Going to college is a right of passage for many students. They spend their entire lives dreaming about what it will be like, who their friends might be, where they'll eat, or how they'll study efficiently. What they never dream of is being accused of academic misconduct and the potential negative consequences such an accusation might bring about. If you or someone you love has been accused of violating their university's academic integrity, working with an attorney advisor from the beginning will ensure a fair process and the best possible outcome. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of students accused of academic misconduct avoid excessive sanctions and protect their future. Call today.
Academic Misconduct at California Polytechnic State University – San Louis Obispo
Colleges around the country have different definitions of academic misconduct. You may refer to it as “cheating” colloquially, but at California Polytechnic State University, academic misconduct is defined as encompassing the following:
- Plagiarism: turning in an academic exercise that presents the ideas or words of another as your own without proper citation.
- Cheating: obtaining or attempting to obtain credit for work by—
- Copying another's work, test, or exam
- Discussing questions or answers on an exam without permission from the instructor
- Taking or receiving copies of an exam without permission
- Using or displaying notes or cheat sheets during an exam without permission
California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo Academic Dishonesty Procedure
At Cal Poly, instructors who have witnessed academic dishonesty must determine first if it constituted “cheating” or “plagiarism,” as defined above. If the instructor believes the student has cheated, they should notify the student of the issue and the intended punishment. If the student denies cheating, the department head will be given an opportunity to resolve the issue, but if it remains unresolved, the matter can be referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The accused student has the option to appeal the determination and sanction.
Instructors who determine that their student has cheated are required to deliver an F on the student's assignment, exam, or other academic task. Whether or not an appeal is made, the course instructor is obligated to submit a Confidential Faculty Report of Academic Dishonesty and any relevant evidence, whether physical or circumstantial, as well as witness testimony, to the OSSR director. The OSSR director will decide if any other disciplinary action is appropriate, in addition to the failing grade. These actions might include loss of student teaching or research appointments, removal from the course, special papers or research assignments, or required counseling. More heinous sanctions are reserved for serious offenses or multiple offenses by the same individual.
Alternatively, if the instructor believes that the student has plagiarized, they will consult with the student. Cal Poly recognizes that plagiarism is not always a case of cheating. Sometimes, it occurs because the student has poor learning or attention abilities, and the incident of plagiarism happened without an intent to deceive the instructor. When the instructor discusses the incident with the student, they may choose to counsel the student and offer a remedy that is less serious than the ones mentioned above. Either way, the instructor must submit the same Confidential Faculty Report for Academic Dishonesty to the OSSR.
To penalize a student for plagiarism, the instructor must notify the student of the penalty. If the student continues to deny having committed plagiarism, the department head of the course will give them an opportunity to resolve the situation, but if it remains unresolved, they might appeal the finding of plagiarism through the OSSR.
Possible sanctions include for academic misconduct at Cal Poly include:
- Educational and remedial sanctions – like additional academic assignments, research, essays, or community service
- Loss of financial aid
- Disciplinary probation
- Denial of access to campus
Appealing an Academic Misconduct Decision
When a decision is appealed to the OSSR, the OSSR will begin a formal hearing and appoint a Hearing Officer. During this hearing, both the student and the student conduct administrator can offer evidence and question witnesses. At the conclusion, the Hearing Officer will submit a written report of the issue and their decision to the University President within ten days. The President will make a final decision based on this report, and it cannot be appealed further.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Being accused of an academic misconduct violation will have a long-lasting effect, both on your college career and your future. For example, the sanctions imposed may include being removed from the course you are accused of cheating in. If this is the case, you will not only lose your autonomy on campus, but you will potentially graduate later than the rest of your class, pushing off your plans for the future. Additionally, suspension and expulsions will live on your transcripts forever, forcing you to explain the issue on every graduate school application and even some job applications. And even if you are found to be not responsible, the harm to reputation could be irreversible. Despite confidentiality requirements, teachers and students you've yet to meet may hear of the accusations and make an assumption.
If you or someone you love is accused of academic misconduct, working with an experienced attorney-advisor from the moment you learn of the accusations is important. Attorney-advisors, like attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm, have worked with hundreds of students across the country who've been accused of violating their university's honor code. They work tirelessly to ensure the university upholds your due process rights, guaranteeing you the best possible outcome. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.