The Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs Professionals in Catholic Colleges and Universities : Principle #5

Principle #5: The effective administrator challenges students to high standards of personal behavior and responsibility through the formation of character and virtues

Students’ personal choices around issues of alcohol or drug use, the treatment of others, sexual behavior, and other moral and health related issues can and should be informed by Church teaching. When there are tensions between such teachings and current social mores, these differences serve as powerful teaching opportunities.

Student affairs professionals in Catholic colleges and universities should partner with Church or pastoral leaders to provide ongoing opportunities for conversation and other programs to support students in making appropriate choices that show respect for self and others.

Assessing This Principle

1. What does this principle mean for the institution?

2. How do you apply this principle through programs, policies & practices?

            a. How are expectations for behavior, character, and virtue development discussed and communicated in relation to institutional mission?

            b. To what extent do student affairs staff members develop an understanding of Catholic moral teaching and its application in Catholic higher education?

            c. How do student affairs staff members help students develop the capacity for responsible decision making that is informed by church teaching?

             d. What opportunities exist to explore issues such as alcohol and drug use, treatment of  others, sexual behavior, and other moral and health issues in light of church teaching and Gospel values?

             e. What opportunities for inclusive dialogue and learning exist when there are tensions between Church teaching and current social mores?

3. What evidence do you have to judge the effectiveness of your efforts?

4. What does this evidence tell you about your effectiveness?

5. What will you do with the information you have gathered about effectiveness?

A Catholic Perspective

“It is urgent to rediscover and to set forth once more the authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments, and a truth to be lived out. A word, in any event, is not truly received until it passes into action, until it is put into practice. Faith is a decision involving one’s whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6). It entails an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as he lived (cf. Gal 2:20), in profound love of God and of our brothers and sisters” (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor).


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