In a chapel service nearly three years ago, former president Dr. Mark Rutland announced the implementation of the Amnesty and Restoration Policy. The policy states that students can come forward and confess breaking the honor code to the Deans of Men and Women without being punished or expelled.
Since March of 2009, this policy has been in action and has not been subject to any alteration.
“It’s almost like the Prodigal Son moment when he came to himself and he said ‘how did I find myself in this situation,’” Dean of Men, Matthew Olsen said. “And at that point, that’s really where we get excited to say ‘we want to help. We want to see what we can do to help you get where you need to be.’”
The groundbreaking policy created a notable buzz on campus three years ago, but many current students admit to knowing very little – if anything – about it.
“I didn’t even know that ORU had an Amnesty and Restoration Policy,” Sophomore Laura Cobb said.
Cobb has signed and agreed to the Honor Code that is presented every fall, yet the Amnesty and Restoration Policy still hasn’t been made a focal point when the entire student body and faculty sign it.
“Until this point, I didn’t know that this policy was even in existence,” Cobb said. “But now that I’m aware of it and understand its purpose, I’m glad to know that ORU offers this avenue of healing for students.”
Students can approach the deans in various ways. They can tell a student leader or faculty member.
“Obviously we want to be there to support them and really kind of celebrate that they’re coming forward, to help alleviate the guilt and shame they might feel,” Dean of Women, Lori Cook said. “And from there we would work to put together a restoration plan, or counseling to see what their needs are.”
The Amnesty and Restoration Policy is kept confidential; only those who are involved in a students’ restoration plan will be informed.
According to the policy, “follow-up evaluations and counseling are fundamental components of the amnesty and restoration process and amnesty granted is typically conditioned on the student’s completion of appropriate counseling and treatment.”
“We talk with the student about what they might think is the best too,” Cook said. “We work with them; it’s not us looking at them and saying ‘okay, you need this this and this.’ So it’s really a process of discovery with the student.”
The legal lines of the Amnesty and Restoration Policy “does not grant amnesty for criminal, civil, or legal consequences for violations of federal, state or local law.”
“We haven’t necessarily seen the extreme, but we’re prepared to deal with it. We have a team if we need to. Anything that comes our way, we’ll help someone with,” Cook said.
The Amnesty and Restoration Policy endeavors to create a model for restoration, accountability and spiritual discipline in a Christian community.
Students are given the opportunity to turn to the Deans of Men or Women and find a permanent solution to their personal struggle.
“I think this is the essence of our university,” Olsen said. “We believe that we are in a fallen world and part of that restoration that we try to see for students; we want students to model that for their culture that they go into as well.”