Founded in 1927, the University of Houston is rated one of America's best colleges and counts among its alumni a NASA astronaut, global tech innovators, legendary authors, and iconic musicians. Considering its reputation for academic excellence, it is understandable that the school is unshakably direct in its expectation that all students learn and understand its Academic Honesty Policy so that the University of Houston “can best function...in an atmosphere of high ethical standards.” The policy is made available to students via the university's website as well as its Undergraduate Studies Catalog and Graduate Catalog. A student misconduct charge—regardless of whether the misconduct was intentional or accidental—can result in serious consequences, even expulsion. If you are facing academic discipline, it is important to know your rights and have an experienced attorney-advisor on your side to assist you in understanding your legal options.
What Is Considered An Academic Offense at the University of Houston?
Scholastic misconduct occurs when a student uses dishonest tactics to gain an academic advantage. Academic misconduct or dishonesty is a broad category, and one of the University of Houston's most common and wide-ranging academic offenses. As the third-largest university in Texas, the 667-acre University of Houston acknowledges that on such a large campus, alleged cases of academic dishonesty will inevitably occur and, among many other offenses, they include:
- Plagiarism, such as copying from a fellow student or from literature and representing the work as your own
- Cheating, which includes everything from openly looking at and copying the answers on a fellow student's test paper or whispering a quiz answer to a classmate, to covertly using a mobile device to gain an unfair advantage during tests. Coaxing a fellow student to take a test for you is another example of cheating that could have serious consequences for both parties.
- Stealing and abuse of academic materials are obvious offenses that include theft from campus facilities and also knowingly accepting stolen test material to gain an advantage on an exam. A less obvious example is intentionally misshelving a library book to thwart others from using the research material.
- Misrepresenting academic achievements can result in serious discipline, whether it was due to copying or taking credit for a fellow student's work, untruthfully reporting to have completed a prerequisite, or claiming to have earned a specific degree that was not earned. Intentionally falsifying results in lab experiments to gain a grading advantage also constitutes misrepresentation.
- Complicity in academic dishonesty is also deemed an offense by the University of Houston, and failing to report any known misconduct can result in probation, suspension, or expulsion.
University of Houston's Procedures for Handling Academic Misconduct
Academic misconduct at the University of Houston is generally handled by a disciplinary panel that often consists of three or more faculty members or university staff. This may include the professor and department head whose academic department was affected by the misconduct and a college hearing officer appointed by the dean. The charges are explained to the student in a written notice that is sent specifically to their University of Houston student email address.
The disciplinary panel may request a departmental or college hearing, which consists of a committee of educators who review the alleged academic misconduct report and then interview the student about the accusation. The hearings provide a vital opportunity for the student to present his or her side of the story. In some cases, the panel may make its decision at the end of the hearing.
A violation of the Academic Honesty Policy is a serious offense. It can affect everything from your college transcript to a denial of security clearances. The University of Houston's disciplinary committee takes into account the nature of the offense and the student's past record when deciding upon potential sanctions for confirmed violations of its Academic Honesty Policy.
“High ethical standards are critical to the integrity of any institution, and bear directly on the ultimate value of conferred degrees in the business community,” says the University of Houston about the reason for its Academic Honesty Policy. “All University of Houston students are expected to contribute to an atmosphere of the highest possible ethical standards.”
Students accused of violating the university's Academic Honesty Policy may face one or more of the following sanctions:
- receiving a lowered grade
- failing an exam or course
- probation or suspension
- expulsion from a course or from the University of Houston
Appeals when Facing Academic Misconduct
The specific consequences faced by a university student accused of academic misconduct depends on a variety of factors that will determine the severity of punishment. When responding to a misconduct accusation, a University of Houston student may be faced with having to attend a departmental hearing or a wider college hearing to determine the outcome of the academic violation. The student may be permitted to waive a departmental or college hearing if the accused has a clean academic and disciplinary record and gets approval from the disciplinary panel.
However, with a misconduct determination on your academic record, you may have difficulty gaining admission to another school and become ineligible for scholarships or internships. In extreme cases, it could result in the termination of a promised post-graduation career.
If a student is not eligible for a waiver, a departmental hearing will be held, and in most cases, the departmental hearing officer will submit a decision based on details presented at the hearing. In all cases, the student is updated in writing within three business days after the hearing.
Using an Attorney-Advisor
If you are facing an academic misconduct allegation, it's critical to seek guidance and advice from an experienced academic misconduct lawyer. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have nationwide experience in defending college students accused of academic misconduct, and they can do the same for you. The Lento Law Firm is committed to defending you vigorously against any academic misconduct charges that can jeopardize the academic and professional goals you have set. Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686 for more information.