College is hard enough as it is. There's your bipolar roommate to worry about; you've got to figure out how to tell your parents about all those parking tickets you've racked up this semester; and you've been wearing the same underwear since Tuesday. You don't need a charge of academic misconduct to worry about on top of all that.
Unfortunately, you can't always avoid it. Maybe we mentioned it already: college is hard. You may not have had time to get around to studying for that calculus final, and so you cut a few corners. Well, maybe you cut a lot of corners. Now you're facing a punishment that seems way out of proportion to what you did, and you need help talking your professor down. Or maybe you're entirely innocent, and your professor has jumped to some completely unwarranted conclusion about you. It happens.
Whatever the case, don't try to handle the situation all on your own. University judicial procedures are always difficult to navigate, and your university will very likely side with your instructor over you. You need someone on your side. You need an attorney-advisor with experience handling school disciplinary charges.
Defining Academic Misconduct
A strong defense to any accusation starts with understanding the allegations against you. As a starting point, then, just what are Central Connecticut State's rules when it comes to academic integrity?
CCSU's policy sums everything up in a single sentence:
Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to, providing or receiving assistance from another, in a manner not authorized by the instructor, in the creation of work to be submitted for academic evaluation (including papers, projects, and examinations).
Now, you might be thinking, “Only one sentence? No problem.” Not so fast. First, take another look at that sentence. There are enough conditional phrases in it to make your head spin. In fact, this single statement covers just about any sort of cheating scheme you could ever dream up.
- Peak on your classmate's paper during an exam: that's cheating
- Ask someone else to take the exam for you: that's also cheating
- Sneaking a crib sheet into the exam is cheating
- Buying your freshman comp paper from an online paper mill is definitely cheating
- Grabbing an image online and inserting it into your PowerPoint presentation is cheating
- Even just talking to a student from another section about what to expect on the exam is cheating
Notice some of the other phrases in this sentence. “Providing” unauthorized assistance is just as much a violation as “receiving” unauthorized assistance. There's also that phrase “includes, but is not limited to.” What does that mean? Basically, it means the school reserves the right to charge you with academic misconduct for virtually anything. That single phrase can make it hard to avoid committing misconduct, and it can make it particularly hard to defend yourself from charges.
Still think the “rules” at CCSU are no problem? Sentences like this one are exactly why you need an attorney-advisor to help you defend yourself.
Defending Yourself From Charges
Knowing the rules is only half the battle of taking on an academic misconduct charge. You also need a clear understanding of the school's judicial process.
Allegations at CCSU typically originate with faculty. After all, they are in the best position to identify, investigate, and punish policy violations. When an instructor suspects a student of misconduct, they are supposed to supply the student with a notification that includes a description of the allegation, an explanation of the sanction, and information on the student's right to appeal.
Sanctions vary, but instructors are only allowed to punish students within the context of the course. Often, those sanctions include things like:
- Verbal or written warnings
- Makeup assignments or revision and resubmission of the original assignment
- Extra assignment on the nature of academic integrity
- Lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
- Lowered grade in the course, up to an F
Instructors are further required to report all incidents to the school's Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR). That office usually assigns an additional disciplinary sanction requiring you attend an Academic Integrity Workshop. In addition, the OSRR punishes further offenses with more severe sanctions, including probation, suspension, and expulsion.
Whatever sanction you are facing, you have the right to appeal it. Appeals start with the chair of the department that houses the course. This individual has the power to overturn an instructor's decision directly. If they choose to uphold that decision, though, you can appeal to the school's Faculty Hearing Board (FHB).
A hearing before the FHB offers you an opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. Of course, your instructor is entitled to do the same. Importantly, you may bring an advisor with you to this hearing. This person cannot participate directly in the proceedings but can offer you advice and can help monitor whether or not the FHB respects your due process rights.
Joseph D. Lento, Student Conduct Attorney-Advisor
Many students—even those who are completely innocent—don't bother to challenge their instructor's accusations of academic misconduct. Taking on your school may seem daunting, and maybe you don't have much faith in your chances. A warning or a lower grade on an assignment may not seem like a big deal. Academic misconduct, though, is always a big deal. If a warning should find its way into your file, it could cost your scholarships, interfere with graduate school applications, and even hinder your job search.
You must take every accusation seriously. That means finding out as much as you can about what you're up against and making sure you have help to handle it.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified, fully-licensed defense attorney. His focus Is on making sure schools give students the rights they deserve. Joseph D. Lento has represented literally hundreds of students just like you, helping them defend themselves from all kinds of accusations, from simple cheating on a test to complicated plagiarism schemes. He knows how your school operates. He's also familiar with your school's judicial procedures and experienced in dealing with faculty and administrators. If you're a student looking to take on your school, you need the best representation you can find. You need Joseph D. Lento.
If you've been accused of any type of academic misconduct, contact Joseph D. Lento today to find out how he can help. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.