Szot not enrolled at Northwestern this fall, University says

Ally Mutnick, Managing Editor

The University said Thursday that Michael Szot, a McCormick senior who faces drunk driving charges from a July car crash that killed two, is not currently enrolled at Northwestern.

Citing privacy laws, University spokesman Bob Rowley declined to comment on Szot’s case. Rowley could not specify whether the decision was made by the University or Szot, or whether Szot’s enrollment status could be changed in the future.

The DUI charges stem from a July 19 car accident in Naperville, Illinois that killed McCormick senior Mihirtej Boddupalli and Indiana University student Sajaad Syed. Authorities said Szot drove the car into a water-filled quarry. He swam to shore but both passengers were pronounced dead at a hospital.

The confirmation of Szot’s enrollment status comes a day after his friends rallied around a petition, urging the University to allow Szot to return to campus this academic year. McCormick senior Nikhil Byanna created the petition, which had about 650 signatures as of 12 a.m. Friday.

Szot’s lawyers did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Friends of Szot said Thursday that he was waiting to hear a final decision from the University on whether he can return to NU.

McCormick senior Brad Winters said Szot told him that University administrators said Tuesday Szot may not be allowed to return. Administrators told Szot his presence may interfere with the community’s grieving process, Winters said.

“We want to show Northwestern that we want Mike to have an education,” said Winters, who signed the petition and shared it on Facebook. “The student body is standing up.”

Friends of Szot and Boddupalli posted comments on, giving reasons why they support Szot returning to NU. But other members of the NU community posted online that Szot’s return would make them uncomfortable.

“There’s not much worse you can do than take somebody else’s life,” McCormick sophomore Cameron Tehranchi said in an interview. “I think that the implications of taking somebody’s life just strips the right of an education.”

Szot, who was released shortly after his arrest on a $250,000 bond, pleaded not guilty last month to nine counts of aggravated driving under the influence. He has a status hearing on Oct. 2.

According to DuPage County court documents, Szot’s bond conditions require him to surrender his passport to the Naperville Police and refrain from driving a motor vehicle. He is not allowed to consume alcohol and, according to court documents, must wear a device that continually monitors his blood alcohol content. The DuPage County State’s Attorney’s motion to increase bail and confine Szot to his home with a GPS monitor was denied by the court.

According to the student handbook, the University reserves the right to hold NU students responsible for misconduct that occurs on University premises and activities. It also claims jurisdiction “when the conduct has a real and substantial connection to the legitimate interests of the University or members of the University community.”

At the time of the crash, Szot’s BAC was 0.14 and he admitted to smoking marijuana before the accident, according to the office of the State’s Attorney of DuPage County. The legal limit is 0.08.​

Driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana is prohibited conduct at NU and grounds for disciplinary action. If students are issued a sanction of “suspension” or “exclusion,” they may not register for classes, receive academic credit, live in University housing or attend University events.

Rebecca Savransky contributed reporting.

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Twitter: @allymutnick

Previous stories on this topic:

    Students petition Northwestern to allow Michael Szot to return to campus
    Michael Szot pleads not guilty to accident-related charges
    Rising senior Michael Szot released from jail on bond after suspected DUI crash
    Mihirtej Boddupalli remembered by community for kindness, humor
    Rising McCormick senior Michael Szot’s blood alcohol content was .14 at time of crash
    Preliminary report: Rising McCormick senior Mihirtej Boddupalli died from drowning