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Stanford University Fundamental Standard

The Fundamental Standard has set the standard of conduct for students at Stanford since 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."

Understanding the Fundamental Standard

Note: This content applies to cases filed May 2, 2023 or after. For cases in progress as of May 1, 2023, please see here.

The Fundamental Standard is an aspirational statement of Stanford's ideal community. The following principles elaborate its basic values today:

i. Students are expected to respect and uphold the rights and dignity of others regardless of personal characteristics or viewpoints.

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. Just because speech is protected does not mean that it is ethical or consistent with our values. It is important for us all to understand the complex interplay between protected speech and building an inclusive campus, so when issues of hateful speech arise, we can choose to engage in dialogue instead of censorship. For more information on the interplay between free speech and the Fundamental Standard, please visit Freedom of Speech and the Fundamental Standard.

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

Potential examples of Fundamental Standard violations include but are not limited to the following:

  • Physical assault
  • Hate crimes
  • Hazing
  • Theft of property or services
  • Threats
  • Attempted or actual distribution of controlled substances
  • Driving under the influence
  • Intentional or reckless property damage, including vandalism
  • Seeking a university benefit to which a student is not entitled
  • Falsifying a document
  • Impersonating another
  • Defrauding the university or misusing university funds
  • Computer-related violations (i.e., hacking, violations of the Computer and Network Usage Policy, etc.)
  • Violations of Stanford’s Anti-Doxxing Policy
  • Knowingly or recklessly exposing others to significant danger
  • Other violations of university policies, directives, or applicable laws

Incidents of sexual violence, sexual harassment, or gender discrimination are addressed by, and should be reported to, the SHARE Title IX Office.

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.

Contact us

PhD students, please contact

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Jeremy Edwards
Associate Director of Degree Programs

MA POLS and MA/PP students, please contact

Wesley Horng
Wesley Horng
Associate Director of Admissions & Academic Affairs

EDS, ICE/IEPA, Individually Designed, LDT, MA/JD, MA/MBA students, please contact

Photo of Caroline Stasulat
Caroline Stasulat
Associate Director of Degree Programs
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