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Student wins $1.7 million for dental school dismissal

Discussion in 'Dental' started by Dr2BSoon, Dec 5, 2008.

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  1. Dr2BSoon

    Dr2BSoon Member
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    From Drbiscuspid.com

    Student wins $1.7 million for dental school dismissal
    12/5/2008
    By: Rabia Mughal, Assistant Editor

    A former University of Michigan School of Dentistry student was awarded $1.7 million this week after a federal jury decided she was unfairly dismissed from the school in 2005.

    Alissa Zwick was the victim of infighting between faculty members and the school's associate dean, Marilyn Lantz, D.M.D., stated Zwick's attorney Deborah Gordon in an interview with DrBicuspid.com.

    During her second year of dental school, Zwick was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, and the school recommended that she should take her practical examinations in a separate room without any noise and distractions, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

    The two professors in charge of the exams -- Ken Stoffers, D.M.D., and Merle Jaarda, D.D.S. -- questioned this recommendation.

    Dr. Lantz had a longstanding personal dispute with these professors, Gordon said.

    "Lantz used Stoffers' and Jaarda's resistance to the Plaintiff's (Zwick) need for an accommodation against them as part of her effort to force them out of their positions," the complaint states.

    Under pressure from Dr. Lantz, the professors resigned. Faculty and students protested the resignations vehemently, blaming Zwick, according to Gordon. "The students thought Alissa was at fault and she was shunned," she said.

    Dr. Lantz and the school administration encouraged this view, according to the complaint. In fact, Dr. Lantz tried to silence Zwick when she attempted to clear her name.

    Zwick was consequently targeted for "less favorable treatment than similarly situated classmates" and became a victim of grade tampering, the complaint states.

    During Zwick's third year, Dr. Lantz gathered letters from professors who were critical of her performance in clinic and expressed that she was not capable of the "independent practice of dentistry."

    The school ultimately dismissed Zwick for reasons Gordon called "vague" and "weak." For example, Gordon disregarded the claim that Zwick was nervous in clinic and noted that her client was actually averaging a B in clinic.

    "She was admitted to eight dental schools, including NYU and Columbia," Gordan added. "She's a very bright girl."

    Ultimately, the school failed to make a careful, deliberate, and unbiased decision about Zwick's dismissal during the appeals process, the complaint concludes.

    "Instead, they rubber-stamped Lantz's ... bad faith decision to dismiss Plaintiff (Zwick) for retaliatory reasons unrelated to her academic performance," the complaint states.

    Requests for a comment from Dr. Lantz were directed to Kelly Cunningham, a university spokesperson. Cunningham said in a written statement to DrBicuspid.com that the school was disappointed with the verdict.

    "The University has a responsibility to exercise careful and deliberate judgment about who should be permitted to graduate from its professional schools and practice in the health care professions," Cunningham wrote. "It is essential that we maintain control over academic decision-making, and we stand firm in that position despite yesterday's [Tuesday's] outcome."

    Zwick is currently pursuing a master's degree in speech pathology from Eastern Michigan University. She was unable to get into another dental school after her dismissal.
     
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  3. cookand

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    And people wonder why our country is in the pooper. ADD diagnosed in the 2nd year of DS? What a joke. Zwick couldn't cut it so she found an excuse. Shame on the university for accepting that crap. To think ANY school agrees with allowing a PROFESSIONAL student special testing measures is sad, and scary.

    I wonder why Zwick is in speech pathology? Thanks for taking the spot of a competent applicant in dentistry.
     
  4. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales
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    Read the article again. The school made the recommendations. The student merely complied. If the associate dean sought after letters from professors, as the article implied, the student may have been plotted against. UMich just lost my respect. It's supposed to be a top school.

    A school allowing "special testing measures" is neither sad nor scary. Sometimes, it's the decent thing to do. Sometimes, it's the law.
     
  5. BigDentoncAMPus

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    From what I've heard from upperclassmen around the dental building there is more to it. We haven't been told the full story but the student was apparently very disrespectful and was caught cheating with clinical classes. Though they might just be rumors, it's probably true. People don't just get dismissed without reason.
     
