Former VU student sues university
by Walker Dunc, nashvillepost.comFebruary 3rd 2009
In an unusual but not unheard of turn of events, Vanderbilt University is facing a lawsuit from a former student over his expulsion.
The student, then a first-semester senior, who was expelled from the university for an alleged honor violation, has filed a lawsuit in Middle District Court over the conviction.
According to the lawsuit, in January of last year, the student was found guilty by the school’s honor council of having cheated on a physics exam the previous semester.
Of the 15 multiple-choice questions on the test, the student correctly answered two. However, the professor and the honor council pointed to the fact that student’s answers were identical to one of his classmates’ seated at the same table. That student, according to the complaint, was taking a different version of the test.
At the first honor council hearing, the student was found guilty by a vote of 10-2. Three not-guilty votes, the filing asserts would have necessitated a verdict of not guilty.
Upon appeal, the Vanderbilt Appellate Review Board reversed the conviction, saying that there were “procedural irregularities” during the first hearing. At a subsequent hearing last August, the student was again found guilty.
The lawsuit takes issue, however, with the fact that the new presiding officer in the second hearing was “fully aware of the results of the first hearing.”
Following the second hearing, the student was found guilty of an honor code charge, the result of which was a failing grade for the course and expulsion from the university.
Further details of the case can be found in the filing available at this link.
The student, in the filing, denies any wrongdoing and takes issue with the hearing process that led to his separation from Vanderbilt.
In addition to loss of future wages and other claims, the complaint also points out the more than $40,000 per year paid in tuition charges.
While no specific monetary damages are sought, the lawsuit claims damages both compensatory and punitive, loss of future earnings, etc. in an amount exceeding $75,000.
Reached by NashvillePost.com, Vanderbilt declined to comment on the case. Filing the lawsuit on behalf of the student is private practice attorney R. Scott Jackson.