Widener University is a corporation, chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Delaware, with authority vested in its Board of Trustees. Appropriate authority, then, is specifically delegated by the board to the president of Widener University, and through the president to other members of the administration and faculty and to individuals and groups throughout the institution. The following policies and procedures articulate specific rights or privileges the university grants students and the expectations it has for them.
The Offices of Student Affairs, Extended Learning, or Graduate Studies will handle reports of violations of the Widener Compact directly by settlement or by referral to the appropriate hearing boards or administrator. For undergraduate students, the dean of students may choose to notify students’ parents of disciplinary action or potential problems. Officers and faculty advisors should note that the Offices of Student Affairs, Extended Learning, or Graduate Studies may withdraw university recognition from student groups or organizations for just cause.
The Right and Freedom to Learn
Widener University is a comprehensive teaching institution. Widener exists for the pursuit of truth and for the development of students. As members of our academic community, our students are encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. Free inquiry and free expression in an environment of individual and group responsibility are essential to any community of scholars. The following guidelines have been developed to preserve and protect that community.
In the Classroom
- Students are responsible for thoroughly learning the content of any course of study, but they should be free to take reasonable exception to the data or items offered and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion. Therefore, students should be evaluated by their professors solely on the basis of their academic performance.
- Students shall have protection against biased or capricious academic evaluation. They are, however, expected to maintain the standards of academic performance established for each course in which they enroll. Widener University is prepared to protect a student through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation by a faculty member.
- Protection against improper disclosure of information concerning a student is a serious professional obligation of faculty members and administrative staff that must be balanced with their other obligations to the individual student, the university, and society.
Out of the Classroom
- Campus organizations, including those affiliated with an extramural organization, must be open to all students without regard to sex, age, race, national origin or ethnicity, religion, disability, status as a veteran of the Vietnam era or other covered veteran, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or any protected class.
- Widener University students and university-sponsored or university-recognized organizations are free to examine and discuss any issue and to express opinions, publicly or privately, and are free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operations of the university. Any such expression must comply with university guidelines governing free expression activities. The participation by any student in any unlawful or disruptive activity that fails to comply with university guidelines or disrupts or interferes with the programs, functions, or conduct of the university is a serious offense punishable by suspension, dismissal, or expulsion.
- The student press is free of censorship, and its editors and managers are free to develop their own editorial policies and news coverage; however, Widener expects accurate reporting, correct writing, and good judgment in matters of taste.
- As constituents of the academic community, students are free to express their views on institutional policy and on matters of general interest to the student body, provided they do so in a manner that is lawful and organized and complies with university guidelines regulating free expressive activities.
Additional Student Rights and Responsibilities
The policies and procedures contained in this handbook are premised on several basic rights for all members of the Widener community. In addition to the rights articulated in the “The Right and Freedom to Learn” section of this handbook, students have the following additional basic rights and responsibilities:
Safety and Security
To promote security on campus, individuals must act responsibly to ensure their own safety and the safety of others. Students share this responsibility by carefully following all university and community rules and regulations.
A Clean Environment
All members of the Widener community share the responsibility for maintaining a clean environment.
For the general welfare of the university, all students have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care in the use of personal and university property.
An Environment Suitable for Study and for Community Living
Academic study requires a reasonably quiet environment. Community living requires that all members of the Widener community respect one another and each person’s property and share a responsibility for maintaining a clean and safe environment.
Annual Notice to Students Regarding Education Records
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords eligible students certain rights with respect to their education records. (An “eligible student” under FERPA is a student who is 18 years of age or older or who attends a postsecondary institution.) These rights include:
The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days after the day the university receives a request for access. A student should submit to the registrar, dean, head of the academic department, or other appropriate official, a written request that identifies the record(s) that the student wishes to inspect. The university official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the university official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
A student who wishes to ask the university to amend a record should write the university official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed.
If the university decides not to amend the record as requested, the university will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing.
The right to provide written consent before the university discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
The university discloses education records without a student’s prior written consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to university officials with legitimate educational interests. A university official is a person employed by the university in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, or support staff position (including, without limitation, law enforcement unit personnel, health staff, athletic coaches and trainers, and admissions counselors and recruiters); a person serving on the board of trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee. A university official also may include a volunteer or contractor outside of the university who performs an institutional service or function for which the university would otherwise use its own employees and who is under the direct control of the university with respect to the use and maintenance of PII from education records, such as an attorney, auditor, contractor, consultant, or collection agent, or a student volunteering to assist another university official in performing his or her tasks. A university official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the university.
Upon request, the university also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. Such education records may include updated or corrected information, including, without limitation, disciplinary and health records.
The right to file a complaint with the U.S Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the university to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
The right to withhold public disclosure of any or all items of “directory information” by written notification to the Registrar’s Office of the university or the law school, as applicable, within two weeks after the commencement of the fall or spring semesters of any given academic year. Under current university policy, the term “directory information” includes, without limitation, a student’s name, home and campus address, telephone listing(s), electronic mail address, photograph, major field of study, grade level, enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time); dates of attendance, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, degrees, honors, and awards received, and the most recent educational agency or institution attended.
Please view full FERPA Policy here.
