Chemical Engineering Student Defense

Students hoping to pursue a career in chemical engineering understand how much time and effort they need to put into their studies. They also understand that any bump in the road has the possibility of causing a serious derailment for their future. Typically, chemical engineers follow a specific career path that takes them through undergraduate and into the job field where they work in the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, or basic or specialty chemicals industries. Since staying on track is so important for this career, it can feel like the world is crumbling around you when you are accused of violating your school's code of conduct.

If you or someone you love is accused of violating your school's code of conduct and must now navigate a disciplinary hearing, it is essential you reach out to an experienced attorney-advisor to advocate on your behalf. An attorney-advisor will work diligently to mitigate any possible negative impact these allegations might trigger.

Academic Misconduct

Though schools have different specifics included in their academic misconduct policies, the basics remain the same. If a university accuses a student of violating the code of conduct in any way, the student will have to attend a formal hearing, during which a committee will determine disciplinary action, which usually ranges from a loss of a letter grade in the course to full expulsion. The severity of the penalty will likely match the severity of the misconduct.

Academic misconduct is any act, or attempted act, that might give a student a leg up in their academic pursuit or create a disadvantage for other members of the academic population. Some specific examples of academic misconduct include (but are not limited to):

  • Plagiarism
  • Altering academic documents or transcripts
  • Cheating
  • Helping another student cheat or plagiarize
  • Getting access to materials before they are available to everyone else
  • Paraphrasing another's work without giving them credit
  • Stealing, destroying, or altering another student's academic work
  • Hiding, mutilating, or otherwise abusing class, classroom, or laboratory resource materials or equipment so other students cannot use them
  • Taking an examination for another student

Title IX

Title IX protects students from any form of discrimination based on sex, which includes domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct. If a chemical engineering student is accused of violating Title IX, the university will launch an investigation into the allegations and take appropriate action to simultaneously prevent further discriminatory action and discipline the behavior.

According to the federal statute, universities have an obligation to:

  1. Provide both parties with equal opportunity to present relevant witnesses and evidence – meaning that if the university allows the victim to bring witnesses, they have to allow the accused student to as well. If the university allows the victim to have an attorney present, the accused student must also be allowed. The opportunity to defend oneself must mirror that of the victim's rights.
  2. Review law enforcement investigation documents, if there are any.
  3. Gather and examine other evidence relevant to the allegations.

If your university disciplinary board determines that you violated Title IX in any way, they will take steps to separate you and the other student. Meaning, if you and the student are in the same classes, they will alter your schedule. If you and the student are lab partners, they will remove you from the group. For more severe punishments, the university will move to suspend or expel you. If you are unable to attend your classes, participate in laboratory research, or study in the same vicinity as the other student, it will slow down your progress within your program. Hiring an attorney-advisor to advocate on your behalf during these hearings will help lessen the severity of the impact the punishment has on your life.

Disciplinary Charges

With how intense the chemical engineering programs can be, students often seek a break outside the confines of their study rooms. Students may be accused of disciplinary concerns during these breaks, and while they may not carry the same shame as academic misconduct, they do bring about long-term consequences. Disciplinary charges tend to include:

  • Cyberstalking
  • Stealing
  • Piracy
  • Destroying property
  • Assaulting a student, faculty member, or staff associate
  • Buying or selling drugs, or drug-related paraphernalia

If your university accuses you of disciplinary violations, such as the above scenarios, they will bring you before a committee that will oversee the matter. This committee will determine if the allegations are true, and if so, apply a punishment that ranges from warning letters to full expulsion from the university.

Academic Issues

Academic issues are separate from academic misconduct, Title IX, and disciplinary charges in that they generally encompass how a student is progressing through their program. Most chemical engineering programs have specific timelines their students need to keep up with to graduate by a particular time. Grades and knowledge can go stale, so universities typically lay out the longest amount of time they are comfortable having a student work their way through the program so as to not forget information that is vital to their professional careers. If a university feels that a student is not progressing as they should, they will ask the student to retake courses or prevent them from continuing in the program.

Another academic issue is grades – did you get the right grade, did you deserve the grade, was there some form of bias in the delivery of the grade? As grade point averages are significant for graduate school entrance, receiving a bad grade can be devastating and affect your ability to continue with the program.

Career Impact

Chemical engineering programs are highly competitive. Being penalized for academic misconduct, Title IX charges, disciplinary charges, or any other academic issue can be devastating for your career. These accusations, and subsequent hearings, can affect your ability to attend class, keep up with examinations, and perform laboratory research. These objectives are further frustrated if the university must keep you separate from an alleged victim, putting you behind schedule to graduate with your class. In addition, if your university expels you, it might bar you from continuing your education at any other university. Any type of hearing and penalty will be duly noted on your permanent record and have to be discussed with any graduate program you hope to apply to, impacting the types of jobs you hope to get in the future.

How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help

It's so important to seek out an attorney-advisor from the moment you are accused of any of these violations or acts of misconduct. Attorney advisors will work with you to uncover all the facts, gather evidence, and create a unique strategy on your behalf. They will then present these items to the hearing committee and work to diminish the effects of these accusations on your education and future career prospects. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of STEM students across the nation navigate these challenging circumstances. They work diligently on your behalf to ensure the university hears your side of the story. Call 888.535.3686 today to schedule a consultation.

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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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