Forgery refers to intentionally creating or modifying documents using some false information. In a college or university environment, this misconduct may occur even before being enrolled. Admittance requirements may include transcripts, standardized test scores, and other prerequisites. Prospective students might consider creating or falsifying documents or records. The potential for forging documentation continues throughout the college experience. Student violators may be subject to severe disciplinary actions and sanctions.
A Cornell University student recently made headlines for engaging in an extreme case of forgery. During the admissions process, she submitted forged transcripts and a letter of recommendation from a high school teacher. Other forged documents assisted her in securing roughly $130,000 in student loans and grants. She has since been expelled and faces criminal charges.
Student Usage of Fake Identification
Instances of misrepresentation among college students may extend beyond the admissions office or classroom. A U.S. National Library of Medicine study revealed that approximately 32% possessed fake identification.
Potential Financial Ramifications
Students found to have submitted fraudulent documents to gain admittance may have any academic credits they earned revoked. In addition, the student will still need to satisfy any financial obligations such as loans despite having no credit to show for it.
Baylor University Incidents
- 2012: A student produced a phony Commercial Pilot's license and FAA signed confirmation letter to the school's Institute of Air Science
- 2015: Fake time cards submitted to receive credit for an internship they did not participate in
- 2017: Forgery of a faculty member's signature in an attempt to drop classes
- 2017: Forged transcripts showing classes completed at another college were submitted for credit
- 2017: Phony medical documents submitted in order to be excused following a prolonged absence
- 2018: Phony documents submitted showing student was receiving mental health treatment in an attempt to have absences excused and makeup missed exams
Student Disciplinary Process
Each institution drafts their own student disciplinary process containing similar provisions. Columbia College in Missouri employs a behavioral misconduct policy. The Student Conduct Officer (SCO) receives allegations of wrongdoing and issues the student a formal notice. The matter is investigated. Students may submit statements or evidence for consideration. The SCO issues a ruling and may impose sanctions if applicable. Violators may appeal through the Dean of Student Affairs and have a subsequent hearing.
Can I Bring an Attorney to a Hearing?
Campus disciplinary actions are not criminal or civil legal matters. Students generally have a right to be accompanied to hearings by an advisor of their choosing. The advisor role is generally limited; they are not usually permitted to issue statements or examine witnesses. An attorney may be a tremendous help for preparing a student “behind the scenes” with crafting a statement, answering questions and more.
Attorney for Students Facing Allegations of Academic Misconduct
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is available to defend students accused of academic misconduct. Those potentially facing a suspension, expulsion or other harsh sanctions are encouraged to contact the office at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.