“Wherever two or more are gathered in My name,
I am there among you.” 

Every community exists for the common good. As this community exists for the sake of liberal education, truth is the good at which it aims. As it aims at Catholic liberal education, supernatural Truth is its object. Laws and rules exist to direct the community to the good for which it exists. In a Christian community these rules should be animated by the two great commandments: love of God and, consequently, love of neighbor.

The rules of a college are analogous to those of a family. Education is, primarily, the parental work, and all education is an extension of that work. Education and the rules related to it aim not to make the young dependent, but precisely independent – that is, knowing and responsible people, capable of making the judgments required of free men.

There should be little need to emphasize the importance of following the rational good for students who wish to study in the Thomas Aquinas College program. It would be inconsistent to seek high and serious things in class and live outside of class by unruled appetites.

A student’s conduct, bearing, dress, and cleanliness signify his own character and express his esteem for the institution and its other members. His conduct on and off campus will reflect on the College.

Thomas Aquinas College is a Catholic college and, therefore, requires all students to abide by the Catholic Church’s moral teachings together with the Rules of Residence and the customs of the College. Students are asked to reflect carefully upon these standards and rules. The College is aware that bureaucratic devices and rules are no substitute for mutual trust, good faith, and courtesy among students, faculty, and staff, and that they will not automatically guarantee willing compliance. On the other hand, it is essential that social order and good habits be achieved and maintained if the purpose of the College is to be achieved. The insistence that students measure up to these standards is, in the last analysis, a discipline designed to foster such order and encourage proper habits. The reward can be the experience of living in a civilized community.

When these canons are violated, the College has the right to dismiss a student at any time. Since misconduct off campus can harm the reputation of the College, interfere with the climate of learning, and indicate that a student is not suited to the program, such behavior also is subject to disciplinary action.

The College has the authority to determine how these general rules are to be applied in specific cases and to impose sanctions for violations of the rules. Disciplinary sanctions may include mandatory community service hours, suspension of privileges (e.g., computer resource privileges, or parking privileges), fines, restriction to campus, disciplinary probation, and expulsion. The violation of a campus restriction or disciplinary probation may result in expulsion. Actions which gravely disrupt the campus order, such as entry into the residence halls of the opposite sex, the use of alcohol on campus, the illegal use of narcotics, or sexual misconduct will normally entail expulsion. The use of marijuana, even for medical purposes, is strictly forbidden for students both on and off campus.

In the case of alleged misconduct that may result in serious disciplinary action (such as disciplinary probation or expulsion), the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs will conduct an investigation and make a report to the Dean. If there is sufficient evidence of serious misconduct, the Assistant Dean will make a report to the Instruction Committee. If the matter is referred to the Instruction Committee for judgment, the student involved will first be consulted. The Instruction Committee will either discuss the matter itself, or appoint a subcommittee to determine the facts and make a recommendation. The Instruction Committee makes the final determination about serious disciplinary action and only hears appeals that present new and substantial information.

A student who is expelled may be required to leave the campus immediately. If the student is a minor, the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs will contact the parents or guardians and assist in making suitable arrangements for travel, storage, and accommodations for the student.

This Handbook is not and shall not be interpreted as a contract of any kind between the student and the College. While it does not anticipate doing so, the College reserves the right to change any provision or requirement during the student’s term of residence.

By enrolling, a student and his parents recognize this right and agree to the policies set forth in this Handbook. 


Students are required to live on campus unless granted special permission by the Dean to live off-campus. Since the purpose of the College is to establish a community of learning, such permission is not usually given.

Married students must live off-campus. Only with special permission from the Dean may a married student live in a residence hall.

Students are expected to show due regard for the rights, privileges, and tastes of others. Residence halls, designed primarily for study and rest, require order and reasonable quiet. Rooms for social purposes are available in St. Joseph Commons. St. Bernardine Library, the dining area of St. Joseph Commons, and the classrooms are available for study.

Here, as in any community, it is important to recognize and respect proper boundaries. This includes a respect for the privacy of offices and confidential information. This also includes the recognition of what is and is not one’s own. Theft in the dorm or anywhere, intrusion into offices or other private space, and purloining of confidential information all erode the very basis of our community and cannot be tolerated; these, or similar, actions will be subject to expulsion.


