When you graduate from high school, you have so many plans for your experience at college. You may want to participate in clubs, play a sport, or join a fraternity or sorority. You've been dreaming of this experience for most of your life, so when you are accused of academic misconduct, it may feel like those dreams are slipping away. At Mississippi State University, accusations of academic misconduct are taken very seriously. If you or someone you love has been accused of academic misconduct, working with an attorney from the moment you are notified of the accusations will ensure you receive the best possible outcome. The Lento Law Firm has helped countless college students navigate these allegations. They're here to help.
Misconduct at Mississippi State University
While the definition of academic misconduct varies from school to school, the basics are always the same: any act that provides a student with an academic advantage without permission. At Mississippi State University, the following are considered acts of academic dishonesty that violate the university's Honor Code:
- Cheating: intentionally using, or trying to use, unauthorized materials on an exam, paper, or other academic exercises.
- Fabrication: making up data and recording or reporting it on an exam, paper, or other academic exercises.
- Falsification: manipulating research materials, processes, or equipment, or changing data so that the paper, exam, or other academic exercise is not accurately representing it.
- Multiple submissions: submitting all or portions of the same work for different courses without permission.
- Plagiarism: using another's ideas, words, or results without giving them credit.
- Complicity: intentionally helping, or trying to help, another student commit academic misconduct.
- Academic Fraud: deliberately deceiving the university or altering documents affecting academic records.
- Violating the rules that relate to academic matters.
Mississippi State University Academic Dishonesty Procedure
Once the university becomes aware of a potential act of academic misconduct, they will notify the accused student. If it is the student's first offense, the faculty member who noticed the issue has the authority to investigate it further and then adjudicate it. But, if this is the student's second offense, or they are a graduate student, the issue will be referred to the Academic Integrity Intervention Program.
If this is a first offense and the faculty member determines that the student did, in fact, violate the Honor Code with an act of academic misconduct, they will place an “XF” on the student's record as a “grade” for the course. The student will then be administratively dropped from the course, but the “XF” will be used as an “F” grade when calculating their GPA, and the student will be forced to complete the Academic Integrity Intervention Program. When this program is completed, they can petition for the “XF” to be changed to an “F” on their transcript.
In some instances, the first-time offending student may be allowed to stay in the course, but they will receive a letter grade penalty – i.e., the grade will be lowered one whole grade letter after the final grade is calculated. So, if you have an “A-” at the end of the course, you will end up with a “B-.”
Second-Time Offenders & Referrals to the Academic Integrity Intervention Program
If this is a second offense, or the faculty member determined that a first-time offender should be referred to the Program, the Student Honor Code Council will take over. The Student Honor Code Council will investigate the allegation and conduct a hearing if appropriate. It is important to note that an accused student has the right to have an attorney-advisor present during this hearing who will help the student navigate their defense.
When the Council determines it is appropriate to proceed to a hearing, they will designate five individuals to act as the Hearing Panel and notify all parties of the hearing date. The Panel will listen to all of the evidence presented, ask questions of the parties, and then deliberate their decision in private. During these deliberations, they will determine appropriate sanctions. These sanctions may include expulsion, suspension, and/or an educational sanction where the student is required to complete the Academic Integrity Intervention Program at their own expense. If you fail to complete this program in the required time frame, you risk being put on academic hold until it is completed, which may bar you from taking future courses.
Appealing an Academic Misconduct Decision
Ifyou are found responsible for violating the Honor Code with an act of academic misconduct, you have five business days to appeal the decision in writing to the Director of the Honor Code Office. Appeals are only considered valid if one of the following grounds is cited:
- Substantial new evidence is available that wasn't available during the hearing.
- There were procedural irregularities while the case was handled.
- The finding of responsibility wasn't consistent with the facts that were presented during the hearing.
The Director of the Student Honor Code Office will review the appeal and decide if an appeal hearing is warranted. If it is, the Appeal Hearing Panel will follow the same procedures as the original Hearing Panel. Once they make their decision, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Academic misconduct allegations have long-lasting consequences for any student. For instance, the sanctions levied can prevent you from joining, or remaining in, clubs, NCAA or intramural sports, or other extracurricular activities, and even prevent you from graduating. More importantly, academic and professional opportunities can also be significantly affected. A student found responsible for academic misconduct will face diminished candidacy for internships, graduate and professional school, professional employment, and service as an officer in the military. A separate concern yet is that students who are falsely accused of academic misconduct will face harm to their reputation that can be hard to move on from. In sum, everything is at stake and that is why professional help will best serve your interests.
If you are accused of academic misconduct at Mississippi State University, it is imperative you contact an attorney-advisor as soon as possible. Attorney-advisors, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm, will be able to mitigate any negative consequences you might face. Attorney Lento is an experienced attorney who has worked with hundreds of students across the county overcome the challenges associated with academic misconduct allegations. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule your consultation.