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Fundamental Standard

Fundamental Standard (Up to May 1, 2023)

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The Fundamental Standard has set the standard of conduct for students at Stanford since it was articulated in 1896. It states:

  • Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the University such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens. Failure to do this will be sufficient cause for removal from the University.

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Understanding the Fundamental Standard

Note: This content applies to cases in progress as of May 1, 2023. For the current page, please see here.

The Fundamental Standard is an aspirational statement of Stanford's ideal of civic and moral community. Although the spirit of the Fundamental Standard remains unchanged since 1896, these aspirational learning goals for all Stanford students elaborate its basic values today:

i. Students are expected to respect and uphold the rights and dignity of others regardless of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic status.

ii. Students are expected to uphold the integrity of the university as a community of scholars in which free speech is available to all and intellectual honesty is demanded of all.

iii. Students are expected to respect university policies as well as state and federal law. 

iv. For the purposes of clarity, students should be aware that they may be subject to discipline at Stanford University for acts of misconduct including:

  • Violation of university policy
  • Violation of a specific university directive
  • Violation of an applicable law 
  • Physical assault
  • Theft of property or services
  • Threats
  • Hazing
  • Hate crimes
  • Alcohol- and drug-related violations, including driving under the influence
  • Intentional or reckless property damage 
  • Seeking a university benefit to which a student is not entitled 
  • Falsifying a document
  • Impersonating another
  • Computer violations
  • Knowingly or recklessly exposing others to significant danger

Penalties for Violating the Fundamental Standard

There is no standard penalty that applies to violations of the Fundamental Standard. Infractions have led to penalties ranging from formal warning and community service to expulsion. In each case, the nature and seriousness of the offense, the motivation underlying the offense and precedent in similar cases are considered.

Freedom of Speech and the Fundamental Standard

The Fundamental Standard does not restrict speech that is otherwise protected, including speech that some may find objectionable.  The interplay between freedom of speech and the Fundamental Standard is complex and we invite you to learn more about freedom of speech and the Office of Community Standards' (OCS) student conduct process here.