College is hard enough as it is. Your parents are divorcing, your roommate has night terrors, and you're starting to think taking Calculus, Chemistry, and Biology in the same semester wasn't the best idea. The last thing you need is to be dealing with an allegation of academic misconduct.
The thing is, professors are paranoid about cheating these days, and students do wind up accused even when they've done nothing at all wrong. But let's say you did bend the rules a little. You probably don't deserve the kind of harsh punishments they typically hand out.
So, how do you deal with a situation like this? First, you find out all you can about your school's policy on academic integrity. Know the rules, know the sanctions, know the judicial procedures. Second, don't try to handle things all on your own. No matter how prepared you may be to go up against your professor, the department head, the dean, and the provost, your chances are always going to be better if you have help from a qualified attorney-advisor. Joseph D. Lento is an expert at student conduct defense, and he can help keep your academic career on track.
Defining Academic Misconduct
Knowing the rules at Eastern Washington University can help you stay out of trouble. It's also essential to building a strong defense. You can't prove your innocence if you don't know exactly what you've been charged with doing.
EWU's Academic Integrity Policy starts with a general prohibition against any act that involves misrepresenting the “quality or integrity” of your work. From there, though, things get a little complicated.
First, there are the five specific violations you can commit.
- Plagiarism: Attempting to present another person's work as your own
- Preparing work for another student: Helping someone else to complete coursework
- Cheating: Using unauthorized materials to complete your coursework
- Fabrication: Inventing sources or manufacturing data as part of an academic exercise
- Falsification: Providing false information to any school official
In addition, each violation can occur at a different level, or “class,” of severity.
Class I: These violations are typically unintentional and may happen out of simple ignorance. They may be punished with a reprimand, an educational assignment about the nature of the offense, or a grade penalty on the assignment in question.
Class II: These offenses involve a deliberate refusal to follow directions or an act that's obviously intended to deceive. They can be punished for anything up to course failure.
Class III: Finally, this level of offense involves “significant” premeditation, conspiracy, or intent to deceive. Infractions are often punished with suspension or even expulsion.
Judicial Procedures at Eastern Washington University
Instructors at EWU have primary responsibility for identifying, investigating, and punishing instances of academic misconduct.
A faculty member who suspects a student of dishonesty is supposed to discuss the matter with the student either in person or via email. This can result in one of three outcomes.
- Of course, if they decide the student is innocent, the instructor can dismiss the charges
- In addition, they can choose to deal with minor infractions internally, through instruction, makeup work, or educational assignments
- Otherwise, however, the instructor must report the violation and their proposed sanction to the Associate Vice President for Academic Policy (AVP)
In class II and III cases, the AVP decides whether incidents should be handled through the school's “Summary Process” or through its “Academic Integrity Board (AIB) Review Process.”
- Summary Process: The AVP notifies the student of the charge and the proposed sanctions. The student may concur with the findings or may request a conference with the instructor. During the conference, the student and instructor try to reach some agreement as to the allegation and the punishment. If they do so, they inform the AVP. If they cannot reach an agreement, the AVP then initiates the AIB Review Process.
- Academic Integrity Board Review Process: The AVP can initiate the AIB review process in the most serious cases, or students and instructors may request it in cases where they cannot agree on responsibility and/ or an appropriate sanction. As part of the process, both the student and instructor submit written statements and documentary evidence to the board. There is no hearing, as such. Rather, than board considers the statements and evidence and renders its decision. In addition to deciding whether or not a student committed a violation, the board has the authority to either reaffirm the instructor's sanction or assign a greater or lesser sanction for the offense.
If the AIB recommends either suspension or expulsion, it refers the matter to the Student Disciplinary Council for a full conduct hearing.
Finally, any decisions by either the AIB or the Student Disciplinary Council may be appealed to the university Provost. This official's decisions are final.
Joseph D. Lento, Student Conduct Attorney-Advisor
Students don't always challenge their instructor's decisions, even when they are entirely innocent of the charges. You can understand why. Between figuring out what class your offense fits into, knowing who to contact to protest your sanction, and preparing documents related to the case, the whole process can seem like more trouble than it's worth, especially in the case of a minor sanction.
Here's the problem with that line of thinking. There are no minor sanctions. Even a warning can cause long-term consequences if it shows up in your academic file. A notation about cheating can cost you scholarships, prevent you from getting into graduate school, and even interfere with job applications. You can't afford to take any accusation lightly. You need to know exactly what you're facing, and you need to have help dealing with it.
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.