Academic Misconduct at Florida Gulf Coast University

Once upon a time, if you were accused of cheating on your chemistry final, you could expect to face a stern lecture from your professor. In extreme cases, you might even have to re-take the exam. No more. Academic misconduct these days is serious business. Even if all you get is a warning—and let's face it, that's pretty unlikely—there's a good chance that warning will wind up in your permanent academic file. That could cost you scholarships, interfere with grad school applications, and even hurt your job prospects.

At the same time, colleges and universities have become quicker to level accusations at their students, and they've made it harder to fight those accusations.

How do you protect yourself and your future? Start by learning all you can about how your school treats academic misconduct. The more you know, the better chance you'll have to defend yourself if you ever need to. In addition, make sure you know how to get help if you should ever find yourself facing an allegation. You can take on your school, you can win, but you're going to need help.

Defining Academic Misconduct at Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University's policy on academic integrity seems pretty daunting. It includes twelve separate types of violations. Many of these repeat themselves, however. The truth is these twelve can be summed up in just a handful of prohibitions.

  • Don't Cheat: Cheating essentially means using an unauthorized resource to complete your work. What exactly qualifies as “unauthorized”? You name it. You can't ask someone else to take an exam for you. You can't hide crib sheets on the inside of soda bottles or the brim of your hat. You can't wear headphones to make it look like you're listening to music when in fact, you're on your phone with your roommate who's Googling answers. If the answers come from some source other than your brain, and the instructor hasn't given you express permission to use it, you're cheating.
  • Don't plagiarize: Likewise, the term “plagiarism” covers a multitude of sins. Literally, it means trying to pass off another person's work as your own without giving them credit. There are lots of ways to do that, though. Buying your freshman comp research paper from an online paper mill would qualify. So would re-using an essay someone in your frat turned in a decade ago. But you also can't drop a quote into a paper without a proper citation or try to pass an idea that you took from a journal article off as your own. You can't turn the same work into two separate classes—that's self-plagiarism. And plagiarism isn't just limited to the written word. You also can't copy images, videos, music, or computer code.

The FCGU academic integrity policy also includes strictures against helping anyone else commit academic misconduct. Even if you're not the beneficiary of the scheme, and even if the scheme doesn't work, you're still culpable.

In addition, the school includes a catchall prohibition against “[a]ttempting to obtain a grade or other academic credit through improper means or otherwise subverting the educational process by any means whatsoever.”

That sentence pretty much sums up everything you need to know about how to avoid committing academic misconduct.

Defending Yourself From an Accusation

Of course, you don't intend to break the rules. Here's the thing, though: with policies as strict as they are, it's entirely possible to make honest mistakes. In addition, schools sometimes just plain get things wrong and accuse students who are perfectly innocent.

As important as it is to know the rules, then it's just as important to know FCGU's judicial procedures so you'll know what to do if you should wind up accused.

Instructors are generally responsible for setting the rules in their own courses, and likewise, they are usually the ones who identify and respond to policy violations. The process may be a simple one, especially if you accept responsibility.

  • The instructor schedules a meeting with you to talk about the allegation
  • You accept responsibility
  • The instructor determines an appropriate sanction
  • You accept the sanction

Classroom sanctions typically include anything from a warning or a re-write of the work in question, up to and including failure in the course.

Things aren't always so straightforward, though. For one thing, your case might be complicated by the fact that it involves other students or multiple courses. Perhaps this isn't your first offense. In such cases, you may be subject to additional disciplinary penalties like suspension or expulsion. In addition, though, you might dispute the original allegation altogether or dispute the severity of the sanction your instructor assigned.

In such instances, the Office of Student Conduct steps in to handle the case. The good news is, you have the opportunity to present your side of the situation at a hearing. You can submit evidence and call relevant witnesses to testify on your behalf. In addition, you are entitled to have an advisor, who may be an attorney. This person can speak for you during any administrative meetings and at the hearing itself.

At the conclusion of the hearing, one or more Decision Makers determine the outcome of the case, including assigning any sanctions as necessary. It's worth knowing that you don't have to be found responsible (guilty) “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Decision Makers use a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence,” which requires them to find you “responsible” for a violation if they are more than fifty percent certain you committed it.

Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor

Many students don't bother to protest their innocence when they're accused of misconduct. It can seem easier to simply accept the penalty—even if you're innocent—than to try to fight the system.

Too much is at stake, though. Even if you're not facing a serious sanction like expulsion, your reputation is under fire. And, you don't have to do it alone. You can find someone to stand beside you and help you take on the system. You can fight, and you can win.

Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in defending student clients. He understands how difficult it can sometimes be to get justice from a faculty member or an administrative official. He's dedicated his career to taking on-campus judicial systems. He's helped hundreds of clients defend themselves from charges big and small, and he can help you get the justice you deserve.

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.