The end of any community is best achieved when the members of that community are animated by friendship and mutual trust. This is especially so in the kind of community the College aims to establish. The importance of classroom discussion, the intensity of the academic program, and the end towards which we aim—supernatural Truth—all require an unusual degree of friendship and mutual trust. This is the reason why the College relies on student Prefects, acting in conjunction with and by the authority of the Dean and the Assistant Dean, to maintain and enforce the rules and standards of the College. The College trusts students to follow the rules and to be forthright and cooperative with the Prefects.

The moral atmosphere essential to intellectual pursuits is everyone’s concern. This atmosphere is promoted most of all by exemplary personal conduct. If a student becomes aware of serious misconduct, he should notify a Prefect, the Assistant Dean, or the Assistant to the Assistant Dean (Resident Assistant).

Residence Hall Visitation

Men’s and women’s residence hall areas, including patios and courtyards, are always off limits to the opposite sex; this restriction applies to holidays and summer vacations as well as the academic year. Porches of St. Katharine and St. Bernard Halls may be used by both men and women as long as they do not disturb those who have rooms near the front door. With permission of a Prefect, exceptions to the residence hall visitation rules are made at the beginning or end of the academic year for purposes of moving boxes or luggage in and out of residence halls.

Alcohol and Drugs

At some social functions, the College will serve alcohol to students who are of legal age. The possession or use of alcohol outside of these functions is strictly forbidden on campus and may entail expulsion from the program. The possession or use of illegal drugs is strictly forbidden and may entail expulsion from the program.

The College also reserves the right to dismiss a student from the program for any serious incident or any repeated incident of an intoxicated or drugged state of behavior, for behavior creating a safety hazard to other persons, or for behavior that seriously impedes the legitimate activities of the College community.

Any alcohol purchased as a gift, received as a gift, or intended for the off-campus use of those of legal age must be stored by a Prefect.

The College strongly disapproves of off-campus use of alcohol by those under legal age because it violates the civil law and harms the College’s reputation. Infractions of this alcohol and drug policy may be brought to the attention of a student’s parent(s) or guardian.


The residence halls are locked at 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 1:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Students are to be in their residence halls by these times. In special cases students can be admitted later by prior arrangements with the residence hall Prefect. These arrangements must be made at least 24 hours before the scheduled event. Since this requires that the Prefect stay up to admit a latecomer, permission is given only for very good reasons.

Sign Out

Students are to sign out when they will be away from their residence hall overnight. Use of the sign-out sheet enables the College to ascertain quickly who is or is not in the residence hall in the event of fire or other emergency; this also facilitates the proper handling of phone calls and visitors.

Quiet Hours

At all times the residence halls and their immediate vicinity should be sufficiently quiet to permit study and rest. Conversations, radios, and stereos should not disturb those in adjoining rooms. As evening approaches, sounds which might not be noticed during the day more readily disturb study and rest. Accordingly from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday) a more complete quiet is preserved.


Proper dress is proportionate to the dignity of one’s activities; coveralls, for instance, are suited to manual labor but not to divine worship. Those who dress improperly display an indifference towards nobler pursuits. Accordingly, more formal dress is to be worn throughout the week in the chapel, offices, classrooms, laboratories, dining hall, and library and for more formal Friday dinners and Sunday brunch. Women are to wear skirts or dresses of modest length with modest sleeve lines and necklines and dress shoes or sandals. Men shall wear slacks, shirts with collars, and dress shoes (or sandals) with socks.

In keeping with the College’s intention to establish a dignified community of learning, extreme hairstyles and other such distracting bodily accoutrements are not permitted on campus.  

School dress is always required in the chapel during Mass. At other times, less formal dress is allowed; however, sweat pants, tank tops, and shorts are never allowed in the chapel.

School dress is required in St. Thomas Hall until 3:30 pm. Footwear is always required in the chapel, offices, classrooms, laboratories, dining hall, and library.

A period of more casual dress begins after 3:30 pm on the weekdays; school dress is still required for dinner, Monday through Thursday. During the week those on work study are permitted to wear casual attire to meals if their job does not allow them to change prior to the meal; these students are to eat their meals in the coffee shop. Casual dress always includes footwear and shorts should be of modest length. Students not properly attired will be asked to change.

