Academic Misconduct at Louisiana Tech University

You've signed your name to it plenty of times—the Louisiana Tech University Honor Code: “Being a student of a higher standard, I pledge to embody the principles of academic integrity.”

That's a noble sentiment if you believe in the value of a genuine education. Or, maybe you're more cynical, and you believe in the pledge because you know that graduates from schools with reputations for cheating have trouble finding jobs. Either way, an honor code does make a certain amount of sense.

That doesn't mean, though, that colleges and universities don't sometimes get things wrong. Every day, students wind up falsely accused or find themselves dealing with sanctions far out of proportion to the nature of their offenses.

So, by all means, strive for the highest standards of integrity. As they say, honesty is the best policy. If you feel like your school isn't giving you the justice you deserve, though, you do have the right to stand up for yourself. Just don't try to do it alone. Challenging an instructor or taking on your school's administration can be daunting. At the first sign of trouble, find a qualified, experienced attorney-advisor to help you defend yourself.

Defining Academic Misconduct

An honor code is great and all—we all believe in honesty and integrity—but in practical, concrete terms, what does it mean to “embody the principles of academic integrity”? At Louisiana Tech, it means you promise to avoid four specific types of misconduct.

  • Cheating: A simple word with broad application, “cheating” refers to the use of unauthorized resources in completing your coursework. Almost anything can count as an “unauthorized resource.” Looking at a classmate's paper during a quiz certainly qualifies. So too, does setting up elaborate texting schemes to get answers during an exam. Louisiana Tech also treats plagiarism as a form of cheating. That is, if you borrow a sentence from a journal article and present it as though you wrote it, you are using source material in ways your instructor has not authorized.
  • Falsification: This category of offense involves inventing or altering any document related to your coursework. Obviously, you're not supposed to log into the mainframe and change your semester grades. In addition, though, you probably shouldn't try to forge a doctor's note to get out of taking a test.
  • Stealing/ Unauthorized Access: This applies whether you are stealing copies of an exam from a professor or the paper your roommate wrote for freshman comp.
  • Using Unauthorized Devices: Finally, Louisiana Tech has updated its policy to reflect the digital age. This violation probably falls under “cheating,” but Tech goes to the trouble of reminding you that misusing technology to complete your coursework is expressly forbidden.

You should also know that helping someone else commit misconduct is treated the same as any other type of misconduct. Nor do you have to succeed at the cheating to be found responsible. Simply making an attempt is a violation of the Honor Code.

Defending Yourself From Charges

How do you go about defending yourself if you wind up accused? Most cases of academic misconduct at Louisiana Tech are relatively straightforward.

As a starting point, classroom instructors at Tech have almost total authority to identify and punish honor code violations. The Student Handbook makes no mention of any requirement that they give you a chance to explain your side of the story or that their decisions must be reviewed by a department head or other administrator. The school does have an Honor Council (more on that below) but as the policy notes,

“Upon a determination by University faculty or staff that there has been a violation of the Honor Code, he/she may invoke sanctions without referral to the Honor Council.”

Those sanctions can include

  • Verbal or written warning
  • Makeup work or re-submission of the original assignment
  • Extra assignment on the nature of academic integrity
  • Lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
  • Lowered grade in the course, up to an F

If you accept responsibility for a violation and the penalty your instructor assigns, the case is simple. The instructor sends a full report to the Honor Council so you can be punished with additional sanctions (probation, suspension, expulsion) for any future violations. That's that.

You don't have to accept responsibility, however. You have the right to appeal your instructor's decisions to the Honor Council and to defend yourself at an official hearing. There, you may present evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. Your instructor, of course, has these same rights. In addition, you have the right to an advisor, and this advisor can be an attorney. Your attorney cannot actually present your case for you, but they can help you organize materials and prepare your presentation, they can be on hand to advise you during the hearing itself, and they can help make sure the school doesn't violate any of your due process rights.

Joseph D. Lento, Student Conduct Attorney-Advisor

Lots of students—even some who are entirely innocent of the charges—simply accept their fate when they're accused of misconduct. Challenging an accusation can feel like an uphill battle. Who has the time to gather evidence and practice presenting it? What kind of chance does a student have against faculty and administrators, anyway? Isn't it easier to just accept a sanction, especially if it's light?

The fact is, there are no “light” sanctions. A zero on a paper puts you in a deep hole in the course. An F in a course means having to retake it, and that means lost time and money. In fact, even a warning can have far-reaching repercussions. If your academic file includes a notation about cheating, that notation can cost you scholarships and internships, prevent you from getting into graduate school, and play havoc with your job prospects.

Don't risk these outcomes. Whatever the situation, get help defending yourself.

Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified, fully-licensed defense attorney. He specializes, though, in defending students from university charges. Joseph D. Lento has defended hundreds of students from every type of misconduct. He knows how to build a case from the ground up, and he's adept at handling faculty and administrators.

If you've been accused of any type of academic misconduct, don't wait to find out what might happen next. Contact Joseph D. Lento today to find out what he can do for you. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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