Policy on Disclosure of Criminal Convictions
All applicants and students must disclose the existence of any pre- or post-admission criminal convictions, excluding minor traffic offenses. Applicants must disclose criminal convictions on the application form where indicated. Additionally, applicants who are transferring from another college or university must disclose any dismissals, suspensions, and expulsions from the prior institution. Transfer applicants must also disclose any pending disciplinary actions with the prior institution. Students must disclose any inaccuracy, corrections, or changes to the information provided on their application form in writing to the dean of students. Students must also disclose in writing any post-admission arrests or criminal convictions to the dean of students. For purposes of this policy, “conviction” and “convicted” mean the final judgement on a verdict or finding of guilty, a plea of guilty, or a plea of nolo contendere, and do not include a final judgement that has been expunged by pardon, reversed, set aside, or otherwise rendered nugatory.
Pre-Admission Conviction and Pre-Admission Disclosure (Applicants)
Upon pre-admission disclosure, from any source, of an applicant’s conviction of a crime, whether misdemeanor or felony, the university will refuse admittance in all instances involving violence, child abuse, sexual misconduct, or illegal drugs, and may refuse admittance with respect to other convictions. However, upon refusal of admittance based upon a pre-admission disclosure by the applicant, the affected applicant may submit additional materials or request a meeting with an Admissions Office representative for further consideration.
Pre-Admission Conviction and Failure to Disclose (Students/Applicants)
Upon discovery, from any source, of an undergraduate applicant’s or student’s failure to disclose a pre-admission criminal conviction, whether misdemeanor or felony, the applicant/student will be subject to refusal to admit, immediate revocation of acceptance, or dismissal, as the case may be. A student’s dismissal will be in accordance with Student Handbook procedures.
Post-Admission Conviction and Timely Disclosure (Students)
Upon timely disclosure by the student of the student’s post-admission conviction of a crime, whether misdemeanor or felony, the student will be subject to discipline in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Student Handbook.
Post-Admission Conviction and Failure to Disclose (Students)
Upon discovery, from any source, of a student’s failure to disclose a post-admission conviction of a crime in a timely manner, whether misdemeanor or felony, the student will be subject to immediate dismissal. The student’s dismissal will be in accordance with Student Handbook procedures.
Nothing contained in the above sections shall in any way limit the university’s right and authority as set forth in the Student Handbook, “Policy on Protective Action,” to take immediate action when, in the sole judgment of the university, the health, safety, or welfare of the college, community, or the student is threatened or endangered; or to deny admission or revoke an offer of admission prior to the commencement of classes pursuant to “Section 2: Jurisdiction” of the Student Code of Conduct.
Policy on Protective Action
The university reserves the right and authority at all times to take protective action with respect to a student when, in the sole discretion of the university, the university believes that a student may pose a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the student, other identified individuals, or the university community; or that a student may be endangered by his or her continuing presence on campus.
Protective actions may include removal of a student from campus, campus residence, or any campus facility; limitation of access to campus housing facilities or other campus facilities; restriction of communication or contact with any individual or group; and the requirement to secure advance authorization to engage in a specified activity or any other action deemed appropriate by the university. The university may take protective action whenever it determines, based upon information or evidence in its possession, that circumstances warrant such action. Widener may consult with any university or outside professionals or law enforcement agencies in making its determination. This power shall apply regardless of whether disciplinary proceedings have been or are intended to be initiated against any student or whether any student has been charged with any crime. The university also reserves the right to search any vehicle on university property or any real property owned or controlled by the university whenever the university has any suspicion of prohibited conduct.
Whenever feasible, a representative or representatives of the university will meet with the student prior to implementing protective action. In the event that the university makes any such determination of protective action, the university shall notify the student and, where deemed advisable, the parents or guardians of the student of the action taken and the period of time within which the student must comply, which may be immediately.
In the event the student does not comply voluntarily, the university may notify the local police department to effectuate the protective action. The university shall also notify the student, either contemporaneously with the notice of protective action or thereafter, of the timing and the conditions pursuant to which the protective action may be discontinued. Within five days after notification to the student of the protective action, the student and parent or guardian may request an opportunity to meet with the dean of student affairs, the associate provost, and/or his or her designee.
The university may also, in its sole discretion, at any time, notify the student that such student’s circumstances shall be processed in accordance with the interim sanction provisions of the Student Code of Conduct or any other provisions of any applicable Code of Conduct or other university policy, rule, or regulation. This policy is intended to be interpreted broadly so as to afford to the university any right or power it reasonably believes is necessary to protect the health, safety, or welfare of any member of the university community or others.
Involuntary Medical Withdrawal Policy
Widener University is committed to fostering student success, maintaining an environment conducive to learning, and assuring the safety of the community. Accordingly, the university takes appropriate measures to address student conduct that is destructive or results in serious disruption of the learning environment. In extraordinary circumstances, the university may require a student to withdraw from the university when it determines that this measure is the only way to protect and preserve the integrity of the learning environment. An involuntary medical withdrawal will be imposed only when the university has determined through an individualized assessment that the student poses a significant risk of substantial harm to the safety, health, and well-being of the campus community and, if related to a disability, cannot be sufficiently ameliorated or eliminated through reasonable accommodations. This policy delineates the procedures for the imposition of an involuntary medical withdrawal.
- Involuntary Medical Withdrawal: The separation of a student from the university and its facilities for no less than one term, as required by the dean of students or a designee.
- Direct Threat: Significant risk of causing substantial harm to the safety, health, and well-being of the campus university community that cannot be ameliorated or eliminated by reasonable accommodations, such as a modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.
- Significant Risk: A high probability of substantial harm and not just a slightly increased, speculative, or remote risk.
