Being accepted to college is a prestigious event. It comes after lots of hard work and determination. You have spent countless hours studying for entrance exams, paying application fees, and moving out of your childhood home. But for some students, college becomes an escape and studying a forgotten thing of the past. Some other students are naïve and unsure of themselves, falling prey to overbearing personalities that may convince them to do something they normally wouldn't or accuse them of doing something they would never even consider.
If you or someone you love has been accused of academic misconduct while in college, it is important to reach out to an attorney-advisor as soon as possible. Academic misconduct allegations can have serious consequences on your present life at college, as well as your dreams of a future career. Don't try to navigate this alone. Contact Lento Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.
What Counts as Academic Misconduct at The University of Alabama?
At the University of Alabama, like most colleges in the United States, students are held to a specific code of conduct. This code lays out exactly how the University expects the students to behave. Academic misconduct is a broad term that covers any action that gives a student an academic advantage; whether it be by cheating themselves or helping or conspiring to help, another student to cheat on any exercise, activity, or examination. Examples of academic misconduct include:
- Cheating: using or trying to use certain materials during an exam or assignment without permission.
- Plagiarism: using words, data, pictures, figures, works, ideas, computer programs or outputs, or another other work created by someone else, and pretending it is your own. Or resubmitting work you've in for another course as original work in a subsequent course.
- Fabrication: presenting materials, citations, or data that you created as factual information.
- Misrepresentation: falsifying, altering, or misstating information found in certain materials related to academics – like transcripts, schedules, or prerequisites.
What is the Academic Misconduct Process?
Generally, an accusation of academic misconduct will be reported by the course instructor (or someone else with a suspicion) to the divisional academic misconduct monitor. At the University of Alabama, there is a divisional academic misconduct monitor for each department. The suspicious individual will submit all relevant evidence they have so the monitor may review it. The monitor will then notify the student that they must attend a meeting, when, and where. If the student does not respond within two weeks, the University will place a hold on the student's account, and if they do not respond by the end of the semester, the instructor will give them a grade of incomplete.
If the monitor concludes that the student may have committed academic misconduct, they will request the student attend a conference with them. At this conference, they will notify the student of five things:
- The student does not have to speak at all.
- The student can make voluntary statements if they want to.
- The student has a right to present evidence, including witnesses or other information.
- The student has a right to be accompanied or advised by another person of their choosing.
- The student has a right to a break from the conference for a week to find an advisor and gather evidence.
If, during the conference, the monitor determines that there is not a preponderance of the evidence that the student cheated, they can dismiss the accusations. Alternatively, if there is evidence that academic misconduct was committed, the monitor may impose a penalty if the student gives a written admission of the acts. The issue will be sent to the academic dean if the monitor does not dismiss it or the student does not write an admission, or either the student or the instructor appeals the monitor's decision on penalty or dismissal.
What are the Consequences of Academic Misconduct?
If the school finds that you have committed academic misconduct, the penalties can range from a simple reprimand to indefinite suspension of at least one semester, after which a student may appeal for reinstatement. But it's important to remember that the consequences last much longer than the punishment for any student accused of academic misconduct. For example, if you are indefinitely suspended for an entire academic year, you won't be able to graduate with your class. And depending on the nature of the incident, you may not be able to take certain courses or must repeat courses.
Moreover, if a jealous student or biased instructor has falsely accused you, the infringing reputation consequences can feel overwhelming. Other instructors and students may not look at you the same. Or you may have to explain the disciplinary action on graduate school applications and, potentially, to future employers who may inquire about your transcripts.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Attorney-advisors work diligently to understand the facts of the matter, gather any relevant evidence, and advocate on your behalf during the conference or further hearing with the academic deans. At the Lento Law Firm, Attorney Joseph D. Lento has worked with hundreds of college students across the country who have been accused of academic misconduct. He has a passion for righting wrongs and ensuring universities uphold due process. Unfortunately, many students are falsely accused of academic misconduct, and it can ruin their future. Regardless of the merits of the allegations, Attorney Lento will work vigilantly to mitigate any negative consequences that may occur. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.