For swimming, women are to wear modest one-piece bathing suits or tankinis which fully cover the midriff. Students are allowed to sunbathe only on the patio of each of the residence halls. Men are to wear shirts on campus, even when they are working on the grounds crew. They are allowed to go without a shirt on the basketball court and athletic field (during men’s sports), and when jogging on the outskirts of the campus.

Care of Students’ Rooms

Students are expected to keep their rooms clean at all times. In St. Katharine and St. Bernard Halls, this includes the bathrooms. In residence halls having common bathrooms, the bathrooms and sinks will be cleaned on a regular basis by the staff.

Pictures and wall decorations may be hung with pushpins provided by the maintenance department. Students may not paint walls or woodwork. Wall decorations should be in keeping with the dignity of the intellectual and spiritual life of the College.

Furniture is not to be removed from or dismantled in the residence hall rooms. If a student wants to re-configure his modular furniture, he first must receive permission from the maintenance office. Students will be held liable for any damage to their rooms. Damage to the common areas of the dormitory will be charged to all of the students assigned to the dormitory unless a specific person assumes responsibility.

Except in residence hall kitchenettes, use of large refrigerators, hotplates, electric skillets, popcorn poppers, coffee makers, and other electrical appliances is specifically prohibited due to fire hazard. Students may have small refrigerators only after obtaining permission from the Assistant Dean. Students may keep non-perishable food in residence hall rooms, provided it is contained in metal, glass, or plastic canisters.

Smoking and the use of candles or incense are not permitted in any buildings to comply with fire code.

Campus Security

Trust is at the heart of liberal education and the College has very little experience of theft, vandalism, or other crimes by its own students. Off-campus intruders, however, are a very real possibility. It is necessary, therefore, to keep the fire doors locked at all times. These doors are to be used only in the case of an emergency or for moving in and out of the dorms at the beginning and end of the school year.

Room keys are available from the receptionist. A $10.00 deposit is required and will be refunded when the key is returned. Room keys must be returned at the end of the school year.

Students who are issued keys as part of their work study should never lend their keys to anyone, should not allow copies to be made, and should promptly return any keys in their possession when their responsibilities are at an end. Should a student come into possession of an unauthorized key, he should return it to the Business Office immediately.


Students are prohibited from bringing any kind of weapon to campus. The discharge of firearms on or about the campus is strictly forbidden.


Overnight accommodations (when available) are principally for the use of guests invited by the College as prospective students. Accommodations may also be provided for parents or other immediate family members who desire to visit the College. Other personal guests (e.g. alumni) may be accommodated briefly, if space is available.

Arrangements for meals and overnight stays for all visitors must be made at least one week in advance with the admissions office. Visits longer than four days are discouraged. The availability of accommodations should be verified and the length of the visit approved before plans for a visit are far advanced.

No visitor or day student is to sleep in a residence hall without permission from the College. Under unusual circumstances and with permission, a day student may remain on campus overnight, sharing the room of a resident student. Lounges and other areas are never to be used for sleeping.


Pets, except for fish and very small reptiles, are forbidden. Students are not to bring any animal to the campus, or encourage strays to stay; they become housekeeping problems and health hazards.

Care of the Lounges and Common Rooms

Care of the men’s and women’s residence hall lounges and the rooms in St. Joseph Commons is the responsibility of the students using them. Students should leave areas clean and orderly, turning off lights when not needed.

Furniture in the lounges or in other buildings is not to be appropriated for use elsewhere. The temporary removal of furniture from one area to another requires the approval of the maintenance staff, and furniture moved should be returned immediately to its proper place. Furniture in the student lounge is not to be rearranged.

Classrooms are not to be locked from the inside except in cases of emergency.


The Ferndale Ranch area is divided into two portions, one owned by Thomas Aquinas College, the other by Seneca Oil. Because the actual boundary lines are not clearly marked, the fences that run along the campus drive and the perimeter fence enclosing the lower campus (also known as “down below”) are considered to be the campus boundaries.

Ranch Property

The ranch property adjacent to the campus is off limits. Driving motorized vehicles on ranch roads or on the access road to the National Forest is also prohibited. These restrictions are essential for respecting the private property of our neighbors and averting the very real possibility of forest fires. Violations will be treated very seriously.

ranch map

The map above shows the location of the ranch property. (Click to enlarge.)

