Academic Misconduct Procedures at West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Violations of Academic Integrity at West Chester University of Pennsylvania

In order to comprehensively understand your charges, you must identify what actions constitute academic misconduct under your school's policies. If you plan on maintaining your innocence in the midst of school processes, knowing that your actions didn't fall under any of these categories will help you when it comes to building a case and collecting evidence. According to West Chester University of Pennsylvania's code of conduct, violations of this nature fall into five broadly defined categories:

  1. Plagiarism: defined as the inclusion of another person's words, ideas, or data as one's own work. This includes buying or selling term papers and other academic work.
  2. Fabrication: refers to the use of invented information of the falsification or information, research, citations or other findings used in academic works.
  3. Cheating: An act or an attempted act of deception to achieve academic merit. It usually consists of dishonest actions like tampering with grades and using unauthorized materials for assignments.
  4. Facilitating academic dishonesty: this includes aiding or attempting to aid another individual to commit an act of academic dishonesty.
  5. Breach of standards of professional ethics: in certain degree programs, students will be required to uphold a particular profession's code of ethics. For example, the majority of nursing programs have implemented the American Nurses Association Code for Nurses with a separate set of regulations for nursing students to abide by. If a student violates this professional code, this violation may be considered a breach of academic integrity policy.

Procedures

Complainants in these cases are usually instructors. They are typically ones who hold suspicions that a potential violation of school policy has occurred. If an instructor wishes to file a complaint, they are required to acquire evidence directly or through information supplied by others that their suspicions are validated. After collecting this evidence, they must meet with the student in question.

Initial meeting

This meeting is intended to be confidential. Since evidence of a violation has not been substantiated yet, all dealings involving allegations must be kept between a student and an instructor. This meeting will entail the evidence an instructor has collected, their intentions of possibly submitting an official complaint, and an opportunity for a respondent to explain themselves.

As a respondent, this is your time to provide a reasonable expectation, and hopefully, avoid having to undergo your school's tumultuous processes. If the plagiarism happened to be a genuine mistake, you should bring documents that exemplify the thought work you put into the respective assignment. Perhaps you were accused of plagiarizing in an essay. You should bring every draft of the process of writing it, the list of sources used to complete it, notes, and any other document you used to complete the assignment. If an instructor can identify that it was a mistake, and you weren't intending to be dishonest or deceptive, they may not submit a complaint. However, it's important you remember that you are only responsible for the work you submit, not the work you are were intending to submit.

The decision

If this explanation is considered and accepted by an instructor, no further actions will be taken. However, if a faculty member determines that a violation has occurred and wishes to proceed with the process, the member will fill out a form claiming a violation and recommended sanctions. Once processed, this form indicates that a student has been officially charged with academic misconduct.

Details of the charges will be forwarded to the Academic Integrity Board, where they will find a student responsible or not responsible for the alleged violation. If a student is found not responsible for the charge, the student may either remain in the course without penalty or withdraw from the course regardless of published deadlines. If a student is found responsible, on the other hand, he or she will not be permitted to withdraw from the course, will have to receive the sanction imposed by the instructor or any other academic authorities.

Sanctions

Academic or disciplinary sanctions may be imposed. The severity of a sanction depends solely on the nature of the charges. Instructors have limited authority when it comes to sanctioning violations. They have the ability to reduce the grade for that assignment, give a student a “0,” or fail them for the entire course. These repercussions are damaging but could be worse. In serious cases or repeated violations, disciplinary actions like an academic suspension, or expulsion may be imposed.

Appeals

If you've been found responsible for an incident of academic misconduct and you feel like you were falsely accused or were untreated unfairly in any way, you have the right to appeal. An appeal is a request for the school to reconsider its decision. At West Chester University, an appeal must be submitted in writing five business days from the original determination and/or sanction. In order for an appeal to be granted, it must be based on reasonable grounds. A student defense attorney can help you establish those grounds in a way that is effective.

Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney

Students facing sanctions that include a program withdrawal, suspension or expulsion as a result of academic misconduct charges should think about retaining an attorney. Joseph D. Lento has over 15 years of experience rendering helpful advice to students in these predicaments. He can do the same for you. Contact him today.

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