The more college goes digital, the more academic misconduct seems to rise. That's not surprising, really. College was already stressful before schools began removing the human component. Zoom chats will just never be as helpful as face-to-face office hours. And how are you supposed to avoid looking up answers during an online exam when Google is right there in front of your face?
If you should find yourself fighting a charge of academic misconduct, would you know how to handle it? What does Cal State, Long Beach's judicial process like, for example? How do they define “academic misconduct”? What will they do to you if they find you guilty?
Even if you haven't dealt with an accusation like this one, it pays to find out the answers to these questions. After all, as your parents might say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Whatever that means.
Defining Academic Misconduct
In general terms, academic misconduct might be defined as any action that gives someone an unfair academic advantage or that undermines the learning process. As you might expect, most schools take a dim view of such behavior, and Cal State, Long Beach is no exception.
CSLB's code of conduct addresses two separate kinds of academic misconduct, “cheating,” and “plagiarism.”
The school defines cheating as “the act of obtaining, trying to obtain, or helping someone else to obtain academic credit for work by using dishonest, deceptive, or fraudulent means.” As a description, this is pretty dry, but it's also reasonably clear. Just in case, though, this passage includes some handy examples:
- Copying someone else's work
- Using notes during a “closed book” exam
- Having another student take your exam for you
- Using copies of an exam without the instructor's permission
- Telling others what's on an exam
- Using online tools that aren't authorized by the instructor
This list of cheating examples also includes plagiarism, but the school singles this particular violation out for lengthier discussion. In simplest terms, plagiarism refers to any use of someone else's ideas in a knowing attempt to pass them off as your own. In practice, this definition can lead to some complicated situations. Obviously, you shouldn't print out an online article and turn it in as your work. You probably also know that you shouldn't purchase your papers from paper mills. However, other instances can be less cut and dried. For instance, you aren't allowed to plagiarize from yourself by turning the same paper in for two classes. And any use of someone else's ideas, even computer code, without giving them credit also constitutes plagiarism.
The resolution process for academic misconduct at California State University, Long Beach, can be lengthy and complex, so much so that the school actually publishes a flow chart.
The process begins with a meeting between the student and the faculty member who is making the accusation. After this meeting, the faculty member can decide to drop the matter and take no action. If that happens, the matter is closed.
In all other cases, the faculty member fills out an Academic Integrity form which is forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development (OSCED). The instructor may:
- Require the student to repeat the assignment
- Reduce the student's score on the assignment
- Assign the student a failing grade in the course
- Request a written opinion from the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC)
Students may accept an instructor's (or the AIC's) assigned penalty, or they may refuse it, but in either case, the OSCED considers the matter and takes their own action. The OSCED can:
- Find the student “Not responsible”
- Find the student “Responsible” but take no further action other than affirming the instructor's decision
- Recommend disciplinary probation
- Recommend suspension
- Recommend expulsion
Finally, students should be aware of some additional aspects of the academic misconduct process.
- Normally, instructors are only allowed to accuse a student of cheating or plagiarism within 30 days of the work being turned in. However, if they should determine recent work involved cheating or plagiarism, they are entitled to review older work as well.
- Faculty are prohibited from discussing a case of plagiarism with other students in the class. The student is prohibited from doing so as well.
- An instructor may ask a student to produce additional work for comparison purposes.
When to Contact Joseph D. Lento
Cal State, Long Beach may tell you they have your best interests at heart, that they'll look out for you and protect your rights. The trouble is, only a lawyer can do that. If you've been accused of academic misconduct, the school's focus is on proving you're guilty, not on helping you protect your reputation. A finding of “Responsible” becomes part of your academic record. Even if you aren't penalized in any other way, that can affect scholarships or delay your graduation. In addition, transfer schools and employers may look twice at your applications. Fight back.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento built his career on representing students in academic misconduct cases. He knows how to work within university policy to get you the very best possible outcome for your case. He knows the many ways colleges and universities will try to deny you your due process rights, and he knows how to stop them. Joseph D. Lento is sympathetic to your situation and will stand by you from beginning to end. Trust your future to Joseph D. Lento.
If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct at California State University, Long Beach, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.