- Student Behavior Review Committee: A university committee established to assist students who display behavior that is of concern and may be destructive or substantially disruptive. The committee is comprised of the following individuals or their designees: associate provost for undergraduate academic affairs, dean of students, assistant dean of students for the Student Conduct Office, director of the Counseling Center, administrative director of Health Services and Disabilities Services, director of Campus Safety, and others depending upon the specific situations/students.
2. Scope of Policy
The dean of students or a designee may be alerted to a student’s destructive or disruptive conduct from various sources on campus (such as the university Counseling Center, the Residence Life Office, etc.). When the dean of students or a designee has reason to believe that a student poses a direct threat to the safety and well-being of the campus community and that less extreme measures will not sufficiently mitigate the student’s conduct, the involuntary medical withdrawal procedure may be invoked. Such threatening conduct includes self-starvation to a life-threatening level; serious threats of harm to others; self-inflicted wounds; unresolved, ongoing, and serious suicidal threats; or conduct indicating that the student is unaware of reality or does not understand the consequences of his/her actions.
Before an involuntary medical withdrawal is considered, efforts will be made to make available counseling, assistance, and, to the extent applicable, reasonable accommodations to the student, including encouraging the student to voluntarily withdraw from the university for the purpose of medically addressing the student’s conduct or threatening behavior, thus preserving confidentiality and privacy to the extent possible. This policy does not preclude referral of a case to the university’s Threat Assessment Team at any time that referral is appropriate and does not take the place of disciplinary actions instituted in response to violations of the Student Code of Conduct or other university regulations.
3. Standard for Imposing Involuntary Medical Withdrawal
The decision to impose an involuntary medical withdrawal requires a determination that the student poses a direct threat to the safety and well-being of the campus community. The determination of a direct threat is appropriate when there is a high probability that if the situation is not addressed, the student will cause substantial harm to the safety and well-being of the campus community. The determination must be based upon an individualized and objective assessment of the risk. The assessment requires the use of reasonable medical judgment based on the most current medical information and the best available nonmedical objective evidence. The focus is on the student’s present ability to function safely at the university. The specific factors to consider are the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the likelihood that potential harm will occur; the availability of reasonable modifications of university policies, practices, and requirements that will sufficiently mitigate the risk; and the appropriateness or effectiveness of reasonable accommodations under the circumstances and in view of the urgency of the threat assessed or to ensure compliance with university policies. The determination of a direct threat shall be made in accordance with the procedures in sections 6–8 of this policy.
When the dean of students or a designee is concerned that a student may pose a direct threat to the safety and well-being of the campus community, he/she may consult with appropriate individual members of the Student Behavior Review Committee regarding the possible need for a withdrawal. If the dean of students or a designee deems it appropriate, he/she may also consult with the student’s parent, guardian, or another individual who is supportive of the student.
On the basis of these consultations, the dean of students or designee shall make a preliminary determination as to whether the student poses a direct threat to the safety and well-being of the campus community. If it is determined that the student does not pose a direct threat to the safety and well-being of the campus community or that alternative measures are likely to sufficiently mitigate the conduct, the student’s case may be referred to the Student Behavior Review Committee, the Disabilities Coordinator, or to the university office that can best assist the student. If it is determined that the student poses a direct threat to the safety and well-being of the campus community and that a withdrawal is the only way to protect the health and safety of the student or others and to ensure compliance with university policies, the dean of students or a designee shall invoke the procedures in this policy.
5. Emergency Separation on Interim Basis
If the dean of students or designee, alone or in consultation with appropriate individual members of the Student Behavior Review Committee or other appropriate university officials, believes that the student poses a significant danger of imminent harm to the safety and well-being of the campus community, the university may require an emergency separation from the campus on an interim basis before making a final decision on the involuntary medical withdrawal.
The dean of students or a designee must notify the student and parent(s) or guardian (if permissible) of the emergency interim separation.
The student will be allowed to appear before the dean of students or designee within two university business days to discuss the reasons for the emergency interim separation.
At the end of this meeting, the dean of students or designee may either cancel the emergency interim separation but inform the student that the involuntary medical withdrawal remains under consideration or extend the interim separation pending a final decision on the involuntary medical withdrawal.
6. Notification of Risk
The dean of students or designee will arrange for an informal meeting with the student as soon as possible. At this meeting, the dean of students or designee will:
- Notify the student that an involuntary medical withdrawal is under consideration and discuss the specific concerns about the student’s conduct.
- Provide the student with a copy of the Involuntary Medical Withdrawal Policy.
- When possible and appropriate, encourage the student to seek counseling and assistance, and/or to the extent applicable, reasonable accommodations, or, where appropriate, to take a voluntary withdrawal. If the student takes the voluntary withdrawal, it will be unnecessary to complete the process for an involuntary medical withdrawal.
- Direct the student to meet with a designated health professional for a physical and mental health evaluation within five university business days if the dean of students or designee believes that an evaluation will permit a more informed decision as to whether the student presents a direct threat of substantial harm to the safety and well-being of the campus community. A student’s noncompliance with this requirement is a basis for imposing an involuntary medical withdrawal.
- Inform the student that he/she may have another meeting with the dean of students or a designee, representatives of the Student Behavior Review Committee, and other individuals to discuss the evidence, including the report of the physical and mental health evaluation and any medical information or other evidence that the student believes the dean of students or designee should consider. If the student has been directed to obtain an evaluation, the meeting should be held after the evaluation has been received.
