Community Norms and Expectations

What it Means to Join Thoreau College

Our intention at Thoreau College is to foster a positive and respectful environment that facilitates healthy learning experiences.

As a student, you should expect an environment that –

~ Is inclusive and free from discrimination and physical or verbal harassment.
~ Supports your growth and progress toward your personal goals.

Each student at Thoreau College will have a supporting Care Group. This group is composed of the student, a Fellow or Resident chosen by the student, a student Peer, also chosen by the student, and a Faculty or Staff member assigned by the Faculty group. The Care Group will meet at least 3 times during the program – within the first 2-3 weeks, at the approximate half-way mark, and within the last 2 weeks of the semester. This group aims to help each student get the most out of their time with us through prioritizing personal goals, helping them negotiate the challenges of community life, and offering thoughtful and constructive feedback.

Aspects of our program include real challenges – physical, intellectual, and emotional. We try to anticipate and inform you of difficult content ahead of time, but unexpected situations will present themselves and different individuals have different windows of tolerance. We will encourage integrity and honesty as we work through them. Unexpected difficulties are important learning moments and we will prioritize your health and safety to the best of our ability.

What we expect from you:

~ An attitude of curiosity and interest, and a willingness to let go of previously formed opinions.

We expect that you are coming here to truly explore unfamiliar experiences and perspectives, meeting people with an open mind and heart.

~ 100% participation.

By intentionally joining a very small program such as ours, you are agreeing to take on far more responsibility than when you sign up for a class with dozens of students or live in a large dorm. In cohorts of fewer than 15 people, having one person absent or non-participatory affects the entire group – whether in the depth of our discussions or in completing tasks during a labor afternoon. This may mean working a little harder than you think you can, being vulnerable enough to ask for help, having the courage to face a fear, and being both centered and flexible when encountering uncomfortable perspectives and situations. It means contributing to housekeeping tasks, group discussions and group decision making.

~ Your ability and willingness to take care of yourself.

In order to participate fully you must be responsible for your own health and wellness. This means getting good sleep and nutrition, and abstaining from recreational drugs and alcohol while you are here. If self-care is difficult for you, you will need to state this clearly in your interview and work with us to develop plans to achieve this.

You must abide by safety rules at all times.

~ Your ability and willingness to take care of others.

Just like caring for yourself, your treatment of others will affect their ability to participate fully. We expect you to join us in creating a positive and respectful environment for everyone present, and to strive to understand their perspectives, backgrounds, and beliefs.

We fully expect you to uphold standards of consent regarding physical touch and sharing personal information.

~ Your ability and willingness to unplug from your devices.

This is your chance! We’ve designed our classes to work best without relying on digital devices. We expect you to extend this withdrawal from the digital world to your non-class time as well, urging and empowering yourselves and each other to re-discover activities such as playing music together, baking treats, visiting with the neighbors, walking, making art, mending your clothes, taking a nap, etc.

We will make every effort to reduce the need for last minute communication, which means you will need to pay attention to morning announcements and weekly newsletters.


The following are prohibited at Thoreau College and engaging in any of them provides grounds for dismissal:

~Dangerous Behavior & Violence: This includes disobeying safety rules, recklessly placing yourself or others in danger, and threatening or using violence against yourself or others.

~Abusive Language/Bullying/Cyberbullying: Along with threatening or causing physical or emotional harm, sharing private information without consent, including online, is prohibited.

~Sexual Misconduct: This includes sexual harassment, any unwanted, non-consensual sexual activity by one person against another which may or may not involve direct physical contact, as well as outright sexual assault, sexual exploitation, gender-based stalking, and relationship violence.

~The Possession, Use, or Distribution of Drugs or Alcohol

~The Possession of Firearms

We present these student policies as a way of enhancing our collective learning experience.