All colleges and universities take academic integrity seriously. You can understand why. A school lives and dies by its reputation, and no employers are anxious to hire graduates from an institution with a reputation for less than stellar academics, and especially schools who gain notoriety for academic dishonesty concerns.
What happens, though, when a university becomes too zealous in pursuing cheaters? Paranoia can sometimes lead schools to bend the rules or become too draconian when punishing policy violations. When schools cross that line, and when you find yourself falsely accused or facing sanctions you don't deserve, you have the right to object. Learn how your school deals with accusations and how to go about the process of defending yourself. Find out who gets to make accusations and who gets to decide on penalties. Explore your options for appealing these decisions.
Your school's reputation matters, but so does yours, and you don't have to just give up your good name without a fight, and the Lento Law Firm can help.
Defining Academic Misconduct at City Tech
The first step to successfully defending yourself is understanding exactly what you've been accused of doing. City Tech divides academic misconduct into four separate categories:
- Cheating: The university offers a long list of examples of cheating, such as using notes during a closed-book exam, collaborating with others on a take-home assignment, and writing answers in a blue book before coming to class. In simplest terms, though, cheating involves the unauthorized use of materials—notes, books, online resources—to complete coursework. Of course, it can be tricky to sort out what is “authorized” and what is “unauthorized,” since every instructor feels differently about what is a reasonable resource and what isn't.
- Plagiarism: Most of us are familiar with the broad definition of plagiarism—trying to pass someone else's work off as your own without giving them due credit. And, most of us can recognize the most extreme examples of plagiarism, like buying your freshman comp paper from an online paper mill, or having your roommate do your homework for you. Here again, though, it's not always easy to know what's acceptable and what's not. Your history professor may be fine with you inserting a few online images into your paper on Catherine the Great. Your English TA, though may accuse you of academic misconduct for doing the same thing in your paper on Taming of the Shrew. Likewise, one instructor may view your omission of quotation marks as a typo, while another may see it as plagiarism.
- Obtaining unfair advantage: This category of violation serves to catch any forms of misconduct that aren't specifically covered in the other categories. Deliberately sabotaging another student's work isn't really an example of cheating or plagiarism, for example. Nor is defacing library materials. They still violate the principles of academic integrity.
- Falsification of records and official documents: Finally, City Tech lists falsification as another kind of academic misconduct. As with other aspects of the policy, the description of this violation is somewhat ambiguous. It isn't clear, for instance, whether claiming to be sick in order to skip class would qualify as “falsification.”
Judicial Procedures at City Tech
Disputing a charge of academic misconduct can be a complicated affair. How you deal with the situation depends on the specific facts in the case.
Generally, instructors are the ones who actually accuse students. They are expected to meet with respondents and get their side of the story, but ultimately they have the power to impose academic sanctions as they see fit. These can range from repeating the assignment to giving the student an F in the course.
However, instructors are also expected to report any violation to the Academic Integrity Office (AIO). This office may decide that the misconduct merits an additional, “disciplinary sanction,” such as probation, suspension, or expulsion.
There are several potential outcomes in a case, then:
- You may simply accept the accusation and the academic sanction. Of course, you may then also receive a disciplinary sanction from the AIO.
- You may accept the accusation but contest the academic sanction. In these cases, you make your appeal through the school's “Grade Appeal Process.” Essentially, you submit your argument and any supporting materials to committee who decides whether or not the sanction is justified.
- You may deny the accusation altogether. You are entitled to present your case at a hearing before the Academic Integrity Committee. This means you can introduce evidence and call witnesses on your behalf.
If you have been given a disciplinary sanction in addition to an academic sanction, the situation can be even more complicated. You have the right to defend yourself at a hearing, for instance, but this time in front of the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee. This hearing takes place before any hearings on academic sanctions. And, the policy doesn't even deal with what you might do if you accept the accusation but contest the severity of the disciplinary sanction.
Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Attorney
Many students simply don't effectively challenge academic misconduct allegations or the sanctions that come with them. In fact, City Tech is counting on that. In its policy manual, the school reassures instructors, “the vast majority of students do not appeal their violations.” The fact is, schools don't like it when student dispute allegations of academic misconduct, since it calls the integrity of their faculty into question.
If you don't challenge the allegation, though, you risk repercussions well beyond an F in a class. Of course, you could receive a disciplinary sanction like probation, suspension, or even expulsion, but beyond that, a finding of responsibility in an academic misconduct case goes into your permanent file. That's true even if you're given nothing more severe than a verbal warning. That information could cause you to lose scholarships or internship opportunities. It could prevent you from getting into graduate school or even interfere with job applications.
Don't just accept an accusation. There's help out there if you want to fight back.
Joseph D. Lento is an attorney who specializes in university misconduct cases. He's helped hundreds of students in New York and nationwide prove their innocence and negotiate more reasonable sanctions. Joseph D. Lento knows how to talk to faculty and administrators, how to negotiate on your behalf. He also knows when to go to battle to protect your rights. Whatever your situation, attorney Joseph D. Lento can get you the justice you deserve.
If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct, don't wait. Act now to protect your future. Contact the Lento Law Firm, today, at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form