There may once have been a time when cheating on a college exam might get you a stern lecture from your professor. If you were really in trouble, that lecture might come from the Dean. Those days are over. Education is serious business. If you should make a mistake, you could easily find yourself in the middle of a formal hearing fighting for your academic life.
So, while there may once have been a time when you could handle charges of dishonesty on your own, these days, you can't afford to challenge your professors' charges without having a professional at your side. If you're planning to take on your school, you need an attorney-advocate like Joseph D. Lento representing you.
Defining Academic Misconduct
The place to start when preparing a strong defense is with a close examination of the charges. Only when you know exactly what you've been accused of doing can you hope to explain why you're innocent.
What are the rules at Daytona State College? You can find a brief outline in the Falcon Online Guide to Integrity. The list includes:
- Cheating: The unauthorized use of materials in completing your coursework. Note that “materials” is a broad term that includes advanced copies of an exam, crib sheets, online resources, and even other students.
- Plagiarism: Attempting to pass another person's work off as your own without giving them credit. Plagiarism applies to words, ideas, images, video, music, art, and even computer code.
- Self-plagiarism: Attempting to turn the same work into two different classes without prior authorization.
- Online Integrity Issues: In simplest terms, DSC wants you to understand that cheating through digital means is no different than any other kind of cheating. Using your cellphone, for example, to text answers back and forth during a quiz is the same as leaning over and looking at the paper of the student sitting next to you.
- Fabrication: Inventing information is also against the rules, whether you're making up a source for a paper or making up data for a lab assignment.
DSC lists several additional types of violations, most of which essentially repeat the rules listed above. So, for instance, the school goes to the trouble of mentioning that you shouldn't steal copies of an exam from your professor's office.
One of these that is worth noting has to do with “copyright violations.” Most of us have a clear grasp of what plagiarism is all about, but not everyone realizes that you can be accused of academic misconduct for grabbing an image from a website and inserting it into a paper. We live in a world where it's easy to copy this or that image or slip a well-known piece of music into a video we're putting together. The academic world continues to frown on this sort of borrowing, though.
Sanctions and Procedures in Academic Misconduct Cases
When preparing to defend yourself, it's just as important to know what procedures you'll be facing as it is to know exactly what you've been charged with doing. You can find a full description of how Daytona State College deals with academic misconduct on the school's website page, Grade Changes and Disputes.
The process is straightforward and simple—perhaps too simple, in fact. It doesn't provide nearly enough due process rights, for example.
As you might expect, your instructor has the primary responsibility for identifying and investigating instances of misconduct and has blanket authority to punish misconduct as they see fit.
Typically, sanctions for academic misconduct include:
- Verbal or written warnings
- Re-submissions or makeup assignments
- A lower grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
- A lower grade in the course, up to a failure
Keep in mind that even a minor sanction, like a warning, can have long-lasting repercussions. If your academic record contains a notation about cheating or dishonesty, you'll discover internships and graduate school spots are hard to come by. Even job interviews can be tricky when you have to explain what you did to a potential employer.
You do have some options for appealing your instructors' decisions, but these don't afford you a lot of due process rights. First, you can take the matter up with your instructor, though obviously, they're unlikely to change their original stance. You can appeal to the chair of the department that houses the course. If the chair denies your appeal, you can request a meeting with the “appropriate” Associate Vice President to discuss your case. Finally, you have the option to take your challenge all the way to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
The problem with this process is that you never have the opportunity to present your case at a live hearing in front of a panel or committee of decision-makers. You must rely on single individuals to give you a fair, unbiased hearing. Again, you may find that easier to get that fair hearing if you have someone on your side who knows the law.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help
The most critical element of your defense, though? Having a skilled attorney-advisor to help you prepare. It's no easy matter challenging an instructor's decisions. Professors make for formidable debaters, and you'll quickly find that your school will back them up to the hilt. Having a professional at your side can certainly make the entire process much less scary.
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.