Georgia Tech is renowned as one of the top research universities in the United States. As such, they consider academic misconduct to be a very serious offense. If you or a loved one has been charged with alleged academic misconduct or dishonesty, it can be a very challenging time as you worry about your future. It doesn't have to be something that you face alone, though. An experienced attorney-advisor can accompany you and advise you so that you have the best possible outcome.
What is Considered Academic Misconduct at Georgia Tech?
The Academic Honor Code at Georgia Tech begins by laying the foundation for “a community based on trust, academic integrity, and honor.” It goes on to clarify the parameters that define what constitutes academic dishonesty or academic misconduct at the school. The broad definition of academic misconduct at Georgia Institute of Technology comes from the Student Code of Conduct found in the General Catalog: “Academic misconduct is any act that does or could improperly distort Student grades or other Student academic records.” Although that definition offers some broad strokes, the Academic Honor Code proceeds to offer some examples of what else might be academic dishonesty. Here are some sample categories:
- Grade Alteration
- Unauthorized Access
- Unauthorized Collaboration
- Deliberate Falsification
Each professor also has the option to decide upon other instances of academic misconduct in their specific courses. Your class syllabi should cover this information. Prior to becoming a student at Georgia Tech, you signed the Academic Honor Agreement, which said that you would uphold the school's Honor Code.
What are the Different Types of Case Resolutions Available to You?
There are three potential types of case resolution for alleged incidents of academic misconduct at Georgia Tech. Administrative resolution occurs when the Student Conduct Administrator determines whether or not the respondent is responsible, and assigns sanctions. The second type of case resolution is a Student Conduct Panel hearing, which we will discuss further below. Finally, case resolution may occur via a Faculty Conference, which is an optional alternative.
What is a Student Conduct Panel Hearing?
A Student Conduct Panel hearing occurs when a student (respondent) or the Student Conduct Administrator chooses to go that route. Once a respondent receives notice of the available dates and times for a hearing, they may indicate their preferred times and dates as long as they do so within three business days of receiving the initial notice. If you wish to waive the notification timeline, you may do so, so as to move along the hearing process.
Student Conduct Panel hearings are closed events, open only to the respondent, complainant, advisor, and witnesses. The Chairperson has the ability to waive this and make exceptions.
At this hearing, there is a maximum of two character witnesses, and the complainant and the respondent can both elect to have an Advisor who also attends. It's important to know that according to Georgia Tech's policies, the evidence standard at a Student Conduct Panel hearing is the “preponderance of the evidence,” which means that it should be more than 50% certain that the alleged offense occurred. This is not a high standard of proof, and so it's important to wisely consider who you choose for an advisor so that they can best help you navigate a strong defense. Your advisor can only communicate with you, the respondent, but they can still advise you during the hearing.
After evidence is presented, the Panel will deliberate and decide whether or not the student is responsible for the alleged violation, as well as any sanctions that they choose to impose.
What is a Faculty Conference?
A Faculty Conference occurs when the reporting instructor requests a meeting with the respondent. The Faculty Conference is optional, and a respondent does not have to participate in one, however, if they choose not to, then the case is forwarded to the Office of Student Integrity (OSI). If the student does choose to participate, then they may request a representative from OSI. They also may involve witnesses. The instructor will detail the alleged misconduct, any evidence or supporting information, and also the respondent's rights (which can be found here). In turn, the respondent can provide any witnesses or supporting evidence that is a response to the allegations. There are multiple possible outcomes to this process:
- Instructor finds that the allegations are not true, and the case is closed
- Instructor finds the respondent responsible for the allegations and the respondent assumes responsibility
- Instructor finds the respondent responsible, however the respondent does not acknowledge responsibility.
Each potential outcome has accompanying next steps that you can read through in the policy library.
What are Potential Academic Sanctions at Georgia Tech?
The most recent guidelines around possible sanctions or penalties at the Georgia Institute of Technology for academic misconduct are from 2014. The guidance offers a chart that highlights the disciplinary status, the academic (grade) penalty, and the supplementary educational experience that each violation may occur. A second violation could result in suspension for a semester, and a third violation (or more) lists suspension for a year or expulsion as the disciplinary status. You can also find more information in the policy library.
There are also possible extenuating circumstances that can result in more severe sanctions. Some factors that might influence the hearing officer's decision include:
- Direct academic injury to another student
- Intimidation of others
- The weight of the work in relation to the final grade in the class
- A criminal component (such as theft or bribery)
How Can an Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor Assist Me?
If you are facing charges of academic dishonesty at Georgia Tech, you don't want to wait any longer before you reach out to an attorney-advisor. An experienced attorney-advisor can help you strategize how to best approach the process at Georgia Tech and which avenues may be best for your specific circumstances. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped thousands of students over the years defend their academic integrity and future. Call today at 888.535.3686 or contact us for more information about how we can help you.