You may already know that teenagers' brains aren't completely developed when compared with adult brains. This physiological fact accounts for at least some of their poor decisions and impulsive behavior—not to mention their failure to fully comprehend the consequences of those choices and acts. But did you know that the same is true of most traditional college and university students when it comes to cranial capacity? In fact, the human brain can take up to 25 years before it can be considered mature.
College and university students must make extra effort to gain perspective, act deliberately, consider the consequences of their every action, and apply the logical, decision-making part of the brain—the prefrontal cortex—rather than its freewheeling, ego-driven, and emotionally impulsive counterpart, the amygdala.
During their college years, in particular, young adults need the support and advice of older adults to avoid making devastating mistakes that can haunt them throughout the remainder of their life. That includes parents, older siblings, or other family members, as well as university guidance counselors, advisors, and instructors. Sometimes, if a student has been accused of misconduct and may be facing dismissal from their university or college, they will even require the services of an attorney.
Arizona Colleges and Universities
The Grand Canyon State is home to 85 institutions of higher learning. There are 30 public schools, 13 private non-profit educational institutions, and 42 private for-profit schools. The state's public university system comprises three main schools: Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, along with their branch campuses. These three universities operate under the aegis of the Arizona Board of Regents; together, they boast a total enrollment of 212,714 and employ 37,541 people.
In addition to the schools belonging to the public university system, there are several other notable institutions in the state of Arizona, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott College, Grand Canyon University, Arizona Christian University, and the University of Phoenix, which conducts the majority of classes online and which has gained notoriety due to its aggressive advertising and permissive admissions policy.
Codes of Conduct at Arizona Schools
All students enrolled in Arizona universities and colleges are subject to the rights and responsibilities set forth in their institution's Code of Conduct. Also known as a Student Code or Academic Conduct Code, these are exhaustive documents outlining the particular behavior and academic performance to which students are expected to conform. All misconduct can be classified into one of three types: Academic Misconduct, Sexual Misconduct, and a third category, General Misconduct, which is often a catch-all for behavior that isn't covered under either of the other two. Let's take a closer look at what each category covers.
If you've already guessed that cheating and plagiarism are near the top of the list for acts of academic misconduct, you're correct.
Cheating could mean copying another student's answers on a quiz, heading into an exam with notes or answers written or stashed on one's person, or sourcing verboteninformation on a cell phone or another device during an online test. And then there's contract cheating, which involves paying someone else to do one's work. One popular, if problematic, form of contract cheating is purchasing written material from an “essay mill.” Students can choose a pre-written paper or opt to have an essay custom-written using specific details that they provide. Some of these services also offer proxy exam services; in this scenario, the college student presents their credentials so that another individual can log into their school's account and sit for an exam.
Plagiarism refers to the practice of using another's words or ideas without crediting them properly—or, usually, at all. Some students lift whole sections of text from websites and/or books; others “spin” an article, copying and pasting it but then go through it to change up the adjectives, rearrange the paragraphs here and there, or add in just enough of their own work that the piece will pass muster.
What many students don't realize is that even plagiarizing their own work is a punishable offense. Taking last year's essay and adapting it or submitting the same material as the original in two disparate courses, might seem like a handy, time-saving shortcut, but the act of self-plagiarism is considered cheating.
Any behavior that gives the student a leg up, or disadvantages other classmates, can be subject to academic discipline. Northern Arizona University's Academic Integrity Policy, for example, specifies these infractions in addition to plagiarism and cheating:
- Fabrication or falsification
- Facilitation of another student's misbehavior
- Obtaining an unfair advantage
Most people, when they hear the term “sexual misconduct,” think immediately of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Just as with academic misconduct, though, sexual misconduct includes a wide range of behaviors and acts, all covered under Title IX, one of the federal laws included in the Education Amendments of 1972. These include but are not limited to:
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Requests or demands for sexual favors
- Sexual acts enacted against the person's will
- Sexual acts that take place when the person cannot give consent
- Any unwanted verbal, nonverbal, or physical contact that is sexual in nature
Even behavior that isn't strictly sexual in nature but that does relate to sex and gender can be prohibited under Title IX. Aggressive acts, coercive acts, bullying, hostility, or harassment that targets someone because of their sex and gender, or their perceived sex or gender, are all punishable. In a higher-education setting, they can form the basis for dismissal.
Lastly, let's look at acts of general misconduct. A few examples of acts that fall under this umbrella are hazing, hate crimes, stalking or threatening someone, underage drinking, and using, possessing, or distributing illegal drugs. Vandalism and destruction of property are considered general misconduct as well.
Of course, some of these misbehaviors are more likely to result in dismissal from an Arizona academy of higher learning than others. Much depends on extenuating circumstances, whether they already exist or are brought on by the misconduct—for example, if a student was seriously injured or even lost their life during a hazing ritual. And college conduct boards will take into account the offender's disciplinary or criminal history when making their decisions.
What Happens After an Allegation of Misconduct?
It's important to remember that students who have violated codes of conduct aren't likely to get their “day in court” in the same way that people accused of crimes do. The student isn't entitled to due process, and they might not even be allowed to have an attorney present at hearings into the matter.
Disciplinary proceedings tend to move quickly, as well. Before the student has a chance to catch their breath, they might find themselves kicked off campus, their scholarships stripped, and even suspended or dismissed from their college or university.
As soon as you have received word that an investigation into your alleged misconduct is underway, contact an attorney to learn about the resources available to you—and for help fighting these charges so you can clear your name and resume your education.
Even if you have already been expelled, there is still hope. Attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento has a wealth of experience to draw on, thanks to the hundreds of disciplinary cases that he has handled on behalf of students in Arizona and around the country.
While many attorneys in the U.S. could defend a client accused of rape or contract cheating, there's something invaluable that sets apart Attorney Lento and his team: the professional relationships he has developed. Attorneys in school's internal Offices of General Counsel, advisors on college disciplinary boards, and local legal personnel have come to know and trust The Lento Law Firm's associates, particularly Mr. Lento himself. In short, he occupies an advantageous position when it comes to negotiating with schools, brokering agreements that benefit all parties, and settling misconduct cases to everyone's satisfaction.
If, and only if, the matter cannot be resolved through mediation or arbitration, the Lento team is prepared to fight for you in court. Suing a school is something of a nuclear option, best saved for the very few circumstances in which Attorney Lento cannot negotiate an outcome that allows the student to resume their academic career. However, he can and will take steps to sue the school when warranted.
Let Lento Law Help
Are you in over your head, facing a disciplinary hearing with no idea how to handle this set of circumstances? Are you looking down the barrel of a long-term suspension that will likely derail your education? Maybe you have already been expelled from the university you once hoped would be your alma mater.
Take heart. You don't have to face this alone, nor must you meekly submit to whatever decision the disciplinary board hands down. Let the team at Lento Law Firm lay out the options you have for relief. Call us at 888-J.D.LENTO or 888-535-3686 or tell us about your situation using our convenient contact form. There is a path out of this predicament, and Attorney Lento is ready and waiting to walk beside you and support you every step of the way.