If you've ever been charged with academic misconduct, you know: it can be daunting. No one wants to question their professor, let alone the university that employs them. In fact, you might even be tempted to simply accept your punishment and move on, even if you did nothing wrong. That's never a good idea, though. Any disciplinary action against you, even a warning, can have long-lasting repercussions, not just on your time as a student but on your professional career as well. A sanction on your permanent record tells scholarship committees, internship recruiters, and human resource departments that they might want to think twice before they approve your applications. You want to avoid this if you possibly can.
It's important, then, that you challenge every allegation and question every punishment. The good news is, you don't have to do that alone. Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified defense attorney who specializes in making sure students are treated fairly and that they get the justice they deserve. He's helped hundreds of students stand up for themselves, and he can help you do the same.
Defining Academic Misconduct at Saint Louis University
As a Christian university, a school whose mission is “the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity,” SLU takes integrity seriously, and that extends to academics. In fact, the SLU's academic policy goes so far as to say that “acts of falsehood violate its very reason for existence.”
What do these principles mean in concrete terms? SLU lists five specific categories of misconduct that you want to avoid.
- Falsification: It's no surprise, given the Saint Louis University mission, that this is the very first type of violation the school's policy mentions. Falsehood extends to lying, fabricating sources or data in completing your work, or misrepresenting information on any of your academic records.
- Plagiarism: Most of us know plagiarism means trying to pass another person's words or ideas off as your own without giving them credit. It's worth remembering, though, that the word doesn't just apply to written work. You can plagiarize images, music, even computer code.
- Cheating: This a very broad term that means using any unauthorized resource to complete coursework. That can be anything from another person, to a textbook, to your computer. If the answers aren't coming from your brain and you don't have permission from your instructor to use whatever source you're using, you're probably cheating.
- Sabotage: SLU prohibits tampering with another student's work or with any of the school's own intellectual resources. That would seem to preclude destroying another student's lab experiment in order to lower the class curve as well as writing in library books.
- Collusion: In SLU's eyes, helping someone else commit academic misconduct makes you just as guilty as the person who's actually committing the misconduct.
- Concealment: Again, given the Christian ethos of Saint Louis University, it's no surprise that the school doesn't just want you to avoid getting involved in academic misconduct. You are also required to report any misconduct you know about.
Saint Louis University Academic Misconduct Procedures
Primary responsibility for identifying, investigating, and punishing instances of academic misconduct at Saint Louis University rests with the faculty. Your instructor is required to provide you with notice of the charges against you and to give you an opportunity to respond to those charges. Ultimately, though, they have almost total authority to determine whether or not you are responsible for (guilty of) an infraction and to determine the appropriate penalty for that infraction.
Most often, classroom sanctions include
- Lowered grade on the assignment
- Failure on the assignment
- Lowered grade in the course
- Failure in the course
You can also be assigned more serious penalties, particularly for repeat offenses. These harsher penalties include things like probation, suspension, and expulsion. In addition, your misconduct can be noted on your academic record, and in rare cases, the school can even revoke your degree after you've already graduated.
Should you disagree with your instructor's findings, you can appeal. However, the process is strictly limited. Cases are heard by the University Academic Review Board, but you do not have the right to make your case to this body directly. Instead, the board undertakes its own review of the documentary evidence. In addition, appeals are granted for just three reasons:
- The course procedures were not followed
- New information arises that would affect the outcome
- The assigned sanctions were not proportional to the nature of the offense
Keep in mind that the more tightly controlled a school's judicial processes are, the more you may need an attorney to help safeguard your rights and interests. You might note, for example, that this list of reasons for appeal doesn't actually include “innocence.” This suggests that it may take extraordinary effort to get SLU to revisit your case no matter what reason you may have for challenging your instructor's decisions. That doesn't mean you should just accept what happens to you. It means you may need help fighting for your rights.
Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor
You probably believe your university has your best interests at heart, and for the most part, it does. Your school educates you, houses you, and prepares you to go out on the job market. If you've been accused of academic misconduct, though, the situation has changed. Faculty don't like to admit they've made a mistake, and in most cases you can expect the university to provide them with complete support. You need someone, then, who is on your side.
Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in advising student clients. In other words, 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.