Academic Misconduct Policies at the University of Akron

Pity today's college professors, whose job it is to root out classroom cheating. The problem is, cheating techniques are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Faculty have to be on guard for traditional forms of cheating like plain-old looking at someone else's answers. At the same time, though, they now have to watch out for online paper mills, texting schemes, even drone surveillance.

On the other hand, in the midst of what some have labeled a “crisis” in American education, some instructors have become more than a little trigger-happy when it comes to accusing students of academic misconduct. Meanwhile, punishments become more severe every year, to the point where they rarely actually fit the crimes.

What do you do, though, if you find yourself accused of misconduct? Defending yourself or arguing for a lighter sentence can seem like an impossible mountain to climb. How are you supposed to take on tenured professors, to say nothing of the full weight of the university administration?

Your first step is to learn all you can about how your school treats academic misconduct. That way you'll know how to respond to any accusations you might face. Then, make sure you contact a qualified attorney who can help you take on the establishment. You can defend your record, but in all likelihood, you'll need help.

Academic Misconduct at the University of Akron

The first thing you need to know is exactly how your school defines academic misconduct.

Most schools distinguish between general student misconduct and “academic misconduct.” The latter refers specifically to course behavior, and typically, anything that gives you an unfair advantage in the classroom qualifies.

The University of Akron’s Student Code, though, goes to the trouble of listing out prohibited behavior. This list is divided into two large categories, “cheating” and “plagiarism.”

First up is cheating. UA lists four separate kinds of cheating:

  • “Unauthorized assistance” on classwork
  • Submitting the same work for more than one course
  • Using prohibited source materials
  • Obtaining test materials without permission

Finally, as a cheating catchall, the school's policy notes that you must also refrain from “any behavior specifically prohibited by a faculty member in the course syllabus or during class discussion.” In other words, instructors have the right to create their own rules and enforce them as they see fit.

The second important category of academic misconduct UA identifies is plagiarism. UA policy notes you are barred from representing the works of others as their own, whether you do so intentionally or unintentionally. It is worth noting that the wording here suggests professors can label simple citation errors as “academic misconduct” if they choose to.

Under plagiarism, the school also specifically forbids purchasing coursework from individuals or paper mills.

Academic Misconduct: Informal Resolutions

Faculty who suspect academic misconduct have two separate choices. First, they may utilize the “Informal Resolution Process.” This process involves three steps:

  1. The faculty member contacts the Department of Student Conduct and Community Standards (DSCCS) to find out if you have any past violations.
  2. The faculty member meets with you to discuss the allegation and any proposed sanctions. If you agree, you and the instructor document that agreement.
  3. The faculty member forwards a copy of the agreement document to the DSCCS.

Academic Misconduct: Investigation and Adjudication

If you should dispute either the accusation itself or the proposed sanction, the DSCCS steps in to formally investigate and adjudicate the matter. Faculty may also request this option initially rather than going through the Informal Resolution Process.

The DSCCS must notify you in writing of any investigations within five days of a referral. You then have up to three days to appear at the department, where you have an opportunity to make your own statement. Following this, the investigator has 15 days to complete the investigation.

If the investigator decides you are responsible for academic misconduct, and you accept their findings, they will assign a sanction.

If, however, you still disagree with either the findings or the level of sanction, you then have the right to a hearing before the University Hearing Board. You may bring an advisor of your choice to this hearing, but advisors may not actively participate in the proceedings. You may confer with your advisor, but you must speak and act on your own behalf.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Board decides responsibility and assigns sanctions as necessary.

You further have the option to appeal the Hearing Boards' decisions to the University Appeals Board. This board conducts a closed session meeting to review all the materials of the case. Appeals must be based on very specific reasons, such as the discovery of new evidence, an accusation of procedural mistake, or the argument that the punishment is disproportionate to the violation.

Finally, the Vice President of Student Affairs can request that the President review the case after an Appeals Board ruling.

Punishments

The school lists a number of possible sanctions for violations of the academic misconduct policy, including:

  • Makeup work
  • Assignment failure
  • Course failure
  • Workshops
  • University service
  • Academic probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

Typically, when you reach an informal resolution with the accusing faculty member, the DSCCS takes no further action. Otherwise, the DSCCS reserves the right to choose sanctions at its own discretion.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento Specializes in University Justice

It may seem tempting simply to accept an accusation of academic misconduct and the sanction that goes with it, especially if the sanction seems light. Keep in mind, though, that even small infractions can wind up on your academic record, and they can have far-reaching consequences. You might, for example, lose financial aid money. You could have trouble getting into graduate school. You might even find it hard to get that all-important first job. In many instances, you're far better off fighting accusations.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. Joseph D. Lento is an attorney who specializes in university misconduct cases. He's helped hundreds of students reclaim their reputations and negotiate reasonable settlements with their schools. Joseph D. Lento has legal training and a deep knowledge of the law, but he's also entirely comfortable dealing with college faculty and administrators. He knows how schools operate, and he knows how to work with the system to get you the very best possible resolution to your case.

If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct by your college or university, don't just accept it. Fight back. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or by using our automated online form.

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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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