College is hard enough as it is. And it's not just about those pesky courses, either. You're trying to figure out how to deal with a roommate who has abandonment issues. You've spent all of your allowance this month on games for your phone, and it's only the sixth. And learning to do laundry has started to make calculus look like child's play.
Things can always get worse, though. A charge of academic misconduct, for instance, can make life infinitely more difficult. Schools these days take honesty and integrity extremely seriously. Sanctions can include failing a course, academic probation, or even expulsion. Plus, the process of defending yourself can be confusing, and you can expect that faculty and administration will close ranks against you.
That's why, if you should find yourself accused, you need to know how to get help. Of course, you want to know everything you can about how your school treats misconduct, from the rules to the investigative procedures. That's the beginning of a strong defense. Ultimately, though, you're going to need a skilled attorney-advisor in your corner. You can fight back, protect your future, and salvage your reputation, but your chances of doing all that go down if you try to handle the situation alone.
Defining Academic Misconduct at the University of Nebraska, Omaha
UNO's Academic Integrity Policy is reasonably straightforward. It lists just five basic categories of violations, and three of those are really just window-dressing.
- Cheating: As you might expect, cheating is at the top of the list. UNO offers several examples of cheating, like using an unauthorized device during an exam or copying another student's answers. All of these examples come down to one thing, though: the use of resources you're not allowed to use. Whether you've gotten your hands on an advanced copy of a test or a classmate in another section has the inside scoop on the day's quiz questions, if your instructor hasn't authorized you to use it, you're cheating.
- Dishonesty, falsification, and fabrication: The other offense you might expect on a list like this one is plagiarism. UNO certainly forbids plagiarism. However, it also forbids any other kind of falsification, including inventing sources and forging doctors' notes to get out of exams.
- Improperly helping others: Helping someone else cheat or plagiarize is treated as its own form of misconduct, and the penalties are just as severe.
- Harmful academic actions towards others: Finally, UNO includes two catch-all categories in its list of offenses. First, it prohibits any action that might harm another student's academic work, even if it wouldn't already qualify under another category.
- Failing to follow the rules: In addition, the policy requires you to follow all rules. In other words, if an instructor says it on the syllabus, you're expected to follow it, whether or not it fits into a category on this list.
Right away, you may notice that the way UNO describes these five categories leaves a lot of room for interpretation. That makes it easier for an instructor to accuse you of wrong-doing, and it makes it harder for you to defend yourself. Open-ended policies are just one important reason why consulting a skilled attorney-advisor can be so vital to protecting your future.
Processes and Procedures at UNO
UNO instructors have the primary responsibility for identifying and punishing instances of academic misconduct. If your instructor should suspect you, the school requires them to meet with you and discuss the incident. They should give you an opportunity to explain your side of the story, but ultimately, they have the power to impose course sanctions on you. These can include a wide range of punishments, from a warning to makeup work to a lower grade on the assignment to a lower grade in the course.
The good news is you have the right to question both the accusation and the assigned sanction. The first step in this process is mediation. You have ten days from the date you're notified of a sanction to request a mediation meeting with the chair of the department in which the course is located. Ultimately, the department chair can dismiss the accusation, lessen the sanction, or affirm the instructor's original decision.
You have the further right to appeal the chair's decision to the dean of the college in which the department is located. This dean then impanels a committee to review the case and render a final decision.
Finally, you should know that instructors are encouraged to report every instance of academic misconduct and are required to report any instance that results in a course failure. The UNO Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards keeps a record of all violations and has the authority to issue more severe sanctions for repeat offenses. These sanctions can include probation, suspension, and expulsion. Appeals of these decisions and sanctions are governed by the school's Student Code of Conduct policies and procedures.
Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor
Often students ignore charges of academic misconduct. It may seem like it's more trouble than it's worth to fight the system, even if you're innocent. Here's the problem with that thinking: Any sanction, even a warning, can have long-term consequences if it shows up on your academic record. Sanctions can cause you to lose scholarships; they can interfere with fellowship, internship, and graduate school applications; they can even come up in job interviews. Take every accusation and every sanction seriously.
It isn't easy to take on your school. Joseph D. Lento can help, though. Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in advising student clients. He understands how difficult it can sometimes be to get justice from a faculty member or an administrative official. Schools just don't like to admit they're wrong. They'll do whatever they can to back up their faculty, even if it means bending judicial processes in a faculty member's favor. Joseph D. Lento has dedicated his entire career to confronting these kinds of tactics. He's helped hundreds of clients defend themselves from charges big and small, and he can help you get the justice you deserve.
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.