Academic Integrity Attorney-Advisor - University of Wisconsin-Madison

The grades a student gets in college have a direct impact on what their life after their time at university might look like. Most employers, after all, take GPA into account while hiring, while graduate programs and many employers will also need to consider both a student's GPA and disciplinary record before accepting someone into a cohort.

With this in mind, poorly-managed accusations of academic misconduct can have a detrimental impact on a student's future. Not only can sanctions make it difficult for students to recover their pre-accusation GPA, but further consequences can include disciplinary findings which can include probation, suspension, or expulsion. Luckily, families and students can reach out to an attorney-advisor should they ever find themselves in this manner of situation.

Academic Misconduct, State Law, and University Interpretations

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Student Handbook and Wisconsin state law, the university considers academic misconduct to include:

  • The use of data, thoughts, or ideas created by another person without appropriately crediting that party.
  • The use of unapproved materials on exams, quizzes, assignments, and other in-class work.
  • Forging academic records.
  • Deliberately causing another student to suffer a poor grade or otherwise tampering with another student's academic work.
  • Inappropriately representing one's own academic work or the academic work completed by another student.
  • Aiding and abetting a student engaging in the aforementioned behaviors.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison does not differentiate between plagiarism and self-plagiarism. That said, students should still endeavor to produce entirely original work for each of their classes instead of reusing existing materials. The University of Wisconsin-Madison prefers to leave sanctions power with its professors, meaning that each professor may have a different response to your behavior should you be accused of self-plagiarism.

Addressing Concerns of Academic Misconduct

The University of Wisconsin-Madison gives its faculty and other supervisory bodies more direct control over their responses to believed academic misconduct than many other universities. If a professor or another faculty member or similar supervisory party believes that a student has engaged in academic misconduct, they may take the following steps before reaching out to other university representatives:

Discussing Those Concerns

Professors and other supervisory bodies are encouraged to discuss a student's perceived academic misconduct with that student before reaching out and using official university resources. This way, if the student can present evidence that such behaviors did not take place, professors and similar supervisory bodies will be able to direct that student on with their education in little to no time at all.

Meetings with students regarding academic dishonesty can be difficult to hold, but professors are encouraged, if not required by the university, to address these concerns as soon as possible, especially if a professor made a note about plagiarism in her syllabus. This way, other students, in addition to the offender, can be discouraged from similar courses of behavior.

Documenting Those Concerns

If the student in question is not able to produce evidence noting that they did not engage in academic misconduct, then the professor other supervisory body in question may document the believed case and report that evidence to the Office of Student Conduct. Provided that the offense is either the student's first or relatively non-severe, the professor or other body will have the opportunity to assign punitive measures – known as sanctions – against the student.

That said, if the damage done by the student's behavior is more significant, then the office may choose to take on those potential punishments on their own.

Student Sanctions in Academic Misconduct Cases

The University of Wisconsin-Madison breaks down possible sanctions as follows:

  • Group A – minor cases of academic misconduct can see a professor or similar supervisory body provide the student in question with either a written or an oral reprimand. Students may also have to resubmit the work that was considered ethically incomplete to receive an appropriate grade in their course.
  • Group B – more severe cases of academic misconduct can see a student suffer from a lowered or failing course grade in the course in question. Students may also receive a failing grade for the course as a whole without the ability presented to withdraw from that course. Alternatively, students may be removed from a course with no grade provided to them. In the same breath, students may also receive a written reprimand marking their behaviors and what future sanctions may look like if their students' records note one or two incidents of this sort.
  • Group C – students who engage in academic misconduct on multiple occasions or to a certain degree of severity will have their sanctions determined by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. Students who receive Group C sanctions may go on disciplinary probation, suffer suspensions from school, or be expelled from the university entirely.

Requesting a Formal Hearing

Students who wish to appeal the sanctions placed against them by the professors have the opportunity to do so within ten business days of the sanctions' placement. Students can opt to either undergo a hearing with a panel or an examiner by working with the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

During a hearing, students will have the opportunity to hear the allegations brought against them and respond to those allegations. Attending supervisory bodies will then take the applicable arguments and evidence into account to determine whether or not the student in question must continue to attend school with the previously-applied sanctions in place. These types of hearing cannot be appealed.

Let an Attorney Advisor Go to Work For You

Contending with accusations of academic misconduct through the University of Wisconsin-Madison is more than just time-consuming. The process can be difficult to understand and, if gone about improperly, can drastically impact a student's ability to secure the academic and professional opportunities they want later down the line.

That's where attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help. Families and students concerned about academic misconduct cases can reach out to the firm and schedule a case consultation. To get started, call 888-535-3686 or fill out an online contact link.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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