Chapman University has not expelled a student since 2015, when two students were expelled for sexual misconduct. Before that, the last expulsion was in 2013, when a student violated the student conduct code, according to Director of Student Conduct Colleen Wood. In the past two and a half years, Chapman University has seen 11 suspensions regarding student conduct code violations, according to Associate Dean of Student Affairs DeAnn Yocum Gaffney.
Throughout the school year, the academic integrity committee sees approximately 15-18 students regarding possible expulsion for plagiarism or cheating, according to the Chairman of the Academic Integrity Committee, Scott Arundale. Out of those students, approximately none get expelled from Chapman. The number of reports put in to consideration for expulsion regarding student conduct violations is higher. Out of approximately 70 – 80 reports per year regarding student conduct code violations, none have resulted in expulsion, according to Dean of Students Jerry Price.
Universities are reluctant to expel students, which can lead other students to feel unsafe at their own school. At a young age, these students are trying to figure out who they are, and are still learning their own codes of behavior. Additionally, universities are afraid of the litigations that may follow the expulsion of a student.
“Not even a third of college students that are guilty of sexual assault are expelled from school,” stated a 2017 analysis by the Huffington Post. Data collected from three dozen universities concluded that 30 percent of students found guilty in sexual assault claims were expelled, and 47 percent were suspended. Seventeen percent got educational sanctions, and 13 percent were put on probation.
The rare occurrence of expulsions in areas of student conduct and academic integrity make staying at Chapman an easy task once you’re in.
“The reason why expulsions are rare is we take really seriously the fundamental mission we have of educating students,” Price said. “We believe, that just like in the classroom, students take a test, they bomb it, they study up and they do better on the next one. We kind of feel like their out-of-class behavior is similar.”
In the 2016/2017 academic year, there were 91 Title IX reported complaints by students. Of those 91 complaints, the most common allegations pertained to sexual harassment, followed by sexual assault and dating/domestic violence, according to information gathered by the Office of Student Affairs. None of these complaints resulted in expulsions.
“Title IX sexual misconduct cases are the primary thing that we deal with, we don’t deal with a lot of fights or physical assaults,” Price said. “If there was a sexual assault that involved intercourse, those almost always end in suspensions.”
Statistics on this years Title IX reports will not be known until July.
“I would say there has been, if anything, a slight increase (of suspensions),” Price said. “It’s rare nowadays that we don’t go a year without suspending a few students for sexual misconduct.”
Sexual misconduct is defined as “intimate partner violence, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, stalking, discrimination, retaliation for reporting or supporting the reporting any of these behaviors, or filing a false complaint of sexual misconduct,” in the Student Conduct Code policies.
Expulsions are more likely in cases that involve repeated violent behavior that is a threat to the community, said Price.
“The most likely situation that leads to student expulsion is some type of behavior, that through the conduct process we had decided was one, violent, and two, reasons to believe that it would not be isolated behavior,” Price said.
However, depending on the nature of the offense, it may not result in immediate suspension.
According to the Association for Student Conduct Administration, which says for most universities, how students should be punished for sexual assault is still a ‘grey area’. Each University should “treat all students with fundamental respect and fairness,”
Universities have different grounds for expulsion.
Sen. Ted Kennedy, withstood many cases of sexual assault violations, usually with underage women, according to an article written by Michael Kelly for GQ magazine. A particular instance in December of 1985, right before he announced his run for presidency, Kennedy allegedly manhandled a young waitress. But even Kennedy got expelled from Harvard University not for sexual misconduct or student conduct violations, but for cheating, when he asked his friend to sit in his place on a Spanish exam, according to Snopes.com. Director Woody Allen, who was expelled from New York University for poor grades, went on to direct and star in movies such as Midnight in Paris and Annie Hall.
“It’s not uncommon for a student to say ‘he slapped me on my rear end at a party I want him suspended.’ We may or may not suspend a student for that type of thing,” Price said. “On the other hand, it is also not uncommon for a student to say, ‘he slapped me on the rear end at a party, it was totally inappropriate behavior, someone needs to set him straight, but I don’t want to see him kicked out of school.’ In other words, there are different perspectives,” he added.
Chapman University deals with all complaints confidentially.
Academic violations are theoretically reasons for expulsion at Chapman.
“Students are responsible for doing their own work, and academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction and referral to the University’s Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose sanctions up to and including expulsion,” according to page 10 of the Student Conduct Code.
Any student whose GPA falls under a 2.00 will be put on academic probation. The students are required to meet with an academic advisor to discuss how they will increase their GPA, and have two semesters to be on academic probation before they are dismissed for grades, according to Chapman Universities academic probation policies.
Students are not expelled for poor grades, they may be dismissed, which allows them to re apply, according to Price.
“Students who fail to make satisfactory academic progress are subject to dismissal, not expulsion,” Price said. “Unlike expelled students, dismissed students are eligible to apply for reinstatement. However, students with an extended record of unsatisfactory academic progress may be permanently dismissed by the Student Standards Committee, the body responsible for this review,” he added.
A senior business major said he knew a student who was dismissed from Chapman two years ago for grades.
“His grades went below a 2.0 because he failed accounting so they put him on academic probation. The semester he was on academic probation, he had to get a certain GPA, but ended up failing accounting again, so they called him in for a meeting during interterm and let him know that he was no longer allowed at Chapman,” said the student, who insisted in anonymity because he feared angering his friend.
The former student declined to respond when contacted about the incident.
Students accused of cheating and plagiarism must go in front of the academic integrity committee. However, no reported expulsions have occurred.
“First violations usually results in an F for the test/quiz or alternately F for the class. Second infraction often results in a suspension. No expulsions have happened that I recall,” Arundale said.
Amazingly, the one thing that can get you expelled is falsifying a diploma.
A screenshot taken from fakediploma58.com shows how to get a Chapman Diploma online. Photo by Jackie Samuelsen
At least three students in the previous 10 years have been caught falsifying diplomas, according to Price, and all three of these cases resulted in expulsion.
“These were cases in which students were close to graduation, but needed proof of graduation to get a job, so they falsified their diploma,” Price said. “The employers suspected something was amiss, sent the information to us, we concluded it was a falsified diploma, and then expelled them.”
“One admitted to the false diploma, while the other two students denied it. All three got expelled,” Price said.
College codes of conduct tend to follow a “low road” approach. Codes of conduct can also provide a basis for ethical behavior in colleges and universities, according to Zabihollah Rezaee, author of “Ethical Behavior in Higher Education Institutions: The Role of the Code of Conduct.”
That road can be unmistakably low. Seung-Hui Cho, killed 33 students and then himself in a mass shooting on the Virginia Tech campus, according to an article written for the Virginian Pilot in 2007. He had been dismissed from campus multiple times for “dangerous behavior”, but never expelled.