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Student Handbook

Become familiar with Soka’s student support services, policies, and procedures.

Other Policies

In the belief that good health provides the foundation on which citizens build contributive, value-creating lives, Soka University of America places special emphasis on the health and well-being of all members of the university community. Alcohol and drug abuse, the cause of serious health problems that endanger the safety of individuals and property both on and off campus, is antithetical to this goal.

It is the firm belief of the university that alcohol, while it may be legally acceptable for those aged 21 years and older, is not a necessary ingredient for holding a successful event. As such, the usual standard for university functions is that alcoholic beverages are not served. 

Possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the campus of Soka University of America conforms to the laws of California and Orange County. 

In summary, these laws prohibit: 

  • Possession, use or purchase of liquor, beer or wine by persons under 21 years of age (California Alcohol Beverage Control Act, Section 25658).
  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages or possession of an open container of alcoholic beverages in a public place (Orange County Code 2-5-35).
  • Sale or advertisement of sale of alcoholic beverages without a license (Business and Professions Code 23300).
  • Public drunkenness (California Penal Code 647f).
  • Providing liquor, beer, or wine to an underage individual (California Alcohol Beverage Control Act, Section 25658).
  • Driving while under the influence of alcoholic or controlled substance (Code of State of California Vehicle Code 23152(a) and 23152(b)). 
  •  A person under the age of 21 to possess alcoholic beverages on any street or highway or in any public place or in any place open to public view (California Alcohol Beverage Control Act Section 25662).

Soka University of America complies with California state laws concerning the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors (under the age of 21).

Because of the considerable health risks involved in drug and alcohol use, resources are available to assist members of the Soka community in dealing with drug and alcohol abuse problems. Individuals interested in using these resources should contact Health Services at (949) 480-4143 or the Office of Student Affairs at (949) 480-4130. 

There may be occasions where a group sponsoring an event would request for alcohol to be made available. In such instances, the individuals sponsoring the event should follow the policies outlined below for obtaining permission to serve alcohol on university premises. 

Administrative Procedures for Obtaining Approval to Serve Alcohol on Campus 

With the exception of the Residence Hall Alcohol Policy, alcohol is prohibited on campus, unless approval is given by the Office of the Dean of Students. All individuals wishing to sponsor an event on campus where alcohol is served should contact the office of the dean. 

The university, through designated officials, reserves the right to refuse service of alcohol to any individual at events on the campus or at university sponsored events off campus. Individuals may also be removed from campus for inappropriate behavior due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol. 

In consideration of Soka University of America’s Campus Alcohol, Marijuana, and Illegal Drug Policy, the Residence Hall Alcohol Policy is outlined below: 

Residents are expected to act responsibly and be accountable for activities taking place within their living space. The consumption of intoxicating beverages is not an excuse for irresponsible behavior including signs of and manifestations of intoxication. Residents are expected to conduct themselves in a manner best reflecting the highest regard of self, others, and Soka University of America. Residents are expected to adhere to state laws and regulations pertaining to alcohol. Likewise, the Residential Life staff will enforce all California state laws and regulations as expressed in this policy.

Areas Permitted 

Students who are 21 years or older may possess and consume alcoholic beverages within their private residence hall room in Abeona Hall 305, Aurora Hall 310, Horizon Hall 315, Umoja Hall 370, Ajachemen Hall 375, and Somnus Hall 385. 

In a suite where one suitemate is over 21 and the other is under 21, alcohol should only be stored in the individual room of the suitemate who is over 21. 

Areas alcohol is not permitted 

Alcohol is not permitted on designated floors and/or wings of Sunrise Hall 300 and Sunset Hall 380. These areas are designated primarily for First Year and Extended Bridge Students. 

Alcohol is not permitted in common areas within the residence halls including, but not limited to, hallways, balconies, terraces, living rooms, computer rooms, multi-purpose rooms, pantries, multi-faith rooms, public restrooms, laundry rooms, elevators, and entry areas. Also, alcohol is not permitted in public areas outside of the residence halls including walkways, entrances, the green, basketball courts, and parking lots. 


Residents under 21 years of age may not consume, possess, or transport alcoholic beverages anywhere on campus at any time. Residents 21 years and older may consume alcoholic beverages within their residence hall rooms in Abeona Hall 305, Aurora Hall 310, Horizon Hall 315, Umoja Hall 370, Ajachemen Hall 375, and Somnus Hall 385. 

Residents 21 years and older many not consume alcohol in a room when a student under 21 years old is present. Residents who host others in their room are responsible for ensuring that their guests are over 21 when alcohol is present. 

Residents are expected to act responsibly and will be held accountable for any actions while intoxicated and/or actions by their guest if the guest is intoxicated. 


