Howard University ranks among the top 100 national universities in the United States. As a historically Black private institution with multiple star-studded alumni, it's both a privilege and a responsibility to be part of the student body. While Howard doesn’t have an overly-complex academic misconduct policy, there is an outline of expectations, definitions of infractions, and a process that students and staff must follow.
Knowing what to expect – especially since you can't have legal counsel – is crucial when facing an academic misconduct allegation. Although an advisor can't be present at your hearing, that doesn't mean you won't benefit from their experience. Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento successfully handles similar cases every year and helps students in the nation's best universities clear their name from academic misconduct allegations.
Defining Academic Infractions
Howard University deals with plagiarism and other academic misconduct cases through a rigid system, with the maximum penalty being dismissal. The code of student conduct, in effect since 2010, describes the disciplinary procedure for three academic infractions: plagiarism, cheating, and copy infringement.
- Plagiarism: Knowingly using another's work and passing it off as one's own.
- Academic Cheating: Using a deliberately dishonest approach when completing a test, assignment, or quiz. It includes using assistance from a person, organization, document, or any form of help without a professor's authorization.
- Copy Infringement: Taking copyrighted work and reproducing it without the permission of the copyright owner.
Although the infractions are open to interpretation, they apply to all schools and colleges under Howard and supersede existing honor codes.
Administrators of the Policy
The Dean and faculty members from the student's school/college review the allegations and administer the procedures that follow. The Dean starts by forming a committee comprised of three faculty members under the condition that none are the accusers or saw the alleged infarction. The appointment of a chairperson comes last, and he or she casts a vote if there is a tie after the hearing.
Before the hearing, you must gather witnesses and evidence to present to the committee. Neither the accuser nor the student may use legal counsel during the hearing. However, you can bring an unlimited number of people who can help support your claims.
Procedure and Hearing
The procedure is the most comprehensive part of Howard University's academic misconduct policy. In addition to the process specifics, the policy also mandates a timeframe for reporting and completion.
- Reporting: When a staff member suspects that a student is cheating or engaging in academic dishonesty, they must gather evidence and present it within ten business days to the Dean.
- The Dean: If there is enough evidence to warrant further action, the Dean contacts the student and notifies them of the charges. The student receives a time and date to defend against the allegations. Committee members also receive notice of the case. These actions must happen within ten business days of receiving the information.
- Hearing: The policy stresses that the student will receive a “limited hearing.” Since it is not an adversarial proceeding, due process is not applicable. The faculty member accusing the student of an academic infarction represents the university. Both the student and the professor present their evidence and witnesses to their claims.
- Process: The committee must act as an impartial party and questions both the student and the accuser. The part that presents the most substantial evidence determines the outcome of the case. A tape recording of the proceedings may occur.
- The vote: After the hearing ends, the committee has five days to discuss the details of the matter in a closed session and cast their vote.
- Initial decision: The Dean has the final say regarding the conclusion of the committee. They can decide to increase or decrease the severity of the punishment. The student receives word of the final decision and has five days to file an appeal.
- Final Decision: The Provost and Chief Academic Officer makes a final decision regarding the case and relays it to the student within ten business days of the appeal.
The process is unnerving for students who face penalties that have significant consequences on their academic path and goals. While some may opt to face the panel alone, it may not work in their best favor, especially with little evidence to disprove allegations.
The panel determines the appropriate disciplinary action on a case-by-case basis, with few specifics highlighted in the code. The decision ultimately depends on the gravity of the allegations and the evidence against the student.
For minor infractions and first-time offenders, the minimum penalty includes receiving zero credit for the test or assignment. Students with multiple offenses may fail the class, while more severe cases can lead to complete removal from the university.
While it's essential for universities to maintain a fair academic advantage for all students, some may receive harsher penalties as an example for others. With a rise in online cheating cases, college administrations may single out students to set an example to others, derailing years of hard work and effort.
What makes Howard University's policies challenging is the lack of due process and lack of advisor representation. That doesn't mean that their advice can't help you if you plan to defend against accusations of academic misconduct.
Why You Still Need an Academic Misconduct Advisor
Attorney Joseph D. Lento works with university students like you and helps them formulate a strong defense strategy. With an advisor by your side, you can gather ample evidence and identify the right evidence and information to reinforce your claims. In addition, advisor Lento can help you determine whether the penalties your panel recommends are fair, and when an appeal may be necessary, he can help you plan your appeal.
College is a time of exploration, and mistakes are bound to happen. Don't allow one to ruin your chances of graduating and leave a mark on your permanent record. With attorney Lento as your guide, you can confidently navigate Howard University's formidable investigation and hearings process and increase your chances of a favorable resolution.
If you or a family member face allegations of academic misconduct by Howard University, don't go through the process alone. Call the Lento Law Firm today for a discreet consultation and expert advice at 888-535-3686.