Code of Conduct
How Christians speak, behave, and relate to one another is one of the most powerful and important elements of our testimony to the validity, and power, of the Gospel. Scripture clearly mandates that we are called to “Live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ” (Ph 1:27, Eph 4:1, Col 1:10, 1 Thess 2:12, 4:1).
As a ministry committed not only to theological education, but to spiritual transformation and personal holiness, we believe that ethical and behavioural guidelines are appropriate and important in providing a God-honouring and safe place for men and women to study, work and live in community.
We therefore require that every member of faculty, staff and students abide by a Code of Conduct. This Code seeks to outline in a summary form how we see these principles applied in the context of life on Campus. It is a requirement of enrolment at MST that every student agrees to abide by this Code of Conduct. Breaches of this Code will be taken seriously, and may be grounds disciplinary action and, in serious cases, cancellation of enrolment.
A. Language and Behaviour
The Scriptures are very clear about the ways in which the people of God are called to treat one another. Indeed, one of the most powerful ways we are called to witness to the power of the Gospel, is the manner in which we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ (John 13:35). This mandate to love one another ought to be expressed in a variety of ways, including our speech, behaviour, attitudes, dress, cultural sensitivities, and theological differences.
Scriptures teach that “out of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Lk. 6:45). Christians are called to reflect the grace of God in way they speak to each other (Col 4:6). We therefore expect that all our staff, faculty and students avoid the use of offensive language such as swearing, racial or religious slurs or personal, derogatory comments (Eph 4:29).
B. Secondary Issues
The student body at MST is wonderfully diverse. Men and women from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, denominations, spiritual traditions and theological convictions choose to study here. It is, in a small way, a reflection of the beauty and diversity within the Body of Christ. This diversity exists within the framework of our common, evangelical, biblical faith.
However, from time to time, and throughout history, godly and faithful men and women have disagreed on a range of issues relating to faith, practice and doctrine . In a theological college such as MST, these differences inevitably arise. We see this as a healthy and necessary part of the learning and formational process, even though at times various perspectives are deeply held, and passionately defended.
Nonetheless, in spite of our many differences, Christians are called to be at “peace with one another” (Mk 9:50), patient and tolerant (Eph 4:2), kind, tender-hearted and forgiving (Eph 4:32), and accepting (Eph 5). We aim, therefore, to provide a safe, empowering and encouraging environment where every person is free to learn, and grow in their knowledge and love of God.
We therefore expect that an “ethos of grace,” and a culture of Godly tolerance will permeate our relationships with one another. Any language and/or attitude which demeans or marginalizes others on account of ‘secondary issues’ in Christian doctrine will not be permitted.
C. Substance Abuse and Addictive Behaviour
Scriptures teach that our physical body is the “temple” of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20). We are therefore called, as best as we are able, to take care of our physical health. By inference, this would include being particularly mindful to avoid habits and life-styles choices in which not only our physical and spiritual health, but our witness as followers of Christ, is compromised.
While MST does not take a formal position on certain practices that are common in our society (such as smoking, and drinking), we nonetheless choose not to permit these practices on campus. Alcohol consumption and smoking cigarettes are not permitted on Campus.
Obviously any activities that are either illegal (such as taking illicit drugs) or which require licensing (such as gambling) are also not permitted on Campus.
Notwithstanding what is stated above with respect to our responsibilities as followers of Christ, legislation which covers sexual harassment, the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 and the (Commonwealth) Sex Discrimination Act 1984 are relevant and apply to MST. In particular, Sections of the Equal Opportunity Act cover harassment by employers and employees, harassment in common workplaces, and harassment in educational institutions.
Intimidation and sexual harassment are violations of Christ’s commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves. They deny the image of God in the other, and negate our oneness in Christ. Both usually involve an abuse of power. They interfere with shared ministry and undermine the unity of Body of Christ.
This policy aims to prevent the occurrence of such dysfunction and harm in MST community and to reinforce helpful principles for attitudes and behaviour outside MST. Faculty, staff, students or family members may seek advice or complain under this policy if they believe they have been subjected to intimidation or sexual harassment.
MST intends to take action to prevent, correct and if necessary, discipline behaviour which violates this policy. Where behaviour violates civil or criminal law, it will be reported as appropriate.
Personally offensive comments
• Sexual or smutty jokes
• Comments or teasing about a person’s appearance or private life
• Persistent unwelcome invitation/s, telephone calls, written messages or emails on campus or at home
• Being followed home
• Interfering with personal privacy
• Offensive hand or body gestures
• Physical contact such as patting, pinching, touching, embracing
• The display of sexually suggestive material
• Unwanted declarations of affection
• Sexual assault and rape.
• Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of instruction, academic support, employment, or participation in some other MST activity;
• Submission to such conduct by an individual or group is used, or threatened, as a basis for an academic or administrative decision affecting that individual or group;
• Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance in academic, employment related, or other MST activity.
E. INITIAL PROCEDURES
A. Designated Individuals
1. Members of MST community with a concern or complaint which may involve intimidation or sexual harassment are encouraged to discuss the concern with one of the designated individuals who are trained in issues relating to intimidation, sexual harassment and conflict resolution. The designated individual can provide information about applicable MST policies and procedures, outline available options for addressing the concern or complaint, and, if requested, attempt to resolve the matter through informal mediation.
2. The designated individuals are the Student Welfare Officer and the Vice Principal. If all these designated individuals are of the same gender, the Principal will appoint another appropriate designated individual of the opposite gender. If any designated individual is involved in a complaint as complainant or respondent, another designated individual must be appointed. Decisions regarding the appointment of designated individuals will be made by the Principal in consultation with faculty and staff or with the deans and student leaders as appropriate, except that the Principal may not be a designated individual.
3. Consultation with designated individuals does not constitute formal notice of an incident of intimidation and sexual harassment. Designated individuals do not maintain any written record which would identify individuals involved or alleged to be involved in a complaint.
B. Supervisors and Student Leaders
An individual in a supervisory or student leadership capacity having direct knowledge of intimidation or sexual harassment by a member of the MST community has an affirmative duty to bring the matter to the attention of a designated individual. The designated individual may serve as the complainant in such matter and may pursue the matter through the informal and/or formal complaint resolution process.
In an emergency in which the health or well-being of a member of MST community is threatened, the person so threatened, a designated individual, supervisor, or other person should promptly inform the Principal. The Principal is authorised to take such action as is necessary and appropriate to ensure the well-being of the community.
F. COMPLAINT RESOLUTION PROCEDURES
Both informal and formal complaint resolution processes are available to students, faculty and staff whenever there is an allegation of intimidation or sexual harassment against another member of MST community. Filing a formal complaint constitutes notice to MST of an allegation. Formal complaints must be filed in writing to a designated individual within 90 calendar days from the time a complainant became aware of an act or acts of intimidation or sexual harassment. The resolution process will be initiated within 10 working days of the receipt of a complaint at no cost to the complainant.
A. Informal complaint resolution
1. Informal complaint resolution begins when a complainant asks a designated individual for assistance beyond mere consultation. When so requested, a designated individual may act as a mediator to clarify and overcome any misunderstanding, to arrive at a mutually agreed resolution of the situation, and to set conditions which discourage similar incidents or misunderstandings in the future. By way of example but not limitation, a designated individual acting in this mediating capacity may utilise any of the following procedures:
a) Advise the complainant of actions and resources to alleviate any discomfort or harm.
b) Discuss the matter separately with the complainant and the person complained against (respondent).
c) With the prior consent of both the complainant and respondent, discuss the matter with both parties.
d) Where desired by both parties, serve as a mediator to set satisfactory conditions for further interaction by the parties.
e) Recommend that the formal complaint resolution procedures be utilised.
2. If the complainant is not satisfied with the results of the informal complaint resolution process, the complainant may file a formal complaint. The complainant is not obligated to use or exhaust the informal complaint resolution process before filing a formal complaint. If the informal complaint resolution process is used, and the complainant chooses to file a formal complaint, the complainant must file a formal grievance in writing no later than 30 calendar days after the mediation process concludes.
3. If the complainant withdraws the complaint or is satisfied with the results of the informal complaint process, MST nevertheless reserves the right to continue and pursue the matter through either the informal or formal complaint process as circumstances may warrant or the law may require.
B. Formal complaint resolution
a) Filing a Formal Complaint: The complainant shall file a written complaint with a designated administrator. The Vice Principal is the designated administrator if the complainant and/or respondent is a student. The MST Council vice president is the designated administrator if the complainant and respondent are faculty or staff. The complainant may ask a designated individual, or other person selected from among the members of MST community, for assistance in preparing the complaint. The complainant shall record with specificity the circumstances and nature of the alleged intimidation or sexual harassment. There is no cost for the complainant at any stage of the resolution of a formal complaint.
b) Fact-Finding Process: The designated individual will commence the process of review within 10 working days, convening a Review Committee consisting of three members, including the designated administrator as chair and one member from each category of MST community to which the complainant and the respondent belong (i.e. staff, students or lecturers). If the complainant and respondent are from the same category, the chair may appoint two members from the same category, or one member from the shared category and a member from a different category. Appointees must serve in an official capacity at MST (a student leader, a faculty member, or a staff member). If a conflict of interest or other valid reason prevents a committee member from serving, the chair shall select an alternate. The chair shall make every effort to ensure that a fair, impartial and representative committee hears the matter. If the appropriate designated administrator is not available at the time a complaint is filed, or if a conflict of interest is present, the Principal will appoint an administrative alternate to convene and chair the Fact-Finding Committee.
