College is often a time of experimentation, a time where students are told they'll “find themselves” and potentially determine the rest of their life's path. So, what happens when a student is accused of something as seemingly benign as academic misconduct? Believe it or not, the allegations are more serious than they may seem at first glance.
Academic integrity violations can follow a student beyond college—impacting not only their academic career but also their future earnings, their potential admission into graduate school, and more. It's critical that you take action as quickly as possible so that you can grasp the best possible approach to nip this in the bud.
University of Nevada, Reno only specifies plagiarism and cheating as academic integrity violations; however, they do cover a wide array of other activities, with the rest of their definition for academic dishonesty. This definition concludes with “or other attempts to obtain or earn grades under false pretenses.” This wide berth leaves much open to the interpretation of either an instructor, their TA, and/or the Academic Integrity Board.
The Levels of Academic Dishonesty
According to the University of Nevada, Reno's Academic Standards Policy, there are three levels of academic dishonesty, beginning with Level A.
Level A is the least serious offense, and Level C is the most egregious. Let's take a look at each of the three levels so that you can better understand them.
A Level A offense is one of a “modest degree.” In other words, it might include something such as failing to properly cite a quotation or source or unauthorized collaboration on coursework.
As you might imagine, Level B is an academic violation that is of medium seriousness. The Academic Standards Policy defines it as “substantial.” Examples of what this could constitute include misquoting or failing to cite multiple sources on an assignment, signing into class a student who is actually absent, or copying answers or coursework from another student.
Finally, a Level C offense is one where the alleged actions are “severe and egregious.”
Possible Sanctions for Violations of Academic Standards Policy
If your professor or the Academic Integrity Board determines that the allegations of academic misconduct are substantiated, then there are numerous possible sanctions that the school may impose. These sanctions could be of an academic nature, or they could be disciplinary. For example, receiving an F in the course would be considered an academic sanction. On the other hand, a disciplinary sanction might include suspension, expulsion, warnings, reprimands, probation, or revocation of your degree. Yes, that's correct. It's possible to have your degree revoked after you've received it, depending on the severity of the alleged violation.
Academic sanctions are assigned to each of the Levels of Academic Dishonesty. Subsequently, a Level A offense merits either a reduced grade or zero in the assignment or retaking the test or exam/resubmitting the assignment. A Level B offense carries the sanction from Level A as well as a reduced course grade by one letter grade or more. And a Level C offense will result in an F in the course. This particular F will not qualify for grade replacement or a grade appeal (such as a S/U for Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory).
Disciplinary sanctions are implemented by the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) and usually occur when a student has a prior history of academic misconduct.
Academic Dishonesty Procedures at University of Nevada-Reno
The Academic Standards Policy details the procedures for both graduate and undergraduate students. In this guide, however, we're going to focus mainly on defense of undergraduate students. The two processes are very similar, and you should definitely explore them on your own in order to be familiar with all of the nuances.
The first stage of the process is that students receive a letter from the faculty member who alleges the violation. This letter includes the charges, the proposed sanctions, the right to appeal (and that you must do so within ten days of the date of the charging letter), as well as where to find the Academic Standards Policy
Student Response (Appeal of Charging Letter)
If a student decides to, in fact, dispute the allegation, then they first must meet with the faculty member. You are allowed five days from the date of the letter to schedule the meeting. After the meeting, the faculty member may choose to withdraw the sanction and allegation or to maintain it. At this point, students must appeal in writing within ten days to the department chair, who, in turn, will refer the matter to the OSC.
Hearing with the Academic Integrity Board (AIB)
At the hearing, the faculty member and the student, as well as any previously listed witnesses, may present testimony to the AIB. Any information or testimony that does not pertain directly to the specific hearing all of the information, the AIB will deliberate in a closed session and decide based on the preponderance of evidence standard whether it's more likely than not that the academic dishonesty took place.
Is it Possible to Appeal the Decision?
The school's website is unclear whether or not it is possible for students to appeal the AIB's determination after a hearing. What is clear, however, is that a student may request a review of the academic sanctions if they are found responsible. They must submit this in writing within ten business days to the chair of the department.
Additionally, if the AIB finds that a student is not responsible for the allegations, then the faculty member may not appeal the AIB's decision.
The Best Attorney-Advisor to Help You
It can be challenging to navigate the hearing procedure and investigation process when facing charges of academic misconduct. Fortunately, there are attorney-advisors, such as Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm, who have numerous years of experience working with families just like yours. They will bring their heart, their savvy, and their knowledge to your situation. Contact them at 888.535.3686 or reach out online to see if they can assist you.