University of Idaho ups the stakes — to expulsion — for students with exceptionally low grades..

Allie Grasgreen of  Inside Higher Ed offers these details about the school’s new alcohol prevention approach:

Beginning this year, University of Idaho freshmen will face immediate expulsion if their grade-point average is below 1.0 at the end of fall semester — and whether or not alcohol is to blame, it’s part of an effort to curb underage drinking.

The idea may be unprecedented, student affairs officials and substance abuse experts say. But as part of a broader overhaul of alcohol policies, it will likely help those students be more successful academically and also improve the overall campus climate, Idaho Dean of Students Bruce Pitman said. (Expelled students who suffered extreme circumstances such as an illness or death in the family may be readmitted via an appeals process.)

“This is both, we hope, compassionate intervention for students who, quite frankly, probably don’t have a plan and would simply languish another semester accumulating bad grades and debt,” he said. “but it’s also about an effort to improve the dynamics of our students as well, because many of these students who quit coming to class become disruptive in their living environments.”

As part of a study of freshmen retention patterns, five years ago Idaho officials started a one-day academic success program for low-performing students to attend before spring term. It became clear that while students with a GPA above 1.0 went on to do O.K. in the following semester, that was not the case for those with lower grades. Often they would go on to flounder through the spring, hurting their ability to transfer or return to Idaho if they took time off, before dropping out altogether.