College is supposed to be one of the best times in your life. It's when you establish your independence, make decisions about who you want to be, and discover what life is all about. That doesn't mean it's not sometimes a bumpy ride. The fact is, college students make more than their fair share of mistakes.
Sometimes those mistakes can involve academic misconduct. Maybe you're entirely innocent, and your university has come after you for no good reason. Maybe you did cave in to pressure and find yourself using your phone to Google answers during an exam, but now the school is trying to toss you out on your ear when after all, they're the ones who put the pressure on you in the first place.
Whatever the situation, don't try to handle it yourself. Colleges and universities take misconduct seriously. Judicial procedures are always complicated, and if you should lose your case, it can have long-term repercussions on your academic and professional careers. When you go into battle, make sure you have a professional at your side, an attorney-advisor who understands how schools work and who has experience representing student clients.
Defining Academic Misconduct at North Dakota State University
It's always important you know the rules at your school. For one thing, knowing the rules can help keep you from getting into trouble in the first place. For another, knowing exactly what you've been accused of is the first step in building an effective defense.
NDSU's Policy Manual, Section 335, tells you everything you need to know about how the school handles academic integrity violations, including a list of rules. That list is lengthy and complex. Here's what you're supposed to avoid.
- Plagiarizing or trying to take credit for work that is not your own
- “Receiving, possessing, distributing, or using” any unauthorized materials or assistance
- Unauthorized collaboration on assignments
- Asking someone else to take an exam for you
- Stealing copies of an exam before or after it's given
- Unauthorized copying of course materials
- Altering work without permission and then resubmitting it for evaluation
- Misrepresenting your attendance or another student's attendance
- Fabricating information in papers and reports
- Violating research (IRB) protocols
- Helping someone else commit misconduct
- Tampering with or destroying materials
- Using false information to get out of coursework
It's important to note that as exhaustive as this list seems to be, the policy further points out that you can be charged with misconduct for other, unlisted offenses as well. This is one reason why it's useful to read through all your course syllabi at the beginning of the semester. In general, your instructors are allowed to hold you accountable for anything mentioned there. It's also a reason why it can be handy having an attorney-advisor at your side should you need to challenge an allegation. Ultimately, NDSU can accuse you of almost anything under its integrity policy, and defending yourself is almost never straightforward.
NDSU Sanctions and Procedures
Knowing what you're accused of is half the battle, but only half. You also need to know how your school's judicial system operates. Just how easy is it to challenge an instructor's decisions and how do you go about it?
At North Dakota State University, instructors have the primary responsibility not just for making and enforcing course rules but also for investigating potential violations, deciding whether or not you're responsible for an offense, and assigning sanctions as necessary.
Typical academic penalties include things like
- Verbal or written warnings
- Resubmitted assignments or makeup work
- A lower grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
- A lowered grade in the course, up to an F
In addition, you should know that you cannot drop a course once your instructor has issued a sanction without first getting that instructor's permission.
Finally, the school requires faculty submit a tracking form to the Provost's office any time they issue a sanction for academic misconduct. This office keeps records of all infractions and has the power to further punish repeat offenses with disciplinary sanctions such as probation, suspension, and expulsion.
You do have the right to appeal your instructor's decisions at NDSU, though it is important to note that grounds for appeal are limited to
- Arbitrary or unnecessarily harsh decisions by your instructor
- Lack of sufficient evidence
- Violations of your rights as a student
You begin the appeals process by presenting your argument to your instructor. If they should reaffirm their original decision, you can further appeal to the chair of the department in which the course is located. Failing that, you can also appeal to the Dean of the college that houses the department.
Note, however, that you do not have the right to an appeal or to present your case in person to a panel or committee. At each step in the process, your appeal is decided by a single individual and based solely on documentary evidence.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help
Students charged with misconduct don't always challenge their instructors, and you can understand why. It's no easy matter to go through the rigors of appealing faculty decisions, and you're by no means guaranteed to succeed. It can sometimes seem like more trouble than it's worth to protest.
Here's what's wrong with that thinking: any finding against you, even if you're only given a warning, can have long-term consequences if it should be reported in your academic record. Even the suggestion of academic dishonesty can keep you from getting internships and graduate school fellowships or interfere with your ability to get a good first job out of college.
It's always better to fight. Joseph D. Lento can help you do that.
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.