Like most schools, the Running Rebels take academic misconduct seriously. The truth is, they wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't. You don't have to subscribe to some platitude that says, “you only hurt yourself when you cheat.” If your school develops a reputation for cheating, you're not going to get a job. It's that simple. Employers just aren't interested in students with degrees from second-rate universities.
That doesn't mean schools are always judicious in how they deal with academic misconduct cases. A college isn't a court of law. Schools often don't respect your due process rights. It's not surprising then that too many schools try to bully students into accepting responsibility for actions they didn't commit or into accepting sanctions that are out of all proportion to the offense.
Forewarned, though, is forearmed. The more you know about UNLV's academic misconduct policy and how they punish offenders, the better you'll be able to defend yourself should the Dean of Students come knocking on your dorm room door so to speak. Know what to expect, and know how to defend yourself if you're ever charged with academic misconduct.
Misconduct According to UNLV
UNLV's page on academic misconduct talks broadly about “integrity,” using words like “honesty,” “trust,” “fairness,” and “respect.” In more concrete terms, the page lists eight specific types of academic misconduct.
- Plagiarism: Most of us recognize that it's wrong to use someone else's words and ideas without giving them credit. Plagiarism can get tricky, though. Avoiding plagiarism isn't just about giving credit but about giving “proper” credit. Sloppy citations can qualify as violations.
- Unauthorized assistance: Obviously, you can expect some repercussions if you're caught copying someone's answers on an exam. UNLV goes to the trouble of outlining several other examples of “unauthorized assistance,” though. Among these, the school notes that something as seemingly innocuous as finding out about an exam from a student in another section of a course counts as academic misconduct.
- Turning in the same work: Unless you have express permission, you can't turn in the same work in two different classes.
- Falsifying information: If your lab experiment doesn't go as planned, you may be tempted to fudge the numbers. Unfortunately, that's also academic misconduct.
- Undue influence: Attempted bribery for a grade is frowned on, as is trying to make unauthorized changes to your academic record.
- Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation can include reporting you spent more time on a field project than you did. It can also include attempting to sign a classmate's name on attendance logs.
- Impersonation: You can't ask someone else to take an exam for you.
- Aiding and abetting: Just to be clear, UNLV wants you to know that helping someone else commit academic misconduct is the same as if you had committed the act yourself.
Finally, it's worth noting that UNLV includes the phrase “intentional or unintentional” in introducing this list. That means the school will try to hold you accountable for misconduct even if you don't realize you're committing it.
Resolving Misconduct Allegations
In almost all cases, allegations of academic misconduct originate with an instructor. That instructor has an obligation to meet with you within five days to discuss their concerns and any possible academic sanctions. Sanctions can include anything from re-submitting an assignment to failing the entire course. The school leaves this decision entirely up to the individual instructor.
One of four things will happen at the initial meeting:
- The instructor may decide they made a mistake and dismiss the allegation.
- You may accept responsibility and accept the sanctions.
- You may dispute your responsibility.
- You may accept responsibility but dispute the sanctions.
Unless the instructor dismisses the allegation, they are required to forward information about the offense to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). The OSC may then assign additional “conduct” sanctions. These vary widely but can include suspension, expulsion, or a transcript notation about your offense.
If you dispute the allegation or the sanction, you are entitled to a hearing by UNLV's Academic Integrity Appeal Board. That body's decision, according to the procedures, is final, though only the school's Vice President of Student Affairs may actually suspend a student, and only the President may expel a student.
Keep in mind, the hearing board isn't required to invite either you or the instructor to the hearing, though if they invite one of you, they must invite the other. In addition, the hearing procedures are completely silent on the question of legal representation. However, UNLV does say explicitly that students aren't allowed a legal advisor when they meet with instructors.
Protecting Your Rights and Interests
If denying you legal representation sounds like a violation of your rights, it is. A university isn't required to follow courtroom procedure, but you also shouldn't allow a professor or the school's administration to bully you into accepting responsibility for something you didn't do or to accept a harsh outcome not appropriate to the circumstances.
It is unfortunate, but often a student accused of academic misconduct is merely a name and number at a large school like UNLV. Schools do not have to live with the potential consequences of an academic misconduct case, and they will often rush to what they consider to be appropriate judgment. How do you respond to what can seem like a stacked deck at times? You need to protect your rights and interests.
Who's looking out for your best interests, though? Make no mistake: the stakes are high. A transcript notation about academic misconduct, for instance, can stand in the way of getting that all-important first job.
UNLV may tell you it's not necessary to retain an attorney. They may even tell you you're not allowed an attorney, but that advice is in their best interest and is not altogether accurate. They prefer you don't call an instructor's decisions into question, and they certainly don't want you to call their administration's decisions into question. Your attorney would serve in the specific role of your advisor, and when academic misconduct allegations can literally have a lifetime of consequences, having a person solely dedicated to your cause is often key to ensuring a fair process and the best possible outcome.
Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento
In situations like this, you need an attorney who knows how to deal with university policy. You need Joseph D. Lento. Attorney Joseph D. Lento built his career on academic misconduct cases, having having helped hundreds of students at schools across the country including UNLV. He knows how universities operate and how to navigate the academic system. He also knows the law, though, and he will fight to make sure you not only get the best possible outcome to your case but that you are treated fairly throughout the process.
If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.