Forest Fires

Forest fires are a very real danger in southern California and the campus has been threatened periodically by fires in the Los Padres National Forest (the second largest forest fire in California history came very close to the campus in 2007). The risk of fire is greater during the fire season, especially during extreme conditions. It is imperative, therefore, that students observe the campfire restrictions posted by the Forest Service when camping or socializing in the Los Padres National Forest. These restrictions are strictly enforced, and ignoring them may result in fines or imprisonment. The failure to follow the fire restrictions also has the potential of starting a forest fire that could threaten the campus, cause millions of dollars in damages, and result in a legal liability.

Due to the potential fire hazard, any use of the fire pit or barbecue adjacent to the third pond must be approved by the Assistant Dean. For the same reason, the use of fireworks on campus, or in the national forest, is strictly forbidden.

Civil Law

The Civil Law is to be obeyed on and off campus.

Classroom Decorum

It is customary for the students to address one another in class as “Mister,” “Miss,” or “Misses” since this aids in keeping classroom discussions objective and serious.

In keeping with the dignity, seriousness, and formal character of classes, there is to be no consumption of food or beverages, or chewing gum.

Video and audio recording as well as the photographing of any tutorial, seminar, don rag, or thesis defense are all prohibited.

Electronic Texts

Kindles and other electronic text readers are not to be used in the classroom. While these devices have been extremely useful in the field of research, it is not clear that they provide the best format for reading and thinking about a text in preparation for a class discussion. On the other hand the use of real texts works very well for our purposes, and it would seem foolish to let go of this practice lightly. There is a discipline that goes into preparing to discuss a paper text. The student must make an effort to read carefully and digest the reading, so as to be able to locate pertinent texts. He must attempt to grasp and retain the reading as a whole. Electronic search functions provide an easy opportunity for the student to become lazy in reading. This technology can also make it more difficult to stay focused on the text under consideration, when so many other texts are readily available and can be searched easily for corresponding texts.

Cell Phones

Cell phones can be useful tools for communicating, but they can also be a distraction from the intellectual life. It is important to ensure that cell phones do not detract from the dignity of the academic program. Cell phones have no role to play in the classroom; if you choose to bring your cell phone to class you are responsible to ensure that it does not emit sound or light or in any other way distract you or others from the discussion. Cell phones should be turned off during examinations. Ringers should be silenced during lectures and concerts, in the library and the chapel.

In accordance with the College’s policy to limit Internet access to that provided in the library and the student mail room, the use of cell phones, or cell phone service, to access the Internet is prohibited.

Movies, Television, and Video Games

To foster and preserve the dignity of the intellectual life, the College does not permit the use of televisions or video players in student rooms. On weekends from 3:30 p.m. Friday until dinnertime Sunday, students may watch movies in the residence hall commons or study rooms, but only with prior permission from a Prefect.

Students may play video games in their rooms on weekends from 3:30 p.m. Friday until dinnertime Sunday.

Computer Networks

The College provides e-mail access in the dormitories and Internet access in the library and student mailroom by means of the College’s computer network. Tapping into, or tampering with, the College’s network or telephone wiring is strictly prohibited. In keeping with the College’s aim of maintaining a community of learning in the dormitories, students are not permitted to set up their own computer networks either by means of wireless technology or by running network cables from room to room.

Internet and Computer Services

The College provides computer resources for three purposes: research, communication, and retail business transactions (such as purchasing airline tickets). To allow for the quietude and rest that contemplation requires, the College has no interest in promoting widespread use of the Internet for entertainment purposes. Several computers are available for student use in the library and the student mail room. Some residence halls are equipped with computers which students may use to access their college email accounts. Internet access, however, is limited to the library and mail room. The use of cell phones, cell phone service, or any other wireless service, to access the Internet is prohibited. Students are welcome to bring their own computers. If they bring laptops, they may request to have their computers configured to access the Internet in the library and in the student mail room (they should bring their own Ethernet cable and their computer should be equipped with an Ethernet port).

It is essential that each user exercise responsible and ethical behavior when using the College's computer resources. The following policy applies to all individuals who have been granted use of the College's computer resources and summarizes the principles that govern the appropriate use of those resources. Because it is impossible to anticipate all of the methods that individuals may employ to intentionally damage or misuse the College's computer resources, this policy focuses on some of the general regulations that govern the appropriate use of the College's computer resources.

The following list of inappropriate uses of the College's computer resources is not comprehensive, but illustrates some of the responsibilities that users must abide by when using the College's computer resources.

