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Student Discipline - An Overview

The article of discipline is the most difficult in American education. Premature ideas of independence, too little repressed by parents, beget a spirit of insubordination, which is the greatest obstacle to science with us, and a principal cause of its decay since the revolution. I look to it with dismay in our institution, as a breaker ahead, which I am far from being confident we shall be able to weather.

Thomas Jefferson
November 2, 1822

[F]logging was the standard means of discipline, until 1718, when Harvard ceased it use. Flogging was followed by “boxing”, “in which a bad boy was made to kneel at the feet of his tutor, who proceeded to smack him sharply on the ear.” Public reprimands and confessions (“degradations”), fines, loss of privileges and extra assignments were common.

Dannells, From Discipline to Development, 1997

The issue of student discipine in higher education predates the founding of America. However, since that time the entire notion of student discipline has evolved philosophically from punitive in nature to being a part of the student's educational experience while keeping in mind the health, safety and welfare of the campus community.

The primary individual charged with administering student discipline on each campus is the Judicial Affairs Officer. His or her role is a challenging one with the primary emphasis of ensuring that each student receives due process.


Laws and Regulations


  • Quercia v. New York University, (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.) Student disciplinary sanction imposed by a state university on a student in possession of illegal drugs, which included suspension and the possibility of reinstatement only after the completion of 500 hours of community service, was neither shocking nor disproportionate. The offense was serious enough to pose a substantial risk to the health and safety of students. (July 17, 2007). The decision is not posted and available. If you would like to review this opinion, please contact your university legal counsel.
  • Reardon v. Allegheny College , No. 1785 W.A. 2007 (Pa.Super.) A private college did not fail to follow its promised procedure for disposing of academic misconduct claims so as to breach its agreement with a student concerning the college's disciplinary procedures contained in the student handbook. The student was afforded all rights promised in the agreement even if she disagreed with the way the procedures were implemented (June 1, 2007).

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