The University of Massachusetts Amherst put an Academic Honesty Policy in place to ensure its academic environment remains honest and fair. For any institution of higher education, integrity is essential to scholarship and research. Lying, cheating, plagiarism, or fabrication harm the academic community at UMass Amherst.
The University takes cases of academic dishonesty seriously, sometimes imposing harsh sanctions. Students accused of academic misconduct may find their entire college career in jeopardy. An academic misconduct determination can prevent graduate schools from accepting you or employers from hiring you. If you're a student charged with an academic dishonesty infraction, don't brush it off, even if you make believe it to be minor or a first-time offense. Too much is at stake, and working with an experienced student defense legal advisor is the best way for you defend yourself.
Academic Misconduct at University of Massachusetts Amherst
The Academic Honesty (AH) Office handles cases of academic misconduct at UMass Amherst. The Academic Honesty Policy states that “Academic dishonesty is the attempt to secure unfair advantage for oneself or another in any academic exercise.” It also gives several examples of what constitutes academic dishonesty but does not provide a full list. Due to the nature of academic misconduct, it would be impossible to include every punishable violation of the code.
Examples of academic dishonesty at UMass Amherst
- Copying answers from another student
- Using external sources for assistance during an exam or academic exercise without permission
- Collaborating with other students on course work without the instructor's authorization
- Obtaining the answers for an exam before it takes place
- Inventing information or sources for a laboratory assignment or research assignment
- Submitting work completed for one course to a second course without the instructor's permission
- Failing to add proper formatting to quotes or citations to distinguish them as quotes or citations
- Failing to acknowledge a source you took information from
- Submitting papers or assignments completed by someone else, including term papers purchased online
- Pretending to be someone else for an exam
- Allowing someone to copy your work
- Forging or altering grades, signatures, transcripts, or other academic documents
- Stealing or destroying someone else's academic work
- Unauthorized possession of faculty notes or materials
UMass Amherst expects students and faculty to read the Academic Honesty Policy, so they're aware of what's prohibited in an academic setting. As such, ignorance of the policy won't shield you from punishment.
What Happens in Academic Dishonesty Cases at UMass Amherst?
The academic dishonesty process at UMass Amherst can be formal or informal. The AH Office has a helpful flowchart available that details the steps of an academic dishonesty case.
Informal academic dishonesty process
All academic dishonesty cases start as informal. A faculty member that suspects a student of academic dishonesty must contact the student directly first. Faculty should give students a 5-10 business day deadline to respond and set up a meeting.
If the student responds and agrees to a meeting, the student and faculty member may discuss the possible infraction one-on-one and come to an informal resolution. A faculty member may also decide to submit a formal charge after meeting with the student. The formal process (below) would then take over.
Formal academic dishonesty process
The formal process starts when a student doesn't respond to a faculty member's first contact about setting up a meeting or if the faculty member decides to formally charge the student after discussing the violation with them.
Faculty must submit a formal charge to the AH Office; then, the student has 10 days to appeal. If the student doesn't appeal, the faculty member can implement the penalty. The charge goes on the student's disciplinary record, and the grade stays on their transcript (factoring into their GPA).
If the student appeals the formal charge against them, the AH Office will schedule them a hearing within 2 weeks. At the hearing, the Hearing Panel will listen to arguments and receive evidence from the student and the instructor. Both parties must submit evidence to the AH Office before the hearing if they want to present it before the Hearing Panel.
Both parties at the hearing are allowed to have a non-participating observer present, such as an attorney. This attorney cannot speak on the student's or faculty member's behalf, however. The evidence standard at the hearing is the preponderance of the evidence, meaning both parties must submit evidence to convince the panel that they're in the right. The accused student is not, therefore, innocent until proven guilty but must provide evidence that is more convincing than the instructor's evidence.
The Hearing Panel includes five members of the Academic Dishonesty Board—three faculty, and two students. The members of the panel will make a decision and notify the parties within five days.
Students found guilty of academic dishonesty will receive an academic sanction, which may be a failing grade on the assignment question or a requirement to make up course work. Depending on the severity of the infraction and if it's a repeat offense, the Hearing Panel might add university sanctions. These types of sanctions would include:
- University reprimand
- University probation
- Suspension deferred
Keep in mind that the AH Office keeps all records of academic dishonesty confidential. Individual faculty members or academic departments won't maintain these records.
A Student Defense Legal Advisor Can Help
If you're subject to an academic dishonesty case at UMass Amherst, you may benefit from the help of an experienced student defense attorney-advisor. Know that your university will take this allegation seriously, so you should too. While a legal advisor cannot represent you at the appeal hearing or speak with your instructor on your behalf, they can coach you on how to present your argument in these situations.
With an academic misconduct violation on your record, you could lose big opportunities during your college career and afterward. If you want to protect your future from the consequences of academic misconduct, the Lento Law Firm can help. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have defended countless college students across the country in academic misconduct cases and they can defend your case at UMass Amherst. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 for more information.