Facing Dismissal From Tufts University

If college were easy, everyone would have a degree. The fact is, that piece of paper you get when you walk across the stage means something. It certifies that you've been fully educated in your field, that you're ready to go out and start your career, and that you only get to that point after years of hard work.

There are lots of potential pitfalls along the way to graduation, and many students just don't make it that far. Each semester, Tufts dismisses dozens of students for everything from cheating on exams to streaking through the quad. Academics at the university are tough, and disciplinary policies can sometimes be even tougher.

Joseph D. Lento wants to make sure you get through all the ups and downs. As a National Student Defense attorney-advisor, he knows how hard you work, and he believes you deserve all the rewards coming to you. If you're facing dismissal, then, for any reason, you can count on Joseph D. Lento to do everything in his power to help secure your future.

Reasons for Dismissal at Tufts University

There are four basic reasons why Tufts might dismiss you. Three of these have to do with misconduct. First, though, you have to perform to the school's academic standards.

  • Academic Performance: Of course, your first priority at Tufts is to get your education. To help keep you focused, the school maintains a set of academic standards. You must, for instance, complete at least 12 credit hours each semester, and you must earn at least a 2.0-grade point average while doing it. Fail to do this, and you could find yourself on academic probation. Continued struggles could lead to dismissal from the university.
  • Academic Misconduct: Academic achievement, though, isn't your only responsibility at Tufts. The school also expects you to conduct yourself with honor and integrity. To this end, it maintains a strict academic conduct policy. This policy prohibits cheating, plagiarism, and any other form of dishonesty that might tend to give you an unfair advantage in completing your coursework. The most serious violations can get you expelled, as can multiple violations.
  • Disciplinary Misconduct: The academic conduct policy is part of a larger policy governing all aspects of “student behavior.” That larger policy also includes rules about general disciplinary misconduct, including bans on underage drinking, drug possession, and unauthorized demonstrations. Breaking these rules can also result in dismissal.
  • Sexual Misconduct: Sexual misconduct is technically another form of disciplinary misconduct. In fact, it is mentioned as part of the general Student Behavior Policy. However, such offenses are also subject to federal law under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments. As a result, they are usually handled through a separate Sexual Misconduct Policy.

The Adjudication Process

All three types of misconduct at Tufts are dealt with using roughly the same procedures. If dismissal is a possibility, cases usually involve two parts: an investigation and a hearing.

  • Most cases begin when an allegation is lodged against you, either to the Office of Community Standards or the Title IX Coordinator.
  • No matter what the charge, you are entitled to select an advisor to help you organize your defense. This advisor can be an attorney.
  • Assuming the charges against you are credible, the school then conducts an investigation. An investigation can be simple. Academic misconduct investigations, for instance, may involve nothing more than collecting your course assignments. Sexual misconduct investigations, on the other hand, can be quite complex and sometimes last several months.
  • Once the investigation is complete, investigators compile their findings into a written document that serves as the basis of the next phase of the case: a formal hearing.
  • The hearing offers you a chance to argue your innocence. You may present evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. You also have the right to question complainants (accusers) and any other witnesses against you. Complainants, of course, have the right to question you as well.
  • At the conclusion of the hearing, decision makers must decide whether or not you are responsible for (guilty of) an offense. To do this, they use a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence.” Less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” this standard basically requires they find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed some form of misconduct.

Appeals Processes

Another important right at Tufts University is the right to appeal the outcome of a misconduct hearing. This guarantees that one person or one panel doesn't have total authority to decide your fate.

However, there are some important limitations when it comes to filing an appeal.

  • In academic and general disciplinary misconduct cases, you must file your appeal within ten days of being notified of the hearing outcome. In Title IX cases, this window is extended to thirty days.
  • There are only three grounds for an appeal:
    • Procedural error
    • New evidence
    • Sanction that is disproportionate to the offense

Academic Dismissal Cases

Unlike misconduct cases, academic dismissal cases don't include an option for disputing the decisions. This is because such decisions are usually based on objective facts that aren't subject to interpretation. In simple terms, either you earn enough credits and a high enough GPA during a semester, or you don't.

However, there are ways to address the threat of such a dismissal. For instance, if your poor performance is the result of extenuating circumstances, you may be able to appeal to your college's Committee on Academic Standing.

You can also take a more direct approach to handling problems of academic performance. Some professors are willing to reconsider your work from a semester or to give you credit for any improvement you might have made during the course. Others may be willing to offer extra credit assignments to help bring up your grade. One higher grade is often enough to change your GPA and avoid dismissal.

Here again, a qualified, experienced attorney-advisor can explain these and other options to you. In addition, they can help you pursue these options. Joseph D. Lento can coach you in negotiating with faculty, for instance, or help you draft a formal dismissal appeal.

Fighting for Your Future

Make no mistake: fighting for your future at Tufts can be a daunting proposition. It means developing a defense strategy, collecting evidence, and talking to witnesses. All of these take time and energy, something you don't have a lot of as a student. You're never any worse off fighting and losing, though, than you would be just giving up, though, and you don't have to take on that fight alone.

Joseph D. Lento is here to help. Joseph D. Lento built his practice helping students just like you handle all types of misconduct charges. He's dealt with everything from plagiarism allegations to rape charges. He knows how to negotiate with faculty and administrators; he knows how to formulate witness questions; he knows how to put together a water-tight appeal. Most importantly, no matter what problem you're facing, Joseph D. L