c) Notification: The chair shall give the respondent written notification that a complaint has been filed, as well as a copy of the complaint. The respondent may file a written response with the chair. The respondent may ask a designated individual, or other person selected from among the members of MST community, for assistance in preparing this response. The chair shall provide the complainant with a copy of the response.
d) Investigation: The following standards for investigation will be observed:
i. In conducting the investigation, the committee shall receive and review the complaint, the response, and other pertinent statements or documents. The complainant and respondent may each have a personal advisor, selected from among the members of MST community, to assist them in the course of the committee’s investigation. The committee chair should be notified in advance of the advisor who will accompany the complainant or respondent to any interview or meeting with the committee.
ii. The complainant and respondent shall be given the opportunity to respond to one another’s statements, to present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf, and to respond to evidence presented.
iii. The committee will interview witnesses and concerned parties individually and in conformity with privacy requirements, as it deems necessary.
iv. In determining whether or not a complaint of intimidation or sexual harassment has been sustained, the committee shall consider the totality of the circumstances, including the nature of the action and the context in which the alleged harassment occurred.
e) Fact-Finding Report: When, in the judgment of the committee, the positions of the complainant and respondent have been equitably heard, the committee shall submit a written Fact-Finding Report to the Principal. The Fact-Finding Report shall contain the following:
i. a statement of the issues under review
ii. the positions of the parties
iii. a finding of the results of the investigation
iv. conclusions as to whether there is probable cause to believe that the conduct found to have occurred falls within the definition of sexual harassment as defined by this policy
v. recommendation for action to be taken.
f) Outcome of the Complaint and Disciplinary Action:
i. The Principal will make the decision about action to be taken. The factual conclusions contained in the Fact-Finding Report shall be binding upon the Principal for the purposes of this determination.
ii. The Principal will discuss the decision with the designated administrator prior to taking action if the action to be taken is different than that recommended.
iii. The Principal will immediately notify the complainant and the respondent in writing of the outcome of the complaint after the decision has been made. In the event that discipline of an employee is to be undertaken or the decision involves other elements personal to the complainant or respondent, information provided to the complainant or respondent will be in accordance with applicable federal and state law governing the disclosure of such information.
iv. The Principal may initiate disciplinary action against the respondent. Sanctions undertaken shall be in accordance with those laid down in the Student Handbook or Faculty Handbook as applicable, and may, depending on the severity of the conduct, range from placing a statement in the respondent’s personnel or student file, to changing the respondent’s job position or course enrolment, to suspending temporarily the respondent from work without pay or from MST, to termination of the respondent from employment or expulsion from College.
v. The decision of the Principal will be made within ten working days of the receipt of the Fact-Finding Report.
g) Appeal: If discipline is taken, the person disciplined has the right to file a formal appeal challenging the disciplinary action or alleging that applicable policies or contractual provisions were violated. The complainant also has the right to file a formal appeal challenging the Principal’s decision or alleging that applicable policies or contractual provisions were violated. Appeal must be made in writing to the president of the MST council no later than 20 working days from the date of the Principal’s notification of the decision. The president will commence a review within 10 working days and notify the party making the appeal of the president’s decision in the matter within 30 working days of the date of the appeal. The president’s decision shall be final.
It is the intent of MSt to resolve alleged intimidation and sexual harassment incidents in as timely a manner as possible. However, the time limits set forth herein may be extended for good cause.
MST values responsible speech and seeks to create and maintain a redemptive environment. Therefore, in the mediation and complaint resolution procedures, every reasonable effort is made to protect the privacy of all parties. All records pertaining to investigations conducted by the designated administrator and the Fact-Finding Committee and to the outcome of the complaint shall be maintained by the designated administrator and, upon finalisation of the complaint, by the Principal. Such records will be made available to individuals involved or alleged to be involved in a complaint, to MST officials who have a need to know, and otherwise, only in accordance with applicable state or federal privacy legislation, and only to the extent required by legislation.
D. Retaliation Prohibited
MST strictly prohibits retaliation against a member of the MST community who opposes the practice prohibited by this policy, who files a complaint, against whom a complaint is filed, or who otherwise is a participant in the informal or formal complaint resolution procedure. Such retaliatory conduct includes, but is not limited to, decreasing an employee’s pay, reducing a student’s grade, or downgrading a person’s performance evaluation.