We believe that some of the best learning, growth and development our students experience during their time at MVNU is due to our intentional pursuit of life in community. As a community, each of us—students, faculty, and staff—agree to live in such a way so that our behaviors and attitudes are aligned under a common set of beliefs and values reflecting our educational mission, our commitment to service, and our unity in Christ. These Lifestyle Guidelines are a roadmap of sorts, which allow us to bring out the best in each other and ourselves, and ultimately produce the Christ-like character toward which we strive.
MVNU’s Lifestyle Guidelines can be summarized by these questions:
Who are you when no one else is looking?
How you answer this question determines the real worth of lifestyle guidelines at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. It comes down to something very personal. Who you are. Why you’re here. How you’re going to make your life count. If you have respect for yourself, for others. Whether or not you are able to live within a community based on honesty and respect.
The kind of person you are when no one else is looking—this is the real stuff you give over to God so that He can mold and shape you into your best potential. The process begins with your new birth in Christ and it will continue after you leave MVNU—for the rest of your life.
Why does MVNU have lifestyle guidelines?
The immediate and most obvious purpose for lifestyle guidelines is to provide a common code of conduct within the campus community. These guidelines, established for everyone on campus, student and professor, staff and administrators, are a rationale for desirable behavior and attitudes. While the code isn’t so strict that it controls every detail of life on campus, neither is it so loose that it promotes a spirit of “Anything goes!”
But there’s much more at stake here than a general attempt to create community on campus and keep it functioning smoothly. MVNU’s lifestyle guidelines have value far beyond a few years spent on campus, because they are values that build Christ-like character and are pleasing to God. People on the outside, looking in, should glimpse the promise of a more pure, more selfless lifestyle that brings honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. Additionally, MVNU’s guidelines reveal the University’s strong relationship with its sponsoring denomination, the Church of the Nazarene.
The Apostle Paul likens the Christian life to a race. In Hebrews 12 he urges us to lay aside the weights and sin that could slow us down or hold us back and to run with perseverance the race that God sets before us. In I Corinthians 9 and Philippians 3 he tells us to compete to win. Becoming more Christ-like in character will involve discipline, endurance and a winning spirit.
So at MVNU we set lifestyle guidelines not only to enhance community, but to develop Christ-like character and to live in a style that honors God.
Must I agree with all of the guidelines?
The answer is “No.” Our guidelines are meant to be practical solutions for the differences among us for the time that we are together, as well as idealized standards for the development of good habits and character. We do not consider them to be a judgment on other Christians who “do not do as we do,” nor are we foolish enough to believe that our way is perfect. However, our guidelines do represent what we’ve found to be the most workable and suitable in fulfilling our University mission.
What we do expect is that all of us in the campus community live by the guidelines during our association with MVNU, even if we don’t necessarily agree with them, privately or personally. We ask for an understanding of the need for standards, a good spirit in keeping them, and cooperative efforts in improving them. We do encourage students to discuss and evaluate the University standards as part of the growth process that should be taking place on campus.
The guidelines are not legalistic boundaries, snares to catch the rebellious or showcases to portray the pious, but rather an endeavor to do the right thing, to be motivated by God’s unfailing and unselfish love, to consider the larger picture—that what we do and how we do it affects other people as well as ourselves, to lay the groundwork for achieving our goals and in all of this to glorify God in everything that we do.
By aligning our guidelines with these biblical principles, we avoid the extremes of both the right and the left; legalism on the right upholding conformity as the model of Christianity, an end in itself; liberalism on the left exalting love as the final liberator, the substitute for any other law. MVNU guidelines allow us to order our lives with both justice and love, individually and as a community.
You have a big job ahead in your University years. Among other things, we urge you to seriously consider what kind of person you are now and will continue to be. What are your personal convictions or standards? Of course, they’re not all of equal importance. For example, there are issues such as: What style of clothes is best for me? How will I use my free time? There are preeminent issues too, such as: What academic major will I pursue? What am I looking for in relationships? How will I contribute to the MVNU community?
In many of these areas, especially the significant ones, your standards are set while you are at MVNU. But we want you to begin preparing for the day when you will live by your own, chosen standards. After you leave MVNU, no one here will be telling you how to live. It will be up to you. We hope that you will make the kind of choices that honor God, make a significant impact on the world for Christ, and give you a great life!
