Academic Misconduct Charges at Southern Methodist University

The private liberal-arts institution Southern Methodist University, located near downtown Dallas, enrolls about 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students in seven degree-granting schools. Southern Methodist University, which is nonsectarian in character even though established denominationally, grants graduate degrees in business, law, engineering, accounting, and other fields, to meet its commitment to innovative research.

Integrity is important to any such academic pursuit. Southern Methodist University, like other colleges and universities, maintains an Honor Code through which it pursues academic-misconduct charges. Academic misconduct, coming in many different types, has a long and interesting national history, reflecting its significant concern across American higher education, including at Southern Methodist University. Read more here about college academic misconduct.

This page outlines what Southern Methodist University defines as academic misconduct, how it determines misconduct, and what you can do about it if you face academic-misconduct charges at SMU. The national academic-misconduct attorney and advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm wants to educate you about your personal interests and legal rights because he is committed to your best outcome of academic-misconduct charges.

Academic Misconduct at Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University maintains an Honor Council overseeing the university's Honor Code. Like other colleges and universities, Southern Methodist University has its Honor Code address core forms of academic misconduct, while a separate Student Code of Conduct addresses disruptive behaviors that sometimes relate to academic misconduct. Southern Methodist University publishes both the Honor Code and Student Code of Conduct in its Student Handbook.

Honor Code. Southern Methodist University's Honor Code, deep within its Student Handbook, defines punishable academic misconduct, in a non-exhaustive list, to include these traditional forms:

  • academic sabotage, further defined as intentionally taking any action negatively affecting the academic work of another student;
  • cheating, further defined as intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise;
  • fabrication, further defined as intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise;
  • facilitating academic dishonesty, further defined as intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to violate any provision of the Honor Code;
  • plagiarism, further defined as intentionally or knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one's own in any academic exercise, including citing quotations or materials from secondary sources not directly consulted, and copying the structure of a work without acknowledging its author; and
  • impeding Honor Council investigation, including lying to the council or in any way failing to cooperate with the council.

Student Code of Conduct. Academic misconduct can implicate other behavioral standards just beyond an honor code's scope, leading to additional punishment. Southern Methodist University's Student Code of Conduct, like its Honor Code also published in the Student Handbook, lists these other misbehaviors that may relate to and supplement academic-misconduct charges:

  • violating the university's computing or communications policies including copyright violations;
  • dishonesty intending to mislead, defraud, or deprive university officials or students;
  • irresponsible conduct or behavior that fails to model good citizenship or reflects poorly on the university;
  • interfering with or disrupting teaching, learning, or any other university activity; and
  • theft of any university property or property of any university employee or student.

Misconduct Procedures at Southern Methodist University

Honor Code Procedures. Southern Methodist University publishes its academic-misconduct procedures in its Student Handbook. The procedures permit a faculty member who discerns the academic misconduct to resolve the misconduct with up to a failing grade or to refer the matter to the Honor Council. The Honor Council receiving a professor's complaint or complaint by any other person notifies the accused student. A university vice-president of investigations appoints an investigator who prepares an investigation report. The Honor Council convenes a six-member hearing board including four students and one professor.

The Student Handbook's rules for an academic-misconduct hearing expressly authorize the accused student to question witnesses. The complainant may also do so. Southern Methodist University's Honor Code does not clearly address whether the accused student may have an attorney-advisor attend or participate in the hearing, including cross-examining witnesses, from which one may presume that hearings do not include advisors. The hearing board determines violations under a higher clear-and-convincing-evidence standard, not the lower preponderance standard. Appeals from an adverse decision are possible.

Student Code of Conduct Procedures. Southern Methodist University's Student Handbook defines a different Conduct Review Process for an alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct. If the Office of Student Conduct finds credible support that the reported violation has occurred, then it initiates the Conduct Review Process for either a Conduct Officer or Conduct Review Board hearing. A Conduct Officer interviews the accused student and complainant, reaching a determination as the Conduct Officer sees fit, unless the Conduct Officer deems the matter sufficiently serious for Conduct Review Board hearing.

A Conduct Review Board hearing involves five hearing officers drawn from selected faculty, students, and staff, who decide the misconduct charges after hearing the testimony of witnesses. The accused student may present witnesses and other evidence at the hearing. Only Review Board members, not the accused student or complainant, may question witnesses, although the accused student may submit proposed questions. The Review Board may accept statements from unavailable witnesses. Appeals from an adverse decision are possible.

Misconduct Sanctions at Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University, like other colleges and universities, treats academic misconduct seriously. You should, too. The university's Student Handbook lists these potential sanctions for violations of either the Honor Code or Student Code of Conduct:

  • informal warning;
  • formal conduct warning;
  • conduct probation;
  • transcript notation of violation;
  • educational sanction;
  • disqualification from activities;
  • suspension of privileges;
  • deferred suspension of enrollment;
  • enrollment suspension;
  • expulsion.

An Attorney-Advisor's Role

Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm is a national academic-misconduct attorney and advisor who has the skill and experience to play a critical role defending academic-misconduct charges at Southern Methodist University. While Southern Methodist University's Student academic-misconduct procedures limit counsel's role, Joseph D. Lento can help the student facing misconduct charges evaluate allegations, marshall and challenge evidence, draft proposed questions for examination and cross-examination, and analyze and appeal adverse findings, all to defeat false or exaggerated charges. Skilled advocacy from the Lento Law Firm will expose weaknesses in an academic-misconduct case.

Don't underestimate the difference that an attorney advisor can make. Academic-misconduct violations ruin reputation, education, and career. Don't let false or exaggerated charges adversely affect you. Retain expert counsel to defend and defeat academic-misconduct allegations, like the thousands of college and university students nationwide who have retained Joseph D. Lento at the Lento Law Firm to represent them in misconduct matters and who have achieved successful outcomes with the Firm's help. Joseph Lento and his Firm have the knowledge, resources, and expertise to help you through a misconduct proceeding at Southern Methodist University. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use the online service.

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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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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