Amherst College Academic Integrity Advisor

Academic integrity is the cornerstone of intellectual communities like Amherst College. Every person's education is the product of their intellectual effort and participation in a process of critical exchange at this institution. When students violate regulations that maintain academic integrity - whether intentionally or unknowingly - they jeopardize their academic and professional careers.

Amherst College cannot educate those who are unwilling to submit their own work and ideas to critical assessment. Nor does it tolerate those who interfere with the participation of others in the critical process. Therefore, the college considers it a violation of the requirements of intellectual responsibility to submit work that is not one's own or otherwise to subvert the conditions under which academic work is performed by oneself or by others. 

As a student, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the many assignments, projects, presentations and exams you're expected to complete. Unfortunately, the struggle to keep up with studies is the main culprit behind academic misconduct charges.

In this article, we'll address how Amherst College defines and handles cases of academic misconduct, as well as why you need a student defense attorney to represent you throughout the school's processes.

Amherst College's Honor Code

The Honor Code states that students are expected to act as responsible individuals, to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity both personally and academically and to respect the rights of others. The College considers these standards to be essential to its academic mission and its community life.

Any behavior that doesn't align with Amherst College's academic integrity guidelines is considered academic misconduct. Amherst College's policies are pretty vague, so here are a few examples of the most commonly committed types of academic misconduct at the College. 

  • Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, material, or study aids in examinations or other academic work or preventing, or attempting to prevent another from using authorized assistance, material, or study aids. Example: using a cheat sheet in a quiz or exam, using a cell phone or other technology to obtain or share information during an exam, altering a graded exam and resubmitting it for a better grade.
  • Plagiarism: using the ideas, data, or language of another without specific or proper acknowledgment. Example: copying another person's paper, article, or text from a website and submitting it for an assignment, quoting someone else's ideas without attribution, failing to use quotation marks where appropriate.
  • Fabrication: submitting contrived or altered information in any academic exercise. Example: making up data for an experiment, fudging data, citing nonexistent articles, contriving sources. 
  • Multiple submissions: submitting, without prior permission, any work submitted to fulfill another academic requirement. 
  • Facilitating academic dishonesty: knowingly helping or attempting to help another student violate a provision of the Code. Example: working together on a take-home exam. 
  • Unfair advantage: attempting to gain unauthorized advantage over fellow students in an academic exercise. Example: gaining or providing unauthorized access to examination materials, obstructing or interfering with another student's efforts in an academic exercise, lying about a need for an extension for an exam or paper, continuing to write even when time is up during an exam, destroying or keeping library materials for one's own use. 
  • Misrepresentation of academic records: misrepresenting or tampering with or attempting to tamper with any portion of a student's transcript or academic record, either before or after coming to Amherst College. Example: forging a change of grade slip, tampering with computer records, falsifying academic information on one's resume.

Misconduct can occur in any academic situation including, but not limited to, a course research project, independent study, presentation, qualifying examination, preliminary examination, or dissertation.

Amherst College's Procedures for Handling Academic Misconduct

The Review Process

Upon receipt of an allegation of academic misconduct, the dean will conduct an initial assessment of allegations to determine whether the alleged misconduct falls within the scope of school policy. To determine whether or not an accusation is valid, MIT uses the preponderance of evidence:

  • The respondent engaged in academic misconduct; and
  • The academic misconduct marked a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant academic community

Inquiry

The inquiry consists of information gathering and fact-finding to determine as a preliminary matter whether an allegation of academic misconduct warrants further, formal review. At the conclusion of the inquiry, the fact-finding committee will prepare a draft written report summarizing the process and information reviewed and recommending whether to proceed with an investigation. 

Investigation

An investigation must be initiated and completed in a reasonable time period consistent with a complete and thorough investigation. The investigation consists of a formal examination and evaluation of all relevant information to determine if misconduct occurred. The investigation is privy to the inquiry findings but is not bound by the findings of the inquiry. 

Sanctions

The consequences of academic misconduct at Amherst can be very serious, possibly including suspension or expulsion from the institute. Instructors are given the discretion to handle violations of academic integrity how they see fit. There are several situations in which sanctions can be imposed:

Academic consequences within a class or research project

Within a class, the instructor determines what action is appropriate to take. Such action may include:

  • Requiring the student to redo the assignment for a reduced grade
  • Assigning the student a failing grade for the assignment
  • Assigning the student a failing grade for the class

For a research project, the supervisor determines what action is appropriate to take. Such action may include:

  • Terminating the student's participation in the research project

The instructor or supervisor may also submit documentation to the Office of Student Citizenship in the form of a letter to file or a formal complaint.

Academic Integrity Attorney

An academic misconduct violation can jeopardize the academic and professional goals you or your college student have set. If you value the investment you've made into your education and your professional future, contacting a skilled student defense attorney is a must. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped students who've acquired serious academic misconduct charges recover from these allegations, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686 for more information.

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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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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