Academic Misconduct Charges at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

Post-pandemic, there have been a lot of news stories about a rise in cheating on college campuses. Debates rage over the cause of this rise and whether or not it's here to stay. One thing is for certain, though: professors have grown more paranoid. They're more likely to accuse students of academic misconduct and more likely to assign harsh penalties for this misconduct.

What do you do if you find yourself falsely accused? Maybe you're entirely innocent, or maybe you simply made an honest mistake. What do you do if you did violate policy, but your instructor wants to give you a sanction that far outweighs the nature of the offense?

First, you find out everything you can about how your school handles such cases. That means knowing the rules and how they're enforced. It means finding out what the processes are for defending yourself. Second, you find a qualified, experienced attorney-advisor, someone who knows how universities operate and who has expertise in student disciplinary cases. You should always fight to preserve your academic reputation, but that fight is more likely to succeed if you have help.

How Does the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater Define Misconduct?

Knowing the rules for academic integrity is obviously important to avoiding mistakes. It's also vital to preparing a defense if you've been accused of misconduct. Only when you know exactly what you've been charged with doing can you begin building a strong defense.

The University of Wisconsin, Whitewater's policy on academic honesty is set by the state's Board of Regents and is actually written into state law (Chapter 14). As you might expect, the legislature's language isn't always easy to parse. Here's a list of the various violations, though, as well as an interpretation of what they actually mean.

  • “Seeking to claim credit for the work or efforts of another without authorization or citation.” In simplest terms, this means plagiarism. Keep in mind, plagiarism doesn't just apply to text. You can plagiarize images, videos, music, and even computer code. In addition, plagiarism can be big or small. Obviously, buying your term paper from an online paper mill qualifies, but so too does forgetting to include a citation when you insert a quotation.
  • “Using unauthorized or fabricated data in an academic exercise.” There are actually two separate offenses included here. The first is common, everyday cheating. “Unauthorized […] data” includes materials like crib notes or stolen copies of an exam. In addition, though, you aren't supposed to make up data in lab reports or invent sources in your papers.
  • “Forging or falsifying academic documents or records.” This might include hacking into the school's mainframe and altering your grades. Some professors accuse students for far lesser offenses, though, such as forging a doctor's note or signing a classmate's name to the daily attendance log.
  • “Intentionally impeding or damaging the work of others.” Whether you're looking to alter the curve on an exam, or you have a grudge against a classmate, interfering with another student's work can get you accused of misconduct.
  • “Engaging in conduct aimed at making a false representation of a student's academic performance.” This is a kind of catchall for any misconduct not already covered in one of the other categories on this list. Basically, it means you shouldn't do anything that gains you an unfair advantage in completing your coursework.
  • “Assisting other students in these acts.” Finally, helping someone else commit misconduct constitutes its own form of misconduct.

Procedures and Sanctions at UWS, Whitewater

Knowing the rules is a good start, but you also need to know how the disciplinary process works at UWS, Whitewater. Who decides if you've committed academic misconduct? What are the penalties? How do you go about defending yourself?

Again, the procedures as described by the state legislature aren't exactly clear and easy to follow. Here are the basics, though.

Instructors have primary responsibility for identifying, investigating, and punishing instances of academic misconduct. Upon determining a violation has occurred, they can issue a disciplinary sanction. They must follow a series of specific steps in doing so, however.

Minor sanctions require the instructor to meet with the student, explain their findings, and offer the student an opportunity to respond. Minor sanctions include:

  • Verbal or written warnings
  • Resubmissions or makeup assignments

Instructors can also recommend more severe, major sanctions. However, in such cases, they must hold a formal conference with the student and give the student a chance to defend themselves. In addition, they must provide written notification of their findings. Finally, they may only recommend these sanctions; only an “investigating officer” can actually impose them. Major sanctions include:

  • A lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
  • Educational assignments on the nature of academic integrity
  • A lowered grade in the course, up to an F
  • Removal from the course
  • Written reprimand in the student's academic file
  • Academic probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

The investigating officer can impose these sanctions on their own authority if the student has a record of past violations.

Of course, you have the right to challenge any decision by your instructor, whether it includes a major or minor sanction. You can challenge either the determination itself, the sanction, or both.

When you do so, the investigating officer must instigate a formal hearing before the school's academic misconduct hearing committee. You have the right to present evidence at this hearing, call witnesses to testify on your behalf, and cross-examine any witnesses against you. Importantly, you also have the right to bring an advisor of your choosing.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

Students don't always contest the charges against them. The prospect of questioning a faculty member's decision can seem scary. Procedures are complicated and take time. Rather than face all that, many students just accept their punishment, especially if that punishment seems relatively minor.

Here's the problem with that thinking. There are no minor punishments. Even a warning can cause long-term problems if it winds up in your academic file. A record of misconduct could cost you scholarships, keep you from applying for internships and fellowships, and even interfere with your ability to get a good first job. If you've been accused, don't take it lightly. Fight for your reputation and your academic future.

Joseph D. Lento can help. 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.

Contact Us Today!

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 the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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