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Guidelines and Policies: Registering/Renewing a Student Group

A number of formal guidelines, policies and procedures govern and support the University community as relates to religion and spirituality. Posted below are three primary sets of guidelines which address: behavioral expectations for religious and spiritual groups, leaders and activities on campus; the academic policy concerning student absence due to religious observance; and how to identify and report a bias incident or hate crime.

Guidelines for religious/spiritual groups, leaders, and activities at Northeastern:

Northeastern University celebrates the religious and spiritual lives of our community members and  is an institution dedicated to fostering an environment of religious pluralism and respect. The NU Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service (CSDS) exists to serve, support and nurture the religious and spiritual well-being of all within this University community. Towards this end, the following guidelines have been established to ensure a healthy environment where each person’s faith can be practiced and expressed freely and with integrity, while at the same time the practices and expressions of some do not infringe upon the rights of others.

Support of religious groups, programs and leaders

Northeastern University promotes a thriving atmosphere of religious & spiritual life on campus. Recognized student religious and spiritual groups benefit from the support, assistance and use of facilities offered through the CSDS and the Center for Student Involvement (CSI).

Student religious groups and their leaders are invited and encouraged to work with CSDS, as well as to use the Sacred Space, Reflection Room, and various CSDS study/worship resources. CSDS also centralizes information on all student religious groups, for distribution to new students etc., and groups are encouraged to keep the Center updated for inclusion in such publicity.

Each religious group is required to send two representatives (one if average group attendance is under 10) to the Northeastern University Interfaith Council (NUIC), a council that coordinates interfaith dialogue, volunteer action and cooperative programs among the various religious groups on campus and advances the mission and vision of the University and the Center. (The two leaders should reflect a balance of genders and ages - that is, younger students and older leaders.)

Finally, student religious groups are invited and encouraged to seek University recognition from the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) in order to enjoy the use of many additional NU facilities, funds and resources.

Authorization of religious groups, programs and leaders

All student groups engaged in religious/spiritually-based activities on campus must be endorsed by the CSDS, and are thereby accountable to Northeastern University. New groups seek CSDS endorsement by a student leader meeting with the Executive Director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service. With CSDS endorsement, the group may then also apply for University recognition through the Center for Student Involvement. Groups lacking such endorsement are not permitted to use CSDS facilities and resources, or to seek University recognition.

Existing student religious groups must renew their CSDS endorsement each September, by a student leader meeting with the Executive Director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service. With CSDS endorsement, the group may then also apply for renewed University recognition through CSI.

Spiritual Advisors and non-student leaders of student religious groups must be endorsed by CSDS  in order to work on campus. A letter is issued by the Vice President for Student Affairs. Such leaders are to meet with the Executive Director of CSDS upon appointment to the NU campus, periodically thereafter, and in meetings of the Spiritual Advisors team.

Non-student groups and individuals who are engaged in religious outreach to students on campus must be endorsed by the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service, and are thereby accountable to NU.

Purpose of campus religious activity

Religious activity at Northeastern University is to be aimed at meeting the needs and benefiting the spiritual lives of the NU community. Religious groups and ministries whose purpose is primarily to draw members into non-NU-based groups and local churches, are not to conduct ministry work on campus. Likewise, groups and ministries that do not involve significant initiative and leadership from within the NU community are not to conduct ministry work on campus.

Behavior of religious groups

Proselytizing /witness/ministry that negatively impacts students or other members of the Northeastern University community will not be allowed. Such behavior may include, but is not limited to:

  1. harassment or coercion of any type
  2. pressure that takes advantage of unequal power dynamics (in age, language, etc.)
  3. entering residences uninvited by the person to whom one is speaking
  4. frequent or after-hours phone calls, e-mails, text messages, or “IM’s” that are unsolicited
  5. approaching individuals who have not themselves initiated contact
  6. continuing contact after an individual has said “no”
  7. collecting money, except when authorized by CSDS or SAO for an approved activity
  8. physical, mental or emotional abuse
  9. unduly excluding or isolating the group, or certain members of the group
  10. clusters of behaviors commonly held to be indicative of cults or destructive religions
  11. targeting people of another faith to convince them to leave that faith
  12. manipulation, deceit or untruthfulness

Religious groups must practice truth in advertising. All literature, spoken communications, and events must clearly and accurately identify the religious nature of the event, all sponsoring groups, and the intent of the event. It is important that students doing outreach identify themselves as members of an NU-endorsed organization, to avoid confusion with outside groups who attempt to use the campus. Additionally, events may not function under a “bait-and-switch” approach, namely promising one type of event or sponsor and actually offering another.

No group may purposely misrepresent or denigrate another faith by verbal statements, or by distributing denigrating literature. Hate language is likewise unacceptable. Although disagreement among faiths is to be expected, such disagreement is to be communicated in an accurate, constructive, and respectful fashion.

Although certain religions have a conversionary imperative, it is expected that one’s implicit witness to one’s faith (through personal example, literature, educational programs) will be the valid means of fulfilling this imperative. Conversionary techniques that transgress the guidelines in this document are not permitted.

Sanctions for violations

Religious groups acting in violation of any of the above guidelines will be subject to possible group probationary status or withdrawal of CSDS endorsement and University recognition.

Religious groups acting in violation of any standing Northeastern University policies and regulations, or in violation of any laws, will be liable for possible judicial or legal action, as well as subject to group probationary status or withdrawal of CSDS endorsement and NU recognition.

April  2006

Revised August 25, 2014

Policies concerning absence due to religious observance:

Reflecting NU's respect for religious observance, university policies on absence for observance of religious Holy Days are as follows:

Students: "Any student who is unable, because of his/her religious beliefs, to attend classes or to particpate in any examination, study, or work requirement shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study, or work requirement that he/she may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such make-up examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of availing himself/herself of the provisions of this section (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151C, Section 2B, 1985)." If there are any questions, please contact the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies (617-373-2842)

Benefits-eligible employees: "Northeastern respects the religious beliefs of faculty and staff and their desire to observe their accepted religious customs and holy days. The University allows reasonable time off without adjustment to pay to attend religious observances on generally recognized holy days, provided this does not disrupt academic schedules or administrative responsibilities." Questions may be directed to the office of Human Resources, or to Alexander Levering Kern, the Executive Director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service (617-373-2728).

Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes:

Northeastern University values diversity, inclusion and social justice. The University is committed to providing a safe, respectful educational and work environment that is free of harassment, intimidation, and physical and emotional harm.

A bias incident is any conduct, speech, or expression that demeans, degrades, or harasses an individual or group based upon membership in a protected category as recognized by law or Northeastern University policy including race, color, religion, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, veteran or disability status. A hate crime is criminal conduct motivated by hatred, bias, or prejudice, based on actual or perceived protected class status as defined by relevant state and federal laws including race, color, religion, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, veteran or disability status.

For more information, or to report a bias incident, please notify the NU Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity at 617-373-2133. The full Bias Incident Response Policies and Procedures may be found at www.northeastern.edu/diversity/policies.html

´╗┐Becoming a Registered Student Group with the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service

By registering with CSDS, the student group and all of its members agree to the above policies. To register please visit http://bit.ly/1snamrh or copy and paste this link into your browser. < https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?usp=drive_web&formkey=dGQ1YUlpbDNOYnUweEVqcElxVUVSTVE6MA#gid=0>.  

Note: Registering with CSDS does not mean the student group is registered with the University or the Center for Student Involvement. Please visit their page at http://www.northeastern.edu/csi/ to register after you have registered with CSDS. All Spiritual and Religious Groups will need a letter from CSDS in order to register with the Center for Student Involvement. 

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