After meeting with the student, the dean of students or designee will again consult, as feasible, with appropriate individual members of the Student Behavior Review Committee and other university officials. During these consultations, the participating individuals will pay particular attention to the criteria for invoking an involuntary medical withdrawal, specifically whether the student poses a direct threat to the safety and well-being of the campus community, whether the student’s conduct significantly disrupts the university’s learning environment or violates university policies, and whether the threat can be eliminated or ameliorated through counseling, assistance, or reasonable accommodations.
Following these consultations and the review of the report of the physical and mental health evaluation and any evidence presented by the student, the dean of students or designee will make a decision regarding the involuntary medical withdrawal and provide written notice of the decision to the student within two university business days. Students may appeal the involuntary medical withdrawal decision made by the dean of students or his/her designee to the provost or his/her designee within three (3) business days of receipt of the involuntary medical withdrawal decision. The provost or designee shall process the appeal in any manner he/she deems appropriate. The decision of the provost or his/her designee shall be final.
- If an involuntary withdrawal is imposed, the following shall apply:
- In addition to providing notice, the dean of students or a designee will also provide the student with information about the process that will apply if and when the student seeks to re-enroll at the university or seeks to be re-admitted to a particular academic program at the university.
- The dean of students or a designee reserves the right to notify a parent or guardian of the decision if notification is deemed appropriate and may ask the parent or guardian to make or assist with arrangements for the safe removal of the student from the university.
- The student will be required to leave campus by the date and time established by the dean of students or a designee.
- The involuntary medical withdrawal will remain in effect for at least one regular academic term and until the student completes the requirements set forth by the dean of students or designee.
- Throughout the duration of the withdrawal, the student may visit the campus only as authorized in writing by the dean of students or a designee.
- The notation “withdrawal” will appear on the student’s transcript.
- Determinations of whether any refund of tuition or housing costs is available to the student will be made in accordance with Widener University refund policies.
- If an involuntary withdrawal is not imposed, the dean of students or a designee, in consultation with members of the Student Behavior Review Committee, may establish conditions or requirements under which the student is permitted to remain at the university.
A student who has been involuntarily withdrawn may not apply for readmission until after at least the passage of one regular academic term. The student’s application or request for readmission must be approved by the dean of students. Approval may be granted only if the dean of students, in consultation with the university’s Counseling Center, determines that the student no longer poses a direct threat to the safety and well-being of the campus community with or without reasonable accommodations, if applicable. The dean of students will require documentation or a physical and/or mental health evaluation before issuing a decision. The student must also meet the admission or enrollment requirements of the university and specific academic program in which he/she seeks to enroll. Students may appeal the readmission decision made by the dean of students or his/her designee to the provost of his/her designee within three (3) business days of receipt of the decision. The provost or designee shall process the appeal in any manner he/she deems appropriate. The decision of the provost or his/her designee shall be final.
10. Application of Policy in a Nondiscriminatory Manner
This policy shall be applied in a nondiscriminatory manner, and decision makers acting under this policy shall make determinations based upon observations of a student’s conduct, actions, and statements and not merely on knowledge or belief that a student is an individual with a disability. The use of speculation, assumption, or stereotype is prohibited when applying this policy.
11. Records and Fees
All records concerning these proceedings shall be maintained by the dean of students and shall be kept confidential in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, and its implementing regulations, 34 CFR, Part 99.
Voluntary Medical Withdrawal Policy
In accordance with Widener University’s Withdrawal Policy, voluntary medical withdrawals are an option for students. A student is encouraged to request a voluntary medical withdrawal whenever he/she believes that a physical or mental health concern is significantly interfering with his/her ability to be a successful student or if the student has been informed that an involuntary medical withdrawal is under consideration. A student interested in pursuing a voluntary medical withdrawal may discuss this option with the Office of the Provost, Office of Student Conduct, Health Center, Counseling Center, or Residence Life. The Office of the Provost will discuss whether any readmission requirements are necessary when returning from a voluntary medical withdrawal. Any documentation supporting a voluntary medical withdrawal will remain on file in the Office of the Provost and shall be kept confidential in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, and its implementing regulations, 34 CFR, Part 99.
The Office of the Provost will coordinate with Enrollment Services the processing of the voluntary medical withdrawal. Determinations of whether any refund of tuition or housing costs is available to the student will be made in accordance with Widener University refund policies.
Medical Amnesty Policy
The Medical Amnesty Policy seeks to decrease the likelihood that a student will hesitate to seek help in an alcohol- or drug related emergency by granting amnesty (shielding the individuals) from punitive student conduct policies to those involved in seeking help. The Medical Amnesty Policy promotes safety and responsibility throughout the university community. The policy also promotes education and treatment for individuals who receive emergency medical attention to reduce the likelihood of future occurrences.
To receive medical amnesty, the student(s) seeking assistance for the impaired student must:
- Be the first person(s) to contact Campus Safety to report that a person needs medical assistance due to drug or alcohol consumption.
- Provide his/her own name to Campus Safety.
- Remain with the person needing medical assistance until Campus Safety arrives and dismisses them.
Medical Amnesty does not preclude disciplinary sanctions due to any other violations of the Student Code of Conduct (not related to the Alcoholic Beverages and Controlled Substances Policy). Likewise, Medical Amnesty does not prevent action by Chester police or any other law enforcement agencies. This policy does not grant amnesty for criminal, civil, or legal consequences for violations of federal, state, or local law.
