Being accused of academic misconduct can feel overwhelming. You've spent your whole life dreaming about going to college, what clubs you'll join, what sports you might play, or what friends you'll make. You never expect to be accused of violating the academic integrity of your university and may not know what options you have or how to mitigate the negative consequences these allegations could have on your reputation. This is why working with an attorney-advisor from the moment you are notified of the accusations is so important. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping students navigate these allegations. They will ensure the university upholds your due process rights and create a defense that guarantees you the best possible outcome.
Academic Misconduct at the University of Mississippi
The definition of academic misconduct varies from school to school but generally encompasses the idea that in order to keep true academic integrity, no student shall have an advantage over other students. At the University of Mississippi, academic misconduct encompasses:
- Plagiarism: presenting someone else's work as your own on a lab report, course exam, paper, or other coursework without providing appropriate credit to that person
- Using someone else's work and passing it off as their own (ex.: handing in a paper a term paper service wrote, having someone else take an exam for you, etc.)
- Knowingly allowing someone else to represent your work as their own
- Gaining or attempting to gain an unfair advantage (ex.: using notes during closed book exams, stealing books from the library, or bribing, intimidating, or harassing another person to gain an unfair advantage)
- Giving false information or altering documents
- Behavior that disrupts the academic environment
- Harming facilities that support the academic environment (ex.: damaging books, lab equipment, or computers)
University of Mississippi Academic Dishonesty Procedure
When a faculty member believes that a student has committed an act of academic dishonest, they will discuss the act with the student and provide the student with an opportunity to explain themselves. If, after the discussion, the faculty member still believes the student committed the act, they may recommend a sanction. In the event the faculty member recommends a sanction that is harsher than probation (i.e., suspension, expulsion, etc.), a case will be initiated, and the accused student, department chair, dean of the school the course was offered, the student's academic dean, the Provost's Office representative, and the Academic Discipline Committee will be notified.
The accused student must appeal this determination by the faculty member for the Academic Discipline Committee to determine if a more formal hearing is warranted. If they decide a hearing is not warranted, they will review all written statements and documents submitted by the student and faculty member and make a vote on whether the sanctions should be upheld, whether the case should be dismissed, or if the recommended sanctions should actually be increased or decreased. Appeals that involve expulsion or suspension sanctions will be automatically granted a hearing.
If the Committee decides that a formal hearing is warranted or the sanction involved expulsion or suspension, they will notify the student of the date and time of the hearing. Students have the right to have an attorney-advisor present to support them during all stages of the academic discipline process, but you must notify the Committee within 72 hours of the hearing of the name of your advocate, as well as any witnesses you might have.
After reviewing the relevant evidence and witnesses, the Committee will either approve the faculty member's recommendation, impose a lower sanction, a harsher sanction, or no sanction at all. Possible sanctions may include anything from receiving a reduced grade or an F on the assignment or course, retaking a test, or submitting another paper, to being suspended or expelled. It will depend on the severity of the act in question. All sanctions will be reviewed by the provost.
Appealing an Academic Misconduct Decision
Students who are penalized with suspension or expulsion are allowed to appeal these decisions but must do so within five days of receiving the written decision of the Committee. The chancellor will review the record and make a decision based on that record only, no other evidence or argument can be submitted. The chancellor will notify the student and faculty member of their determination. This decision is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Academic integrity allegations can unfortunately have devastating consequences on your future, both while still at the university and beyond. If found responsible, any resulting sanction, including probation, will have to be disclosed moving forward. Candidacy for internships and graduate and professional school will be negatively affected by having to make such disclosures.
On the other end of the spectrum is the potential for expulsion, which can be impossible to overcome. Even a lesser sanction of suspension, however, will be reported on your transcripts, making it necessary to explain the gap in your studies to any graduate school or employer that inquires. For instance, if you hope to go to medical school after graduation, you will not only have to explain your marred transcript if you are to be admitted to the program, but you will also have to explain it when you apply for professional licensing.
And for students falsely accused who are found not responsible for the action, the harm to your reputation can already done. Students and teachers may create a bias before they even meet you, making it hard to move on.
The good news is that these potential negative consequences can be avoided. Because so many aspects of your academic and professional career are on the line, however, you need an experienced ally, and working with attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm will ensure these potential negative consequences are avoided or mitigated. You don't have to weather this storm alone, call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation. The Lento Law Firm is here to help.