  6. Hysteria24

    Hysteria24 1K Member
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    I find it coincidental that one of my MMI topics during my interview last year at UMich dealt with disclosing learning disabilities. It all makes sense now!
     
    umichdent2015 likes this.
  7. Hysteria24

    Hysteria24 1K Member
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  8. gryffindor

    Dentist 10+ Year Member

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    How do you get admitted to 8 dental schools and THEN get diagnosed with ADD?

    Most ADD stories are the other way around - student is faltering in school, is diagnosed, then gets help and does better.
     
  9. Cyclysm

    Cyclysm Member
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    This court case is complete crap. It is a perfect example of how lawyers are trying to mess with our health system. The only question I need to ask is: do you want a person who was proven to be incompetent in clinic, who has behavior issues working in your mouth? Zwick was a problem for a long time and the only reason that she won this case is there was not enough documentation of her inadequacies in the clinic. Students who were in her graduating class have confirmed her problems (including cheating) so they are not simply rumors. Every current student at UMich supports what happened to her as we cannot allow those kind of people to graduate from a program with a long history of success. Please do not allow this court ruling to tarnish your view of the University of Michigan. The administration was trying to protect our profession from another bad dentist.
     
  10. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales
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    The lawyers aren't trying to do anything but represent their clients in the best possible light. Each side has their own lawyers. If a lawyer were to try something shady, the judge'll act on it. I looked up the girl's lawyer. They appear quite reputable.

    The issue isn't the girl's level of professionalism. That's not what the lawsuit addressed. Her classmates' testimonial that she cheated and misbehaved are irrelevant. The case addressed the appeals process. It violated her rights, because situations of dismissal must have a proper appeals process. It's the equitable way. Michigan violated this right.

    The case was tried in a federal court, and the federal court system usually have the best judges. The result most likely are the right one.
     
  11. Cyclysm

    Cyclysm Member
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    First, from what I have heard there were many lawyers who would not even touch the case due to it's nature, so just because there was one who would take it on does not mean they are reputable. Second, maybe the process was slightly flawed but it was obvious that this student was not fit to be a dentist due to a litany of clinical inadequacies. Lastly, the decision was made by a jury of people who know nothing about how dental school works. History has shown that many people get falsely charged with crimes they did not commit, and others get away with murder. In the end, was the situation handled correctly - probably not, but what UMich did was probably for the greater good and it feels very strongly that this person should not be in our profession.
     
  12. PlaqueAttack

    PlaqueAttack Keep it classy...
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    I was talking to someone who was "very close" to the case and you can PM me if you want to find out how close. But this particular person who was in the courtroom everyday said that the only reason she won was because the clinical faculty did not adequately provide documentation. Example, during a procedure this particular student would need the faculty to come in 4, 5, even 6 times and would repeatedly mess things up and on multiple occasions the faculty would need to finish the procedure. But the faculty never wrote that they had needed to help her in that manner and that was were the case was lost. In addition the student failed MULTIPLE (nearly all) her practicals during her 2nd year pre-clinic class and this is also the class were the alleged cheating took place. And after all this it came down to the manner with which her termination was handled, which was poor, and that's why there's a lawsuit. But the fact remains that I would NEVER want this person working in my mouth or my dogs, some people just don't have the hand skills and the people in dental school KNOW that this is sad but truth. therefore we move to speech pathology, no hands required...
     
  13. Dukie

    Dukie Senior Member
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    You may very well be right; however, you are not understanding dentstd's point at all. There are rules within every dental school, just as there are laws in this country. This student may not have been qualified to be a dentist. I don't know the details, nor do you. That being said, her rights were violated if the school did not follow its own written process for dismissal. Legally, everything else you are arguing is irrelevant. Like it or not, "the greater good" has no bearing on the case.

    Also, I'm not really sure I understand your point about the jury not being made up of people that "know how dental school works". Anyone can read the schools rules and regulations and judge whether or not they were followed. If they were not, she deserved better and should be compensated.
     
