Colleges and universities have good reason to worry about academic dishonesty. The University of Missouri’s Office of Academic Integrity does a good job of explaining why: when students “are not living up to a high standard of academic integrity, the worth of the education they are receiving (and the degree they receive) is compromised.” In simplest terms, employers just don't want to hire graduates from second-rate schools.
Yet, it has become harder and harder in our digital world to avoid committing academic misconduct. The pressures students face to succeed are more extreme than ever, while at the same time, the means of bending the rules become increasingly easier. Google was invented to give us answers; what kind of willpower does it take not to use those answers?
What do you do if you find yourself caught between these forces? With so many temptations and so many potential ways to commit academic misconduct, what do you do if you simply make a mistake? The very first thing to do is to educate yourself about how your school deals with academic misconduct. Then, you must make a plan for defending yourself, a plan that includes attorney Joseph D. Lento.
The University of Missouri's Academic Misconduct Policy
Like any first-rate institution, the University of Missouri takes academic misconduct seriously. The rules about this offense are outlined in the school's regulation 200.010, which lays out the standard of conduct for all students. Section C1 of this document list three specific types of academic “dishonesty”:
- Cheating: According to the University of Missouri, cheating includes using “unauthorized assistance” on quizzes, tests, or examinations; using unauthorized sources to complete assignments; or obtaining unauthorized materials from faculty and staff. Basically, if your instructor hasn't given you permission to use a resource, you aren't allowed to use it.
- Plagiarism: You probably know it's wrong to use someone else's words or ideas without giving them proper credit. The University of Missouri adds that you can't collaborate on work without giving your collaborators credit. You are also forbidden from purchasing your work from someone else.
- Sabotage: Finally, the school notes that you aren't allowed to interfere, modify, or destroy anyone else's intellectual property.
The phrase “but is not limited to” frequently appears throughout this section of the standards of conduct, as in “The term cheating includes but is not limited to…” While the above behaviors all constitute academic misconduct, you should know that the University of Missouri reserves the right to add to this list as it sees fit, or to accuse you of misconduct even if what you've done doesn't fit into one of these neat definitions. After all, as one CNBC article's title puts it, students are always finding “new ways to cheat.”
The University of Missouri's Academic Misconduct Procedures
Regulation 200.020 deals with the University of Missouri's procedures regarding student misconduct. Curiously, that document doesn't detail how instructors should treat incidents of cheating they uncover. Instead, it seems to assume that all such incidents will be treated the same way every other kind of misconduct is addressed at the school.
- First, the school appoints a Primary Administrative Officer to investigate any report of academic misconduct. That officer makes a decision about whether to proceed with the case and, after interviewing the student, makes recommendations to the school about how to move forward.
- The Primary Administrative Officer may make a determination as to guilt and offer the student a sanction. If the student accepts this determination and sanction, the case is then closed.
- Alternatively, the student may reject either the determination of guilt or the sanction, or both. When that happens, the student is entitled to a hearing before the school's Student Conduct Committee. At this hearing, the student has the right to an advisor as well as the right to introduce and rebut evidence.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the committee makes a determination of guilt or innocence and assigns any sanctions as necessary.
- If the committee imposes a sanction of suspension or expulsion, the student has the right to appeal this decision to the Chancellor, whose decision is final.
- If the committee imposes a lesser sanction, the student has the right to ask the Chancellor to review the decision. Again, the Chancellor's decision is final.
The school lists a wide variety of potential sanctions. These can include anything from a warning or probation, to suspension or expulsion.
Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento for Academic Misconduct Defense
Academic misconduct is a serious charge. Besides any penalties a school may assign, if the school includes the offense on your record, you could have trouble applying for internships or scholarships, transferring to a new school, and even getting that all-important first job. And you should know that in such cases, the school is not on your side. An instructor who accuses you of academic misconduct is a representative of the school, and the school administration will almost always back their allegations as far as possible.
If you've been accused of academic misconduct, you need someone on your side. The University of Missouri allows you to appoint an advisor in such cases. Make that advisor Joseph D. Lento. Attorney Joseph D. Lento built his career on advising students in academic misconduct cases and helping students overcome school-related issues and concerns. He knows how to navigate the university system. He knows how academic hearings work. Most of all, he knows how university administrations operate, what they will do to try and get you to accept a resolution, and how they will try to convince you not to not be mindful of your rights and interests.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is sympathetic to your case. He's worked with hundreds of students just like you. He will stand by your side from start to finish and make sure you get the best possible resolution.
For more information about academic misconduct, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.