Academic Misconduct At Cornell University

If you or a loved one has been accused of academic misconduct while enrolled at Cornell University, it's crucial not to underestimate the seriousness of this allegation. Cornell is an elite university, and it is challenging to gain entry there. If you're at Cornell, you most likely worked very diligently in order to attend the school. It's critical not to throw away all of your time and studies with an academic misconduct allegation that could negatively impact your future career or academic studies. If you're facing academic misconduct allegations at Cornell, here's a brief overview to inform you about some of the components of the policy.

What Does Cornell Consider An Academic Offense?

Cornell University outlines what constitutes academic misconduct on their website. Their document is part of their “policy library” and roots definition of academic misconduct into their identity as an academic institution. Academic misconduct then, harms the community at large and so is to be taken seriously. They open their policy by stating: “The university will vigorously investigate allegations of academic misconduct, taking all reasonable steps to protect the rights and interests of individuals whose work or performance is questioned.” From the outset, they commit to both investigating incidents and protecting the rights of those involved.

So what does Cornell University include under its definition of academic misconduct? Broadly, it is any act that violates the standards of integrity when it comes to scholarly and scientific research. Specifically, “This includes, but is not limited to, plagiarizing the work of others, i.e…; deliberately falsifying or fabricating data, citations, or information; forging academic documents; abusing the confidentiality of information obtained from colleagues or other persons; intentionally or knowingly helping another to commit an act of academic misconduct, or otherwise facilitating such acts; or other practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards that are commonly accepted within the scientific and scholarly communities for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.” Notably, the policy also includes any retaliatory behavior against someone who reports academic misconduct in good faith.

Another great resource for understanding Cornell's Academic Policies is their 2019 Academic Integrity Pamphlet. This document outlines some of the procedures and offers phrasing to avoid academic dishonesty. It also provides examples of specific situations that might arise in your studies.

What Are Potential Consequences For Academic Misconduct Violations At Cornell?

At Cornell University, the consequences for academic misconduct offenses vary. Depending on the offense's severity, the penalty could be as mild as a reprimand or as severe as an expulsion. In between are penalties such as probation, a failing grade for an assignment, and temporary suspension.

What Happens When There's Alleged Academic Misconduct?

If someone suspects academic misconduct, the allegation should be made with the Dean of the Faculty. This responsibility to report holds true for all members of the Cornell University community, whether student, faculty, staff, or otherwise. The Dean of the Faculty will conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine if an investigation needs to occur. The inquiry usually takes place within 60 days of the initial report. It has several components to it: interviews, a written report, and reasonable precautions to protect the reputations of both the individual who reported the concern and the individual being investigated. To conclude that no investigation is necessary, one of two things must be determined. First, the alleged facts, if true, are not an act of academic misconduct or second, there is no reasonable cause to believe that academic misconduct occurred.

If the Dean of the Faculty determines that an Investigation is warranted, they will refer the investigation to the Dean of the appropriate college. This referral will occur within 30 days of the completed inquiry. The Dean or unit head will then investigate the allegation. If there is a conflict of interest, then the Provost will appoint another faculty member to function as an investigator.

The investigator is responsible for actions that will include (but may exceed):

  • Interviewing all involved parties, including possible witnesses.
  • Preparing written summaries of these interviews and providing them to the interviewees so that they can respond or clarify any components of the interview.
  • Consulting experts both within and outside of Cornell University, as required.
  • Collecting all pertinent documents and maintaining a file with everything that is related to the investigation.
  • Examining any pertinent documents, research, papers, etc., related to the allegation.

The investigator has 120 days to complete the investigation after receiving the referral from the inquirer. When the investigation is concluded, the investigator will provide the inquirer with a report that summarizes the investigation. The inquirer is then allowed to accept, modify, or even amend the findings. If they do so, they must write the amendation or modification and send it off to the investigator. If the investigation does conclude that academic misconduct occurred, then they will select the appropriate penalty. Students may file an appeal, if they wish to do so.

How Can An Attorney Help?

If you choose to elect for a hearing, you have the right to be accompanied by an advisor. This advisor may assist you in presenting your case and questioning those involved, including challenging any evidence that the investigator presents. An experienced attorney-advisor will understand how to best utilize the evidence to strengthen your defense and obtain the best possible outcome for a challenging situation.

An Experienced Attorney For Your Cornell Academic Misconduct Allegation

When your academic career is on the line, and you are facing an academic misconduct allegation, it can be helpful to have someone help you navigate the ins and outs of the process. An experienced attorney who has helped countless students face similar charges can bring their expertise to bear on your case and work to attain the best possible outcome. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have made it their job to bring heart and expertise to help students facing such challenges. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or contact us online with any questions you may have.