Erskine Theological Seminary is not a local church, and as such, it does not assume direct responsibility for the spiritual nurture and discipline of believers. Rather, all members of the Seminary community (students, faculty members, and staff members) are expected to be active participants in the life of their respective local churches and/or denominations and to submit themselves to those churches/denominations, under the ultimate authority of Christ and the Scriptures. At the same time, however, Erskine is a community of believers who come together for worship, fellowship, service, and the spiritual and academic preparation of ministers of the Gospel. Therefore, Erskine expects all members of the community to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ (Phil. 1:27), and to live lives worthy of the calling they have received (Eph. 4:1).
The Christian life cannot be reduced to a handful of rules, for Christian maturity involves growing in knowledge of and adherence to the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:28). Members of the Erskine community are expected to rely upon the Holy Spirit in cultivating the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and to be growing in the characteristics which Paul prescribes for Christian leaders in 1 Timothy 3. Nevertheless, certain aspects of Christian life deserve special attention in this statement, since these are some of the areas where the Gospel differs radically from the values of our society, and thus they are among the ways in which believers are called to be distinct from the world. We expect all members of our community to share the following convictions and to uphold the following standards of Christian community life:
- We believe that the ultimate goal of human life, and thus especially of Christian life, is the glory of God (Rom. 11:36, 1 Cor. 10:31). We believe that God has created all human beings in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-7), and thus that all people are of value and significance. We believe further that all Christians are fellow members of the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5), and thus are of special value to God. In light of these truths, we believe that Christian life is characterized by humility with respect to both God (because God is the ultimate end of Christian life) and other believers (because they are sharers in the grace of life which God has given us).
- Therefore, we expect members of the Erskine community to be growing in Christian humility as they grow in awareness of the vastness of God’s majesty and grace, and of their own unworthiness before God. We expect such humility to manifest itself in a spirit of openness to areas where God wants to teach, reprove, or transform, both in individual and in corporate life.
- We expect this humility to manifest itself in relationships with other members of the community. We expect community members to respect and value those people with whom they come into contact with whether at our main campus, at of our extension sites, or in online classes. They refuse to use other people simply as means to their own ends. They are willing to recognize the presence of Christ with and in other believers. They attempt to encourage, love, and console others as needed. They respect those with whom they disagree, and they treat others charitably and fairly in the midst of theological debate/discussion.
- We expect members of the community to conduct themselves with integrity and respect for the persons, the property, and the work of others. Community members speak the truth to one another in love, refrain from the theft or misuse of others’ property, and conduct their academic work honestly, without cheating or plagiarizing. (These are defined in the Seminary’s plagiarism policy.)
- We believe that the church universal is the body of Christ, which includes people of both sexes and all races, economic classes, and ethnic groups (Gal. 3:28). We believe further that Christians are called to celebrate the universality and unity of Christ’s body in their relationships with one another (Eph. 4:2-6).
- Therefore, we expect community members to be active in seeking reconciliation and unity among races, classes, and sexes, both in the church and in the broader society.
- We expect members of the community to be willing to value and learn from the positive contributions which Christians of other groups can make to the universal body of Christ. This involves a respect for the insights and customs of other cultures and a desire to bring all cultures (one’s own and others’) under the judgment of Scripture.
- We expect community members to abstain from discrimination, deliberate divisiveness, malicious humor, and gossip.
- We believe that God created humanity male and female and that appropriate sexual expression is a gift from God. We believe further that God has ordained monogamous, heterosexual marriage (a lifelong commitment of a man and a woman to each other) as the only proper context in which intimate sexual expression is to take place. We believe that sexual purity involves more than simply abstinence from physical acts, that it is also a matter of honoring God through one’s thoughts and desires (Matt. 5:27-30). We also believe that relationships between men and women (between spouses and outside of marriage) are grounded in a respect for other people and a willingness to put others first.
- Therefore, we expect all members of the community to abstain from all intimate sexual expression either prior to or outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriage.
- We expect all community members to treat members of the opposite sex with respect, to abstain from sexual harassment and sexual exploitation in any form.
- We expect all members of the Erskine community to abstain from the use of pornographic material and to exercise discretion in choosing forms of entertainment (which can easily incite lust).
For more on point III, please see the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church’s Position Statement on Human Sexuality (2019).
- We believe that Christians are called to be filled with and controlled by the Spirit and to avoid enslavement to physical masters such as food and alcohol (1 Cor. 6:12-13, Eph. 5:18).
