The University of Rhode Island (URI) tries to maintain an environment that promotes academic excellence and the pursuit of knowledge. The university is rooted in values such as integrity, honesty, and fairness and expects all members of the community to uphold these values.
URI prohibits dishonesty in academic work and will take disciplinary action against students who are found responsible for violating the university's academic integrity policies. If you are suspected of academic misconduct at URI, know that you could be facing probation, suspension, or even expulsion. The potential consequences are too serious to treat the matter lightly, even if you are innocent. An experienced student defense attorney-advisor can help you handle an academic dishonesty accusation.
Academic Misconduct at the University of Rhode Island
The URI Student Handbook contains the university's policy concerning academic misconduct. There is an entire section devoted to integrity, which includes prohibited behavior. The Student Handbook also lists the procedures for handling suspected cases of academic misconduct. All URI students are expected to know and understand these policies.
Examples of Academic Dishonesty
The URI Student Handbook lists the following prohibited behaviors:
- Using story material, wording, or dialogue taken from a published work, motion pictures, radio, television, lectures, websites, or similar sources without appropriate citation
- Claiming disproportionate credit for work done as a group
- Submitting work without acknowledging aid
- “Unauthorized possession or access to exams
- Unauthorized communication during exams
- Unauthorized use of another's work or preparing work for another student
- Taking an exam for another student
- Altering or attempting to alter grades
- The use of notes or electronic devices to gain an unauthorized advantage during exams”
- Fabricating or falsifying facts, data, or references
- Facilitating or aiding another's academic dishonesty
- Submitting the same paper for more than one course without prior approval
How the University of Rhode Island Handles Academic Misconduct
All suspected academic integrity violations start between instructors and students, but they may also go through the URI University Student Conduct System. The system goes through six steps: complaint review, informal meeting, charges, hearing, sanctions, and appeals.
Throughout the process, students have the right to a conduct advisor. This advisor may only be a student, faculty, or staff member at the university who has been trained on the Student Conduct System. Students may not have a licensed attorney or anyone with a law degree as their advisor if the incident in question involves academic misconduct. However, nothing prevents students from consulting with an attorney-advisor outside of formal proceedings in order to have advice and guidance on how to navigate the disciplinary process.
The URI Student Conduct System starts when someone makes a complaint to the Dean of Students about a student's conduct or potential violation of the Student Handbook. The Dean's office assigns a conduct officer to the case to determine if it has merit. If it does not, it may be dismissed. If an instructor wants to accuse a student of academic dishonesty, they must notify the student of the allegation. Students may appeal this accusation up to three levels:
- With the instructor's College Dean
- With the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs
- With a university appeals board, by going through the Student Conduct System
A conduct officer reviewing a report of alleged academic misconduct may schedule an informal meeting with the accused student to gather information. During this meeting, the conduct officer may bring formal charges against the student.
If the conduct officer decides that there is enough evidence to refer the accused student to the Student Conduct System, they will charge the student with a violation and notify the student in writing. After being charged with a violation, students have three business days to take one of the following actions:
- Accept responsibility for the charge and recommended sanction; the case is resolved
- Accept responsibility for the charge but not the recommended sanction; the case goes to an administrative hearing officer
- Deny responsibility for the charge; the case goes to a hearing before a conduct board hearing panel or administrative hearing officer
The Student Conduct System has two types of hearings, and students may choose which one they prefer:
- Administrative hearing: Students go before a single staff member and may present witnesses and evidence. The conduct officer who charged the student may also present information gathered. The administrative hearing officer is the sole decision-maker, and the student may appeal to the university appeals board after receiving the decision.
- Student conduct board panel hearing: Students go before a conduct board panel, which may consist of students, faculty, and staff. Accused students may present evidence and witnesses, but not character witnesses. The hearing panel uses the preponderance of the evidence to standard to reach a finding of responsible, not responsible, dismissal due to lack of information, or continuance to gain further information.
Students may appeal the results of administrative action, an administrative hearing, or a conduct board panel hearing. The student must submit an appeal in writing to the appeals board within three days of receiving the decision. The Dean of Students reviews appeal requests and either approves or denies them. If they are approved, the university appeals board evaluates them and makes a final decision.
Potential Sanctions for Academic Dishonesty
The Student Handbook lays out specific sanctions for academic dishonesty:
- Failing grade on an assignment
- Failing grade in a course, with authorization from the instructor's College Dean
- Formal student conduct action
Formal student conduct action relating to academic misconduct includes:
- Community service
- Disciplinary probation
- Dismissal from the university
- Educational sanction such as a written assignment
- Formal warning
- Grade sanction
- Referral to counseling services
- Student records hold
- Suspension of privileges
How a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Although URI does not permit accused students to have attorneys as their advisors during the conduct process, you can still greatly benefit from consulting with a specialized student defense attorney-advisor. They can help you in the days and weeks leading up to your meetings and hearings, assisting with gathering evidence, finding witnesses, coaching you on how to answer questions, and being a positive and assured presence as you go through the conduct process.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his expert team at Lento Law Firm have defended hundreds of college students across the country in academic misconduct cases. If you want to protect the future of your education, contact the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3686.