It isn't always as easy to avoid committing academic misconduct as you might think. Sure, you know you're not supposed to buy your English final from an online paper mill. You probably also know it's wrong to offer your Chemistry lab TA a bribe. Not every violation is quite as cut and dried as these examples, though. Who would have thought you could plagiarize from yourself, for instance? And what's so wrong about asking your roommate what was on the calculus midterm he took two hours before you?
In fact, in today's digital environment, it sometimes seems almost as though you're supposed to cheat. How are you not supposed to use Google to look up the date when the Treaty of Versailles was signed? The search engine is right there in front of you.
Now more than ever, you need to know what qualifies as academic misconduct at your school so you can be sure to avoid it. Maybe, more importantly, you need to know how to defend yourself if you should wind up accused of it.
Academic Misconduct According to Auburn
Part of the problem when it comes to academic misconduct at Auburn is that the school doesn't have a concrete set of rules. Instead, they offer a set of four ideals: honesty, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Those are noble principles, to be sure, but they are also just vague enough so that a professor could probably accuse you of anything and make it stick.
Thankfully, Auburn does include some examples to help clarify its expectations. These include:
- using someone else's words and ideas without giving them proper credit, otherwise known as plagiarism;
- using unauthorized sources to complete your work, including electronic sources or devices;
- copying someone else's work, whether on an exam, a paper, or a homework assignment;
- asking someone else to take your exam for you or agreeing to take an exam for someone else;
- using Google to look up answers during a test;
- photographing quiz questions and sharing them with others;
- altering or attempting to alter a grade in any way;
As some of these items suggest, the school treats attempting to commit academic misconduct the same as if you had actually succeeded. In addition, if you help someone else break the rules, the school sees you as just as guilty as the person who actually committed the offense.
Finally, the school includes a catchall note at the end of this list that allows instructors to include any other kind of rule they like on their syllabus.
“Instructors may delineate other actions that they consider a violation of the Academic Honesty Code in a written course syllabus.”
Here again, a note like this one essentially leaves the definition of academic misconduct open to broad interpretation: not your interpretation but your instructor's. It's yet another reason why accusations of academic misconduct can be so difficult to fight.
Resolving Misconduct Allegations at Auburn
Auburn's resolution procedures when it comes to academic misconduct are just as vague as their academic misconduct policy itself. In fact, the school doesn't outline any specific procedures at all. Instead, they provide a list of student “rights.”
First, students have a right to be notified in writing of any official charge of academic misconduct. Second, students can protest the charge in one of two forums.
Option 1: They may ask for a facilitated meeting with the instructor. At this meeting, a member of the Academic Honesty Committee will help the student and instructor reach a satisfactory resolution. However, the instructor must agree to this meeting in order for it to go forward.
Option 2: Students may ask for a hearing before the full Academic Honesty Committee, at which they can present evidence and witnesses.
Finally, whatever the outcome of the process, students also have the right to appeal the findings and any sanctions to the President of Auburn University.
Possible Sanctions for Academic Misconduct
Auburn is also quite limited in prescribing penalties for academic misconduct. Their page lists only four possibilities:
- A zero on the given assignment
- An F in the course
- Suspension from the university, during which students may not complete transfer credit at other schools
- Expulsion from Auburn
You should also know that if an instructor sanctions you for academic misconduct, they must also report the incident to the Office of the Provost and your particular college's dean.
Contact Joseph D. Lento
Despite the fact that Auburn University doesn't explain its academic misconduct policy or its resolution procedures very clearly, you can be certain that they will hold you accountable for any mistakes you make. Worse, they may hold you accountable for offenses you didn't actually commit. The history of academia is full of stories of professors who were initially convinced their students were cheating, later changed their minds, but because of pride, couldn't withdraw the accusation.
For their part, schools will generally back their instructors up, even if doing so means suspending or expelling an innocent student. After all, admitting a student broke the honor code is far less embarrassing than admitting a tenured professor might have made a mistake.
If you've been accused of academic misconduct at Auburn University, don't take chances with your future: call attorney Joseph D. Lento. Joseph D. Lento built his career on academic misconduct cases and has successfully defended hundreds of clients from charges just like yours. He knows how schools operate, what kinds of pressure they will put on students to accept a settlement, even if that settlement is unfair. Put someone in your corner who will look out for your best interests. Call Joseph D. Lento today.
For more information about academic misconduct, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.