Therefore, we expect members of the Erskine community to avoid enslavement to physical substances which God has given by using them in moderation. Among other things, this involves refraining from the illegal (non-medical) use of drugs and moderation in (or abstinence from) the use of alcohol. (All members of the Erskine community are reminded that Erskine College is a dry campus and seminary students are asked to respect the College’s position by not consuming any alcohol on )
Erskine Seminary expects high standards of honesty and integrity in all areas of Seminary life. The Seminary urges its members to exercise humility, forbearance, and, if necessary, loving confrontation in upholding these convictions and expectations. The Seminary encourages individuals always to follow the principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-22. Faculty or students who feel that these standards have not been maintained may deal with these situations first through personal counsel and then, if those measures are not sufficient, through the procedures outlined in the grievance procedures (outlined in the Student Handbook). The Seminary reserves the right to request at any time the withdrawal of one whose conduct is detrimental to his or her health or whose conduct is not satisfactory to its officials.
Language about God and Humanity
Erskine Theological Seminary recognizes that God transcends the distinction between male and female, since God introduced that distinction as He created physical beings. At the same time, the Seminary recognizes that the Bible and the historic creeds and confessions of the Christian church (including the Westminster Confession, which comprises the Seminary’s doctrinal basis) use masculine language in reference to God. Therefore, the Seminary encourages all students to retain this biblical and historic usage when speaking and writing about God.
Furthermore, the Seminary recognizes that all human beings, male and female, are created equally in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), and believers of both sexes are fellow heirs of the grace of life (1 Pet. 3:7). Accordingly, the Seminary encourages all students to make use of language, in reference to human beings, that is inclusive rather than needlessly exclusive. It is the mark of a good communicator to build bridges rather than barriers. Therefore, in all written work and oral presentations, whenever students are dealing with humanity as a whole (male and female), they should use language that clearly includes both men and women (for example, by saying/writing “humanity” rather than “man” when referring to the entire human race, or “people” rather than “men” when referring to men and women).
Conduct in Theological Discussions
Erskine Seminary is committed to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, and it encourages its students toward the same. Thus, the Seminary expects all students to show respect for all who identify with that one church. In all written work, oral presentations, and discussions both inside and outside the classroom, the Seminary expects students to show respect across all the lines that might otherwise divide Christians (for example, race, gender, ethnic origin, cultural perspective, denominational affiliation, or theological or political persuasion). Issues on which there is disagreement can and should be discussed, and students are never discouraged from expressing honest convictions founded on Scripture, but one should always conduct discussions of controversial issues in a context of respect for those with whom one disagrees.
Plagiarism is a serious offense that undermines both the witness and integrity of the Christian community. Plagiarism injures the community and dishonors God by inhibiting the recognition and cultivation of gifts imparted by the Spirit. When others’ words and/or ideas are used without credit, their gifts fail to be appropriately recognized. At the same time, this illegitimate use of others’ work prevents plagiarizers from developing and being recognized for their own gifts. Plagiarism also injures the community and offends God, by undermining unity (Eph. 4:3), violating trust by dishonesty (Ps. 34:13; Prov. 6:19; Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9), appropriating honor due to others (Exod. 20:15; Rom. 13:7), and offending against the great commandment of love for our neighbor (Matt. 22:39).
[The following paragraph definition of plagiarism is adapted from a statement, used by permission, of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, which was itself adapted, with permission, from “Princeton University Rights, Rules and Responsibilities,” 1990 Edition. Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.]
Plagiarism occurs when a person, intentionally or unintentionally, presents the work of others as one’s own. Quoting others’ words, presenting their ideas, or using their outline or approach to a problem is plagiarism unless the original source of all the information is clearly acknowledged. All of the work of others must be acknowledged, whether that work comes from a printed work, electronic media, a speech or sermon, a private conversation, or some other medium. Plagiarism that is unintentional is still plagiarism. Students are responsible for understanding and avoiding plagiarism; those in doubt about what constitutes plagiarism should consult their instructor or library staff.
The Seminary takes all instances of plagiarism seriously. All cases of plagiarism (suspected or proven) will be referred to the Dean of the Seminary, who will determine appropriate penalties in consultation with the instructor (and other faculty as needed). A record of the findings will be placed in the student’s permanent file. Penalties may include failure or reduced grade for the assignment, failure of the course, dismissal from the Seminary, or revocation of a degree previously awarded. A second offense will normally result in dismissal.
