Academic Misconduct at the University of the Cumberlands

It sometimes feels like you almost can't avoid committing academic misconduct these days. On the one hand, professors are always assigning group projects; on the other, collaboration can sometimes get you accused of cheating. You're told to conduct extensive research for papers, but if you don't follow strict, archaic rules about how you document that research, you could wind up accused of plagiarism. And how on earth are you supposed to avoid looking up answers when Google is right there—on your laptop, on your tablet, on your phone? Your devices practically look things up for you.

It's no surprise then that each year more students are charged with cheating, plagiarism, and other kinds of academic dishonesty. If you happen to be one of them, what do you do?

First, you find out all you can about what you're up against. Make sure you know exactly what you've been accused of doing. Find out what the procedures are for defending yourself. Figure out what sort of evidence you're going to need to prove your innocence. Then, make sure you talk to a qualified attorney-advisor about your situation. It's no easy task to challenge your instructor or question your school's decisions. By offering practical solutions for handling accusations, though, an attorney-advisor can help you get your future back on track.

The Rules at the University of the Cumberlands

First and foremost, you need to know how your school defines academic misconduct. Only when you know exactly what you're accused of doing can you hope to prove your innocence.

As you might expect, UC takes academic honesty very seriously. That section of the UC Student Handbook begins,

“At a Christian liberal arts university committed to the pursuit of truth and understanding, any act of academic dishonesty is especially distressing and cannot be tolerated.”

Despite this strict warning, the rules themselves are fairly simple. UC lists just three types of violations.

  • Cheating: Using unauthorized materials or, in general, using any form of deception to complete coursework
  • Lying: “Falsifying, fabricating, or forging” any information
  • Plagiarism: Attempting to pass off another person's words or ideas as you own without providing them with due credit

Keep in mind, of course, that while these three prohibitions may seem simple, each one covers a multitude of misbehavior. So, for example, cheating could apply to something relatively small, like looking at another student's paper during a quiz. It could also apply to something far more complex, such as creating a complicated texting web to share answers during an exam. Using a book during a closed-book test would qualify, as would stealing the test from the professor's office before it was administered.

Likewise, lying and plagiarism can be broadly interpreted. You might be accused of misconduct for simply forgetting to include a citation, for instance. In addition, “plagiarism” doesn't just apply to text but to data, images, artwork, and even computer code. As for lying, forging a doctor's note or signing another student's name to the attendance sheet are just as much misconduct as inventing a source for a paper or falsifying lab results.

Sanctions and Procedures at the University of the Cumberlands

Of course, in addition to knowing the rules, you're going to need to know what the judicial procedures look like at your school if you're going to defend yourself.

In general, you can expect your instructors to have primary responsibility for identifying and punishing instances of academic misconduct. After all, they're the ones in the best position to catch dishonesty. However, instructors are required to report all violations to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Instructors usually have the authority to punish misconduct with “academic” sanctions up to and including failure in the course. The possibilities include:

  • Verbal or written warnings
  • Re-submissions or makeup work
  • Assigned work on the subject of misconduct
  • Lowered grades on the assignments in question up to a zero
  • Lowered grades in the course up to an F

The Vice President for Academic Affairs can assign additional “disciplinary” sanctions for repeat offenses. These can include:

  • Probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

You can challenge your instructor's decisions. The process begins with a meeting with your instructor and the department chair. If this doesn't resolve the issue, however, you may file a written appeal with the Vice President for Academic Affairs. This official then forwards that appeal to the Academic Appeals Committee, which collects evidence from you, your instructor, and any other relevant parties before rendering a final decision in the matter.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

Students are sometimes reluctant to go through the process of clearing their names, even when they are entirely innocent. Sometimes it seems like more trouble than it's worth to gather evidence, file appeals, and meet with school administrators. It may seem easier to just accept a punishment—especially if it's a minor one—and move on.

Here's what's wrong with that thinking: there are no minor punishments. Even a warning can cause serious long-term consequences if it shows up in your academic file. A record of cheating could interfere with scholarships, keep you from getting good internships, prevent you from getting into graduate school, and even cause problems in job interviews.

Schools aren't infallible. Instructors do sometimes accuse students unfairly or assign sanctions that are out of proportion to the nature of the offense. You have the right to defend yourself, and there are resources out there to help you do it.

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, Attorney advisor 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 the Lento Law Firm today to find out what he can do for you. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

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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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