Our education law specialists recently represented a first year student who was expelled from a nationally renowned university following what were considered to be initiation acts within a university sports team.
The university learned of the acts through social media posts and were dismayed at the seriousness of the horseplay and depraved nature of the tasks that had been undertaken by students as part of the sports team initiation rituals.
It was considered that the acts breached health and safety, disciplinary and residence regulations at the university and a number of students were expelled due to the severity of the incidents.
Our education team were instructed following the initial disciplinary hearing and this followed the student’s parents becoming aware of the matter. The student suffered from ADHD and dyslexia and had felt embarrassed by the allegations.
This led to the student approaching the matter alone and without adequate support for the additional needs which was subsequently argued to undermine the reliability of the disciplinary findings.
On appeal, evidence was provided of these difficulties which portrayed a different angle whilst considering whether the behaviour had been intentional, reckless or had been undertaken without adequate consideration of the issues on an impulsive and eager to fit in basis.
Significant mitigation was provided and the appeal panel upheld the appeal; replacing the permanent exclusion with a final written warning and other sanctions.
The case reflected the importance of proper preparation for student disciplinary proceedings and acknowledgement that what might seem to have been a silly prank may result in exclusion from university when viewed objectively by the authorities.