College isn't like the old days. If you show up on day one, and your main reference points are films like Animal House, Old School, and Road Trip, you'll be in for a shock.
In particular, schools these days take academic integrity incredibly seriously. You can sort of understand why, though. A school's reputation isn't just important for the school itself. It's important for students as well. After all, what business is anxious to hire graduates from a school that's known for cheating?
That doesn't mean, though, that universities always get it right. Schools can and do make misguided allegations. And virtually every school sometimes imposes sanctions that are far too severe.
So, do everything you can to avoid committing academic misconduct. If you should find yourself accused, though, know that you don't have to take it lying down. You have rights, and you can successfully defend your integrity.
How Keiser University Defines Academic Misconduct
Keiser University’s policy on academic misconduct begins pretty generally, with a broad statement about “ethical principles” and “intellectual property.” It very quickly, though, gets into fine details with its list of specific types of violations. This list begins with what the school considers to be the two most egregious violations:
- Acquiring or providing information dishonestly: What the school really means here is “cheating.” In simplest terms, if you are getting or giving out unauthorized course materials, you can be accused of academic misconduct. This includes traditional methods of cheating, like looking at someone else's paper during an exam or stealing a copy of the test from the professor's office. It also includes more sophisticated techniques like elaborate texting schemes.
- Plagiarism: Most of us recognize that copying someone else's term paper and submitting it as our own is dishonest. It is worth noting, though, that Keiser University forbids plagiarism in “all work submitted for credit and in any other work designated by an instructor of a course.” That doesn't just include papers but works of art and even computer code. In addition, students are prohibited from turning in the same work to two different classes.
Keiser University takes plagiarism so seriously, in fact, that it even outlines specific penalties based on whether work is “partially plagiarized” or “entirely plagiarized.”
Most of the remaining items on Keiser's list of academic violations are procedural in nature, but they can result in just as severe penalties.
- Facilitation: Helping someone else to cheat is its own form of misconduct.
- Conspiracy: If you plan some sort of cheating scheme with others, you can be punished, even if you don't actually go through with the plan.
- Abuse of resources: Writing in books—or worse—can also get you into trouble.
- Falsifying records: Keiser specifically mentions forging signatures on official university documents, such as drop/add forms and doctor's notes. In addition, some instructors have been known to charge students with dishonesty for signing a friend's name to the attendance sheet.
The Resolution Process
Keiser University students have limited rights when it comes to resolving accusations of academic misconduct. The school emphasizes the “chain of command” and notes that “the first level of discipline lies with the faculty member.” In other words, instructors have broad authority to make accusations and to assign penalties as they see fit.
Elsewhere, the policy notes that instructors “may impose” sanctions such as a failing grade for an assignment, a failing grade for the course, or “dismissal from the university.”
Students who disagree with an instructor's decision are encouraged to contact the Dean of Academic Affairs, though the policy offers no specific explanation of this process.
Finally, as a last option, students have the right to request a grievance hearing. Here again, the documentation offers very little guidance as to how such hearings are conducted. For example, it makes no mention of who actually sits on the grievance committee, that is, who decides such cases. However, it does outline the procedures in brief:
- The Director of Student Services introduces the student.
- The student has 10 minutes to make their case, including presenting documentation and any other evidence.
- Panel members may then ask the student questions.
- A university representative has 10 minutes to make their case
- The student may present a 3-minute rebuttal.
- The representative may present a 3-minute rebuttal of the rebuttal.
- The panel members may then ask questions of the representative.
At the conclusion of the hearing, panel members have 72 hours to deliberate and issue a decision on the case to the respondent.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Help
Students often believe that they have no options or limited options when instructors accuse them of academic misconduct. Professors seem like they have all the power; it seems as though their decisions can't be questioned and have the force of law. It may feel easier, then, simply to accept a penalty—especially if it is relatively light—rather than rock the academic boat.
The truth is, even a minor allegation of academic misconduct can put a permanent stain on your academic record. Admit to an unfair accusation now, or accept an unfair penalty, and down the road, you could wind up losing scholarship money or find your application to graduate school has been rejected.
More importantly, you do have rights. Even if you may have committed a violation, it doesn't mean you should face unfairly harsh penalties. You can speak up. You should speak up.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. Joseph D. Lento built his career defending students from school allegations. He's helped hundreds of clients refute accusations of academic misconduct and negotiate settlements to save their educational careers. Joseph D. Lento is an attorney, but he specializes in college and university cases. He knows the law; he knows how schools operate. Let him put this knowledge to work for you.
If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct by your college or university, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or by using our automated online form.