You may have read the news stories recently: Cheating is up at US colleges and universities. Way up. One of the consequences of that rise is that faculty are now more on edge than ever. They are more likely to accuse students, and they are more likely to issue severe penalties in these cases.
If you've been accused, you need to take it seriously. Beyond any sanctions you might face, if a record of even a minor infraction should wind up in your academic file, it can cause long-term repercussions. You could lose scholarships. You might have trouble applying to internships and graduate school programs. A notation for cheating can even cause you trouble in job interviews.
What does taking it seriously mean, exactly? First, it means learning all you can about what you're facing. What are the charges? What does the process of defending yourself look like? Who will ultimately decide your fate, and how will they go about deciding it?
Second, you need to make sure you have help. Challenging a professor's decisions is no easy task, and you don't want to do it alone. A qualified attorney-advisor can work with you on drafting your appeals and can coach you on how to present your case. They may be able to accompany you to meetings and proceedings. Most importantly, though, having an attorney-advisor in your corner will force your school to respect your rights and listen to what you have to say.
Defining Academic Misconduct at Arkansas State University
Preparing to defend yourself starts with knowing the rules. Why? You can't hope to prove your innocence if you don't know exactly what you've been accused of doing.
ASU's rules, as listed in the school's Student Handbook, are pretty simple. In fact, there are only two. Don't let that fool you, though. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ways to commit academic misconduct under this policy.
- Plagiarism: You probably already know that plagiarism involves trying to pass another person's work off as your own. You'd never, for instance, buy a paper online or copy whole sections of an essay from an academic article you came across during your research. Plagiarism isn't always so blatant, though. At ASU, you can be accused for failing to include quotation marks. You can get in trouble for hiring someone else to do your research for you, even if you're the one who writes the paper. In addition, it's worth noting that plagiarism doesn't just apply to text. You can be accused of plagiarizing images, music, and even computer code.
- Cheating: Like plagiarism, cheating is a broad category of offense, and you can find yourself in trouble for a whole range of activities. In simplest terms, “cheating” refers to the use of unauthorized materials to complete your coursework. “Unauthorized materials,” though, can include anything from asking someone to take an exam for you, to Googling answers during a quiz. Crib sheets, books during closed-book exams, advanced copies of tests: any of these can get you into serious trouble.
Sanctions and Procedures at Arkansas State
In addition to knowing the rules at your school, you also need to know how the judicial system operates. What rights do you have in this system, and how can you use them to your advantage?
Primary responsibility for identifying, investigating, and punishing instances of academic misconduct at ASU rests with the faculty. Basically, your instructors have carte blanch to accuse you and to decide what sanctions to assign. In fact, they don't even have to confront you directly or give you a chance to respond. Rather, once they've decided you're responsible for an offense, they report it to the Office of Academic Affairs, which notifies you in writing.
You already know the rules. Sanctions for breaking those rules generally include
- Verbal or written warnings
- Resubmissions or makeup assignments
- Assignments specifically related to academic integrity
- Lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
- Lowered grade in the course up to a failure
In addition, the Office of Academic Affairs reviews all allegations and has the power to apply disciplinary sanctions, such as suspension and expulsion. These are particularly likely in cases of repeat offenses.
You do have the right to challenge your instructor's accusation. This involves filing an appeal with the University Academic Integrity Committee (UAIC), a panel made up of three faculty members, two undergraduates, and one graduate student. The appeal itself is made in writing. That is, you do not have an opportunity to make your case in person. You can, however, submit supporting documents to buttress your case.
You can further appeal the UAIC's decision to the Provost. This official's decision is final.
You should also be aware that, while you can challenge your instructor's accusations, you cannot challenge the sanctions they impose. If the UAIC and/or the Provost should find you responsible for the violation, you have no choice but to accept the sanction.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Schools aren't infallible. Faculty do get things wrong. They do accuse innocent students, for instance, and they do assign sanctions far out of proportion to the nature of the offense. It is always in your best interest to fight any accusation, especially at ASU. If you accept responsibility, you have no recourse for challenging the sanction. Better, then, to fight.
You don't have to take on that fight alone, though. Joseph D. Lento is on your side and ready to defend you.
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.