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Rescinding Admissions to the University of Washington

It is this time of the year that I often get phone calls from nervous parents who worry that their children’s admission to the UW or other areas schools will be revoked due to bad grades. Then, after June hits, the parents call out of fear that admission would be revoked due to summer mishaps like underage drinking, etc.

As a lawyer who defends university disciplinary cases throughout the Northwest, I don’t really deal with the grades cases. The law is clear that the UW and other schools can revoke admission for a precipitous decline in grades come springtime, and they often do. For student misconduct, that is a little bit different. First, a little background.UW Title IX

To a lot of parents, the notion of a school student conduct office is a little bit foreign. In the 80’s and 90’s, student conduct offices were small and dealt mostly with minor infractions as alcohol or marijuana in the dorms, to the extent that the school cared at all. Today, most university conduct offices are massive enterprises, with expanded jurisdiction over a wide variety of on- and off-campus conduct. At the UW, the conduct code applies “to all students from the time of admission through the actual conferral of a degree” including activity that occurs over the summer and behavior that occurs in different states or even countries. One massive change in the last 20 years has been university involvement in what is commonly referred to as “Title IX” cases. Colleges used to defer the handling of sexual assault allegations entirely to the courts. If a woman was assaulted or raped, her recourse was to get a restraining order or to press charges in the criminal courts, because universities felt they lacked expertise to investigate such matters. This changed, of course, during the Obama administration, and schools now investigate the behavior of students in all respects, and they don’t much care whether criminal charges have been filed. Today, there is an immense amount of public pressure to take certain courses of action against. They sometimes make the right call, sometimes not. When you add in the additional factor that the student is an athlete, or a star football player, then the spectacle increases ten fold, as I certainly experienced when I handled Robert Barber's case.

I can say that generally speaking, the UW student conduct office office is more professionally run than the WSU student conduct. The staff at the UW is generally better trained, and while they can seem a little over zealous, they do have more respect for the procedural rights of both sides.