Registering/Renewing a Group and Guidelines

Guidelines for religious/spiritual groups, leaders, and activities at Northeastern:

Northeastern University celebrates the religious and spiritual lives of our community members and  is an institution dedicated to fostering an environment of religious pluralism and respect. The NU Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service (CSDS) exists to serve, support and nurture the religious and spiritual well-being of all within this University community. Towards this end, the following guidelines have been established to ensure a healthy environment where each person’s faith can be practiced and expressed freely and with integrity, while at the same time the practices and expressions of some do not infringe upon the rights of others.

Support of religious groups, programs and leaders

Northeastern University promotes a thriving atmosphere of religious & spiritual life on campus. Recognized student religious and spiritual groups benefit from the support, assistance and use of facilities offered through the CSDS and the Center for Student Involvement (CSI).

Student religious groups and their leaders are invited and encouraged to work with CSDS, as well as to use the Sacred Space, Reflection Room, and various CSDS study/worship resources. CSDS also centralizes information on all student religious groups, for distribution to new students etc., and groups are encouraged to keep the Center updated for inclusion in such publicity.

Each religious group is required to send two representatives (one if average group attendance is under 10) to the Northeastern University Interfaith Council (NUIC), a council that coordinates interfaith dialogue, volunteer action and cooperative programs among the various religious groups on campus and advances the mission and vision of the University and the Center. (The two leaders should reflect a balance of genders and ages - that is, younger students and older leaders.)

Finally, student religious groups are invited and encouraged to seek University recognition from the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) in order to enjoy the use of many additional NU facilities, funds and resources.

Authorization of religious groups, programs and leaders

All student groups engaged in religious/spiritually-based activities on campus must be endorsed by the CSDS, and are thereby accountable to Northeastern University. New groups seek CSDS endorsement by a student leader meeting with the Executive Director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service. With CSDS endorsement, the group may then also apply for University recognition through the Center for Student Involvement. Groups lacking such endorsement are not permitted to use CSDS facilities and resources, or to seek University recognition.

Existing student religious groups must renew their CSDS endorsement each September, by a student leader meeting with the Executive Director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service. With CSDS endorsement, the group may then also apply for renewed University recognition through CSI.

Spiritual Advisors and non-student leaders of student religious groups must be endorsed by CSDS  in order to work on campus. A letter is issued by the Vice President for Student Affairs. Such leaders are to meet with the Executive Director of CSDS upon appointment to the NU campus, periodically thereafter, and in meetings of the Spiritual Advisors team.

Non-student groups and individuals who are engaged in religious outreach to students on campus must be endorsed by the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service, and are thereby accountable to NU.

Purpose of campus religious activity

Religious activity at Northeastern University is to be aimed at meeting the needs and benefiting the spiritual lives of the NU community. Religious groups and ministries whose purpose is primarily to draw members into non-NU-based groups and local churches, are not to conduct ministry work on campus. Likewise, groups and ministries that do not involve significant initiative and leadership from within the NU community are not to conduct ministry work on campus.

Behavior of religious groups

Proselytizing /witness/ministry that negatively impacts students or other members of the Northeastern University community will not be allowed. Such behavior may include, but is not limited to:

1-     harassment or coercion of any type

2-     pressure that takes advantage of unequal power dynamics (in age, language, etc.)

3-     entering residences uninvited by the person to whom one is speaking

4-     frequent or after-hours phone calls, e-mails, text messages, or “IM’s” that are unsolicited

5-     approaching individuals who have not themselves initiated contact

6-     continuing contact after an individual has said “no”

7-     collecting money, except when authorized by CSDS or SAO for an approved activity

8-     physical, mental or emotional abuse

9-     unduly excluding or isolating the group, or certain members of the group

10- clusters of behaviors commonly held to be indicative of cults or destructive religions

11- targeting people of another faith to convince them to leave that faith

12- manipulation, deceit or untruthfulness

Religious groups must practice truth in advertising. All literature, spoken communications, and events must clearly and accurately identify the religious nature of the event, all sponsoring groups, and the intent of the event. It is important that students doing outreach identify themselves as members of an NU-endorsed organization, to avoid confusion with outside groups who attempt to use the campus. Additionally, events may not function under a “bait-and-switch” approach, namely promising one type of event or sponsor and actually offering another.

No group may purposely misrepresent or denigrate another faith by verbal statements, or by distributing denigrating literature. Hate language is likewise unacceptable. Although disagreement among faiths is to be expected, such disagreement is to be communicated in an accurate, constructive, and respectful fashion.

Although certain religions have a conversionary imperative, it is expected that one’s implicit witness to one’s faith (through personal example, literature, educational programs) will be the valid means of fulfilling this imperative. Conversionary techniques that transgress the guidelines in this document are not permitted.

Sanctions for violations

Religious groups acting in violation of any of the above guidelines will be subject to possible group probationary status or withdrawal of CSDS endorsement and University recognition.

Religious groups acting in violation of any standing Northeastern University policies and regulations, or in violation of any laws, will be liable for possible judicial or legal action, as well as subject to group probationary status or withdrawal of CSDS endorsement and NU recognition.

April  2006

Revised August 25, 2014


Registering/Renewing a Student Group