Established in 1892, Texas State University (TXST) is one of the oldest public research universities in the Lone Star State. The university's diverse student body, curriculum offerings, and stellar reputation make it among the most popular universities in Texas, attracting students nationwide. Despite its reputation as a party university, TXST has a comprehensive academic integrity policy that it actively enforces and has a low tolerance for academic misconduct.
TXST is in good standing with the International Center for Academic Integrity. As a result, the university enforces rigid conduct principles as part of its Honor Code. Violations of the code and multiple offenses lead to sanctions and, in worst-case scenarios, permanent dismissal. College is a time for exploration and understanding the consequences of one's actions. A mistake or lapse in judgment shouldn't lead to harsh penalties and graduation delays, especially with a lack of evidence.
Defining Academic Misconduct at Texas State University
Academic misconduct is any act that allows students to receive credit through unauthorized and unfair means. The Honor Code Council at TXST is responsible for enforcing the tenets of the code and reviewing student appeals. The university also established a student-led program called the Academic Integrity Initiative that works with the Honor Code Council and faculty members to build a culture of academic integrity.
In addition to reducing cheating attempts, the Academic Integrity Initiative also maintains reporting standards and establishes processes to address misconduct allegations. A full description of what constitutes academic misconduct exists in the code, with the main themes of cheating, plagiarism, collusion, fabrication, and facilitating academic dishonesty addressed.
Cheating is an attempt to gain an academic disadvantage over one's peers through unauthorized means. Some examples of cheating include:
- Copying information from another student's academic exercise, test, report, computer files, or equipment
- Using unauthorized materials such as notes or electronic devices during an academic exercise
- Buying, selling, copying, and distributing test materials or academic products such as solution manuals
- Purchasing a research paper
Plagiarism is when students use information, theories, data, or another person's ideas without listing the original author. Examples of plagiarism listed in the TXST Honor Code include:
- Not acknowledging the appropriation of another person's work
- Self-plagiarism by submitting the same information used in another class as recent work
- Using computer programming codes, websites, films, and musical compositions without crediting the creator
- Paraphrasing or rewriting an idea or concept and claiming that it is original
Collusion is the unauthorized collaboration of students to engage in any form of academic misconduct. Examples of collusion include:
- Unauthorized collaboration during an academic exercise, exam, or quiz
- Students “lending” one another their assignments or test questions
- Asking someone else such as a peer to write an essay, take a test, or perform any academic exercise
TXST is diligent about preventing attempts at fabrication to maintain its reputation as an established research university. Examples of this violation include:
- Providing false data or deliberately distorting information
- Forging a signature or falsifying attendance records
- Misrepresenting one's academic achievements to peers, faculty, and administration
- Facilitating academic dishonesty
Students who knowingly assist others in acts of academic misconduct also receive penalties. Examples of facilitation include:
- Allowing a peer to copy one's work knowing that they intend to cheat
- Keeping exam questions to distribute to other students
- Manipulating university software or electronic systems to help other students engage in misconduct
Hearing Process, Penalties, and Appeals
Professors who suspect that a student is engaging in academic misconduct at TXST consult with the Council chair, who conducts an investigation. The professor must also submit an Honor Code Review Form and arranges a meeting with the student to address the alleged violation.
Students have three days to respond to the Honor Code Review Form and agree to the penalty imposed by the professor. Professor penalties include asking the student to perform additional academic work or reducing their grade on the test or course. Students who don't accept the sanctions have the right to defend themselves at a hearing.
After the hearing committee deliberates on the allegations, they vote on a recommendation and submit it to the dean, student, and professor.
Sanctions for academic misconduct violations at TXST include:
- A written warning stating the student's violation and listing possible sanctions in case of future violations
- Restricting university privileges such as parking, dining facilities, and use of university property
- Additional coursework and special projects
- Placement on disciplinary probation
- Withholding, denial, or non-recognition of degree
- Suspension or deferred suspension
- Notation on student's record
The decision taken during the hearing is final – but is subject to appeal under certain conditions if the sanctions are more severe than a warning or probation. The specifications of asking for an appeal include:
- The student did not receive fair notice/warning of the scheduled hearing
- Sanctions recommended by the panel are disproportionate to the violation
- The lack of evidence cannot possibly support the findings of the panel
- The emergence of new evidence that potentially changes the case outcome
The Vice President of student affairs makes the final decision after the appeal unless the case receives a discretionary review by the VPSA, President, or Board of Regents.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
The investigation and hearing process is incredibly stressful for students regardless of the merits of the allegations because of what is stake. Students risk losing years of time and effort, including their graduation prospects and their degree.
The rigid enforcement of the honor code at TXST requires a strong defense strategy to reduce the impact of academic misconduct sanctions. Attorney Advisor Joseph D. Lento helps students at Texas State University and also nationwide face schools and hearing panels with confidence – and appeal unfair decisions when allegations are baseless.
Don't let an accusation of academic misconduct upend your future or that of someone you love. Attorney Advisor Lento is by your side when your degree is on the line. Call the Lento Law Firm today for a consultation at 888-535-3686 or send a message through the online form.