  14. aphistis

    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Would you like to see a list of some other injustices these four words have been used to justify throughout history?

    Since you brought up the subject of professional competence, though, try this: if Michigan can't handle a simple academic appeal properly, maybe they shouldn't be deciding who gets to enter our profession. How does your argument feel on the other foot?
     
  15. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales
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    Her lawyers didn't just accept the case. They won it. University regents do NOT have idiot lawyers backing them up. They have among the best, and they lost in this case. Even considering the abundance of caselaw and public policy to support the freedom of academic institutions, they still lost. Her lawyers were damn good, and they have the record to back it up. Look at her lawyers' list of wins.

    The issue of the case was not the girl's fitness to be a dentist. It is totally irrelevant, and if her lawyers were good, then they probably shielded any evidence to come into play related to her abilities but not related to the appeals process. Michigan inequitably denied the girl due process, and the court punished the university with a huge fine. One million dollars in punitive damages. Michigan should've known better.

    If Michigan were going to dismiss her, there are numerous legal means to do so IF the situation ever arose. Depriving her of her rights is not such a means.

    Juries are purposely chosen to not know certain things ahead of time. It's a principle that helps ensure justice. They learn how things work during the trial, and each side has an opportunity to present their case.
     
  16. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales
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    This deals with her suitability to be a dentist. All Michigan had to do was hold a proper appeals process and present the necessary documentation to support the dismissal. This rubber stamping messed things up.
     
  17. Aceofspades

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    That's what it sounds like to me from what I have read. Everyone should have the right to a fair and balanced appeals process, especially before something as drastic as dismissal. This really makes looks Michigan look bad, even though the girl may have been a cheater. If she was a cheater, why wasn't that properly documented and used in her dismissal. Does Michigan allow cheating but act only when they are out to get you? If the girl had such bad hand and clinical skills then why wasn't that documented and addressed? Once again, is poor performance acceptable until a faculty member has an axe to grind? It seems like there are more scandals in dental schools than politics! Perhaps the girl needed a lesson in ethics, but it seems Michigan should be sitting in that classroom with her.
     
  18. Lifetime2Drill

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    Sounds like a smear campaign to me. And the "no reason" may be retaliation, like the article says. The fact is, everyone, that unless you were there you don't know what happened. It doesn't matter "what you've heard." Why is everyone so quick to throw stones?
     
  19. Cyclysm

    Cyclysm Member
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    I understand what everyone is saying about the appeals process being violated. The difference for me is that I simply do not want people of her character in my profession. I know there are many more people probably just like her in the school system and out practicing and I believe that they should be weeded out also. Maybe I am too utilitarian when it comes to this subject, but I believe that an individual should take back seat to the greater good of the patients that they will be serving. In the case of this student, in my opinion, she was unfit to treat patients. In the end a jury of peers who probably did read the rules and regulations of the University of Michigan decided that her rights were violated. It would have been great to ask any of them if they would want her as a dentist working on their mouth (I know, irrelevant to the case). It is over and done with, I don't think the University is appealing, and everyone can think what they want about Michigan. It remains one of the best institutions in the world regardless of this verdict.
     
  20. banana23

    banana23 Junior Member
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    From what I heard from one of the named defendants the appeal process has already begun.
     
    #19 banana23, Dec 7, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
  21. painlessdds

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    this article is confusing. is there anyone out there who knows what really went on and was personally involved so we can learn the truth?
     
  22. TempleDMDKrazd

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    care to elaborate on how someone can cheat on a practical? what did they do jack someone else's teeth?
     
  23. Brownstain

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    Let me check that, I don't know if this is the same person, but yes someone had cheated by stealing other's work. Don't want to falsify anything here.
     
    #22 Brownstain, Dec 7, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
  24. painlessdds

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    my friend took 620 / 621 and said the young lady turned in the other students for cheating..
     
