Liberty Way undergoes massive overhaul

When Mark Hine, executive vice president for Student Affairs, came to Liberty University as a student in 1973, he was handed a small stack of papers with Liberty’s guidelines for students.

The guidelines ranged from requirements for women to wear dresses or matching pantsuits, males and females not being allowed to communicate past 6 p.m. and only double-dating until students reached senior status. Each of these guidelines was very different from the Liberty Way that Liberty students now know.

While the Liberty Way is revised each summer, there has never been a substantive revision of the student honor code. After decades of existence, Mark Hyde, dean of students, recently announced that the Liberty Way will be revised, building on the previously established foundation.

According to Hyde, the goal of these revisions is not to remove the regulations in the Liberty Way from existing, but instead to reframe them by placing them in one of three biblically-based categories: integrity, respect and responsibility.

“We have a scriptural basis for each (category),” Hyde said. “We’re moving away from the 52 violations of the current Liberty Way and focusing on what students aspire to be instead of what they can or cannot do.”

Another major change in the new Liberty Way is the removal of the existing points system.

“There will be no points anymore,” Hyde said. “Our violations will be based on severity, not value of points that certain behavior earns you.”

Instead of points, the revised Liberty Way will place a greater emphasis on restorative, educational and transformational sanctioning processes such as conflict-resolution, restorative practices, pathways and traditional sanctioning. Traditional sanctioning will include some of the current practices in the Liberty Way such as fines, but instead it will be a last resort for students unwilling to take personal responsibility for their actions.

“If we can restore a student, we will restore a student,” Hyde said.

Hine emphasized the importance of permanent life change rather than temporary punishment with the new system.

“The goal in all of this is life-change,” Hine said. “It’s not punishment for doing something wrong, it’s ‘Ok, you find yourself in this difficulty; how can we help you change so that it is a life-change?’”

According to Hine and Hyde, the driving factor in all of the changes with the new honor system is based in biblical grace, love and truth.

“That’s kind of how God deals with us,” Hine said. “He has standards but he also talks a lot about his mercy and his love and kindness. You have to wed those two together — grace and truth have to walk hand in hand.”

Hyde hopes that the new Liberty Way will better emphasize Liberty University’s values.

“This Liberty Way puts our university values front and center,” Hyde said. “This is who a Liberty University student is: someone full of integrity, someone full of respect and someone full of responsibility.”

Hyde believes that this change will continue the mission of Liberty’s previous leaders and the mission of the university as a whole.

“The heart of those who have come before us has always been for the students’ best interests and the interests of the mission of the university for training Champions for Christ,” Hyde said. “They loved students in 1971, and we love students in 2024. That hasn’t changed.”

Students will be able to make their voice heard by joining roundtable briefings led by Hyde, where they will be able to review some of the big-picture changes that the new student conduct code will include. Information on the roundtable briefings will be sent to students through Liberty University email soon.

The revised Liberty Way will be finalized and implemented in June of 2024.

Smith is the news editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X

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