Alcohol in bottles and cans may be transported, possessed, or consumed within student rooms in designated halls/wings. Other alcohol containers, including kegs and party balls (empty, full, or partially full) are strictly prohibited. Empty containers should be properly disposed and/or recycled in the residence hall Refuse Rooms. 


Alcohol may be transported in designated halls only if it is unopened and the original seal is unbroken. Open containers of alcohol may not be transported in any hallways, common areas, or public areas. 


The Residential Life staff shall enforce all California state laws and regulations expressed in this policy. When alleged violations occur, the Residential Life staff reserves the right to approach the individual or group of individuals about the infraction in question. The staff member may pursue one or more of the following courses of action when an infraction occurs: 

  • Ask the individual(s) to dispose of the alcoholic beverage(s) by dumping it (them) out
  • Confiscate all alcoholic beverages 
  • Shut down gatherings of individuals and/or groups
  • In a case of non-residents, ask the individual/group to leave the residence hall
  • Call Campus Security for assistance as necessary
  • An Incident Report will be completed and submitted to the Assistant Director of Student Conduct and Resolution. 

When a community policy is violated, there is an impact whether directly or indirectly upon the community. The enforcement of policy becomes necessary when citizens of the community operate outside of the community’s welfare. 


In addition to any legal actions that local law enforcement may pursue as a result of violation of California State law, SUA may sanction as follows: 

  • Warnings 
  • Community Service or Special Assignment 
  • Educational Assignment 
  • Monetary Fines 
  • Counseling 
  • Parental Notification for students under the age of 21 for a second violation 
  • Exclusion 
  • Probation 
  • Expulsion from the residence halls*

Sanctions served are intended as reminders for residents of their accountability for their actions within the residential community. The guidelines for determining sanctions are based on previous disciplinary records, the nature of the incident and the details surrounding the incident. 

*Depending upon the nature of the violation, the dean of students may impose this sanction immediately.

As a Title IV institution receiving federal aid, the university must comply with federal regulations regarding illegal substances. While California state law permits marijuana possession and use in a private residence for persons 21 years of age and over (SEC. 4.5 Section 11362.2), federal regulations classify marijuana as a controlled substance. As such, the university complies with federal law which prohibits the illegal cultivation, manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of a controlled substance on campus.

No member of the university community shall possess or distribute an illegal drug as defined by federal laws. Such possession, distribution, or use is prohibited in any building or on any property owned or operated by the university. Possession is defined to include any area or property for which the student or employee is responsible.

Direct and indirect forms of verbal and written abuse, threats, physical harassment, intimidation, or violence against another person or their property, as well as conduct that threatens the health and safety of self (including threats or attempts of suicide), will not be tolerated on the campus. Violations of this policy can result in action by the university and criminal charges. 

California Hazing Law states:

Hazing is any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization or any pastime or amusement engaged in with respect to such an organization which causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm, to any student or other person attending any college, university, or other educational institution in this state (Education Code, Section 32050).

No student or other person in attendance at any private college … or other educational institution, shall conspire to engage in hazing, participate in hazing, or commit any act that causes or is likely to cause bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to any fellow student or person attending the institution. The violation of this section is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine … or imprisonment (Education Code, Section 32051).

Hazing of any kind will not be tolerated. If the university determines that harassment has occurred, effective remedial action will be taken in accordance with the circumstances involved. Those campus citizens responsible for harassment will be referred to the dean of students, and face appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion. 

The university encourages all campus citizens to report any incidents of harassment immediately. 

The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing investigate and prosecute complaints of prohibited harassment.

The university does not tolerate sexual harassment or harassment based on race, color, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, religious creed, sex or gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, veteran status, status as a disabled veteran, marital status, medical condition, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state, or local law. All such harassment is unlawful. Prohibited unlawful harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following behavior: 

  1. Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory jokes or comments, slurs, or unwanted sexual advances, invitations, or comments
  2. Visual conduct such as derogatory and/or sexually-oriented posters, photography, cartoons, drawings, or gestures
  3. Physical conduct such as assault, unwanted touching, or blocking normal movement because of sex, race, or any other protected basis
  4. Threats and demands to submit to sexual requests and sexual favors
  5. Retaliation for having reported or threatened to report harassment

A written complaint should be sent to the dean of students as soon as possible after an incident. Complaints should include details of the incident or incidents, names of the individuals involved, and names of any witnesses.

For SUA students residing on campus, the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act, Section 485(j) requires Soka University to comply with the information and requirements regarding missing students: 

SUA students aged 18 years or older have the option to identify an individual to be contacted by SUA’s Dean of Students office not later than 24 hours after the time circumstances indicate that you, as a student, may be determined missing. If you are a student who is under age 18 and not emancipated, the institution is required to notify the custodial parent or legal guardian. 

