The Ohio State University considers academic integrity essential to maintaining an educational environment in which students and faculty can excel. Everyone at the university must complete academic work honestly and fairly. Behavior that goes against this standard undermines the university's goals to produce knowledgeable, analytical, problem-solving, and communicative graduates.
OSU takes academic integrity seriously, so an academic misconduct offense can have severe and long-term repercussions. If you've been falsely accused of academic misconduct, a student defense legal advisor can help you mount your defense and avoid unjust consequences.
What Is Academic Misconduct at The Ohio State University?
At The Ohio State University, the Committee of Academic Misconduct (COAM) handles academic integrity cases. COAM is responsible for administering the university's rules about academic misconduct in the Code of Student Conduct. This code defines academic misconduct as “any activity that tends to compromise the academic integrity of the university or subvert the educational process.”
The university's policy is that academic dishonesty disrupts the educational environment. The university tries to foster excellence in teaching, research, and other educational activities. As such, it handles academic misconduct cases seriously, by referring them to COAM. Instructors are required to report any instance of academic misconduct to COAM, even if they only have a suspicion. Consequently, students may have to go before the committee and accept sanctions for an offense they didn't commit, but that an instructor suspects them of.
Examples of academic misconduct, according to COAM:
- Submitting a paper that someone else wrote
- Giving a completed assignment to another a student
- Fabricating or falsifying data for a lab, project, or assignment
- Working with another student on a laboratory exercise or course assignment when the professor hasn't allowed group work
- Altering grades to earn credit for an assignment or course
- Failure to cite sources properly
- Pretending to be another student to take an exam in their place
- Giving another student access to electronic assignments so they can complete them
This list isn't exhaustive, as academic misconduct can cover a wide range of transgressions involving academic work.
How Does The Ohio State University Investigate Academic Misconduct?
When another student, staff, or faculty member refers you to COAM for suspected academic misconduct, COAM will notify you of the charges and schedule a meeting with you. At the meeting, you have two options. You can accept the charges against you and receive sanctions, or you can ask for a hearing before a panel of faculty and student representatives. At the hearing, you will have the chance to defend yourself and present your side of the story.
After hearing all the facts of the case, the panel will decide if you've violated the Code of Student Conduct and deliver an appropriate penalty. If you disagree with the decision of the panel, you may formally appeal your case to the Provost.
This process seems straightforward, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you accept the charge against you at the first COAM meeting, your case will remain relatively anonymous—only you, COAM, and the person who referred you know about it. You will automatically receive sanctions, however, and a misconduct mark on your disciplinary record.
If you choose the hearing, it's possible that fellow classmates and potential future professors will be on your panel and will know that you were under investigation for academic misconduct. Choosing the hearing still gives you the chance to clear your name, however.
It's important to consider your options carefully, and how your actions might impact your future. If you choose to defend yourself (and you always should), a legal advisor experienced in representing college students for academic misconduct can help you build a defense.
Penalties for Academic Misconduct at The Ohio State University
Sanctions for academic misconduct depend on how severe the offense is and whether the individual has committed previous violations against the Student Code. COAM stresses that no two cases are alike, but strives to ensure penalties are proportional to the offense.
Does it affect your grade?
In almost every instance, students will receive a 0 grade on the assignment, project, lab, or exam involved. It doesn't matter if the assignment was a weekly quiz or a final project for the course—the student will still get a 0. In some cases, this grade may result in failing a course.
Does it go on your transcript?
Students found guilty of academic misconduct may also receive a formal reprimand, disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion from the university, depending on the severity. The determination will appear on your disciplinary record but not on your official transcript. Even so, graduate schools and future employers can still find out about your infraction.
Is it a repeat offense?
If this incident isn't the first time you've violated the Student Code for academic misconduct or general conduct, your sanction might be more severe.
What Can an Attorney-Advisor Do?
Academic misconduct is not a crime, and a COAM panel is not a courtroom. So why would you need legal defense? Your university doesn't have to afford you the same legal rights you'd get in a court of law. At an Ohio State academic misconduct hearing, the standard is the preponderance of evidence.
This standard is lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. It means that the student and accusing instructor must present enough evidence to convince the panel which side is in the right. Due to this evidentiary rule, your defense is of the utmost importance.
An attorney-advisor can brief you on how to present your case. Before the hearing, you and your advisor will have time to gather the relevant information from sources like the Code of Student Conduct and witness statements, in addition to all other steps necessary in mounting the strongest possible defense.
The Ohio State University takes academic misconduct seriously, so you should too. Consulting with a legal advisor who has handled hundreds of similar cases at universities around the country will increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome.
Joseph D. Lento is an experienced student defense attorney-advisor who can help protect your rights during an academic misconduct case. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation today.