Religious Life Policies

Promoting religious pluralism and a commitment to inclusive excellence.

Occidental College encourages the religious and spiritual growth of its students, faculty and staff. The College promotes the respect of all religions and recognizes the validity of any individual's decision to participate in a spiritual tradition. It expects that the members of the College will respect the right of privacy of religious belief and the right to manifest the values of those beliefs.

The following are set down as guidelines for behavior that respects the rights of individual privacy in regard to religion. The College encourages the free discussion of values among willing participants and inter-religious dialogue. In the residence halls, it is not appropriate to engage in door-to-door or uninvited solicitation to religious involvement. But it IS appropriate to announce events and issue invitations at public gatherings, such as hall spreads.

Religious interaction outside the residence halls is up to the conscience of each individual. However, harassment of individuals for their beliefs is strictly out of place. This includes:

  • unwelcome solicitations or door-to-door visits;
  • misrepresentation of religious group activities;
  • unwanted intrusions into an individual's privacy in the name of religion or as a criticism of the individual's religion or philosophy;
  • harassment around personal life choices which may be counter to others' religious beliefs

The Office for Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL) organizes and facilitates religious life on campus and it is the home of the officially recognized religious groups at Occidental. For a religious group to use campus facilities or resources, engage in activities or sponsor events, it must register with the Director and agree to the religious policies of the College. Religious Advisors must receive written certification in order to coordinate events on campus. Religious policies specify the relationship of the College to religious groups, religious groups to each other and religious groups to their members.

ORSL provides resources to enable students and staff to explore their own spiritual identity and to foster respect for the beliefs and traditions of others. The Director offers counseling and support to all members of the College. The religious advisors at the ORSL provide leadership for particular religious or spiritual traditions. It is the desire of the College that every religion feel at home at Occidental. Any complaint or problem should be reported to the Director as soon as possible.

Religious Life Policy for Religious Advisors and Religious Organizations

Religious Advisors

Religious Advisors facilitate the activities of campus religious organizations.  Advisors must be officially appointed, authorized representatives of a particular religious tradition, ecclesiastical body or religious institution.  In order to serve at Occidental, the Director for Religious and Spiritual Life must certify all advisors in writing at the start of each year.  Each sponsoring agency must submit a letter of recognition to the Director.  If there is more than one advisor, each person must be certified separately.  To be certified, advisors must agree to be guided by the Religious Life Mission Statement and to abide by all Religious Life Policies.  After certification, advisors may facilitate group activities, meet with students and offer pastoral care from their tradition.  In order to work effectively at Occidental, Religious Advisors must adhere to these guiding principles:

  •  Promote the spiritual and religious growth of members of the Occidental College community
  •  Support the college community in its educational mission and pursuit of the highest standards of intellectual and moral excellence
  •  Respect the ministries of others and the interfaith goals of the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life 
  •  Honor the religious freedom, privacy, human dignity, conscience, personal spiritual welfare and religious traditions of all.

The Director reserves the right to rescind the privilege of any certified Religious Advisor to work on the Occidental campus.   

Code of Conduct for Religious Advisors

  1. Religious Advisors must submit a letter of appointment by their sponsoring body or agency.  They must follow all procedures to be certified by the Director at the beginning of each academic year.
  2. Religious Advisors must clearly identify themselves as representing their sponsoring agency (and not the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life) in all publicity or communications.
  3. Religious Advisors must follow all Occidental College campus rules and regulations.
  4. Religious Advisors must adhere to the policies and procedures of the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life.
  5. Religious Advisors must act with mutual respect toward the ministries of all other groups, embracing the interfaith commitments of the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life.
  6. Religious Advisors must not engage in proselytizing or employ high-pressure recruitment tactics of coercion and intimidation.  Examples of unauthorized behavior include:
    • Unwelcome solicitation or door-to-door visits
    • Misrepresentation of religious group or activities
    • Breach of individual privacy or conscience
    • Harassment regarding personal life choices
    • Shunning or other forms of social isolation resulting from students leaving the group.
  7. Religious Advisors must defer to residence hall staff and their policies.  Group activities must not compete with residence hall activities.
  8. Religious Advisors must not compromise a student’s academic standing or vocational pursuits by using pressure to remove a student from campus without consent.
  9. Religious Advisors must honor the confidentiality of students whom they guide and counsel.
  10. Religious Advisors must respect the sexual boundaries of all, refraining from inappropriate language, sexual exploitation or sexual harassment.
  11. Religious Advisors must inform themselves and students of the governing ethical framework of Religious Life at Occidental College.

Religious Organizations

For a religious group to use campus facilities or resources, engage in activities or sponsor events, student leaders must register each year with the Director for Religious and Spiritual Life and agree to abide by the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life Mission Statement and the Religious Life Policies of Occidental College.  The group’s Religious Advisor must be certified and in good standing with the Director.

Code of Conduct for Religious Organizations

  1. All student religious organizations must follow applicable College procedures to be recognized as a student organization.
  2. All student religious organizations must have a certified Religious Advisor and be registered with the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life.
  3. All student organizations must be open to general participation by any interested student.
  4. Any student must be able to leave the group free from harassment or retribution.
  5. All student religious organizations must respect the privacy of the individual and the religious and spiritual diversity of the college community.  They must not engage in proselytizing or high-pressure recruitment tactics.  Examples of unauthorized behavior include:
    • Unwelcome solicitation or door-to-door visits
    • Misrepresentation of religious group or activities
    • Breach of individual privacy or conscience
    • Harassment regarding personal life choices
    • Shunning or other forms of social isolation resulting from students leaving the group.
  6. In public statements, announcements and activities, all religious organizations must avoid denigration or de-legitimizing any religious group, tradition or spiritual expression.  Religious groups shall clearly identify themselves on all publicity, displays or other posted, distributed or erected organizational material.
  7. Any conflicts between religious organizations must be reported to the Director for Religious and Spiritual Life.

The Director reserves the right to rescind the privilege of any campus religious organization.