Facing Dismissal from Princeton University

When it comes to higher education, Princeton University is in a class by itself. No matter what you may be studying, a degree from Princeton is guaranteed to offer you entry into a successful career.

The thing is, getting that degree can be easier said than done. The curriculum here is rigorous. Standards, both academic and disciplinary, are high, and violating these standards can get you dismissed. Dismissal from Princeton isn't like dismissal from other schools. You're not going to be able to transfer or enroll in some other school and get the same level of education.

There are a number of reasons why Princeton might dismiss you. Below, you'll read about all of them, and you'll find information on how to fight for your academic future. From the very beginning, though, you need to know that you don't have to take on this fight alone. National Student Defense attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento specializes in helping students realize their academic dreams. He knows what you're dealing with, and he has the knowledge and experience to guide you through it.

Reasons for Dismissal at Princeton University

While there are a number of different reasons why Princeton University might try to dismiss you, they can be grouped into four basic categories.

  • Academic Performance: First and foremost, you're a student at Princeton University, and the school expects you to make studying your priority. The school maintains course requirements to progress. For example, by the end of your first year, you must have completed—not attempted, but completed—at least seven courses. In addition, advisors keep a close watch on your work in every class and can issue warnings or put you on official probationary status for a semester any time you don't seem to be working to your potential. Finally, though, you can be forced to withdraw from the university for at least a year for earning more than one F in a semester.
  • Academic Misconduct: Academic success at Princeton isn't just defined as excelling in class. The school also places heavy emphasis on issues of integrity. Misconduct such as cheating and plagiarism are subject to review by the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee, and you could very well be expelled for serious violations.
  • Disciplinary Misconduct: While you're a student at Princeton, the university demands you adhere to the highest standards of personal responsibility. In fact, the school doesn't provide a list of rules as such. Instead, you are simply expected to have “respect for others” and to ensure everyone's “personal safety.” Failure to live up to these standards will always come with a price, but certain kinds of activities, like drug possession, assault, and hazing, can get you dismissed.
  • Sexual Misconduct: In addition to its broad disciplinary policy, Princeton also has a policy specifically aimed at sexually-based offenses. Such misconduct is actually governed by federal law under Title IX, and processes and procedures are dictated by this law. Suspension is usually the minimum penalty in such cases, but dismissal is the more likely punishment.

The Adjudication Process

Most cases of dismissal at Princeton are subject to some form of investigation and hearing. That is, you cannot ordinarily be dismissed without an opportunity to defend yourself. How you go about doing that, though, depends on what kind of dismissal you're facing.

  • Academic and disciplinary misconduct charges are handled by Princeton's Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee. Investigations are typically conducted by an assistant or associate dean or another designated university investigator. Adjudication happens through a formal hearing at which both sides may present evidence and question witnesses. Cases are decided by a legal standard known as “Clear and Persuasive.” Basically, decision-makers must believe that the allegations against you are more likely than not to be true in order to find you responsible.
  • Sexual misconduct cases resemble other kinds of misconduct cases at Princeton. That is, there is an investigation followed by a hearing. At the hearing, you can present evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. There are, however, some subtle differences in how these cases proceed. Under Title IX, for example, you are entitled to an advisor who may be an attorney. This advisor must conduct any cross-examination. You are entitled to ask questions of the Complainant and any other witnesses against you. In addition, the investigation and hearing are under the jurisdiction of the school's Title IX Coordinator, and all administrative officials are trained in Title IX judicial procedures.
  • Dismissal decisions based on lack of academic progress are not normally subject to investigation or hearing since they are primarily based on factual information such as GPA and the number of course credits you've taken. However, these decisions can be appealed (see below).

No matter what the specific charges may be, all judicial procedures at Princeton are complex and difficult to navigate. Many students are surprised by the idea that they might need an attorney to take of an academic matter. Lawyers, though, are professionals when it comes to complex judicial processes, and having one at your side can vastly improve your chances of successfully defending yourself.

Appeals Processes

As part of its commitment to giving students due process rights, all dismissal decisions at Princeton are reviewable under an appeals process. Again, the specific procedures will depend on the type of dismissal. However, there are some common elements to all appeals at the university. For instance, appeals don't involve a hearing. Instead, you submit a written summary of your case together with any documentary evidence you may have. Discussion takes place in closed-door sessions. And appeals decisions are not subject to further review.

In addition, you should know that the grounds for appeal are strictly limited to

  • A claim that investigation and adjudication procedures were not administered fairly
  • A claim that important evidence that could not be introduced at the hearing should have been introduced
  • A claim that the penalty does not fit the nature of the offense.

Fighting for Your Future

Fighting dismissal can be a daunting proposition. Developing a defense strategy, collecting evidence, and talking to witnesses—can all be time-consuming. You're a student at Princeton, and your time is already at a premium.

Keep in mind, though, that you don't have to handle this situation all on your own. Joseph D. Lento built his practice helping students just like you handle all types of charges. He's dealt with everything from plagiarism allegations to rape charges. He knows how to put together a water-tight appeal; he knows how to formulate witness questions; he knows how to negotiate with faculty and administrators. Most importantly, no matter what problem you're facing, Joseph D. Lento is on your side and will do everything in his power to get you the ve