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Rustication (academia)

Rustication is a term used at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham[1] Universities to mean being "sent down" or expelled temporarily, or, in more recent times, to leave temporarily for welfare and/or health reasons.[citation needed] The term derives from the Latin word rus, countryside, to indicate that a student has been sent back to his or her family in the country,[2] or from medieval Latin rustici, meaning "heathens or barbarians" (missus in rusticos, "sent among ..."). Depending on the conditions given, a student who has been rusticated may not be allowed to enter any of the university buildings, or even travel to within a certain distance of them. The related term bannimus implies a permanent, publicly announced expulsion.

The term is still used in British public schools (private schools), and was used in the United States during the 19th century, though it has been superseded by the term "suspension".

Use in the United KingdomEdit

Notable Britons who were rusticated during their time at University include:

Use in the United StatesEdit

"The penalty for plagiarism at Harvard Extension is a failing grade in the course and rustication from the university for at least one calendar year" (noted on a course syllabus in 2009).[8]

The term also was used in the United States in the 19th century, and on occasion, later. Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, in The Gilded Age, have a character explain the term:

"Philip used to come to Fallkill often while he was in college. He was once rusticated here for a term."


"Suspended for some College scrape."[9]

In a story in the August 1858 Atlantic Monthly,[10] a character reminisces:

It was long before you were born, my dear, that, for some college peccadilloes,—it is so long ago that I have almost forgotten now what they were,—I was suspended (rusticated we called it) for a term, and advised by the grave and dignified president to spend my time in repenting and in keeping up with my class. I had no mind to come home; I had no wish, by my presence, to keep the memory of my misdemeanors before my father's mind for six months; so I asked and gained leave to spend the summer in a little town in Western Massachusetts, where, as I said, I should have nothing to tempt me from my studies.

Kevin Starr[11] writes of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. that:

Harvard's rigid rules and narrow curriculum had proved equally repressive. Rusticated for taking part in a student rebellion, Dana had spent six months in quiet rural study in Andover under a kindly clerical tutor.

A biographer[12] refers to one of James Russell Lowell's college letters as "written while he was at Concord because rusticated".

In a 1932 letter to Time, publisher William Randolph Hearst denied he had been expelled from Harvard College, but had instead been "rusticated in [1886] for an excess of political enthusiasm" and had simply never returned.[13]

At Rice University, rustication is a punishment separate from suspension. Students who have been rusticated are banned from social activities on campus and are only allowed on campus to attend class.[14]


  1. ^ "General Regulation IV - Discipline". Durham University. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  2. ^ "Definition of rusticate, parry, amplify, mutter". Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  3. ^ "John Milton Biography - life, family, children, story, death, history, wife, school, young, son, information, born". Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  4. ^ "The Poetical Works of John Dryden, Volume 1 by John Dryden - Free Ebook". 2004-03-01. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  5. ^ "Count Julian by Walter Savage Landor - Free Ebook". 2003-05-01. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  6. ^ "Algernon Charles Swinburne". Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  7. ^ "Oscar Wilde". Biography online. 2006-11-22. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "The Gilded Age, Part 3. by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner - Free Ebook". 2004-06-20. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  10. ^ "The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 02, No. 10, August, 1858 by Various - Free Ebook". 2004-01-01. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ [3][dead link]
  13. ^ "Rusticated Hearst: A newspaper tycoon defends his Harvard record". Time Magazine. January 11, 1932.
  14. ^ "Code of Conduct : Rice University". Retrieved 2014-01-07.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit