Consensual Relations
The Yale Divinity School is a community in which members of the faculty mentor students to help them achieve their full academic, professional, and personal potential. Students rely on the other-centered character of faculty concern for them and approach the relationship in a spirit of trust. For these reasons, members of the YDS faculty shall not have amorous or sexual relations with a YDS student, defined as anyone taking a course at YDS, even when these relationships are ostensibly consensual. This principle is supported by the School’s pedagogy with regard to relationships between a member of the congregation and a minister, priest, or lay professional who has a role of pastoral leadership. Just as we teach that such sexual relations are harmful to the congregant and to the ethos of the congregation as a whole, we take the same position with regard to faculty and master’s-level students regardless of whether the faculty member in question has or might reasonably expect to have pedagogical or direct supervisory responsibilities over the student in question. The YDS policy does not pertain to relationships established before the student’s or the faculty member’s affiliation with YDS. In the case of these relationships, the University Policy on Teacher-Student Consensual Relations does pertain: that is, the faculty members in question may not have direct pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities. The YDS and Yale University policies apply to all YDS faculty, including visiting faculty, adjunct faculty, and lecturers. Yale graduate students serving in a teaching capacity are subject only to the University Policy on Teacher-Student Consensual Relations. Violations of the YDS or the University Policy by an instructor will normally lead to appropriate disciplinary action.
Adopted by the Yale Divinity School faculty, May 4, 2010 and revised, March 5, 2019.
The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) Grievance Policy
The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) maintains accreditation standards for its member institutions. Yale Divinity School (YDS) is a member institution of ATS. Student complaints regarding violations of ATS accreditation standards in YDS should be directed to the associate dean of academic affairs, who maintains a record of formal student complaints for review by the ATS Board of Directors. The ATS accreditation standards may be found at https://www.ats.edu/accrediting/standards.