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Formative Sanctions

office of the dean of students

Sanctions imposed by the conduct system serve as educational devices to assist students in attaining the maturity required to live in community and in society. Formative sanctions are used in conjunction with other community standards sanctions to hold students accountable for their behavior as well as to provide a venue for follow up conversations, reflections, and meaningful contributions to the greater community. 

The use of formative sanctions is based on a combination of psychosocial and cognitive theories of student development which suggest that personal growth occurs during moments of conflict and challenge if the individual is provided with an opportunity to reflect, gain new information, and learn new behaviors. Student development literature suggests that students who engage in reflection have been found to be more engaged in school1, to have stronger self-confidence and social responsibility2, and to have a greater likelihood of applying what they learned through reflection to understanding and solving social problems3. Additionally, students have also been found to benefit greatly from mentoring relationships, whether it is an informal meeting that takes place only once or part of a more deliberate process that takes place over several years4.

Ultimately, by addressing student behavior with our formative sanctions, the Office of the Dean of Students aims to be intentional, restorative, and educational. Each of the programs provides an opportunity for students to learn new information, to reflect on their own behavior in light of the new information and to consider new ways of behaving in community living, whether on or off campus.

Friday Night Heights (FNH)

Students who are found responsible for off-campus infractions are often unaware of the impact of their behavior on their neighbors. The Friday Night Heights workshop promotes citizenship, civility, and responsibility by educating them on their civic responsibilities and helping them to devise strategies for preventing problematic behaviors off-campus.  It also fosters students’ identity of themselves as good neighbors, instead of temporary visitors in the community. Students are also given the opportunity to reflect on how their actions reflect on both the BC and off campus, local communities.

Friday Night Heights (FNH) is a collaborative effort between the Boston College Office of the Dean of Students, the Boston Police Department, and the Allston Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force. Off-campus students who are found to be responsible for violating university policies or city ordinances may participate in the Friday Night Heights workshop to reduce their University Probation to Housing Probation. Students can only attend the workshop once.

For more information, contact DOS Graduate Assistant for Off-Campus Student Life and Civic Engagement, Brendan Kennedy at


Formative Off-Campus Referral and Mentoring (FORM)

The purpose of the Formative Off-Campus Referral and Mentoring program is to give students who have been involved in an off-campus violation the opportunity to discuss the incident they were involved in and their behavior off-campus with a staff person outside of the conduct system. Students can ask questions and get answers about living off-campus and learn strategies to prevent problematic behaviors off-campus. The conversations are intended to be educational, informative, and supportive.

The Formative Off-Campus Referral and Mentoring program consists of a follow-up conversation for students who have been documented for violating university policies or city ordinances with a staff person who is not involved in the conduct system. When students are documented, they are given a formative sanction: FORM. A graduate assistant (or other concerned BC community members) from the Office of the Dean of Students will then visit the place of residence of the students and have an educational conversation about the incident that took place, what comes next, and how to avoid similar incidents.

For more information, contact DOS Graduate Assistant for Off-Campus Student Life and Civic Engagement, Brendan Kennedy at


Community Restitution

Community restitution requires students to be responsible for their actions by giving back to the community.  The mission of the Community Restitution Program at Boston College is not only to resolve community standards violations, but also to help students develop a deeper understanding of the role of the individual within a community, and to emphasize the importance of living the Ignatian tenet of “men and women for others,” by providing students with meaningful opportunities to serve.

The goal is to promote the development of character, citizenship, civility, and individual and social responsibility within our students by providing valuable feedback about how their behavior has the potential to either enhance or harm the Boston College community and the community at large. 

The Community Restitution Program in the Office of the Dean of Students has three components:

  1. Completing hours at a pre-determined service site as part of the case resolution.
  2. Completing the written Reflection Guide and submitting it, along with verification of the completed hours, to DOS by the specified date.
  3. Those receiving 10 or more hours must then participate in Reflections Through Conversation (RTC) with a mentor. The Reflections Through Conversation (RTC) gives students the opportunity to reflect on their experience in the community through a supportive and engaging environment. In the one-on-one conversation(s) with a mentor, students discuss the impact of their restitution experience on themselves, the community, and on the service site.  The discussion is designed to support and enhance the social, emotional, and spiritual development of the students by giving them a sense of “the other” and providing them with opportunities to connect across social and other barriers as they reflect on, interpret and apply their experiences to their present lives.

For more information, contact DOS Graduate Assistant Corey Smetana at


Conversation Partners Program

While the conduct system provides students with an opportunity to discuss their behavior in the context of the student hearing, there are often times when a violation is an indication that the student is in need of additional supports and networking. The Conversation Partners Program aims to provide a non-judicial, authoritative resource for students and to give students an opportunity to share in a “safe environment”. It aims to take the responsibility away from the hearing officer of being the only point of contact when a student is involved in an incident.

A hearing officer or conduct board refers a student to the Conversation Partners Program as a component of the sanctions given to the student if found responsible. The Conversation Partner will then reach out to the student. Students must meet with the Conversation Partner at least once in order for the sanction to be considered completed. Any subsequent meetings are optional.

For more information, contact the Associate Director of Residential Life, Christopher Darcy at


Roads Retreat

The Roads Retreat is designed for our students “on the edge”, who have violated a number of community standards and find themselves on the brink of losing their opportunity to live on campus, or to be a member of the BC community.  This retreat has been designed to empower students to make respectful and responsible decisions in regards to their personal lives, and how that might affect their role as BC community members.  The Roads Retreat establishes an atmosphere where students can be challenged by elements of team building and leadership skills.  It provides a setting where students are encouraged to engage in open dialogue, share stories, and get to know a staff member and other concerned members of the BC community. 

The Dean of Student's Office and the Office of Residential Life collaborate on this retreat and invite students with serious disciplinary histories and challenging sanctions to take part in this program.  In return we will support them in reviewing their individual standing as a member of the Boston College Community.

For more information, contact DOS at 617-552-3470 or


  1. Blyth, Saito, & Berkas, 1997
  2. Waterman, 1993
  3. Eyler, Giles, and Schmiede, 1996
  4. Hargreaves and Shirley, 2009; and Lake, P. 2009