Alcoholic Beverages and Controlled Substances Policy
Federal law requires that in order for an institution of higher education to receive federal funds, it must adopt and implement a program to prevent the possession, use, or distribution of illegal or illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees. In keeping with the foregoing, all students are required to strictly adhere to the standards of conduct outlined below.
- Alcoholic Beverages: In keeping with the laws of Pennsylvania and Delaware, university policy regarding alcoholic beverages is as follows:
- It is illegal for any person under 21 years of age to possess alcoholic beverages or to attempt to purchase or to consume or transport any alcoholic beverage within Pennsylvania or Delaware.
- It is illegal for any person to sell or give alcoholic beverages of any kind to a minor.
- It is illegal for any person to misrepresent his or her own age or the age of any other person to obtain alcoholic beverages.
For students and their guests of legal age, alcoholic beverages are confined to resident rooms with doors closed, or to a location designated and approved by the Student Affairs Office. All individual students or guests in any student room must be of legal age (21 years or older) when alcohol is present. Alcohol is prohibited in all public areas, including, without limitation, porches, lounges, stairs, lobbies, classrooms, hallways, and offices. In those situations in which exceptions are made, the university reserves the right to require additional procedures to ensure safety and responsible consumption. No alcohol is permitted in Schwartz Athletic Center, and alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the University Center unless during an event where all in attendance are of age and the sponsoring group has received the explicit written permission of the dean of students. No alcohol is permitted in the university stadium during athletic events or at university athletic events played elsewhere. Public intoxication is also prohibited, regardless of age.
Special procedures may exist for 21-and-older events, particularly those involving alcohol. Organizations are responsible for abiding by the university’s alcohol policy. In addition, Widener University does not permit organizations contracting with third party vendors to facilitate “open bar” events.
- Bulk Container Policy: Widener University promotes an environment that complies with the laws of Pennsylvania and Delaware and our university alcohol policy. We do permit individual students who are 21 years of age or older to possess and consume alcoholic beverages within their individual room, suite, or apartment, as long as no one under the age of 21 is present. The university does have a bulk container policy that regulates the amount of alcohol a student who is 21 or older may possess in our residence halls or while on university property. The essential elements of that policy are as follows:
- No kegs are permitted in any residence facility or on university property.
- No alcoholic punch/mix/concoction is permitted in the residence halls or on university property.
- No student may possess more than two total units in any combination of the following list of alcohol unit amounts:
- One gallon of wine.
- One liter of hard liquor or natural or distilled spirits used or intended for consumption.
- One case of beer or malt products (24 12-ounce bottles or cans).
- One case of wine coolers or similar alcoholic products (24 12-ounce bottles or cans).
Alcohol in violation of university policy will be confiscated.
The laws of Pennsylvania and Delaware carry strict sanctions for violation of alcohol-related offenses, including jail sentences, substantial fines, and revocation of one’s driver’s license. Additionally, the City of Chester enforces an ordinance that prohibits open containers (e.g., cans, bottles, cups, squeeze bottles, etc.) of alcohol in outdoor public areas, including streets, roofs, porches, yards, sidewalks, and any external areas of the residence structure that are construed as part of the Widener University Main Campus. Students are reminded that off-campus violations of the university Alcoholic Beverages and Controlled Substances Policy are subject to disciplinary action via the Campus Student Conduct System.
In addition, empty alcoholic containers and paraphernalia—including wine bottles, beer cans/bottles, liquor bottles of any size, shot glasses, beer bongs, and funnels—are prohibited on university property, including those for decorative purposes.
- Drugs and Other Controlled Substances: The possession, use, and sale of illegal drugs, narcotics, and other controlled substances is a federal and state offense subject to mandatory heavy fines and imprisonment. The university cannot and will not shield students from the law and its consequences. Widener University must and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies.
Any Widener University student who (1) possesses, uses, or distributes illegal drugs, narcotics, or drug-related paraphernalia either on or off campus (not specifically prescribed by a physician or without the knowledge of the dean of students on the Chester Campus or the associate dean of student affairs on the Wilmington Campus or the dean of students on the Harrisburg Campus); (2) brings such illegal drugs, narcotics, or drug-related paraphernalia onto university premises; or (3) causes such illegal drugs, narcotics, or drug-related paraphernalia to be brought onto university premises may be suspended, dismissed, expelled, and/or referred for prosecution. Any antisocial conduct resulting from illegal drugs or other controlled substances will result in appropriate disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from the university. Applicable federal law states that any student convicted of various illegal drug offenses will lose his or her student aid eligibility for specified periods of time depending upon whether the conviction was for use or sale and how many times the student has been convicted.
- Prohibited Conduct: The following nonexclusive list of behaviors may result in disciplinary action, including suspension, dismissal, expulsion, and referral for prosecution:
- Disobedience of any of the general regulations as noted in the Student Code of Conduct, Student Handbook, Student Drug and Alcohol Policy, or any other generally available set of guidelines.
- The possession, use, or distribution, either on or off campus, of illegal or illicit drugs, drug paraphernalia, narcotics, or medicine requiring a physician’s prescription and used without such prescription.
- Violation of federal, state, or local criminal laws.
- Violation of the university’s policies on the use and possession of alcoholic beverages as outlined in university publications such as the Student Handbook and Student Drug and Alcohol Policy.
- Students are reminded that violations of university policy are not limited to the above list. Rather, this information is provided merely to highlight some important rules and regulations which must be observed.
