July 22, 2018 | ° F

Potential policy offers hope to students expelled at U.

Expelled students may get a second chance to continue their education at the University.

At the next Board of Governors meeting on Oct. 13 in Winants Hall on the College Avenue campus, a clemency policy draft is scheduled to appear and be voted on before the board.

The draft proposes that any expelled student, who proves they have moved past disreputable behavior, may apply for clemency.

"We recognize that people do make mistakes in their lives and that there may come a time — after a period of time — that people change. They are entitled to be given a second chance," said Vice President for Student Affairs Gregory S. Blimling. "It is really reserved for those people who have not been able to join another university to complete their education someplace else. It is really designed for those people who have made significant changes in their life and want to complete their education and feel they have no other options."

The most current draft, which has been worked on for nearly a year, states that a student must wait a minimum of four calendar years after the original expulsion to request clemency.

At that time, the written request must include a documentation of the student's life pertaining to the reason for their expulsion, potentially including records on mental health, employment, criminal probation records, educational records, social service records and letters of recommendation.

An advisory panel would then review the application and conduct a personal interview or inquiry after more information, according to the document. Next, the panel would make a recommendation to the University president, whose decision on the matter is final.

"If [the student] has made an honest attempt to put their life back together, I think they should be given a second chance," said Mason Gross School of the Arts junior Ashley Petersen. "They should be allowed back with some provisions, like attending counseling."

If a student is awarded clemency, they would remain on disciplinary probation until their degree is completed, according to the document. They must also complete graduation requirements expected of current students at the time of their readmission as well as oblige to any other conditions the University president would impose.

"If they have been expelled, it will say ‘expelled' at the bottom of the transcript," Blimling said. "If a student is suspended and returns to the University after the period of suspension and completed their degree without any trouble, we remove the notation of suspension from their transcript. But in the case of expulsion, it is explained to that they are not eligible to ever return to the institution. That means that it remains on that person's record forever."

School of Arts and Sciences first-year student Alex Natanzon compared the potential clemency policy to society at large.

"Criminals who are reformed get another chance of going back into society after doing something that is — I would assume — a lot more horrible than what you would do to get kicked out of school … When you're still in college, you're still young and your life hasn't started yet," he said.

According to the Code of Student Conduct, there are several reasons for expulsion from the University, including violations of academic integrity, drug infractions and violence.

"Anytime there is that kind of danger to the community where it isn't just someone threatening to do harm, but perhaps even attempting to do harm, it would certainly lead to expulsion," said Director of Student Conduct Ave Pollack.

Blimling, Vice President of Undergraduate Education Barry Qualls and other administrators drafted the policy and presented it earlier this year to Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Philip Furmanski, the Committee of Student Conduct, Rutgers University Student Assembly's Executive Committee and other administrators including the Chancellors of Newark and Camden Steven Diner and Wendell Pritchett, respectively, Blimling said.

The next step is approval by the Board of Governors.

The University is not the first to draft and propose such an appendage to its Code of Student Conduct. Others throughout the country have also implemented similar policies, Pollack said. But recent requests from expelled students inspired the change at the University.

"Within the last year and a half ago we have received requests from several students and they have asked to be reconsidered," Blimling said. "They had no other options available to complete their education."

Sara Gretina

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