The confidential contact is a person designated by the student in addition to the emergency contact listed with the SUA Registrar’s Office. In cases where a confidential contact is not designated, or the confidential contact cannot be reached at the number provided by a student, the emergency contact provided to the SUA registrar will be used. 

You may register a person whom you designate as a confidential contact during the check-in period at the beginning of each academic year by filing a form provided by the Office of Residential Life. You are solely responsible for the accuracy of the information, as well as any update of information regarding your confidential contact. Update of information you provided may be filed with the Dean of Students office during business hours at any time during the semester. 

All SUA officials are required to notify the director of public safety immediately of any suspected missing person, so that an investigation can be initiated. The director of public safety will initiate the Missing Student Report as soon as all means to contact the student have been exhausted. If circumstances of criminality or safety are involved, confidential contact will be notified immediately. The Dean of Students office will initiate the notification to the confidential and/or emergency contact person provided to SUA. Every report of a missing person is very serious and will generate a response and investigation, so it is extremely important for students to inform their friends and family if they expect to be away from campus for a period of time. This will help ensure that energy and resources are applied only to genuine emergencies.

The university strictly prohibits the use or possession of firearms and other weapons or implements that may be used for violent purposes, including illegal knives. Such items are not permitted on campus. Fireworks and other explosive materials are also prohibited. Students are reminded that California laws, Section 12303.2 and 12312 of the Penal Code, establish strict restrictions of these items.

It is the expectation of the university that all campus citizens respect the property of the university as well as property belonging to other campus citizens.

Smoking is not permitted in any campus building. Smoking is allowed on campus only in clearly identified areas. The campus is surrounded by a wilderness park, which presents a significant fire hazard. Smoking rules are strictly enforced. 

No Smoking Permitted:

  • Entire perimeter of campus along canyon 
  • Friendship Lane: Small Conference Center, Athenaeum, Guest Residence
  • Security Main Gate House

Smoking Permitted:

  • Facilities: Employee break area between buildings
  • Recreation Center: first and second floor east patios (outside)
  • Founders Hall: first floor west patio near benches away from doors
  • Gandhi and Ikeda: Stairs second landing between two buildings by benches
  • Pauling Hall: Overlook east of reflection ponds, east end of Pauling near benches just east of Room 216 A
  • Student Center: Patio area south of east entry door, area behind building entrance to kitchen
  • Other areas near Ikeda/Student Center: second level walkway area with trees and benches west of building
  • Outside Residence halls: No smoking within 25 feet of entrances, including terraces and balconies

All areas will be provided with butt containers and the community is asked to please smoke in designated areas. We are attempting to address a very serious problem with a solution that is reasonable to both smokers and nonsmokers. Please note that there is no smoking in heavily traveled pedestrian areas such as main entry to dining hall to include outside seating, courtyard between Mail Room and Bookstore, foyer at top of stairs Ikeda between IT and Library entrance, area around the Ikeda 24-Hour Study Room, garden area near Gandhi classrooms, the front of gym, front of Founders Hall and around Peace Lake. 

Any problems with the designated areas or questions please contact director of public safety. A map delineating the designated areas will be posted on all campus bulletin boards.

The enforcement of university fire safety rules is to protect campus citizens and guests of the university.

The university prohibits tampering with or altering the following items: 

  • fire alarm pull stations 
  • fire doors—these doors are identified as doors with magnetic retainers at the top of the door 
  • fire extinguishers 
  • fire hoses 
  • fire sprinklers, strobe lights, and smoke detector devices 
  • glass breakage devices - positioned above the windows 
  • smoke detectors 
  • door pull stations 
  • elevator emergency system

Tampering includes but is not limited to: 

  • physical damage to any alarm system including the attempt to remove wiring or batteries from any alarm system 
  • physical damage or attempt to disconnecting fire doors
  • covering or disconnecting smoke detectors

 For the safety of students and the protection of facilities, roof access is strictly prohibited.

The realities of community living dictate that individuals respect community needs for the moderation of noise. Residents are expected to exercise good judgment and consideration in maintaining a living environment conducive to the achievement of the educational mission of the university. This includes accepting responsibility for one’s behavior at all times and respecting the rights of other individuals. 

Residents are not permitted to make noise that disturbs others or exhibit disorderly conduct on university grounds. 

Disruptive Noise: making noise or causing noise to be made with objects and instruments, which disturbs classes, meetings, office procedures and other authorized university activities. 

Sound Amplification: using sound amplification equipment such as a bullhorn on campus or in buildings without written permission of the dean of students or the dean’s designee, except when such use is authorized for official university activities.

Soka University seeks to support the spiritual and religious beliefs and practices of all our community members. As a diverse campus community, we seek to promote respect and understanding among all religious groups on campus and to foster an enlightening and informative exchange among them. Also, it is a person’s right to have no faith, to be an atheist, and this must be respected, too. SUA promotes open, respectful, and non-judgmental dialogue among groups, especially cautioning campus citizens to carefully monitor their use of language with those of different religious beliefs.

