Colleges and universities have always highly valued student integrity. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to pivot to virtual learning in 2020, many institutions wondered how to maintain that integrity in remote environments.
Despite precautions, a major form of misconduct — cheating — reportedly increased due to virtual learning. College administrators are taking student dishonesty more seriously than ever, but “misconduct” isn't always as simple as cheating on an exam. Many students may not realize they've broken their school's code — and many more still are not aware of their school's disciplinary process or how they should proceed if accused of wrongdoing.
Academic Misconduct at Grand Valley State University
Grand Valley State University defines academic misconduct as “any action or behavior that mispresents one's contributions to or the results of any scholarly product submitted for credit, evaluation, or dissemination.”
GVSU offers examples of academic misconduct, including but not limited to:
- “Cheating: Attempting to use materials, information, or aids that have not been authorized by the instructor for academic work
- Collusion: Unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing academic assignments offered for credit, and collaboration with another person to commit a violation of any section of the rules on academic misconduct
- Dual Submission: Submitting work that has been previously graded or is being submitted concurrently to more than one course, without
- authorization from the instructor(s) of the class(es) to which the student wishes to submit
- Falsification: Knowingly furnishing or possessing false, falsified, fabricated, or forged materials, documents, accounts, records, or identification
- Plagiarism: Appropriation of, buying, receiving as a gift, or obtaining by any means material that is attributable in whole or in part to another source without any indication or citation of the original source, including words, sentences, ideas, illustrations, structure, computer code, and other expression or media, and presenting that material as one's own academic work being offered for credit or in conjunction with a program, course, or degree requirements
- Information Technology: Violation of any published University policy, rule, or regulation related to information technology and use thereof”
As you can see, academic integrity is not always the cut-and-dry case of stealing an article for your research paper or copying another student's exam answers. Collaborating with a classmate, submitting your own original work in two separate classes, or other seemingly benign actions can also result in disciplinary action. Thus, it's vital to read and understand your school's code of conduct.
Grand Valley State University's Misconduct Process
The GVSU handbook also describes the process to be followed in cases of academic dishonesty. Be sure to read the entire process for yourself, but the following is a general summary.
If a professor suspects or is notified of academic misconduct, their first step is meeting with the student to discuss the incident(s) or behavior(s). After this meeting, the instructor will either decide that no misconduct took place — resulting in no further action — or they will decide that a breach of integrity did occur.
Professors who believe their student participated in academic misconduct must report it to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR) with a proposed academic penalty, such as additional course work, a failing grade, or redoing the work.
If the OSCCR can't substantiate the misconduct, no further action is taken. However, if they can substantiate, what happens next depends on if the student accepts responsibility for the misconduct.
Accepting or Denying Responsibility for Misconduct
Students who accept responsibility for dishonesty may face minor academic repercussions as their instructor recommended, such as redoing or failing the assignment in question. However, they could instead fail the entire course. And, the OSCCR may add more restorative measures, ranging from warnings and academic workshops to more serious actions, such as suspension, housing reassignment, denial of honors, or university dismissal.
With so much on the line, students (and parents) should think seriously and seek advice before accepting responsibility for any accusations. Many students believe that accepting responsibility will lessen the punishment, but this isn't always the case. Although seeking a mitigated outcome may require an acceptance of responsibility, this is not a decision to be made without due consideration. Additionally, accepting responsibility automatically waives your right to a hearing, where you can defend yourself. Your interests will be best protected by having an experienced attorney-advisor guide you in these important decisions.
When GVSU students deny responsibility for substantiated academic misconduct, hearing proceedings begin. During the hearing, all evidence will be presented. The student must be notified at least three days prior to the hearing, and they have a right to attend, to be accompanied by a support person, and to appeal the results of the hearing.
Note that the university can find you responsible on a “preponderance of evidence” — meaning they believe you “more likely than not” violated your school's code of conduct. They do not have to prove you are responsible "beyond a reasonable doubt", which is a much higher burden of proof.
Appealing a GVSU Misconduct Hearing
If you are found responsible for academic misconduct, you have the right to appeal the decision. However, you must submit your request for an appeal within three days of the hearing's close, and you may only appeal on the following grounds:
- New evidence
- Procedural error
- Conflict of interest
If your appeal is granted, the hearing previous hearing proceedings will repeat. However, if the Appeal Board denies your request, the original decision is final.
Call Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento for a Strong Student Defense
Much is at stake with academic dishonesty allegations. The baseline punishment for many schools can be suspension, and dismissal is also possible. Both outcomes can severely delay your academic career and affect your job prospects.
If you receive more “minor” repercussions, such as a warning or a failed assignment, the breach of academic integrity will appear on your record. This mark can damage your reputation — not only at GVSU but with post-graduate institutions and future employers.
Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento offers years of experience in student academic misconduct proceedings. He can fully explain your school's code of conduct and hearing process, protect your rights, and prepare a strong, strategic defense on your behalf.
Don't leave your education and future up to chance. Contact the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3686. Or you can fill out our online form.