Academic Misconduct at the Indiana State University

What do you do if you find yourself accused of committing academic misconduct? How do you handle it if your professor insists you've cheated on a test or plagiarized parts of a paper?

What you don't do is ignore the situation. Many students simply accept their punishments because it seems like taking on their instructor would be too difficult or the process of defending themselves too complicated. The truth is, though, that any punishment you're given, even just a warning, can have long-term repercussions on your academic and professional futures. A warning about cheating, if it winds up in your academic record, could impact your scholarships, keep you from getting into graduate school, and even hurt your job prospects. With so much at risk, you can't afford to simply go along to get along.

Of course, it isn't easy to fight your school. You do have to be careful about how you word complaints to faculty and administrators. You do have to be cautious in what you say. That doesn't mean you shouldn't fight. It just means you need help to do it. The right attorney-advisor can help you navigate the grade appeals process and present a compelling case.

Defining Academic Misconduct

Your first job, if you're building a strong defense, is to know exactly what you've been accused of doing. Academic integrity means different things at different universities. Indiana State's policy on integrity focuses on “professional standards in research, writing, assessment, and ethics.” That is, the school wants you to see integrity as a valuable asset in your future career.

More specifically, this policy lists nine separate types of academic violations:

  • Cheating: The use of unauthorized materials in completing coursework
  • Plagiarism: The attempt to present another person's work as your own
  • Falsification: Fabrication of information in completing coursework
  • Multiple submissions: Submission of the same work in more than one course without express permission
  • Facilitating dishonesty: Helping another person to commit academic misconduct
  • Violation of professional standards: Plagiarism, fabrication, or falsification of data in professional work beyond the classroom
  • Misuse of academic resources: Intentionally harming university materials so they cannot be used by others
  • Misuse of intellectual property: The violation of copyright and other intellectual property standards and laws
  • Violation of Ethical standards: Unethical behavior related to coursework as defined by your field of study or the Indiana State University Code of Student Conduct

Procedures and Sanctions at Indiana State University

If you're going to successfully fight a charge of academic dishonesty, you also need to know what processes and procedures your school has in place for adjudicating such allegations. Indiana State University makes clear in its Student Guide to Academic Integrity exactly how it deals with misconduct. Unfortunately, it's less clear on how to defend yourself from charges.

As you might expect, instructors have primary responsibility at ISU for identifying, investigating, and punishing academic violations. Faculty are supposed to report the matter to their department chair and schedule a meeting with you. At this meeting, they present the facts and offer you a chance to respond. If they decide they've made a mistake, they can, of course, dismiss the charges. If they remain convinced that you committed a violation, however, they have several options.

  • Assign a grade penalty for the assignment in question, up to a zero
  • Assign a grade penalty for the course, up to an F
  • Assign a replacement assignment
  • Refer your case to the Office of Student Conduct and Integrity for more severe sanctions, including suspension and expulsion

The Office of Student Conduct and Integrity retains records of all violations and may, on its own, punish you with suspension or expulsion if you have committed multiple offenses.

The Guide goes on to outline a hearing process for any case where a student may be suspended or expelled. That process involves an All-University Court hearing panel made up of a faculty member, an administrator, and a student justice. The Guide notes that faculty may attend and present evidence in person. It also points out that Court decisions are based on the “Preponderance of Evidence standard,” which says that decision makers must find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.

Strangely, however, the Guide says nothing about your rights during this process. Presumably, you have the right to present evidence and call witnesses on your own behalf. It may be that you have the right to bring an advisor to the hearing to speak on your behalf. It is peculiar, though, that the Guide doesn't say so.

In addition, the Guide says nothing about how you might go about appealing lesser sanctions, such as a lowered course grade. Elsewhere, ISU mentions a grade appeal process, and it may be that you are meant to use this process in these cases. However, this isn't specifically said either.

When a school doesn't take the trouble to explain how you go about defending yourself from accusations, it suggests the school doesn't really want you to challenge its instructors' authority. In such cases, it's even more important that you make sure you have someone on your side, not just to help you prepare your defense but to make sure the university doesn't violate your rights.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

If you stand accused, Joseph D. Lento can help. 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.

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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