STUDENT HANDBOOK: Community Standards

Bennington College was founded on the principle that intellectual development cannot and should not be isolated from the development of the whole person. The College seeks to educate that whole person as a member of a community – a community with a particular ethos.

A collective challenge is to navigate the inherent tension between individual freedom and general community well-being in our self-governing model. As the Bennington commencement statement reminds us, “Student freedom is not the absence of restraint, however; it is rather the fullest possible substitution of habits of self-restraint for restraint imposed by others.”

Bennington’s Community Standards assist in structuring our striving toward “creative and constructive membership in modern society.” These standards support the practice of conscious citizenship, through the cultivation of self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and communication capacities. It is through conscious engagement with and upon our choices, inside and outside of the classroom, that we chart our paths, defining and redefining who we want to be individually and as a community.

In the effort to honor this principle, we have chosen not to present here an exhaustive list of harmful and unhealthy behaviors and their accompanying punishments. Rather, we remind you – and each other – why we are here: to learn and to grow, and to support each other in doing so. As members of the College community, we are therefore expected to behave in a manner that supports the health, safety, and general well-being of both ourselves and of others. Everything follows from this.

The basic elements of the student conduct standards are described below, as are the student conduct procedures that the College adheres to when the standards, and indeed the ethos of the institution, have been breached. Students are hereby made aware that by enrolling in Bennington College they automatically accept its regulations and acknowledge the right of the College to take appropriate action when, in the opinion of the College, the behavior of students threatens, disrupts, or endangers the health, safety, or well-being of the College community or of any person, including the student themself, or whose behavior has resulted in damage to, or destruction of, College property, and/or violated College policy.