I am currently attending a two year college to get basic credits and then transfer to a university. I am going to be a computer science major, and am naturally a math enthusiast, but I already finished all my math credits and am taking no math classes at the two year college.

This morning I went into the math lab to work and program on my computer, but was kicked out because I am not currently taking any math courses and the guy told me, "It was school policy that I needed a math course to be in the lab". I left, and looked for the rules online, and I can't find them. I also went to another lab and asked where the tutoring lab rules and policies could be found, but they did not know.

Question: Can you enforce policies if you cannot provide where to find said policies?

Here is the school's related websites that I could find:

  • At a certain point this question leaves the legal realm and enters the institutional authority realm. It is possible that there is a catch all in the agreement you've made with the school that says that students must follow the instructions given to them by those delegated with the authority to issue instructions. These sorts of catch all clauses are not uncommon in codes of student conduct or similar policies. Mar 2, 2018 at 17:11
  • "All students and employees are expected and required to obey the law and to comply with institutional rules and directives issued by administrative officials." -- from the Student Responsibilities document. Mar 2, 2018 at 17:14
  • @JasonAller this still leaves the question of whether "the guy" kicking Funny Geeks out of the math lab actually had authority to issue the instruction. I doubt he was an "administrative official" with authority to issue rules or directives, in which case there should be a rule or directive somewhere from which he derives his authority to remove students from the math lab -- if he indeed has such authority. The rule our directive could presumably be a verbal statement from someone who does have authority, and the recourse would be to appeal to a higher authority, if one exists.
    – phoog
    Mar 3, 2018 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


There are two scenarios to consider. One is that there is such a policy written down and duly communicated in some fashion. In that case, it is obviously "okay" in all senses to enforce that policy. (That does not preclude the possibility of suing the institution because they are abridging some right of yours in having this policy, but that's a separate matter). The alternative is that there is no such policy, and someone spoke incorrectly. If that is the case, then they "can't" enforce a non-existent policy. Actually, they can prevent you from using the facility, the question is, how could you correct their misunderstanding of their policy?

The most protracted way to resolve this is to file a lawsuit against the university, for denying some right (constitutional or property). A more efficient way to do that is to bring the matter to the attention of a reasonably high-ranked official within the institution, perhaps the department chair, who may not be aware that subordinates are making up or misinterpreting rules. The fact that you were unable to locate a written statement of policy online really doesn't count for much. It is entirely reasonable to believe that the chair may have instituted such a policy, under his authority as chair, and communicated it verbally to subordinates: or, the subordinates simply do not know where to find the policies. An alternative approach is to raise the question with the Student Advocate's office, if discussion with the chair is unsatisfactory.


No statute of frauds applies to most administrative policies of educational institutions or most other organizations. Their policies are usually not required to be in writing.

It is common place for not every policy of an institution to be codified in written force. This is true even of very formalistic governmental agencies like the court system or the FBI.

If someone who is authorized to have power in an organization communicates a policy to you, you are generally obligated to follow it. Your only recourse is to appeal to someone higher in the organizational hierarchy than the person who communicated the policy to you to overrule their subordinate by disavowing the policy, by interpreting the policy differently, or by creating an exception to the policy for you and/or other people similarly situated.

If, instead, someone who doesn't have the power in the organization to impose a policy pretends that there is a policy which they are trying to enforce, the usual course of action would be to determine who actually has the authority to set the relevant policies and inform them that someone has been encroaching upon their authority. Imposing policies without the authority to do so is a classic strategy of con men and organized crime operations.

Of course, if the substance of the policy is illegal in some respect, you could go to a court to have that policy declared to be illegal, something that people routinely do in civil rights actions, even where the policies in question are not written down anywhere, as they often are not.

But, the mere fact that a policy is unwritten does not invalidate it in any way, in the absence of a specific law, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, that requires that a policy be codified, something that typically wouldn't apply to a two year community college, or more generally, to policies particular to the use of any paticular and localized resource of an institution.

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