Academic misconduct is defined as a student's deviation from an educational institution's academic guidelines. Much like the majority of other colleges and universities, The University of Pittsburgh places a strong emphasis on academic integrity and its significance in intercollegiate environments.
If you are a University of Pittsburgh student who has been accused of academic misconduct, it's important you understand what you're up against. Having a grasp on your school's way of mitigating academic misconduct conflicts and the gravity of your case will help you make an informed decision. For your sake, here is an in-depth overview of your school's disciplinary processes.
Academic Misconduct at the University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh has a very low tolerance for academic misconduct. Listed in its academic integrity “student obligations” section, is a long list of actions that will result in a violation of the school's policy. Academic misconduct is constituted in the event a student commits the following actions:
- Acts as a substitute for another person in any academic evaluation process
- Practices any form of deceit in an academic evaluation proceeding
- Submits the work of another person in a manner which represents the work to be one's own
- Attempts to influence or change one's academic evaluation or record for reasons other than achievement or merit
- Engages in the unauthorized possession, buying, selling, obtaining, or use of a copy of any materials intended to be used as an instrument of academic evaluation in advance of its administration
- Receives assistance during an academic evaluation for another person in a manner not authorized by a faculty member
- Fails to cooperate, if called upon, in the investigation or disposition of any allegation of dishonesty pertaining to a fellow student
- Presents as one's own, for academic evaluation, the ideas, representations, or words of another person or persons without customary and proper acknowledgment of sources
- Indulges, during a class (or examination) session in which one is a student, in conduct which is so disruptive as to infringe upon the rights of the faculty member of fellow students etc.
As you can see, there are a myriad of ways a student can commit acts that fall under the realm of academic misconduct. Many of these ways fall outside the conventional idea of academic misconduct most students imagine when they hear about this violation. Some students are under the false impression that as long as they don't commit blatant acts of academic dishonesty - like copying and pasting academic works off the internet and passing it off as their own or completely fabricating information. This simply isn't the case. Misinformation as to what academic misconduct entails is a culprit that exposes even the most careful students to serious academic and disciplinary ramifications.
Any member of the University community can report a student who they suspect is exhibiting academic dishonesty. But before this report is taken into consideration, the complainant (usually a faculty member) is encouraged to meet with the student in question and attempt to reach an agreement. If an accused student and a faculty member can come to a shared resolution in a written agreement, the matter will be considered resolved. In these cases, the agreements are submitted to the Office of the Dean, and he or she will maintain a written record of the argument. The upside of this method of resolution is that this record will not be added to a student's academic record, and will be destroyed once a student graduates or otherwise terminates registration. If an agreement cannot be reached, the complaint will be sent to an administrative officer.
Upon the filing of a complaint, a student will be notified of their charges, which will also state a time and date in which a hearing will be held by the Chair of the Academic Integrity Hearing Board.
During a hearing, a panel comprised of faculty members will listen to each party to come up with a determination. They will listen to each party state their case with evidence and witnesses and will get to ask questions to gain clarification about the incident.
For respondents, a hearing is a place where you can tell your version of the story. The panel understands the stance of the complainant but hasn't necessarily gotten to hear your side. Take advantage of this opportunity by allowing a legal representative to help you make preparations for a hearing. An attorney can give you advice as to how to demonstrate a case that is effective and compelling before the panel.
Once both sides are heard, the hearing board will deliberate in private until a decision is reached and recorded. This determination will be sent to the Dean, who can entirely dismiss the charges, or order that the case be remanded under his discretion. If after the Dean's assessment, a determination of responsibility still and stands, this will be sent to a respondent.
It's important for respondents to remember that a finding of responsibility is not the end of the road. Students are still afforded the option of appealing a decision. An appeal is essentially a request for a school to reconsider its decision. This request must be submitted in writing within five days of the final determination. In order for an appeal to be granted, it must be based on reasonable grounds. An attorney will be able to help you establish these grounds, and maximize your chances of being granted one.
Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney
Allegations of academic misconduct are serious matters that should not be taken lightly. For students faced with severe repercussions, going about this process alone is too risky. Retaining an attorney would be in your best interest. Student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has lent his expertise to students facing involved in academic misconduct conflicts for over 15 years, and he can help you receive a favorable outcome. Contact him today for help.