College can be the best four—OK, maybe five—years of your life. It's your chance to establish your independence, find out who you are, and make friends that last a lifetime. One allegation of academic misconduct can quickly put an end to all that, though. You could fail a course, or worse, be expelled from the university. Even a minor sanction, though, could damage your future. If it shows up on your transcript, a warning for misconduct could cost you scholarships, keep you from getting into grad school, or even tank your career.
What do you do, then, if you find yourself accused of violating your school's honor code? First, you take it seriously. You find out exactly what the rules are, what punishments you could face for breaking them, and how you go about defending yourself. Second, you make sure you have someone to stand beside you, to make sure you're treated fairly and that you get the justice you deserve. Joseph D. Lento is an attorney-advisor who specializes in student misconduct cases. He's helped hundreds of students fight for their rights, and he can help you get your future back on track.
Defining Academic Misconduct
Defending yourself from charges of academic misconduct starts with knowing the rules. You can't hope to prove your innocence unless you know exactly what it is you've been accused of doing.
You can find a complete list of Youngstown State University's rules in the Student Code of Conduct under Article III, “Student conduct standards/ prohibited conduct.” It's a long list, with fourteen separate prohibitions.
- Plagiarism, or the representation of another person's work or ideas as your own without giving them due credit
- Using unauthorized tools or assistance to complete coursework
- Acquiring unauthorized course materials
- Engaging in any behavior prohibited in a course syllabus
- Unauthorized collaboration on coursework
- Multiple submissions of coursework without prior permission
- Fabricating data related to your coursework
- Attempting to bribe, threaten, or intimidate someone into providing course advantages
- Impersonating another person during an exam
- Altering or destroying another person's work without permission
- Lying of any kind to gain academic advantage
- Assisting anyone in committing academic misconduct
- Asking another person to commit academic misconduct
- Attempting to engage in misconduct, even if the attempt is unsuccessful
That's a lot of rules to remember, and honest mistakes do happen. Whether you're entirely innocent or looking to reduce your sanction, attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento understands your situation and is ready to help.
Judicial Procedures at Youngstown State University
In addition to knowing the university rules, if you're accused of academic misconduct, you also want to familiarize yourself with the judicial procedures used in these cases.
Typically, instructors have primary responsibility at YSU for identifying, investigating, and sanctioning violations of school policy. However, there are clear rules in place for how the process should work.
A faculty member who suspects you of dishonesty is required to initiate an Academic Integrity Conference. At this conference, they will present their evidence and offer you a chance to respond and/or present evidence of your own.
Of course, there's always the chance that once you have explained your side of the situation, they will simply drop the charges against you. In that case, things are simple. You go on in class as you have been up to that point.
However, if your instructor remains convinced that you violated policy, they will likely assign you an academic sanction. Typical sanctions include:
- Verbal or written warning
- Makeup assignment or re-submission of the original assignment
- Educational assignment on the nature of academic integrity
- Lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
- Lowered grade in the course, up to an F
In rare circumstances, your instructor may recommend more severe sanctions such as:
- Removal from the academic program
- Expulsion from the university
In addition, the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct (OCSSC) may assign one of these harsher sanctions if you have a record of prior infractions. Such sanctions must be dealt with using the hearing procedures described below.
At this point, you can accept the charges and the sanction. This, too, makes for an easy resolution to the case. Your instructor enforces the sanction and sends a record of the incident to the OCSSC.
However, you also have the right to challenge either the charges, the severity of the sanction, or both. Should you do so, the case then moves to the OCSSC, who asks the judicial chair to initiate a formal hearing before the Academic Grievance Subcommittee.
At the hearing, you're allowed to make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses on your behalf. In addition, you have the right to an advisor, who may be an attorney. This advisor may not participate directly but may offer you advice throughout the proceedings. Your instructor, of course, has the same rights.
Should the subcommittee decide to uphold your instructor's decision, you have one final option: to appeal that finding to the Academic Senate Executive Committee. However, this committee only hears appeals regarding procedural violations and mistakes.
Joseph D. Lento, Student Conduct Attorney-Advisor
YSU affords you the opportunity to get help when you're challenging an instructor's decisions. You can make the most of that opportunity by choosing a qualified, experienced attorney-advisor to handle your case.
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.