Unless otherwise indicated by the instructor, all papers must meet Seminary standards. They must be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. They must include footnotes documenting all work (words and/or ideas) of others and full bibliography in proper form. Documentation, language, style, and formatting must conform to:
- Erskine Seminary. Style and Format Standards for Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 2021.
- Turabian, Kate L., et. al. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 9th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.
For detailed questions about documentation of works in biblical studies, students may also consult:
- Alexander, Patrick H. The SBL Handbook of Style: For Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian Studies. Peabody: Hendrikson, 1999.
For full details of policies affecting students, see the Seminary’s Student Handbook, available on the Seminary’s website (seminary.erskine.edu). Policies governing life on campus in Due West are listed in the College’s Student Handbook, available from the College’s Office of Student Services.
Campus Safety and Environment
- No alcohol or illegal substances are allowed on campus, inside or outside the buildings.
- Firearms and other dangerous weapons are prohibited on Erskine property, with the exception of police officers and instructors authorized by the appropriate dean or vice president. Violation will lead to disciplinary action up to possible dismissal and may result in arrest and prosecution.
- Smoking is not allowed in campus buildings.
- Only service animals are allowed in the Erskine buildings.
- Students are not allowed to leave their children, other underage persons, or incapacitated adults unsupervised on campus while they are in class.
All students are provided with an Erskine email account. Students are responsible for checking their Erskine email accounts regularly for official school communications. In order to protect privacy and confirm the identity of the sender and recipient, all Erskine related communications of any kind must be sent through the supplied Erskine email account. Students should refrain from communicating with Erskine faculty and staff using other non-Erskine email addresses.
Erskine seeks to ensure the safety of all during periods of hazardous weather, while faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to use caution and good discretion when traveling to and from the campus and while on the campus so as to reduce the risk of injury to themselves and to others.
Faculty and students should consult the following news sources to determine the status of classes during hazardous weather conditions:
- The dedicated Erskine telephone information hotline for up-to-date recorded messages for Seminary faculty and students: 864-379-6652.
- The Erskine website (seminary.erskine.edu).
- News stations WYFF Channel 4, WHNS Fox Carolina, and WSPA Channel 7. There will be no announcement if Due West offices and classes are on regular schedule. The timing of posts to the news stations cannot be predicted. Faculty and students are encouraged to call the dedicated numbers above and to check the Erskine website first.
Weekly classes that are canceled because of inclement weather will be rescheduled or not, at the discretion of the professor. In the event that an all-day class is canceled, the class will be made up on the next available open date, ordinarily on the same day of the week (e.g., a Saturday class will be made up on the next available Saturday).
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education record(s). The institution may disclose education records without a student’s consent under the FERPA exception for disclosure to institution officials with legitimate educational interests. An institution official is a person employed by Erskine in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the institution has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using institution employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; a student serving on an official committee, such as disciplinary or grievance committee; and/or someone assisting another institution official in performing his/her tasks.
An institution official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his/her professional responsibilities for the institution.
Upon request, the institution also discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. The institution has designated the following information concerning a student as “Directory Information” and the institution will normally release that information without the student’s consent: The student’s name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational institution attended by the student, photographs, enrollment status, academic level, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, and weight and height of members of athletic teams. However, a student has a right to refuse to permit the disclosure of any item of Directory Information. To exercise that right, a student must notify the Registrar in writing that he/she does not want any or all of the Directory Information disclosed, within the first five days of each semester or term.
Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with the requirements of FERPA by contacting:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5901
General Student Grievances
In order to maintain a healthy relationship between the institution and its students, it is the policy of Erskine College to provide for the settlement of problems and differences through orderly grievance procedures. Every student shall have the right to present his or her complaint, in accordance with the procedures established. This policy outlines the procedures students should follow in resolving student grievances of a general nature (e.g., student academic freedom). Should a grievance involve sexual assault, sexual or other harassment, discrimination, or classroom grading, the separate, specific policies in the respective student handbook and/or the academic catalog for those areas should be followed.
Because the appropriate course of action is not always clear to students seeking redress of a grievance, the Dean of the Seminary shall serve as a resource for those seeking information regarding grievance and appeal procedures.
Grievance procedures at Erskine College, for both academic and non-academic matters, follow the scriptural principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-22. Prior to invoking the formal procedures described below, the student is strongly encouraged to discuss his or her grievance with the person alleged to have caused the grievance. The student may wish to present his or her grievance in writing instead of orally to the person alleged to have caused the grievance but should not distribute the written communication to others than the person with whom one has a grievance. In either case, the person alleged to have caused the grievance must respond to the student promptly, either orally or in writing. It is the responsibility of the faculty or staff member to notify his or her supervisor of the informal resolution.