  • Transmitting information that contains obscene, indecent, lewd, or lascivious material or other material that explicitly or implicitly refers to sexual conduct or contains profane language.
  • Creating, modifying, executing, or retransmitting any computer program or instructions intended to (1) obscure the identity of the user of the College's computer resources or alter the system used to identify the user of the College's computer resources, or (2) subvert or render ineffective the security or access control measures on the College's computer resources.
  • Authorizing another individual to use a user's computer account or the College's computer resources. Users must take reasonable precautions, including password maintenance and file protection, to prevent unauthorized individuals from using their account and must not share their password with other users or unauthorized individuals.
  • Communicating or using any password, personal identification number, credit card number, or other personal or financial information without the permission of its owner.
  • Using the College's computer resources to gain unauthorized access to resources of this or other institutions, individuals, or organizations. Using false or misleading information for the purpose of obtaining access to unauthorized resources.
  • Accessing, altering, copying, moving, or removing information, proprietary software, or other files from the College's computer resources without authorization.
  • Copying, downloading or distributing copyrighted materials, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, without the authorization of the copyright owner is illegal and may result in civil and criminal penalties, including fine and imprisonment. Copyrighted materials include, but are not limited to, copyrighted music, films and software.
  • Using the College's computer resources in a manner that adversely affects other users, including impairing the College's computer resources or the resources of other institutions, individuals, or organizations by intentionally or negligently introducing any “Trojan-horse”, “virus”, or “worm” program.
  • Using the College's computer resources for commercial gain or commercial purposes not officially approved by the College.
  • Using the College’s computer resources for online gambling.
  • Initiating or propagating electronic “chain letters” or other activities that excessively increase the load of the College's computer resources, e.g., printing excessive copies of documents, files, or images.
  • Violating laws or participating in the commission or furtherance of any crime or any other illegal purpose, e.g., pirating images, music, or software.

Thomas Aquinas College acknowledges its obligation to respect the privacy of a user's computer files and e-mail, but users should be sensitive to the inherent limitations of the College's computer resources—no computer security system can completely prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing a user's computer files or e-mail.

The College maintains the right to monitor and access a user's computer files, e-mail, and use of computer resources when it is necessary to protect the integrity, security, and proper functioning of the College's computer resources, when it is necessary to enforce this policy, or when it is required by law. The College will notify users of such monitoring provided that it will not compromise the College's investigation or the investigation of an appropriate law enforcement agency.

Any violation of this policy, other related College regulations, or federal or state laws may result in immediate suspension of computer resource privileges. The College's authorities and/or the appropriate law enforcement agency will determine other possible disciplinary or legal action. Nothing in this policy supersedes existing College regulations and policies and/or state or federal law.

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

Parking and Traffic

Vehicles are to be operated safely and at reasonable speeds on campus, but never faster than 25 mph. There is to be no student vehicular traffic on the lower campus. Driving or parking on lawns or paths is prohibited. Student parking is restricted to the student parking lots located at the north end of the campus and by Blessed Serra Hall. Students are not to park in the designated faculty parking areas adjacent to the residence halls or behind the Commons building. Parking behind the Commons is permitted only for loading and unloading vehicles and for washing cars.

The State of California requires all drivers to have liability insurance and to carry written evidence of insurance in their vehicle at all times. The College, therefore, requires all students who have vehicles on campus to maintain liability insurance. Evidence of insurance must be presented when registering the vehicle with the Business Office.

All student vehicles must be registered with the Business Office. Students will be issued parking permit stickers during registration or at other times by the Business Office. Be sure that the vehicular information is included on your Registration Form. If a student should change vehicles, he must update his file in the Business Office with the license number, make, and model of the new vehicle.

The privilege of keeping a vehicle on campus may be revoked when the rules are not observed. A student who registers a vehicle with the College is responsible for its proper use. Vehicles not registered with the College may be towed away.

Rules of Residence
Regina Sweeney (’97)

“One of the things I’m most grateful for is the attitude the College instills toward learning, an attitude of not being afraid to try something that most people would say is difficult, and instead working through it.”

– Regina Sweeney (’97)

Mother of Eight

I am constantly convinced that what you are doing in Thomas Aquinas College is the answer for today’s ills.

– Rev. Wojciech Giertych, O.P.

Theologian of the Papal Household