The possession and/or use of offensive weapons of any kind are strictly prohibited on all university campuses. Offensive weapons include, without limitation, firearms of any kind, guns, pellet guns, B.B. guns, paintball guns, dart guns, ammunition, bows and arrows, darts, chemicals, flammable materials, items that constitute a fire hazard, fireworks, explosives, any instrument that can hurl a projectile, sling shots, brass knuckles, knives, hunting knives, switchblades, and any other cutting instrument as determined within the sole discretion of the university, except those whose sole purpose is related to the preparation or consumption of food. In addition, items that are not generally considered as weapons but could be used or viewed as a weapon are prohibited. All offensive weapons and similar items will be confiscated immediately. Students violating this policy will be severely sanctioned, up to and including expulsion. The university will report such violations to the authorities if warranted. Pepper spray and mace are considered to be offensive weapons; however, possession of these items and the like for self defense purposes are permitted.
Students are expected to abide by the federal laws and the laws of Pennsylvania prohibiting illegal gambling, including online gaming. Gambling for money or other things of value on campus or at Widener-related activities is prohibited except as permitted by law. Such prohibited activity includes betting on, wagering on, or selling pools of any university athletic event; possessing on one’s person or premises (e.g., room, residence unit, car) any card, book, or other device for registering bets; knowingly receiving or delivering a letter, package, or parcel related to illegal gambling; offering, soliciting, or accepting a bribe to influence the outcome of an athletic event; and involvement in bookmaking or wagering pools with respect to athletic events.
Widener University prohibits all acts of hazing and adheres to the Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law, which defines hazing to include Hazing, Aggravated Hazing, and Organizational Hazing as defined in this policy.
HAZING. A person commits the offense of hazing if the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, for the purpose of initiating, admitting or affiliating a minor or student into or with an organization, or for the purpose of continuing or enhancing a minor or student’s membership or status in an organization, causes, coerces or forces a minor or student to do or participate in any of the following behaviors or actions: (1) Violate Federal or State criminal law; (2) Consume any food, liquid, alcoholic liquid, drug or other substance which subjects the minor or student to a risk of emotional or physical harm; (3) Endure brutality of a physical nature, including whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics or exposure to the elements; (4) Endure brutality of a mental nature, including activity adversely affecting the mental health or dignity of the individual, sleep deprivation, exclusion from social contact or conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment; (5) Endure brutality of a sexual nature; or (6) Endure any other activity that creates a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to the minor or student. Hazing also includes any action or situation that requires or encourages violation of University policy.
AGGRAVATED HAZING. A person commits the offense of aggravated hazing if the person commits a violation of Hazing that results in serious bodily injury or death to the minor or student; and (1) The person acts with reckless indifference to the health and safety of the minor or student; or (2) The person causes, coerces, or forces the consumption of an alcoholic liquid or drug by the minor or student.
ORGANIZATIONAL HAZING. An organization commits the offense of organizational hazing if the organization intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly promotes or facilitates a violation of Hazing or Aggravated Hazing.
Any student, student group, student organization (recognized or not), team, or other persons associated with a student group or organization found responsible of Hazing, Aggravated Hazing, or Organizational Hazing under this Policy, whether occurring on or off campus, may face disciplinary action from the University, and may also face criminal charges under state law or federal law, including The Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law, 18 Pa. C.S. § 2801, et seq. It is not a defense that the consent of the minor or student was sought or obtained, or that an instance of hazing was sanctioned or approved by the organization.
REPORTING VIOLATIONS OF THIS POLICY. Any violation of this policy shall be deemed a violation of the Widener University Student Code of Conduct and may also constitute a violation of the Widener University Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination Policy. Widener University encourages all members of the campus community who believe that they have witnessed, experienced, or are aware of conduct that constitutes Hazing, Aggravated Hazing, or Organizational Hazing in violation of this policy to report the violation to the Office of Student Conduct. All reports will be promptly investigated.
Tobacco-Free Enforcement Policy
Widener University is dedicated to providing and promoting a healthy and productive environment for its faculty, staff, students, visitors, contractors, and guests. The Tobacco-Free Policy adopted by the university in May of 2009 is consistent with that goal. By endorsing this policy, Widener University demonstrates its commitment to eliminating environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure, promoting best healthcare practices and choices for individuals, and establishing a university culture of wellness.
The Tobacco-Free Policy applies to all university faculty, staff, students, visitors, contractors, and guests at all times. Tobacco use includes any lighted tobacco product, e-cigarettes, and any oral tobacco product. The use of all tobacco products is prohibited within the boundaries of each of the university’s four campuses (see “Campus Tobacco-Free Boundaries” below). The prohibited areas within each of the campus’s boundaries include all buildings, facilities, indoor and outdoor spaces, and grounds owned, rented, and licensed by the university. This policy also applies to parking lots, walkways, sidewalks, sports venues, university vehicles, and private vehicles parked or operated on university property.
- Enforcement: All members of the Widener community are asked to respectfully remind faculty, staff, students, visitors, contractors, and guests who are smoking, chewing tobacco, or vaping on university property about the university’s Tobacco-Free Policy.
Campus Safety staff is also responsible for reminding any faculty, staff, student, visitor, contractor, or guest who is using tobacco on university property about the university’s tobacco-free policy. Campus Safety staff may ask to see official identification for faculty, staff, students, visitors, contractors, and guests and complete an incident report for anyone who is found violating the university’s policy. The original incident reports are directed to the Campus Safety Office. Campus Safety will review incident reports and send copies of reports to the appropriate office. Student reports are sent to the Student Affairs Office or the Associate Provost’s Office for processing through the student disciplinary process. Employee reports are sent to the Human Resources Office in Chester for processing through the employee disciplinary process. The Human Resources Office will send a copy of the incident report to the employee’s supervisor.
There are four levels of offenses, with a requirement for each offense that a cited student or employee attend an educational program or seek assistance for cessation, in addition to the noted penalties as follows:
- 1st Offense—Warning
- 2nd Offense—$25 fine
- 3rd Offense—$50 fine
- 4th Offense—Dismissal or termination of enrollment/employment, based on the respective disciplinary code.
Campus Safety staff will ask visitors using tobacco on university property to extinguish cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, turn off e-cigarettes, or dispose of smokeless tobacco products. If a visitor refuses to comply with this request, Campus Safety staff may ask the visitor to leave campus (as is currently done when visitors violate the university’s alcohol and drug policy).
- Assistance: Educational and cessation assistance programs are offered to students, faculty, and staff to help them quit using tobacco products. Any money collected from the noted fines supports the wellness education program.
- Campus Tobacco-Free Boundaries
- Chester Campus—The boundaries are generally described as I-95 to the south, the west side of Melrose Avenue to the east, the south side of 18th Street to the north, and the east side of Providence Avenue to the west. Other facilities included in the tobacco-free boundaries are the Maintenance Complex on 12th Street; the Spang parking lot at Melrose Avenue and 14th Street; the entire Athletic Complex, including 17th Street, the sidewalk along 17th Street, and the softball field in Ridley Township; the Child Development Center at Walnut and 18th Streets; Balin Hall at Providence Avenue and 22nd Street; the Access Center at Providence Avenue and 21st Street; the parking lot on the west side of Providence Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets; the Development Office on 15th Street; the Bell property in Upland; and all of the university-owned properties along Melrose Avenue and throughout Sun Hill.
- Wilmington Campus—The boundaries are generally described as Concord Pike to the west, the moat between the shopping center and the campus to the south, the country club to the east, and the maintenance complex, rugby field, the townhouses, and adjacent parking lots to the north. We ask that you be respectful of the private property owners that are within the general campus boundaries.
- Harrisburg Campus—The boundaries are generally described as all of the property bounded by Thea Drive to the south, both sides of Vartan Way going north, including the parking lot, buildings, basketball/tennis courts, and the surrounding land. Also included is the maintenance complex on Progress Avenue.
Fire Safety Policy
Smoke detectors are placed in student rooms and public areas for the safety of the community. Students may not tamper with this equipment (e.g., remove batteries). Students caught tampering will be subject to immediate disciplinary action. Nothing may cover smoke detectors. Hot plates (exposed and internal coil elements), air fryers, candles, incense, live trees, decorative lights, lava lamps, and George Foreman and other grills are not allowed in the residence halls. If discovered, they will be confiscated. Students responsible will be subject to disciplinary action. As per the instruction from the Fire Commissioner of the City of Chester, “No couches, chairs, or futons are permitted in the residence halls unless a student can provide manufacturer’s certification that the furniture meets California Technical Bulletin 133 for fire retardancy of upholstered furniture.”
Students are required to carry their Campus1Card (identification card) at all times. The Campus1Card is the official card that is used as a Widener University ID card, library card, flexible spending debit card, meal plan card, residence hall access card, and academic building access card. These cards admit students to home athletic games and most student activities. Campus1Cards are not transferable, cannot be borrowed, and may not be altered. Misuse of or tampering with any Campus1Card is strictly prohibited. The use of the card is governed by university regulations. The Campus1Card must be submitted upon request to any university employee who requires it for official performance of his or her duties or fulfillment of his or her responsibilities.
If a student has a meal plan, it must be presented at each meal. Check-in officials have the authority to deny any person access to the dining center who does not have proper identification or cash payment.
If a Campus1Card is lost or stolen, follow this procedure:
- Report the lost/stolen card to the Office of Campus Safety or Enrollment Services.
- Pay the Campus1Card replacement fee ($25) at the Enrollment Services Center, where a new card will be issued.
Athletic/Recreational Activities Policy
All athletic activities must be confined to the proper playing fields or gym. All Department of Athletics policies and rules in effect for athletic contests must be followed. Check with the Department of Athletics for complete details of its policies for the stadium and gymnasium. Ball playing, Frisbee, and other recreational games are restricted to the appropriate athletic fields and areas designated by the Student Affairs Office.
Community Relations Policy
Students are expected to conduct themselves within the local community in a responsible and considerate manner at all times. Any conduct that tends to bring discredit to the university or its members will result in disciplinary action regardless of where such conduct occurs. Any student charged with a felonious crime may be immediately suspended from the university pending the outcome of criminal proceedings and may also be subject to proceedings under the “Campus Student Conduct System.”
Academic Integrity Policy
Widener’s academic integrity policy is published in all of the graduate and undergraduate academic catalogs: widener.edu/catalogs
Understanding, Reporting, & Preventing Bias Incidents & Hate Crimes
As a university, Widener celebrates diversity and embraces multiculturalism. At Widener, we strive to maintain an inclusive and welcoming campus community. We encourage all students, faculty, staff, and guests on campus to interact in a manner of human respect at all times. But we are also aware that incidents of bias and hate crimes have increased on college campuses around the country, sometimes disrupting that sense of community. Widener University condemns such acts and encourages all members of our community to do the same.