  25. Hysteria24

    Hysteria24 1K Member
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  26. psiyung

    psiyung 1K Member
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    Since he couldnt hack it he defeated an unjust system. I gotta praise him for that. Well, atleast I gotta praise the lawyer...:laugh:
     
  27. TempleDMDKrazd

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    i can understand stealing 1 tooth here and there, but don't you think after 1-2 time it will raise alarm?? before we turn in any practical tooth we always label it with our id numbers and everything. something is fishy here.
     
  28. Taurus

    Taurus Paul Revere of Medicine
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    If you do the math, a $1.7 million award equates to about $600k after lawyer fees and taxes. Is $600k worth a dental career? I think not.

    Ms. Zwick's lawyer should have pleaded for a way for her to resume her dental studies, maybe not at U of M becaue of the publicity of the case but somewhere else. Based on the evidence of the case, the trial found no cause for her dismissal and that's what's important not rumors and hearsay.
     
  29. psiyung

    psiyung 1K Member
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    600K is more than enough to compound that money if you invest intelligently. He can logically have over a few million in five years
     
  30. Brownstain

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    Once again, I do not know who did this in the past. I was responding in regards to how someone could cheat by stealing, it has been done at our school. I don't want to accuse anyone or cause more rumors in this still pending appeals process. I especially dont want to do so since it is in regards to the harassment of a student. I was told about this a couple years ago when I took the class. I was heckling an instructor for sitting reading a paper during our entire practical in our laboratory. Yes, we have to write numbers on teeth and typodonts. But markers wash off teeth in wet labs, especially when you clean them up for hand in and tape is well just a strip of tape on an articulator. At the time students turned in their work in boxes and placed in cabinents into the lab which is attached to the preclinic lab. Work is then locked in the shelves until grading occurs later. Now an instructor sits in the lab at all times during practicals to monitor the hand in process.
     
    #29 Brownstain, Dec 7, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
  31. smilebig

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    I was there when all of this was going on in the dental school. I know Alissa very well, and I cannot believe all these lies that are being written about her. I also cannot believe that other U-M students are believing these awful lies and elaborating on them. I am ashamed to even be affiliated with this school, and it does deserve to lost its reputation. The faculty members involved were cruel and manipulative. Alissa is a bright and talented individual. I cannot even comprehend how rumors of her cheating began, but they are complete and total lies. You people have nothing better to do with your time than to spead gossip about this poor girl. You said that you wouldn't want her in your profession, well believe me, if you don't learn to have some compassion, you will not succeed as a dentist either. Her dream was crushed because of a web of lies. The professionals who were supposed to be teaching, were instead using Alissa in their little game of lies and deceit. For those of you bashing her on this website, get the facts before you comment. Whatever you heard, did not come from a reliable source. I was there and I know the real story. I am just so proud of Alissa for standing up for herself. U-M has truly lost their reputation in my eyes.
     
  32. MeAgain

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    Something strange is up here. You aren't in good standing and get dismissed, even if it wasn't handled properly. 1.7 is waaaaay too much.
     
    #31 MeAgain, Dec 7, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
  33. y0ssarian

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    .
     
  34. Aceofspades

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    Not really. What do you think is the lifetime earning potential of a dentist? Way more than 1.7 mil I would guess. Not only does she have debt from the time she spent at Michigan, but because of what happened she can't go to any dental school. 1.7 mil was waaaaay to little if you look at it from a lifetime earning potential standpoint. This isn't even considering the fact that lawyers and taxes will take the majority of the money.
     
  35. MeAgain

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    yes, but she must have been a cruddy student for this to even happen to her- she would'nt be pulling in any serious cash out of school. Seriously. She probably has like 100,000 in debt (she was in-state) and lawyer bills. Other than that, she is sitting pretty.
     
  36. y0ssarian

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    The verdict suggests otherwise; the plaintiff's main argument was that she was a competent dental student, and that the faculty unfairly discriminated against her.
     
  37. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales
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    She didn't sue to have her term reinstated. She sued for damages. Of the 1.7 mil, 1 mil was punitives. This means that there's no basis for it (no identifiable means to calculate this amount). It's meant solely to punish Michigan for stupidity. It's not clear what this 1.7 mil represents, but it's likely to be after the 40% contingency fee, so Zwick probably got 1.7 mil to take home.
     