Some standards of MVNU’s community
First, and most important, is honesty. MVNU sets a standard of honesty among all of its community members. Without that commitment to the truth, the University simply cannot function. It’s sad that we have to spell it out, but the world we live in doesn’t value truth-telling the way that it should. It seems like the rule of the day is, “If you can do it and not get caught, it’s OK.” Unfortunately, many of us have been polluted by that kind of thinking.
Are you ready to dedicate yourself to personal honesty? We hope so! It starts with being honest with yourself, and then with all of us around you.
We don’t expect you to be perfect at MVNU, but we do expect you to do your best to abstain from and be truthful with us regarding:
- consuming, trafficking in, or being in the presence of alcoholic beverages,
- personal misconduct, including sexual promiscuity and harassment,
- using tobacco in any form,
- misuse of drugs or use of illegal drugs,
- participating in inappropriate entertainment forms, including patronizing clubs, gambling, involvement with pornography or any form of promiscuous entertainment.
This code of honesty means that I will remove myself from the University community if I cannot comply with these standards.
Some of these activities are dealt with in Scripture. Others are against the law. Still others are “social standards” that are supported by our primary University constituency, the Church of the Nazarene. Our community at MVNU consists of many different kinds of people: age, denomination, spiritual maturity, home area, ethnic background—we have almost all shapes, sizes and varieties. It’s a great feature of MVNU, but with the variety comes different personal convictions.
Decisions about entertainment and media productions offer good examples. MVNU supports the church’s values by banning promiscuous, pornographic entertainment, striving to build character, unity, peace, and holy lifestyles in the community.
What about alcoholic beverages? MVNU upholds the principle that alcohol use is detrimental to physical, emotional, social, spiritual and community development. Therefore, a decision to drink alcohol is a decision which requires serious disciplinary response.
Because these are mission and character related, we request that you do not participate in them on or off campus, as long as you are part of the University as a student or employee.
We don’t want to squelch your individuality or right to personal expression, but…
MVNU also has standards for how you look. Most of them simply make sense—that you are clean and look presentable to the rest of the community. We don’t want to squelch individuality or right to personal expression. However, this expression should be within reason. For example, for modesty’s sake, we require all shorts and skirts to be modest and no more than two inches above the knee. Full dress code requirements can be found at www.mvnu.edu/students/handbook/handbook.pdf.
Attendance at chapel is a requirement
Alumni tell us that they look back on Chapel as the best time of the campus day. Many of us regard Chapel as a welcome oasis in the midst of a busy day. In most weeks, three sessions per week are set aside for Chapel and each student is required to attend. We don’t consider Chapel a substitute for church attendance or personal devotions. It’s a special feature of a Christian University education.
Special rules relating to resident life
For those of you who live on campus, we have several living standards for resident life. Almost every one of them is meant to protect the rights of all resident students. With more than 1,000 people living in close quarters, some rules are needed to promote community life.
We limit the days and hours that persons of the opposite sex can visit in student rooms.
We have regular room inspections. There are also quiet hours for sleep and study. To promote good study and living habits, students are required to be in their own resident living area by a certain hour each night.
We know that residence life can be the most memorable part of University life and we look forward to your positive participation in this element of your lifelong education.
Additional information about campus life opportunities may be found at www.mvnu.edu/students/handbook/handbook.pdf.
What happens if I break a rule at MVNU?
We want you to be held accountable for your actions in a number of ways when University guidelines are broken. Some campus privileges may be taken away for a period of time. You may be required to meet regularly with a staff person or a small group of students for growth and encouragement. You may have to pay a fine. When a student violates mission related policies (see Student Life Handbook), suspension or dismissal may result.
Remember, we see discipline as a way to help you grow, just like that budding pianist or athlete. Sometimes the best thing that could happen to you is for you to be held accountable for your actions, even though it may sting for a while. It teaches responsibility and builds Christ-like character; something we all need (Proverbs 3:11, 12; Hebrews 12:10, 11).
If you have questions about some disciplinary action, you can always talk to one of the Student Development Staff about it. We will be careful to handle the matter privately and with respect for your individual rights.
The Student Development Staff are also privileged to answer your questions, give counsel when you ask for it and pray with you about any area of your life.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or handicap.