It's not always easy to avoid committing academic misconduct. Sure, if you've turned in a paper you bought from a fellow fraternity member, you can't claim you didn't know what you were doing. And buying advanced copies of an exam is a definite no-no. Who knew that you could plagiarize yourself, though? And those MLA rules can be awfully tricky. What happens if you simply make a mistake?
Contrary to what you might hear in the dining halls, academic integrity does matter. A school's reputation for honesty is important if you expect businesses to hire you after you've earned your degree. Your own reputation matters as well. Would you trust a brain surgeon to poke around in your brain if you knew they paid someone to take their freshman biology final?
Still, there are lots of reasons why you might find yourself accused of this campus crime. Misunderstandings can and do happen. Should you find yourself in this position, it's important to know how your school deals with academic misconduct since this will give you a better chance at fighting the charges.
Defining Academic Misconduct
Iowa State University defines academic misconduct as any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for oneself or an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any other member or members of the academic community.
It's worth noting that you don't have to succeed in your plans to be guilty of misconduct, nor do you have to commit the offense yourself. Helping someone else cheat is just as much a violation of the policy as cheating yourself.
The code of conduct goes on to describe five specific kinds of academic misconduct, though it's also careful to note that this isn't an exhaustive list.
- Obtaining unauthorized information: This phrase can include copying off someone else during an exam. It can also mean looking at notes or looking answers up online if your instructor has prohibited it.
- Tendering of information: You probably recognize that it's unethical to write someone's paper for them. You may not realize that telling someone what was on an exam is also an example of academic misconduct.
- Misrepresentation: Again, this single word can be interpreted in many ways. Asking someone else to take an exam for you counts as misrepresentation. So does buying a paper online and turning it in as your own work.
- Bribery: Bribery can involve offering money to a faculty member, but it can also mean the offer of an item or service.
- Plagiarism: It's not unusual for students to run afoul of this one. It's not always easy to know all the rules for giving others credit when you use their ideas, but failing to do so can get you in trouble. You should also know that plagiarism isn't just about writing. You can plagiarize musical composition, works of art, even computer code.
If you are found guilty of academic misconduct at Iowa State, you will usually face two separate sets of sanctions.
First, the instructor has the right to determine a course punishment commensurate to the offense. The code of conduct offers no further guidance, so this punishment could range from a warning, through point deductions on the assignment, to failure on the assignment, or even failure in the course.
In addition, to assigning a penalty, the instructor must also refer the incident to the Dean of Students Office. The dean reviews the case and conducts an investigation if necessary. The dean then issues a finding, either affirming the student's guilt or exonerating the student. If the student is confirmed to be guilty, the dean assigns a university-level sanction. The code of conduct lists seven different possibilities:
- Disciplinary reprimand
- Conduct probation
- Deferred suspension
- Defined length suspension
- Indefinite suspension
- Transcript notation
In so-called “separation cases,” cases of suspension or expulsion where students are separated from the school for some length of time, the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) is required to hold a hearing on the matter. Accused students can choose up to two advisors, and one of these can be an attorney. However, the advisor's role at the hearing is limited. An advisor cannot, for example, address the panel directly.
Finally, it is worth noting that the final entry on the list, a transcript notation, is a written explanation on a student's transcript describing the exact nature of the offense. Such a notation can make it difficult to transfer to another school or begin a professional career. However, the University of Iowa does purge its records after seven years, so a notation doesn't last forever.
Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento
The stakes when it comes to academic misconduct are high. Most schools will not move to suspend or expel a student for a first offense, but such penalties are on the table. In fact, lesser offenses can be more problematic because the school offers fewer options when it comes to disputing the charges. If you're placed on academic probation for cheating, you don't have the right to a hearing.
Iowa State may try to convince you that accepting your punishment is in your best interest. They may tell you you don't really need a lawyer. If you've been accused of academic misconduct, though, you and the school are not on the same side. You need someone who's on your side. You need an attorney.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento built his reputation defending college students from academic misconduct charges. He recognizes that schools don't work the same as a court of law, and he knows how to work within the academic system to resolve your case. Joseph D. Lento is sympathetic and will stand by your side and fight for your rights. He knows what you're going through, and he wants to help.
If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct at Iowa State University, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.