  38. Cyclysm

    Cyclysm Member
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    i believe the main argument is that the student's right to due process was violated. a source very close to the case, as close as plaqueattack's source, said that the student received about 1/3 of her whole classes poor marks in clinic (michigan used a 1-3 point scale for daily grades at the time, the class of 105 had about 60 1's (performing under expectations) during the measured period and this student had 20 of them on her own). numbers dont lie.
     
  39. MeAgain

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    Show me a dental student that was diagnosed with ADD DURING dental school with really great grades.
     
  40. banana23

    banana23 Junior Member
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    Are you sure the 1.7mil is less the layer fees and that she doesn't have to pay her lawyer from the 1.7mil awarded? Also, does anyone know who decides on the punitive amount in these cases? Would it be the judge, jury or some combo of both?
     
  41. Hysteria24

    Hysteria24 1K Member
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    "Zwick is pursuing a master's degree in speech pathology at Eastern Michigan University. She was accepted to eight dental schools before choosing Michigan but couldn't get into another after her dismissal."

    http://www.examiner.com/a-1722372~Dropped_dental_student_bites_back_with__1_7M_award.html
     
  42. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales
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    No,I don't know, because it's not said anywhere. But usually, the award amount takes into account lawyer's fees. So they probably awarded 2 some million. After 40 percent deduction, you get 1.7.
     
  43. y0ssarian

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    Either there is more that the source isn't mentioning, or getting a B in Michigan clinic has no value whatsoever.
     
  44. MeAgain

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    At some schools, there are ways of raising sub-par grades by taking on a greater # of patients. Clinic grades are loose, very subjective, and vary according to instructor.
     
  45. lotexigeus

    lotexigeus Master Member
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    yeah, but she's going to be sitting on her ass. not working as a dentist.

    schools don't dismiss, or in this case, get people dismissed unless there is a reason.

    The school went about dismissing her wrong, but apparently she couldn't hack it. She doesn't deserve jack in my opinion.

    The school should be punished, but compensating her is bull****.
     
  46. Taurus

    Taurus Paul Revere of Medicine
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    The school had a chance to present their case in court and the court ruled against them.

    If anything, the associate dean will have to look for a new job pretty soon.
     
  47. lotexigeus

    lotexigeus Master Member
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    that makes more sense than paying someone who sucks at dentistry over a million dollars.

    It's like me going into Mcdonalds, paying for a meal, and jamming the burger into my forehead. Then when they ask me to leave, they are rude. Can i have 5 thousand dollars please?

    No, you fire the worker.
     
  48. painlessdds

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    i think all of us have forgotten our dent school roots. something is very fishey here. grades and bubble sheets are supposedly only the sudents knowledge. so how can the replies here say they knew her grades? sounds like people are posting bull and trying to make a case for themselves....could it be the defendants? also, my brother is an attorney. when the jury directs a verdict, it is for the total amount. from there the plaintiff has to pay the attorney and also pays taxes. usually that leaves the plaintiff with around 20%, or here $340k. i'd rather keep practicing my profession than go thru a lawsuit.
    lastly, i still stay in touch with some of the profs back at school and can tell they are afraid to come out in the open for fear of retaliation from the administration...but who can blame them....they have families to feed
     
  49. PlaqueAttack

    PlaqueAttack Keep it classy...
    2+ Year Member

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    i'm not a named defendant but i "may" be in close contact with someone who "may" have been...and cyclism "may" be in close contact with another person who "may" have been another defendant as well, so the numbers brought up during our posts "may" be actual numbers used in the trial but I cannot confirm this at this time because it is being appealed (hence she and her lawyers will not see that money for a long, long, long time) and i don't want the administration on my ass either...
     
  50. capisce?

    capisce? ssc machine
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    Come on people let's focus on the important stuff.


    Is she hot?
     
  51. lotexigeus

    lotexigeus Master Member
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    no way, professors don't fail hot chicks.
     
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