If the student is not satisfied with the response, he or she may present the grievance in writing to the chair or director (hereinafter “administrator”) of the department or area where the person alleged to have caused the grievance is employed. Any such written grievance must be received by the administrator not later than thirty (30) business days after the student first became aware of the facts which gave rise to the grievance. (If the grievance is against the chair or director of a department or area, the student should address his or her grievance to the appropriate Provost and/or Dean.) The administrator should conduct an investigation as warranted to resolve any factual disputes. In matters pertaining to the faculty and/or academic matters, the appropriate appeals process will be followed by Erskine College.
Based upon the findings, the administrator shall make a determination and submit his or her decision in writing to the student and to the person alleged to have caused the grievance within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of the complaint. If a decision cannot be made in fifteen (15) business days, the student will receive a letter with an estimated date of completion. The written determination shall include the reasons for the decision, shall indicate the remedial action to be taken, if any, and shall inform the student of the right to review by the Provost.
Within five (5) business days of receipt of the administrator’s decision, a student who is not satisfied with the response of the administrator after the initial review, may seek further review by submitting the written grievance, together with the administrator’s written decision, to the appropriate Provost. The Provost’s action may be limited to a review of the basis for the administrator’s decision and need not involve a new factual investigation. The Provost may direct that further facts be gathered or that additional remedial action be taken. Based upon the findings, the Provost shall make a determination and submit his or her decision in writing to the student and to the person alleged to have caused the grievance within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of the complaint. If a decision cannot be made in fifteen (15) business days, the student will receive a letter with an estimated date of completion. The written disposition shall include the reasons for the decision, direct a remedy for the aggrieved student, if any, and inform the student of the right to seek an appeal to the President.
Within five (5) business days of receipt of the Provost’s decision, a student who is not satisfied with the response of the Provost may apply for further review by submitting the written grievance, the administrator’s written decision, and the Provost’s written decision to the President of Erskine College. A review by the President is not considered a matter of right but is within the sound discretion of the President. If a review is granted, the President may refer the case to the Presidential Appeals Committee (PAC). If the case is referred to the PAC, it will make a recommendation to the President who can accept the recommendation or change the decision.
The President’s action will be limited to a review of the basis for the administrator’s decision and the Provost’s decision and need not involve a new factual investigation. Within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of the request for review, the President shall submit his or her decision in writing to the student and to the person alleged to have caused the grievance. The written disposition hall include the reasons for the decision, and it shall direct a remedy for the aggrieved student if any. The President’s decision will be final.
Student Grievances Regarding Academic Matters
If students have a complaint about a faculty member regarding an academic problem, they are obligated first to speak to the professor and seek to resolve the problem. If they cannot resolve the complaint with the faculty member, they should refer the complaint to the Dean of the Seminary in writing. Any such written grievance must be received by the Dean not later than thirty (30) business days after the student first became aware of the facts which gave rise to the grievance. The Dean normally will refer the complaint to the Seminary grievance committee, consisting of three faculty members. Based upon the findings, the committee shall make a determination and submit its decision in writing to the Dean, the student, and to the person alleged to have caused the grievance, within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of the complaint. If a decision cannot be made in fifteen (15) business days, the student will receive a letter with an estimated date of completion. The written determination shall include the reasons for the decision, shall indicate the remedial action to be taken, if any, and shall inform the student of the right to review by the Provost.
Reviews by the Provost and/or President will follow the procedures outline under “General Student Grievances.”
Student Grievances Regarding Non-Academic Matters
If a student has a complaint about a non-academic matter or against a staff member, then the complaint should be reported to the Dean of the Seminary or the Non-Discrimination Coordinator for Erskine College. Such complaints will be handled and may be appealed in a manner similar to the procedure described above for academic complaints.
Right of Appeal by Georgia Residents
Students who are residents of the State of Georgia have the right of appeal of the final institutional decision to The Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (GNPEC). Appeals should be directed to: Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission, 2082 East Exchange Place, Suite 220, Tucker, GA 30084-5305; 770-414-3300; 770-414-3309 (FAX); www.gnpec.org.
These grievance procedures shall not be used to bring knowingly frivolous, false, manipulative, or malicious charges against any faculty member, staff member, or fellow student. Disciplinary action, including dismissal from the Seminary for a minimum of one semester, may be taken against any person bringing academic or non-academic complaints in deliberate bad faith.