SC overturns expulsion of students involved in mauling of another student

Ang parusang expulsion na ipinataw ng DLSU sa private respondents ay hindi angkop sa kanilang pagkakasala.

It is true that schools have the power to instill discipline in their students as subsumed in their academic freedom and that the establishment of rules governing university-student relations, particularly those pertaining to student discipline, may be regarded as vital, not merely to the smooth and efficient operation of the institution, but to its very survival. This power, however, does not give them the untrammeled discretion to impose a penalty which is not commensurate with the gravity of the misdeed. If the concept of proportionality between the offense committed and the sanction imposed is not followed, an element of arbitrariness intrudes. That would give rise to a due process question.

The Supreme Court agrees with respondent CHED that under the circumstances, the penalty of expulsion is grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the acts committed by private respondents Bungubung, Reverente, and Valdes, Jr. Each of the two mauling incidents lasted only for few seconds and the victims did not suffer any serious injury. Disciplinary measures especially where they involve suspension, dismissal or expulsion, cut significantly into the future of a student. They attach to him for life and become a mortgage of his future, hardly redeemable in certain cases. Officials of colleges and universities must be anxious to protect it, conscious of the fact that, appropriately construed, a disciplinary action should be treated as an educational tool rather than a punitive measure.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirms the penalty of exclusion only, not expulsion, imposed on them by the CHED. As such, pursuant to Section 77(b) of the MRPS, petitioner DLSU may exclude or drop the names of the said private respondents from its rolls for being undesirable, and transfer credentials immediately issued. (G.R. No. 127980; December 19, 2007)

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