Computer and Network Use

Students are granted access to SUA computing and network resources. Students are expected to understand and abide by the university’s computer policies. The campus computing and network resources are the property of the university. As such, students will be held responsible for the improper use of any or all campus computing and network resources. Misuse of social networking or similar online platforms or applications may also be covered under the student code of conduct. 

Computer and Network Usage Policy

Everyone within the SUA community who uses university computing and network resources has the responsibility to use them in an ethical, professional, and legal manner. This means that users agree to abide by the following terms and conditions: 

  • Privacy rights of other users shall be respected at all times when using SUA computer and network resources.
  • Users recognize that certain data are confidential and must limit their access to such data to uses directly related to the performance of their duties. 
  • SUA computing and network resources are for research, instruction, academic, and administrative purposes. 
  • Users should never share any SUA account credentials or passwords for any reason. 

Access to university computing and network resources may be revoked for reasons including, but not limited to, attacking the security of the system, modifying or divulging private information such as file or email contents of other users without their consent, inappropriate use or sharing of vulgar/offensive materials, unlawful sharing or use of copyrighted materials, modifying or destroying university data, or using the networks in a manner contrary to the established guidelines. Access may be revoked at any time by university system administrators to protect and safeguard university resources and assets. Such revocation may be appealed to a committee appointed by the vice president of administration. Users who abuse computing and network resources will be held accountable and may be subject to disciplinary and/or legal action. 

Software and Content Usage Policy

SUA respects and abides by copyright protections given by federal law to owners of digital content and software. All software and content used on SUA systems must be licensed or otherwise used in a legal manner. Any use of unlicensed software or copyrighted content is strictly prohibited in SUA’s computing and network environment.

Soka University student groups, clubs, and organizations are required to follow specified rules regarding the showing of movies and films on the university campus. These regulations come from the Office of the Dean of Students. The following information provides the rules and processes students must follow to showing a movie or film on the SUA campus. 

Public Performance Rights

Commercial films and videotapes/DVDs have copyrights that restrict the manner in which they can be shown. There are two specific restrictions which raise issues for students wishing to show films on campus. The first issue relating to videotapes/ DVDs and films is “home” versus “public” viewings. If you rent a videotape/ DVD or film, you always have permission to show it in your home. The Office of the Dean of Students and the Graduate School Office feel that SUA’s residence halls meet the requirement as homes. However, no other SUA buildings qualify. For more information on this distinction, please contact the Soka Library at (949) 480-4105 or the Reference Desk. 

The second issue relates to charging an admission (or viewing) fee. This always requires an explicit public performance right. Therefore, if you wish to show a video tape/DVD or film outside your residence hall and/or charge money, you must have an acceptable public performance right. There are several ways to obtain these rights: 

  • Renting the film from a distributor. (The cost to rent varies and is generally dependent upon the popularity of the movie.)
  • Owning a copy of the movie that comes with public performance rights
  • Getting written public performance rights from the copyright holder. (The Office of the Dean will accept a letter from the company, filmmaker, producer, or director of the film.) 

The student group, club or organization cannot show the video/DVD/film unless they have obtained the appropriate performance rights. You are required to present a copy of your rental agreement or other documentation to the Office of the Dean by 5:00 p.m. at least one business day before your showing. (If you intend to show a movie on Friday, you must present documentation by 5:00 p.m. no later than Thursday. If you are planning a showing on the weekend, submit your documents on Friday. For a Monday showing, submit on Friday, etc.) 

When movies are shown for a course, different rules apply. Please contact the Office of the Dean of Faculty at (949) 480-4181 and Graduate School office at (949) 480-4065 if you need information regarding applicable copyright regulations for courses. 

Rules for Showing Movies

Any student group, club or organization in the university borrowing commercial films including films from the SUA library, all copyright regulations as outlined below must be followed. 

  • If admission is charged, any surplus revenue shall be used to further the educational goals of the sponsoring organization, as outlined in its charter. 
  • The showing of commercial films in the university is subject to the following regulations:
    • advertising must be restricted to the SUA community
    • the recognized student organization, or other appropriate committee will ordinarily be responsible for the screening of films and for financial arrangements. 

Copyright Regulations

The federal Copyright Act makes it unlawful to show a film in public without the explicit permission of the film’s copyright owner. Renting or purchasing a cassette at a local video store or elsewhere gives the customer the right to view the film but not to show it in public. The Copyright Act defines “public” in this context as “any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” All students who wish to show videos/ DVDs/ films under circumstances that are likely to be considered “public” are urged to call the production or distribution organization to arrange for appropriate permission otherwise arrangements to secure movies can be made through Swank Motion Pictures (800) 876-5577.

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