Bloomfield College is a small, private liberal arts college in northeastern New Jersey. The school is associated with the Presbyterian Church, and has nearly 2,000 students at its campus in Bloomfield, New Jersey, which is only 15 miles from New York City. Many of Bloomfield's students are commuters, with only one in every three living on campus during the school year.
Like all colleges and universities in the United States, Bloomfield College has policies that prohibit academic misconduct and dishonesty. These are found in the Bloomfield College Course Catalog. Violations of these policies can lead to harsh punishments, all the way up to expulsion from the school, and not knowing the rules is not accepted as a valid excuse for a violation. This makes it crucial to have a lawyer help you navigate the academic misconduct process at Bloomfield College—preventing a conviction for an instance of academic dishonesty can not only help you get through college, but can also prevent a serious blemish on your academic record that can make it more difficult to enter the professional world.
Initial Investigation by Instructor
If an instructor at Bloomfield College suspects that a student has violated one of the provisions against academic dishonesty, and has sufficient evidence to back that belief up, they are required to meet with the student to discuss the issue as well as the penalty for the claimed violation. During this initial meeting between the instructor and the student, the student will have two options: Either confess to the violation or deny their guilt.
If the student admits to committing the violation, then the instructor will make a written record of the infraction and send it to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, which will keep the record on permanent file. The student will also receive a copy of this record, as well.
Bloomfield College instructors can levy any of the following penalties for academic misconduct that happens in their class:
- A written reprimand
- Resubmission of the impacted assignment
- A failing grade for the impacted assignment or exam
- A failing grade for the impacted course
Importantly, the instructor's power to penalize a student does not reach beyond the scope of their course, so they cannot suspend or expel a student on their own.
If the student denies wrongdoing at his or her initial meeting with the instructor alleging a violation, then the case will be referred to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, or to one of the Dean's designees.
Referral to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty
If a student denies the wrongdoing they are being charged with by the instructor, then the case gets referred to either the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, or to one of the Office's designees. Additionally, if the allegation is a severe one, the case can go straight to these staff members, bypassing the instructor entirely.
Once the case reaches the Dean and Vice President, the instructor's charge and evidence are reviewed and meetings are scheduled with each party, individually. The Dean and Vice President will discuss the allegations and evidence with both the instructor levying them, as well as the student being charged. If these meetings and the evidence obtained allow the Dean and Vice President to reach a resolution, then he or she will either dismiss the case or impose a sanction they believe appropriate, up to and including suspension or expulsion from school.
If a resolution is not met during these meetings, or if the allegation is particularly severe, the Dean and Vice President may refer the case to the Bloomfield College Judiciary Board.
Hearing by the Bloomfield College Judiciary Board
The Bloomfield College Judiciary Board consists of three faculty members and two students and can hear cases alleging violations of Bloomfield College's standards of conduct, including allegations of academic misconduct. These hearings are conducted to determine if the accuser can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the student being accused has committed an instance of academic misconduct at Bloomfield College.
If a student's case of academic dishonesty is referred to the Bloomfield College Judiciary Board, the student will receive notice of the hearing's time and place, as well as the student's rights during the hearing. The student can request a hearing be made open to the public, but Bloomfield College officials retain the right to deny such a request. Hearings that are closed can only be attended by the following people:
- The person bringing the charge of academic misconduct
- The person representing Bloomfield College
- The student being charged
- A hearing advisor chosen by the student
- The ombudsman
- The Bloomfield College Judiciary Board and its staff
- Witnesses called by the Board
During open hearings, only the above-listed people can participate.
After the charge is read, witness lists are presented to the Board, who can then call the witnesses to testify. These witnesses can be questioned by the student, the College representative, and the members of the Judiciary Board. After all of the relevant testimony is heard, the Board deliberates in private and issues its written decision within 24 hours. The imposition of the sanction that gets recommended by the Board is the discretion of the Dean and Vice President.
Appealing the Bloomfield College Judiciary Board
Students who want to appeal the decision by the Bloomfield College Judiciary Board need to state their intent, in writing and within one week, to both the Dean and Vice President, and to the Judiciary Board's Chairperson. Possible grounds for appeal include:
- There is new evidence in the case
- Evidence that the student was denied basic procedural fairness
- The regulation was inapplicable to the case
- The punishment is too severe
The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs can decide whether to allow the appeal to be heard by the Bloomfield College Board of Appeal. The appellate hearing has to happen within 14 working days, and the decision rendered is final.