Attorney for Chatham University

To say that the world of higher education is big on integrity is an understatement. Academic communities like Chatham University can only thrive when every member is fully committed to the principles of academic integrity. To ensure students reach their educational goals, Chatham University has enforced a number of rules that serve to preserve and maintain academic integrity in all scholastic endeavors. 

Students who break these rules, knowingly or accidentally, will be accused of academic misconduct. Accusations of academic misconduct are serious and will be punished through the school's judicial system. Guilty determinations of academic misconduct have been known to jeopardize students' college careers and affect their professional lives down the line as well. 

In this article, we'll address how Chatham University handles allegations of academic misconduct and why you need a student defense attorney to assist you through the process once accused.

How Does Chatham University Define “Academic Misconduct?”

Academic misconduct, according to Chatham University, is defined as the failure to abide by the tenets of the Chatham University Honor Code of intellectual independence, consideration for the rights and wellbeing of others, honesty in all relationships, and personal integrity as they relate to academic pursuits at the University.

Acts of academic misconduct are distinguished by the nature of the act according to the reasonable belief of the instructor and fall into two broad categories - technical and substantiated.

Technical acts of academic misconduct are those reasonably believed by an instructor to be purely technical in nature without intent to achieve an academic advantage. Technical acts include, but are not limited to incorrectly citing, paraphrasing, and attributing sources within an academic course or exercise. Technical acts of academic misconduct do not present egregious and blatant attempts to use sources in a manner consistent with substantiated acts of academic misconduct. 

Substantiated acts of academic misconduct are those reasonably believed by an instructor to achieve an academic advantage and violate the tenets of the Chatham University Honor Code of intellectual independence, consideration for the rights and well-being of others, honesty in all relationships, and personal integrity as they relate to academic pursuits at the University. Substantiated acts include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Alteration of university documents: forgery of any signatures; submitting an altered transcript of grades to or from another institution or employer; putting one's name on another individual's work; or falsely altering a previously graded exam or assignment
  • Cheating: cheating includes fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in an academic course or exercise in an attempt to meet academic requirements by gaining an unfair advantage and/or using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids on an academic course or exercise. Examples of cheating include, but are not limited to using any electronic device to copy, transmit, or receive information during an exam; any form of contract cheating such as asking or paying someone to take a test, write a paper, or complete any assignment for you; obtaining a copy of an exam without instructor permission; and sharing copies of exams with students who have yet to take the exam.
  • Disturbance in the classroom or lab: disturbances in a traditional or online classroom or lab that serve to create an unfair academic advantage for oneself or a disadvantage for another member of the academic community. Examples of disturbing a classroom or lab include, but are not limited to stealing or damaging lab equipment and/or experiments; pulling the fire alarm to avoid a course or exercise. 
  • Facilitating academic misconduct: when an individual helps or attempts to help another individual carry out an act of academic misconduct. Examples of facilitating academic misconduct include, but are not limited to collusion; any form of contract cheating such as willingly providing or selling a paper, notes, handouts, and/or any other materials in an unapproved manner that provide an academic advantage to another student; agreeing to take a test, write a paper, or complete an assignment for someone else; or falsifying information or forging signatures on course documents.
  • False representation, fabrication or alteration of information: the unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in any academic course or exercise. Examples of false representation, fabrication, or alteration of information include, but are not limited to furnishing false information about oneself or a writer and/or speaker; fabricating or altering information and presenting it as legitimate; providing false or misleading information to an instructor or any other University official. 
  • Plagiarism: plagiarism is when one represents the organizational design, ideas, phrases, sentences or larger units of discourse from another writer and/or speaker without proper acknowledgment in an academic course or exercise. Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to, failure to enclose text copied directly from a source in quotation marks and to identify the source; failure to identify a source of summarized or paraphrased material; failure to identify the source of an idea taken from someone else's work; cutting and pasting from electronic sources without citation; self-plagiarism of one's previous work in an unapproved manner; and failure to acknowledge sources from various formats or mediums, including web pages, television, films, artwork, digital or sound recordings, speeches, and traditional hard copy.

Resolving Acts of Chatham University of Academic Misconduct

Any member of the Chatham University community who has witnessed an apparent act of academic misconduct (technical or substantiated), or has information that reasonably leads to the conclusion that such an act has occurred or has been attempted, has the responsibility to inform the Academic Integrity Officer or their designee as soon as possible. 

Here is the order of events that ensue when a student is accused of academic misconduct:

  1. The instructor shall notify the student about a concern regarding academic misconduct and schedule a meeting with the student to discuss the act and review the Academic Misconduct Form
  2. The instructor, with or without the Department Chair will meet with the student again to discuss the act of academic misconduct and review the Academic Misconduct Form. The form provides space for a student to sign to (a) acknowledge they have met with the instructor to discuss their actions and (b) acknowledge responsibility for the act of academic misconduct
  3. The Academic Integrity Officer will convene a hearing to review the case at a time convenient for the accused student and the reporting instructor
  4. Hearings will be heard by the Academic Integrity Committee and will entail an introduction, the presentation of a case, questioning by the sub-committee, and finally, the sub-committee review and deliberation.
  5. The Dean will confirm the applicability of such sanctions and may reject any finding adverse to the student, but may not make new findings adverse to the student or increase the severity of the sanctions.


A student has the right to file a written appeal with the Vice President for Academic Affairs within 5 business days of receiving the Dean's decision. An appeal must be based on either a procedural error or proof of clear abuse of discretion on behalf of the committee.

Pennsylvania 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 for more information at 888-535-3686.

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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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