Students going through the start of their academic careers can easily get overwhelmed by the amount of work that comes with going to college. Accusations of academic misconduct can make that process even more stressful.
The University of South Florida has a student code of conduct in place designed to ensure that students have every opportunity to succeed. Students who do face accusations of academic misconduct, in turn, have the opportunity to overcome those accusations with help from area professionals.
The Student Code of Conduct at the University of South Florida
The student code of conduct at the University of South Florida is designed to encourage academic success in all of its students. It is also a document that the university uses to define instances of academic misconduct. This definition includes:
- Cheating, including collaboration on exams and assignments without professor approval
- Completing an exam or another assignment on behalf of another student without a professor's approval
- Gathering documents or university material without university approval or knowledge
- The forgery or fabrication of university documents
- The obstruction of other students' opportunities to learn, take exams, or otherwise participate in academic activities
- Collaborating with other students to engage in academic misconduct
- The inappropriate use of university materials, including their sale or purchase
The university takes this definition a step further, noting that students may engage in behaviors not included within the existing university documentation. The University of South Florida notes that professors and department representatives may address behavioral instances that violate the spirit of the code of conduct at their leisure.
Academic Misconduct Hearings at the University of South Florida
Students facing accusations of academic misconduct at the University of South Florida may undergo the university's hearing process. This process, initiated by professors or other university representatives, involves the following steps:
- A professor or another university representative who believes a student has violated the student code of conduct can reach out to that student. In an informal meeting, the professor can express their concerns regarding the student's behavior. The student, at this point, can admit to the accusations or deny them.
- Students who admit to the allegations issued against them may take on sanctions as issued by their departments.
- If the student in question denies the allegations against them may go through the hearing process. The professor who believes that the student violated the university's code of conduct will file an incident report.
- The university may implement temporary restrictions against the student, limiting their ability to participate in classes or otherwise engage in university activities.
- The Director of Student Conduct and Ethical Development will read through the incident report, inform the student of the charges brought against them, and schedule a meeting between a hearing officer and the student.
- If the student still denies the allegations brought against them, then the student will be entitled to an impartial hearing.
- During an impartial hearing, both the student and other applicable parties can present evidence regarding the alleged behavior.
- An attending hearing officer, department representatives, and other applicable parties will determine the consequences a student may face, if it seems as though the allegations against the student are valid.
- If the allegations against a student seem unfounded, then the issue may be dropped without the student enduring sanctions.
Sanctions for Academic Misconduct
Students found to be in violation of the University of South Florida's student code of conduct can face academic and disciplinary sanctions. These sanctions are designed both to punish the student for their alleged behavior and to discourage their peers from taking similar risks.
The academic sanctions that a student may face after their hearing include:
- A failing grade on the applicable assignment, exam, or project.
- A failing grade in the course helmed by the professor who filed the dishonesty report.
- An “FF” in the applicable course, indicating that the student in question was subsequently expelled from the university.
Disciplinary sanctions for academic misconduct can include academic suspension, academic dismissal, and even the revocation of a student's degree. Students who receive an “FF” grade in their applicable course will not have the opportunity to rejoin the University of South Florida as part of any of the university's programs.
Additional disciplinary sanctions issued against students can include but are not limited to:
- Written reprimands from the university
- Required workshops addressing plagiarism, university ethics, and similar subjects
- Loss of privileges on the university campus
- Restitution, should any university property have suffered damage at the hands of the student
- Student housing restrictions
- Conduct probation
Students who believe that the university's sanctions are too harsh compared to their alleged behavior have the option to file grievances with their departments. Interested students may submit their grievances to the Office of the Dean of Students. Here, an Office representative will consider the grievance and determine whether or not the student's case should be re-opened.
The Office will only consider a student's grievance if:
- The student believes that the Student Conduct Process failed to address their concerns.
- New evidence regarding the allegations came to light.
- The student believes that the severity of the sanctions issued against them is disproportionate to their alleged behavior.
If the Office decides to move forward with a student's grievance, then the applicable appellate officer may request that the student undergo a second formal hearing.
Overcoming Accusations of Academic Misconduct with an Attorney-Advisor
Enduring accusations of academic misconduct is no small feat. Students and their families staring down these kinds of allegations do not need to try and take on the University of South Florida alone. Instead, interested parties can connect with attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm.
The team at the Lento Law Firm understand how challenging it can be to work through allegations of academic misconduct. That's why students and their families can discuss their cases in detail with attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team. To schedule a consultation with the Firm, interested parties can reach out via 888-535-3686 or the Firm's online form.