It's no easy task getting into the University of Michigan. It takes brains, discipline, and persistence. You should be proud that you made it. If there was any justice in the world, things would get easier from here on out. You've proven how important your education is to you; you should be able to study for your career without all the stresses of exams, grades, and academic standing.
Unfortunately, that's not how it works. As an MSU student, you already know that courses are rigorous, professors are demanding, and you're expected to live up to some pretty high expectations of academic and professional behavior. One misstep and you risk dismissal from the university.
Student Defense attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento is committed to making sure that doesn't happen. He's dedicated to the principle that a single mistake or a lapse in judgment shouldn't keep you from getting your degree and going on to a successful career. There are lots of reasons why the University of Michigan might try to expel you. You'll find out about most of them below. Whatever the reason, though, you should know now, right up front, that someone's out there ready to stand in your corner and help you fight for your future.
Reasons for Dismissal at the University of Michigan
While there are many reasons you might get dismissed from the University of Michigan, for the most part, they can be grouped into four categories.
- Academic Performance: You're at MSU to get a degree, and the school wants to be sure that by the time you graduate with that degree, you know everything you need to know about your field of study. As a result, you're held to high academic standards. You're expected, for instance, to maintain a 2.0-grade point average in every term. Failure to meet that mark means Academic Probation. Failure to meet standards during academic probation means dismissal from MSU for at least a year.
- Academic Misconduct: Part of demonstrating your academic competence is completing your coursework fairly and honestly. Each of the University of Michigan's many schools and colleges has a clear policy against academic misconduct. Though the details of these policies may vary, all of them prohibit the same basic behaviors. The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) offers a good example. It talks specifically about cheating, plagiarism, unacceptable collaboration, falsification of data, and malicious interference with school property. It also notes that helping someone else commit these offenses is itself a policy violation. Any violation can potentially lead to dismissal.
- Disciplinary Misconduct: MSU also expects you to be a good member of the campus community. To this end, it maintains a Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. This document addresses every conceivable type of misconduct, from vandalism to weapons possession. Any violation can lead to dismissal, but some violations, such as hazing, drug possession, and setting fires, are almost always punished with expulsion. In addition, it's worth knowing that you can also be expelled for off-campus criminal convictions.
- Sexual Misconduct: Sexual misconduct is a very particular type of disciplinary misconduct. These offenses aren't just a matter of school policy; they are prohibited by federal law. As a result, they are subject to a different set of rules than other offenses at MSU. More often than not, the punishment for an offense is expulsion.
The Adjudication Process
In most cases, the University of Michigan offers some process for defending yourself from dismissal. The specifics of that process, though, will depend on the nature of the allegations against you.
- Decisions about academic misconduct at the LSA are in the hands of the college's Assistant Dean. You have the right to meet with the Assistant Dean or their representative and offer your side of the story as well as any documentary evidence that supports your claims. Ultimately, however, this single official has total authority to decide whether or not you've committed a violation and, if necessary, what sanction should be assigned.
- Disciplinary misconduct allegations are handled by the university's Office of Student Conflict Resolution. You have the right to have your case decided by a single Resolution Officer or by a full Student Resolution Panel. Either way, you're allowed to participate in a full and formal hearing where you may make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses.
- Sexual misconduct cases are handled by the University of Michigan-designated Title IX Coordinator. Again, procedures are based on federal law. For the most part, those procedures resemble MSU's disciplinary misconduct procedures. However, all cases are investigated and adjudicated by specially trained Title IX personnel, and you are entitled to some specific due process rights you don't get in disciplinary misconduct cases. For example, under Title IX you have the right to cross-examine the Complainant and any other witnesses against you.
Unfortunately, there are no formal processes for arguing issues of academic standing. Typically, decisions are based on numbers, such as your GPA, and so aren't subject to review. That doesn't mean you don't have options in these cases. You can, for instance, try to negotiate with an individual professor for a higher grade. In addition, should you be dismissed, you do have the right to petition the Academic Standards Board for readmission after one year.
Joseph D. Lento built his career handling student conduct cases. Whatever process you're facing, he knows how it works, and he knows how to best use the rules and procedures to your benefit.
Finally, you also have the right to appeal most decisions on dismissal at the University of Michigan. Again, how you go about making that appeal will depend on the type of dismissal you're facing.
- Academic misconduct outcomes at the LSA can be appealed to the college's Academic Judiciary Committee.
- Disciplinary misconduct decisions can be appealed to the university's Appeals Board.
- Sexual misconduct decisions at MSU are heard by an unbiased external reviewer.
There are strict time limits on all appeals at MSU, usually between 10 and 14 days. In addition, there are limitations on the reasons for an appeal. These include
- The discovery of new evidence that might impact the outcome
- Procedural errors that might have affected the outcome
- Bias on the part of an investigator or decision maker
- A sanction that is disproportionate to the nature of the offense
Appeals don't involve open hearings. That is, you won't have an opportunity to address decision-makers directly. A qualified, experienced attorney-advisor can be especially important then since they are particularly skilled at gathering documentary evidence and constructing written arguments.
Fighting for Your Future
Fighting dismissal can be a daunting proposition. Developing a defense strategy, col