People don’t plan on making mistakes—yet failure is inevitable. But what happens to the ORU student if they break a regulation outlined in the university’s Honor Code?
ORU implemented a policy in 2009 providing a grace-based system to give students a confidential avenue for being pardoned and achieving personal restoration after violation of these policies.
Vice President of Student Life Daniel Guajardo described the Amnesty and Restoration policy as a means of establishing a secure accountability program for any struggling student.
“Those struggles could be anything that surrounds or is in direct violation of rules and regulations, or even the Honor Code of the university,” Guajardo said. “Our heart, and our intent is for students to be able to come to us. We have open doors for them to let us know what they’re struggling with and what’s going on. It gives us a greater way to know exactly the struggle and exactly the way we can help them.”
Junior Emily Derby is a passionate advocate of the policy, and its ability to impact student lives. Her personal story is a powerful example of the pro-gram’s intended result. Derby said she feels many students are unaware of the policy. When she came to ORU, she had been in a relationship for three years. Derby described the relationship as “unhealthy emotionally and spiritually. ”
Derby said the feeling of shame only increased when she signed the Honor Code at the beginning of her first semester. The Code requires students not to participate in any “unscriptural sexual acts.”
Dean of Students Lori Cook, along with Guajardo, explained each and every student’s situation is regarded as unique. A specific program is designed to fit the needs for each individual.”
If students would yield themselves to it as needed, there’s a lot of healing. Their relationship with the Lord grows and is restored, and that’s a huge thing,” Cook said.
This process could include counseling, academic or spiritual accountability, as well as help from specific hall directors or chaplains.
“Confidentiality is a huge deal with us,” Guajardo said. “The issue is we don’t want a whole lot of people involved because we want to keep that awfully confidential for the student, and that helps the student deal with and know that there’s not going to be a lot of people in the process.”
The intent behind the program is not to inflict punishment or to get students kicked out, Guajardo explained. He expressed that the policy has been put in place to provide a way for students to get the specialized help and account-ability for the unique situation.
“The benefits of having this policy in place is the fact that you get a second chance. You don’t get expelled because you weren’t perfect—that isn’t what this is about,” Derby said. “It’s truly about helping you to become better and to grow in Christ and to heal.”
Derby said her life was positively impacted, and she is “forever changed because it was in place to help me to-wards a thriving life with Christ.” She said ORU has a sincere care for the hearts and well-being of its students.
“I think the biggest misconception about the way ORU handles difficult situations is that it hides things to look perfect, and they don’t care about the individual student,” Derby said. “That could not be further from the truth.”
Derby was terrified prior to her first meeting with Cook, who was Dean of Women at that time. Immediately upon entering the meeting, however, Derby’s fears disappeared when she realized she had entered a safe and loving environment. Cook helped direct her to healing through the program. Derby said God’s love transformed her when she most needed help.
“He radically healed me of so many emotional things while comforting me through to restoration and permanent change,” Derby said.
She believes Jesus knew community was needed, and ORU has implemented that idea. Derby gave advice to those considering coming forward in need of Amnesty and Restoration.
“It’s okay to be scared or nervous about sharing vulnerable parts of your-self,” Derby said. “It’s going to be okay, and it’s better to seek help than to live in isolation and fear. You are able to work towards healing and live a life of freedom and transformation.”