College isn't like what it used to be. If you show up on day one expecting Animal House or Old School, you're going to be in for a rude awakening. If you should find yourself accused of academic misconduct, for instance, you won't find yourself in the dean's office listening to a stern lecture about the importance of honesty and integrity. You could very well find yourself dismissed from your school.
Simply put, you can't afford to take any allegation against you lightly. You need to know your school's rules, and you need to know how to defend yourself should you be accused. You also need to know how to find a qualified attorney-advisor to help you, though. Schools take academic misconduct seriously, and if you're going to challenge their decisions, you're going to need help.
Defining Academic Misconduct at the University of Vermont
As a student at the University of Vermont, you need to have a clear sense of what is and isn't acceptable academic conduct. This will help you stay out of trouble. It's also key to responding to any charges. You can't defend yourself if you don't know exactly what you've been accused of doing.
UVM maintains a strict policy on academic integrity. That policy lists four specific types of violations.
- Plagiarism: You probably know that plagiarism refers to the attempt to pass another person's words or ideas off as your own. You may not realize that plagiarism doesn't just apply to text. You can plagiarize video, music, even computer code. In fact, many professors will accuse you of grabbing images online and dropping them into your paper without a citation.
- Fabrication: This involves falsifying or making up information for your coursework. Examples might include inventing sources for a paper or faking lab results.
- Collusion: As the policy notes, you can collaborate with other students but only within the limits prescribed by your instructor. That can be a very fine line. It's always a good idea to ask your instructor to define their expectations explicitly.
- Cheating: Generally speaking, cheating refers to the use of unauthorized materials in completing your coursework. “Unauthorized materials” is a broad phrase and can include anything from buying a copy of an exam before it is administered to asking another person to take an exam for you to Googling answers during the exam.
It's important to note that the UVM policy goes on to say, “[c]ourse expectations may vary from instructor to instructor.” This suggests that misconduct isn't limited to the four categories listed above. Anything listed on your instructor's syllabus is fair game and can get you accused of academic dishonesty. However, this also suggests that your instructor cannot accuse you of a violation if the rules aren't clearly stated in the syllabus.
Initial Procedures and Sanctions
Anyone at UVM can accuse you of academic misconduct, but most allegations come from instructors, the people who are in the best position to recognize policy violations. Faculty do not have carte blanche, though, to impose penalties. Instead, they must report all suspected violations and submit any accompanying evidence to the Center for Student Conduct. Of course, your instructor may recommend a sanction, but it is up to the Coordinator of Academic Integrity to make the final decision.
Typically, potential sanctions include:
- Written or verbal warning
- Re-submission or makeup assignment
- Assignment on recognizing academic misconduct, such as an essay or a written apology
- Lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
- Lowered grade in the course, up to an F
The Coordinator also has the authority to impose more severe sanctions like probation, suspension, and expulsion in the case of especially egregious violations or repeat offenses.
When it comes to procedure, the good news is that UVM allows you the chance to contest either the accusation against you or the assigned sanction, or both. This means you have the opportunity to present evidence, call witnesses, and argue your case directly.
The bad news is that hearings can be complicated proceedings. There are very strict guidelines about how you go about questioning witnesses, for instance, and the Coordinator ultimately decides the case by using an unusual legal principle known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” This is just one reason why it's so important to have an attorney-advisor to help you navigate the system.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Students are sometimes reluctant to go through the process of challenging their instructors' decisions, even when they are entirely innocent. It's not hard to see why. It's no easy matter to collect evidence and fill out forms. Hearings can be complex, and there's no guarantee of success. Why bother, especially if the proposed sanction is light?
Here's why: ultimately, there are no minor punishments. Even a warning can cause serious long-term consequences if it shows up in your academic file. A record of cheating could interfere with scholarships, keep you from getting good internships, prevent you from getting into graduate school, and even cause problems in job interviews.
The bottom line is, schools aren't infallible. Instructors do sometimes accuse students unfairly or assign sanctions that are out of proportion to the nature of the offense. You have the right to defend yourself. Joseph D. Lento can help you do it.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully-qualified defense attorney. That means he knows how to construct air-tight arguments, organize evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. Day-to-day, though, he applies those skills to help get justice for students like you. Joseph D. Lento knows the law and particularly how it applies to higher education. He also knows how to communicate effectively with faculty and administrators. Whether you've been charged with something big, like coordinating a large-scale cheating conspiracy, or small, like forgetting to cite a source in a paper, Joseph D. Lento is ready to help you get the very best possible resolution to your case.
If you've been accused of academic misconduct, contact Joseph D. Lento today to find out what he can do for you. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.