We all know that movies about college and high school often tell stories in an exaggerated manner — that makes for better storytelling. But what about films that do demonstrate realistic consequences? Or, how about the ones where students get punished, but then everything works out in the end? (Which is often unrealistic, by the way).
Let's take a look at some famous film examples and how they might reflect (or not reflect) what it looks like in real life when you have to face disciplinary action at your college or high school.
Films About Fraternities and Sororities
From Neighbors with Zac Efron and Seth Rogan to House Bunny with Emma Stone and Anna Faris, countless movies have been made telling the tales of fraternity and sorority living at college. Perhaps the best known, however, is Animal House. Both Animal House and Old School (with Will Ferrell) deal with situations wherein the Greek organization faces losing its charter. The charter might be under scrutiny for hazing practices, alcohol-related offenses, or something else altogether.
The truth of the matter is that colleges and universities do frequently examine Greek life organizations, and these investigations can also implicate individuals. If you're involved in Greek life and counting on those connections to help with future internships, employment, etc., you should understand that not only can charter revocation or other disciplinary charges impact your current academic studies, but they can also severely curtail your future opportunities: employment, academic, financial, and more.
Expulsion in Films
Dead Poet's Society addresses expulsion in several instances, specifically in a high school boarding school for boys. The Dean states, “whoever the guilty parties are this is your only chance to avoid expulsion from this school.” That scene ends with Charlie getting paddled. Toward the end of the movie, right before Charlie punches Cameron (and gets expelled for it), Cameron says, “in case you haven't heard, there's an honor code at this school. If a teacher asks you a question and you don't tell the truth, you're expelled.” Although his explanation of the honor code is perhaps more extreme than the reality, the truth is that violating an honor code could result in expulsion.
What Is and Isn't True?
Many films, including Scent of a Woman and Animal House, depict disciplinary proceedings in front of a large student body and with a spokesperson who speaks for several minutes in a moving speech about the innocence of the individuals involved. Generally, in fact, most hearings are closed, or at least only open to the members of the hearing or disciplinary committee. Additionally, school policies vary widely on who gets to speak at a hearing. Some of them allow an advisor to speak on your behalf, but many of them don't. Your school's code of conduct or student handbook will have information that details the actual parameters at the school.
In Scent of a Woman, Al Pacino's character is speaking on behalf of Chris O'Donnell's character, and he asks, “Is this a courtroom?” to which the presider replies, “it's as close as we can get to one.” This is key. The disciplinary process is not held in a courtroom. Your due process rights could be at risk, especially since you're not guaranteed them in the same way that you are in an actual courtroom.
Hire the Best Attorney-Advisor for Your Student Discipline Defense
When you face any code of conduct or disciplinary charges at your college or high school, it's critical that you find someone who can ensure your rights are protected. The Lento Law Firm and Joseph D. Lento have many years of experience working with students and their families to pursue the best possible outcome that protects their future. Contact them today at 888.535.3686 or reach out online to see how they can assist.