Academic Suspension Appeals | St. Lawrence University Advising Toolkit

Academic Suspension Appeals

How to Appeal an Academic Suspension

The University does not suspend students as a punishment, but because it believes that they are not currently in a position to succeed academically at St. Lawrence. Suspension is a message to you that you need a year (or semester) away from the university to strengthen your foundational academic skills, reconsider your values, priorities, and academic behavior, and/or address any medical or social situation that may have interfered with your ability to focus on your academics. Once you have reflected on the issues that interfered with your ability to succeed academically and made appropriate changes to your behavior, you are encouraged to apply for readmission.

If you wish to appeal your suspension, you must explain why you will be able to succeed now, given your demonstrated academic difficulties in the previous semester. You will be in the best position to appeal if you

  • followed the stipulations of your probation letter, if you were on academic probation
  • can show that you were working on improving your academic performance
  • can document that extenuating circumstances prevented you from meeting the minimum academic requirements

You will need to submit a letter of appeal. This is the most important component of your appeal. In that letter, you should describe:

  • whatever has prevented you from performing up to the minimum academic standards of St. Lawrence;
  • what you have done to address those problems;
  • why a semester or year away from St. Lawrence right now to re-evaluate your situation and your academic behavior would not be the best strategy to resolve those problems; and
  • what you will do in the future to improve your academic standing.

It is important that you are specific, and it is important that you take responsibility for your own academic life. The Academic Standing Committee needs to be convinced that you are aware of your problems, willing and able to confront and resolve them, and aware of exactly what steps you must take to succeed in that endeavor. Suspension is not intended as a punishment, so your letter should not be about why you should not be punished. It should be about why returning to St. Lawrence in the next term would result in a positive academic outcome.

You can FedEx, fax (315-229-7451), or email your letter to the Academic Advising office. The deadline by which it must be received will be included in the notice of suspension.

You will benefit from having letters of support. You may solicit testimony from anyone who has information relevant to your appeal, illuminating the causes of your academic difficulties and/or describing steps you have taken to attempt to resolve problems interfering with your academic performance. The most important letter of support is from your advisor. After that, other professors. And then coaches, SLU administrators or staff (such as deans, counselors, Student Accessibility Services, HEOP, etc.), and finally, parents. Make sure you ask each person to attest only to that information they have access to. In other words, your parents probably can't say much about your present academic situation, just as your advisor probably can't comment on your home life.

If you cannot reach someone, leave a voicemail or e-mail message with specific information: your name, your number, when you called, that you are appealing a suspension, and that you would be very grateful if the person could write to the committee (e-mail is okay) on your behalf. It is a good idea to remind people of why they might want to write on your behalf: to what aspect of your appeal argument do you think the person can offer evidence?

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You will be notified of the result of your appeal by e-mail and a call to the telephone number you have on file with the University. The Academic Standing Committee meets to hear all appeals on the day after the appeal submission deadline, and ordinarily you will be contacted the same day.

If you have questions, you may contact Dr. Elun Gabriel, Associate Dean for Academic Advising Programs (315-229-5149, egabriel@stlawu.edu). Or, if you have been working with one of them, you can call Colleen Coakley, Coordinator of Academic Development (315-229-5604, ccoakley@stlawu.edu) or Matt McCluskey, Coordinator of Academic Engagement (315-229-5678, mmccluskey@stlawu.edu).  Lastly, you can contact the Registrar's Office (315-229-5267, Lorie MacKenzie: lmackenzie@stlawu.edu).