Academic misconduct occurs when a student has not abided by the academic regulations upheld by a school. Lehigh University considered academic work that is completed and submitted dishonestly or unauthentically, academic misconduct.
Examples of Academic Misconduct
Misinformation as to what constitutes academic misconduct is a large contributor to violations among students. The truth is, that there are a variety of ways to violate your school's policy. Some of which extend outside of easily identifiable cases like “plagiarism” or “fabrication.” Here are a couple examples of circumstances that have lead to a determination of responsibility for academic misconduct at Lehigh University.
- Submitting the same assignment for more than one course without the permission of all instructors involved.
- Distributing, selling, or posting notes, records, handouts, or any other information provided by an instructor without his or her permission.
- Obtaining a copy of an exam or any other assignment prior to the approval of an instructor.
- Paraphrasing another person's metaphor, phraseology, or literary device without citing the original source.
- Using unauthorized materials, written notes, prepared answers, or concealed information during an exam.
- Copying or attempting to copy the academic work of another individual.
- Forging the signature of an instructor on a letter of recommendation or any other document for academic merit.
- Having someone take a test for you (a stand in), or taking a test for someone else.
With suspicions of alleged academic misconduct, an instructor is required to hold a confidential meeting with you. He or she will present to you their discovery, their intentions of submitting a complaint, and will give you a chance to explain what occurred.
Unfortunately, many students who maintain the belief that they are innocent choose this option. Why? Some students feel as if they won't be able to prevail against their instructor if they challenge the determination. Other students don't want to face the stress that comes with these processes and just wishes to get them over with. If you are contemplating accepting responsibility, especially in cases where you feel you are innocent, there are a few things you should consider before making this decision. Once the school is notified of your decision, the program will make a decision based on the entirety of your academic record, not just this violation. It is the school's responsibility to dig up all past violations, particularly ones involving academic integrity. This means that with this option, the sanctions imposed will only become more severe.
Challenging the violation
If you decide to contest these charges, be prepared to attend a scheduled academic integrity conference. In this conference, you will be given the opportunity to make your case and convince an objective panel (not your instructor) that you didn't violate school policy. The option of challenging a violation will give you a chance to get these charges dismissed, and if you have a compelling case, it will be. If this is a risk you're willing to take, retaining a student defense attorney will be in your best interest.
Academic integrity conferences
An academic integrity conference is intended to mitigate misconduct matters through an objective panel. The panel is comprised of a conduct officer, a faculty representative, and one student representative. Throughout the course of this conference, complainants and respondents will be given the opportunity to make their case. This is the last step in the process.
A hearing is a perfect chance for respondents especially to tell their side of the story. You will be afforded the opportunity to present your own case to the panel, all upon witnesses to testify on your behalf (if necessary), and use the evidence you've collected to help the panel understand your point of view. However, in order to demonstrate a case that is effective and compelling, your best bet would be to retain an attorney. After all, legal professionals present facts and evidence for a living.
Once both sides have been heard, panel members will deliberate and present a finding of responsibility. If this determination reads “not responsible,” all charges will be dismissed. If it reads “responsible,” the panel will provide recommended sanctions for the misconduct.
Schools have the option of utilizing a wide span of academic sanctions or disciplinary sanctions for a finding of a responsibility. This decision will be based on the circumstances of your case. Sanctions may range from a “0” on that particular assignments, to a disciplinary suspension or expulsion. The latter only happens in serious cases or cases involving repeated violations.
If you received a “responsible” determination, it is not the end of the road. You can utilize your right to appeal. An appeal is a request for a school to reconsider its decision based on reasonable grounds. Appeals are typically granted based on the following grounds.
- Information is available now that was not available at the time of the investigation.
- The University disciplinary procedures were violated in a way that may have adversely affected the outcome of the case.
- The sanction is inappropriate (unduly harsh).
Students have exactly one week after a determination to request an appeal.
Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney
For students who may be facing serious ramifications of a program withdrawal or a disciplinary action, contesting a charge may be your best option. Being booted from a program will taint your academic record, and serve as a massive barrier to your goal of graduating altogether. If you're invested in your education, your degree program, and maintain a genuine belief that you did nothing wrong, this is the option for you.