Sam Houston State University, home to more than 21,000 students and the nation's first Ph.D. program in Forensics (SHSU), was founded in 1879 and is located in Huntsville, Texas, on a campus of more than 300 acres. In this guide, we'll take a look at academic dishonesty at SHSU and provide an overview of some of the most critical parts to consider.
Sam Houston State University Honor Code
At Sam Houston State University, academic honesty and academic misconduct are addressed first by the Student Honor Pledge. You can examine the actual pledge on your own, but what's most critical to note is that students agree to behave “in a manner that is above reproach and to maintain complete honesty and integrity in the academic experiences both in and out of the classroom.”
When students complete assignments or exams, the understanding, whether implicit or explicit, is that they are agreeing that the work they are turning in meets the parameters of the Honor Pledge.
The Code of Student Conduct and Discipline details examples of academic dishonesty, especially in paragraphs 5.3-5.35, Chapter VI. Some of the behaviors it lists include:
- Cheating: this section is especially lengthy and specific and offers seven examples of potential behaviors, including bribing someone in connection to tests, unauthorized collaboration, and copying from someone else's work
- Collusion: although they list collusion as its own behavior, they define it as unauthorized behavior
- Plagiarism: this is using and incorporating someone else's work into your own without acknowledgment
When considering this list, you should understand that it is not exhaustive, nor are the behaviors that SHSU lists. Any behaviors that a professor suspects violate the Honor Pledge, and academic integrity, can be under question. In order to ensure academic integrity, professors may utilize tools for test protection and plagiarism detection. Examples of these might include Turnitin or Blackboard SafeAssign.
The Disciplinary Procedure at SHSU
At SHSU, the disciplinary procedures were most recently updated in 2018. The Academic Policy Manual in the Student Guidelines that it references can be found when you log in to your SAM account.
When a faculty member alleges that academic dishonesty took place, they will draft a written notice to the student. The student then has ten working days to appeal the allegation (this process is detailed below, in the first part of the appeals section). On the eleventh day after a decision, the academic penalty listed therein will be considered effective.
The student discipline process is separate from the academic disciplinary procedures and only occurs if the Provost refers the student to the Vice President of Student Affairs. No disciplinary action may take place until a student has received procedural due process, which includes a hearing.
Sanctions if You are Found Responsible for Academic Dishonesty
If you proceed to a hearing, and the final determination is that you were responsible for the violations, there are a wide range of potential sanctions that SHSU might choose. These could include suspension, expulsion, probation, a special written project (such as an essay), and a grade reduction in the course or on the material.
What is the Appeal Process?
There are multiple considerations when it comes to discussing appeals at SHSU. First, initial allegations require an appeal. Second, after a hearing committee decision, a student may wish to appeal the decision. Let's take a closer look at both circumstances.
Appeals Process for Academic Dishonesty
The main details about the appeals process for academic dishonesty are located behind your login, however, it's important that you understand that once a faculty member determines that a student has committed academic misconduct, you have the right to appeal. The faculty member would notify you of the academic penalty and offer written information about the appeal process. You have ten working days to begin the appeal process. At each stage where a decision is made, the decision maker has ten days to reply to your appeal, and then you have ten working days to appeal to the next highest level. First, your appeal would be to the department chair, then the dean, and finally, the VP of Academic Affairs.
Appeals Process for Student Discipline Process, after proceeding to a hearing
When a decision is made at your hearing, you have five business days to send a written request for appeal to the relevant appeal officer (and for the officer to receive it). An appeal is based on whether or not a fair hearing took place. There are four components that this covers.
- Was there notice of the alleged academic misconduct and a chance to present evidence?
- Was the finding supported by the evidence?
- Is there new evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing?
- Were the sanctions appropriate to the severity of the offense?
If your appeal is based on one of these four aspects, then you have five business days (after the request for appeal is received) to provide any relevant documentation, including any oral or written arguments. Once this has occurred, the appeal officer will respond within ten business days of receiving all documentation/hearing any oral testimony. They may decide to “approve, reject, modify the decision, or remand the matter to the original hearing officer or hearing committee for reconsideration.”
Attorney-Advisor Assistance for Academic Integrity Violations at Sam Houston State University
When you or a loved one is facing academic dishonesty allegations, it's important to never take them lightly. Speaking with an attorney-advisor is in your best interest. It can help to know that someone else has your back, understands the best approach to hearings, and will negotiate with the school on your behalf, if necessary. You should take proactive measures to protect your academic future.
Academic integrity violations can leave gaps on your academic record that can impact graduate school applications, job applications, and everything in between. The Lento Law Firm and Joseph D. Lento have many years of experience helping students and their families successfully navigate this process in order to arrive at the best possible outcome. Contact them at 888.535.3686 or reach out online for assistance.