The following clarifications of definitions are meant to help students, faculty, and staff understand the serious offenses that may grow out of intolerance. Our policies, handbooks, and practices—as well as the laws—are provided or referenced here to help everyone understand where we stand as a community and how we pursue violations and help those affected. As always, we encourage exploration and dialogue about diversity through the guidance provided by numerous Widener professionals.
What Are Bias Incidents?
A bias incident is conduct, speech, or expression that is motivated by bias or prejudice but doesn’t involve a criminal act. Bias incidents may, however, violate campus disciplinary or harassment policies. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a bias incident is the use of degrading language and slurs directed toward people of color, women, members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community, people with disabilities, members of religious groups, and others who belong to groups that have traditionally been marginalized.
What Are Hate Crimes?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a hate crime as a criminal act—such as simple or physical assault, arson, or vandalism—motivated by bias, particularly against any given race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, disability, sex, gender, or sexual orientation. In addition, any writing, including graffiti, email, or even anonymous letters, that threatens or encourages violence toward an individual or group of people may also be a hate crime.
What Do I Do if I Think a Hate Crime or Bias Incident Has Been Committed?
- Do not confront the person you think committed the act.
- Call Campus Safety immediately at 610-499-4200, or the police at 911 if there is an immediate safety concern or if you think a crime has been committed.
- Do not disturb a crime scene or remove/destroy evidence such as graffiti. Campus Safety officers or the police may need to gather evidence.
- Tell someone you trust—for example, a professor, a staff member, or a resident assistant. Ask that person to help you file a report under the Student Code of Conduct or the university’s EOHN Policy. Here are some university offices that can assist you:
- Campus Safety, 610-499-4200
- Student Affairs, Main Campus, 610-499-4385; Delaware Campus, 302-477-2174; Harrisburg Campus, 717-541-3952
- Graduate Programs, 610-499-4351
- Continuing Studies, 610-499-4335
- Undergraduate Academic Affairs, 610-499-4110
- Counseling Center, 610-499-1261
- Residence Life, 610-499-4390
- Multicultural Student Affairs, 610-499-4488
- International Student Services, 610-499-4498
- Student Conduct, 610-499-4391
Any of these offices can serve as your initial point of contact. They will then work with you to address or resolve the matter. Your personal wishes, as well as community safety issues, will be considered in determining how to proceed.
What is the Process of Reporting an on-Campus Incident?
- You should begin by telling your professor, advisor, dean, associate provost, resident assistant, the assistant dean of residence life, the dean of students, a counselor, or some other Widener professional what has happened. After speaking with you, that person informs his/her supervisor that a hate crime or bias incident has occurred.
- A Widener professional will support you with an initial telephone call to the Office of Campus Safety, whose officers will be dispatched to the scene to talk with you, gather evidence, and begin an investigation.
- The officers may ask you to provide any item of evidence, if such exists, like a message board or note.
- A professional staff member will meet with you to learn the specifics of the incident and gain a better understanding of your personal feelings, reactions, and wishes. At your request, a university staff member from the Counseling Center, Student Affairs, and/or other relevant university area will be contacted to provide additional assistance.
- After gathering all pertinent information from you, the professional will complete a written report that will be shared with Campus Safety.
- Taking into account your personal feelings, reactions, and wishes, the professional may implement or recommend that others implement activities responding to the incident. These activities may include a letter or a similar communication to the community addressing the situation, a floor or hall meeting, educational programming, and student conduct proceedings.
What is Done to Help the Victim of a Hate Crime or Bias Incident?
The university provides support, including counseling if necessary, and help in coping with problems that result from incidents of hate crimes or bias incidents.
What Happens if Someone is Found Guilty of Committing a Bias Incident?
Alleged perpetrators involved in the incident will be adjudicated according to the university’s Student Code of Conduct or the EOHN Policy. A student found guilty of committing such an act could receive a penalty ranging from a disciplinary warning to expulsion from the university.
What Happens if Someone is Found Guilty of Committing a Hate Crime?
Alleged perpetrators involved in the incident will be adjudicated according to the university’s Student Code of Conduct or the EOHN Policy. A student found guilty of committing such an act could receive a penalty ranging from a disciplinary warning to expulsion from the university. Alleged perpetrators may also be subject to state, civil, and criminal penalties. Moreover, many states as well as the federal government have special statutes allowing any crime motivated by hate toward the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity of an individual or group to carry criminal charges in addition to those of the original crime. Consequently, the person found guilty of a hate crime may also face criminal penalties that may include fines and even jail.
What Can I Do to Help Prevent These Kinds of Things from Happening?
All students are encouraged to access the resources offered by the Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) office. Through this office, students can learn about opportunities to join or support student groups whose members work to educate, dispel myths, and sensitize the university community to the value of our differences. The MSA office promotes and coordinates a range of diversity activities and programs at Widener. We encourage all student, staff, and faculty groups to invite MSA staff to talk about the values of diversity on our campus. Working together, all members of the Widener community can help to create a more inclusive, welcoming, and comfortable campus for everyone.
Photography & Videotaping Policy
Widener University reserves the right to photograph and videotape students, faculty, staff, guests, and visitors while on university property and during university-sponsored functions off campus. These images, video, and audio may be used on the Widener website and associated sites such as Flickr and Facebook, and for promotional purposes, including use in the university magazines, newsletters, press releases, booklets, brochures, and other publications.