Sure, college is fun: football weekends, Frisbee on the quad, dorm room pranks. There's a lot on the line, though. Think of all you've invested in getting to where you are, all that time, energy, and money. One single accusation of academic misconduct can put all of that in jeopardy.
Colleges and universities take classroom integrity seriously. If your school should find you responsible for a policy violation, you could be facing probation, suspension, or even dismissal. In fact, just a warning can have long-term repercussions if it should find its way into your academic file. You could lose scholarship money, have trouble getting internships, or even struggle to find that all-important first job.
You can't afford to take any allegation lightly. If you're going to successfully defend yourself, though, you need to prepare. Find out what the rules are. Know what procedures you'll face if you're accused. Most importantly, find out how to get help. You can fight, and you can win, but your college is an institution, with all the red tape that implies, and you don't want to try and battle it all on your own.
Defining Academic Misconduct
How serious are the rules at Bellevue College? The Student Code of Conduct is actually under the purview of the Washington state legislature. That body has included five specific categories of violation under “academic dishonesty.”
- Cheating: “Cheating” refers to any attempt to use unauthorized materials to complete your coursework. That definition is simple enough, but it has broad implications. Looking at another student's paper is cheating, but so is asking someone else to take a test for you. Using your book during a closed-book exam would count, as would texting your roommate to get answers during a quiz. In fact, cheating is ultimately only limited by your imagination. If the answers don't come from your brain, though, and you don't have permission to use the source you got them from, you're cheating.
- Plagiarism: “Plagiarism” is the attempt to pass another person's work off as your own. Again, this sounds reasonably simple, but it can involve a whole multitude of different sins. Obviously, you shouldn't buy your freshman comp papers from an online paper mill. Just inserting a quote without giving the author credit can also get you into trouble, though. Keep in mind as well that plagiarism doesn't just apply to text. You can be accused of plagiarizing images, music, even computer code.
- Fabrication: This involves any sort of falsification or attempt at deception. The most obvious examples would be inventing sources or making up data on a lab report. However, submitting a fake doctor's excuse or signing a classmate's name on the daily attendance sheet would also qualify.
- Multiple submissions: Some schools include this as an example of plagiarism—“self-plagiarism”—but Bellevue goes to the trouble of singling it out as a special type of misconduct. Basically, you can't submit the same work in multiple classes without prior permission.
- Deliberate damage: Finally, you're prohibited from purposely destroying another person's work or college property like lab equipment or library books.
Procedures and Sanctions at Bellevue College
As at most schools, the primary responsibility for defining, identifying, and punishing academic misconduct at Bellevue College rests in the hands of individual instructors. Procedures, however, are governed by school policy PS 1035.
For example, if they suspect you of an infraction, your instructor must meet with you and explain both the allegation and the penalty they propose. In addition, they are required to report all incidents to the Dean of Students. Your instructor has free reign to punish you, but only up to failure in the course. “Classroom sanctions” typically include:
- Verbal and written warnings
- Re-submission or makeup work
- Additional assignment on the subject of academic misconduct
- Lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
- Lowered grade in the course, up to a failure
The Dean of Students maintains records of all violations. They have the power to assign additional “disciplinary sanctions” for repeat or especially egregious offenses. These can include:
Finally, though, you are entitled to appeal your instructor's decisions. The Student Conduct Committee hears appeals involving suspension or dismissal. All other cases are handled through a “brief adjudicative hearing” presided over by a “conduct officer.” Essentially, you're allowed to present your side of the story and present any evidence that tends to exonerate you. You can, in addition, appeal this official's decision to the college president.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
By this point, you probably have a good sense of why you might need an attorney-advisor to help you handle your academic misconduct case. Everything is at stake in these cases, and the procedures can be difficult to navigate. Keep in mind that once you're accused of misconduct, your school isn't on your side anymore. It will do what it can to protect its faculty, even if that means you aren't treated fairly. You need someone on your side, to protect your interests.
Bellevue gives you the right to select an advisor. Use that to your advantage. An attorney can help you prepare your case, can accompany you to meetings and proceedings, and can make sure your school isn't violating your rights. You need the right attorney, though: someone with experience handling college disciplinary cases.
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.