Matter of Choi v. Columbia University
NEW YORK COUNTY
Schools and Education
Justice Peter Moulton
Choi, a former Columbia University student, challenged the school's decision to expel him for allegedly cheating on an exam. Columbia moved to dismiss. Choi had been permitted to retake an exam after his answer booklet was allegedly lost by the faculty. When the exam was graded, Choi's answers appeared strikingly similar to model answers provided to students in material that was prohibited from being brought into the exam room, including a typo within one of the model answers. Choi was informed that a hearing would be held to investigate the incident. The court noted this was the third "dean's disciplinary hearing" in which Choi had to answer against cheating charges, having previously been on probation and suspended. The hearing officer believed Choi cheated, and because of his prior offenses, Columbia expelled him. Choi's appeal was denied, and he filed an Article 78 suit claiming the hearing failed to provide him a fair process. The court rejected the argument as waived, since Choi failed to raise it on administrative appeal, and also found it meritless. It found the penalty of dismissal was not so disproportionate to the offense to "shock the conscience," granting dismissal.