All young college kids know that fighting, vandalism, or drug use could easily get them thrown out of their dorm. But few think that bad haircuts, mini-dresses, and eye contact could do the same. Hereâ€™s a look at seven truly bizarre college expulsions.
1. EXPELLED FOR: Prank haircut
The poet Robert Frost always claimed to have left Dartmouth voluntarily. But then, he had a reputation for lying to his biographers, so Frostâ€™s report of his own past doesnâ€™t hold much water. In his biography Robert Frost, Harold Bloom writes,
Despite his intellectual enthusiasm, Frost found his classes boring. Many students seemed satisfies to memorize material for tests rather than ask questions or think independently. To him, college seemed to be â€œconducted with the almost express purpose of keeping [a student] busy with something else till the danger of his ever creating anything is passed.
By Thanksgiving Frostâ€™s â€¦ frustrations with classes, and letters from home describing his motherâ€™s struggle to control her students combined to make him discouraged. He and a friend took part in a haircutting prank in which another boyâ€™s hair was cut in a strange fashion that formed a â€œpictureâ€ on the back of his head. Many sources agree that this prank led to Robert Frost being expelled from Dartmouth because administrators wanted to set an example and end the extremes of hazing.
How funny is that? Frost is one of the most famed American poets. And yet, dude got expelled for hazing.
2. EXPELLED FOR: Touching your girlfriend (see also: consenting to be touched)
Literally. Weâ€™re not talking about sexy-time touching, here â€” just regular old touching. Pensacola Christian College is fantastically strict in really inventive ways. From a longish piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education comes the story of Lisa Morris and her sinful boyfriend:
Lisa Morris was walking to class with her boyfriend last October when something happened. At first Ms. Morris, a sophomore music major, is reluctant to divulge the details. Eventually, however, the truth comes out: He patted her behind.
Someone who witnessed the incident reported Ms. Morris and her boyfriend. At Pensacola any physical contact between members of the opposite sex is forbidden. (Members of the same sex may touch, although the college condemns homosexuality.) The forbidden contact includes shaking hands and definitely includes patting behinds. Both students were expelled.
Of Pensacolaâ€™s many rules, those dealing with male-female relationships are the most talked about. There are restrictions on when and where men and women may speak to each other. Some elevators and stairwells may be used only by women; others may be used only by men. Socializing on particular benches is forbidden. If a man and a woman are walking to class, they may chat; if they stop en route, though, they may be in trouble. Generally men and women caught interacting in any â€œunchaperoned areaâ€ â€” which is most of the campus â€” could be subject to severe penalties.
3. EXPELLED FOR: Dissing God
Another poet rabble rouser, this time from England: Percy Bysshe Shelley was a bold and brilliant mind. His life ended early, lost at sea at the tender age of 30. Shelley wrote many poems and pamphlets about oppression and political injustice.
While at Oxford, he wrote The Necessity of Atheism, a pamphlet that attacked the idea of compulsory Christianity. Outraged over the heresy therein, Oxford University expelled him in 1811.
4. EXPELLED FOR: Looking at your girlfriend (see also: being looked at)
We return to Pensacola College, where the expulsion stories are plentiful and exceedingly weird (same article):
Even couples who are not talking or touching can be reprimanded. Sabrina Poirier, a student at Pensacola who withdrew in 1997, was disciplined for what is known on the campus as â€œoptical intercourseâ€ â€” staring too intently into the eyes of a member of the opposite sex. This is also referred to as â€œmaking eye babies.â€ While the rule does not appear in written form, most students interviewed for this article were familiar with the concept.
As she tells it, Ms. Poirier was not gazing lovingly at her boyfriend; he had something in his eye. But officials didnâ€™t buy her explanation, and she and her boyfriend were both â€œsocialed,â€ she says.
There are three levels of official punishment at Pensacola (four, if you count expulsion). Students can be â€œsocialed,â€ â€œcampused,â€ or â€œshadowed.â€ Students who are socialed are not allowed to talk to members of the opposite sex for two weeks. Those who are campused may not leave the college grounds for two weeks or speak to other campused students.
Ms. Poirier was later told she would be shadowed after being spotted riding in a car in mixed company. She tried to explain that it was an innocent outing, but to no avail. When told she would be shadowed, Ms. Poirier decided to withdraw. â€œI said â€˜screw itâ€™ and I left,â€ she says.
5. EXPELLED FOR: Partying and/or Not caring
According to the Buckminster Fuller Institute,
For more than five decades, [Buckminster Fuller] developed pioneering solutions that reflected his commitment to the potential of innovative design to create technology that does â€œmore with lessâ€ and thereby improves human lives.
Fuller entered Harvard University in 1913, but he was expelled after excessively socializing and missing his midterm exams.* Following his expulsion, he worked at a mill in Canada, where he took a strong interest in machinery and learned to modify and improve the manufacturing equipment. Fuller returned to Harvard in the autumn of 1915 but was again dismissed.**
*Wikipedia, for once, has the more colorful language: Fuller was expelled for spending all his money partying with a vaudeville troupe.
**And again, Wiki does better: He was expelled the second time, after having been readmitted, for his â€œirresponsibility and lack of interest.â€
6. EXPELLED FOR: Wearing a mini-dress
College coeds in countries around the world dress to get noticed â€” but nobody expects it will get her kicked out of college.
Geisy Arruda, a 20-year-old college student from the United States, was expelled from Bandeirante University in Brazil for wearing a dress that barely covered her pride.
The school cited that she had lacked â€œacademic dignityâ€ as a reason for her expulsion. Apparently, having pride in your appearance should not be confused with having pride in smarts. Although the girl was later awarded $20,000 for her troubles, there is no official word on what she wore to the court hearings.
7. EXPELLED FOR: Halo and/or Hugging
Letâ€™s end our expulsion compilation back at Pensacola. Why? Because the stories of student disciplinary action out of PCC are weird and hilarious. Once again from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Last spring Timothy Dow was caught playing the video game Halo 2. Such games are banned by the college. Movies are also forbidden, including those rated G. Music is restricted to classical or approved Christian (â€œcontemporary Christianâ€ artists are deemed too worldly). Students are allowed to watch television news at 6 oâ€™clock, but thatâ€™s it. The TVs are controlled by college employees, who flip a switch to black out the commercials, lest students see anything inappropriate.
For playing the video game, Mr. Dow was campused. Later, in the cafeteria, he ran into a friend who had just been expelled. Mr. Dow had been told not to talk to his friend, who had previously been campused. But he figured it would be OK now that his friend was leaving. â€œI gave him a hug and said, â€˜See you later, man,â€™â€ he says.
Someone witnessed the exchange and turned Mr. Dow in. Students routinely turn each other in for violating rules and are rewarded by the administration for doing so. According to several former students, those who report classmates are more likely to become floor leaders.
Mr. Dow was called to the office of the dean of men, where, he says, he waited for about four hours. Then he was expelled.