Columbia Southern University Academic Misconduct Defense

Columbia Southern University, a for-profit university, is one of the nation’s first online-only universities; it was founded in 1993 by Robert Mayes Sr and is based out of Orange Beach, Alabama. CSU's initial focus was on occupational health and safety and environmental management. The school expanded its online programs in 1996 to include business administration, computer science, criminal justice administration, and health administration. In 2001, CSU received national accreditation, and the school has only grown since then. 2003 saw the opening of a hybrid program in Vietnam, and in 2009 they opened a 67,000 square foot building.

Today, the school serves more than 30,000 students, most of whom are non-traditional students. As a student at CSU, you most likely have other responsibilities, perhaps a family or a job, and accusations of academic misconduct can pull your attention from the things that matter most. And, the long-term implications of academic misconduct could impede your future earnings potential, your ability to pursue further graduate studies and leave you with a huge bill for your incomplete studies. Although there are many types of college misconduct at CSU, we're going to focus on academic misconduct in this piece.

Columbia Southern University and Academic Integrity

By enrolling in a course, each student at CSU agrees to the school's Honor Pledge, found in the Student Handbook:

I promise that I will not be involved in cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or misrepresentation of sources while enrolled as a student at Columbia Southern University. I have read the Academic Integrity Policy, which outlines disciplinary procedures that will result from failure to comply with this policy. I understand that violation of the Academic Integrity Policy will result in disciplinary action, outlined within the policy.

Within the Student Handbook, you will find a listing of (but not limited to) behaviors that SCU considers violations of the Academic Integrity Policy.

Some examples include:

  • Using an alternate during an exam or test
  • Violations that are dictated within the “Final Examination Proctor Policy”
  • Use of unauthorized materials or assistance with any work that you submit
  • Failing to properly acknowledge the source of work or ideas, whether you're paraphrasing or quoting a source

Disciplinary Proceedings and Appeal Process at Columbia Southern University

The initial allegations of academic misconduct occur at the classroom level with the instructor. If a student wants to dispute an academic integrity allegation, they have to follow the Academic Complaint and Grievance Policy. Here's an image from the handbook that outlines the process. Let's take a closer look at each stage.

An informal complaint must be made within five business days—as a student, you would email your professor describing your complaint. The faculty member has three business days to respond.

If this doesn't resolve your concerns, the next stage is Informal Mediation. If you don't know who your lead faculty member for the course is, reach out to the Office of Student Resolution and Conduct, and they will help you identify the right person. The lead faculty member has three business days to investigate your complaint and provide you with a written response.

The next stage of the process would be a formal grievance, and a student has ten business days to submit a formal letter to [email protected]. You'll need to provide documentation of the earlier stages of the process, and the Dean or Assistant Provost of your college will investigate your complaint. This could involve a phone or virtual conversation. Similar to the beginning of this stage, the investigation must be completed within ten business days.

If you are unhappy with the Dean's decision, you can request an appeal of the grievance decision by emailing the email above and requesting a hearing. The hearing will be with the Academic Grievance Appeals Committee, which includes: the Vice Provost for Student Affairs (Chair), Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Vice Provost for Educational Support and Services, and Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Compliance. A faculty member will serve as an advisor but not as a committee member.

The Office of Student Resolution and Conduct will schedule the hearing within 15 business days of the receipt of the appeal request. The involved parties (faculty member and student) will be present at the hearing. Once the hearing is concluded, the faculty committee will provide the provost with a written recommendation within five business days. The provost will then make a final decision within five business days of receiving this recommendation.

What Are Possible Consequences of Academic Misconduct at CSU?

At CSU, the consequences and sanctions vary, depending on the severity and frequency of the offense. The handbook outlines specific consequences for plagiarism and for cheating. Let's look at plagiarism first.

  • First offense: 14 calendar days to resubmit, the professor can reduce by one letter grade if they wish
  • Second offense: Zero for the assignment, no chance to resubmit, and placement on Academic Integrity Probation for 12 credit hours
  • Third offense: Course failure for the course, Academic Integrity Probation for 12 credit hours, completion of training module within four weeks of notification. Failure to complete this module results in referral to the Dean or assistant provost of their degree program and further sanction.
  • Fourth offense: Dismissal from SCU

Now for cheating. The offense list is much shorter.

  • First offense: Course failure for the course, Academic Integrity Probation for 12 credit hours, completion of training module within four weeks of notification. Failure to complete this module results in referral to the Dean or assistant provost of their degree program and further sanctions.
  • Second offense: Dismissal from the university

What's the Long-Term Impact of Academic Misconduct?

Long-term, the consequences of violating CSU's Academic Integrity Policy can be far-reaching. Per their handbook, any instances are documented on your permanent student record. This means that if you apply for work or an advanced degree and they require your student record and transcript, your chances of employment or admission could be reduced.

Columbia Southern University Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor

When you face allegations of academic misconduct at Columbia Southern University, do not make the mistake of ignoring what's at stake or minimizing the potential consequences. Your interests will be best served by taking a deep breath, familiarizing yourself with the disciplinary process at CSU, and having an experienced attorney advisor guide you from as early as possible in the process. Put another way, it's critical that you take action and not allow the potential long-term consequences to affect your education or your future. Attending college as a non-traditional student already demonstrates that you're dedicated to improving your circumstances, even if you're doing it at a later stage than many do. Don't let allegations ruin the work, effort, and money that you've put into your education. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of students nationwide address and resolve these types of allegations. With such vast experience, Attorney Lento and his team bring unparalleled expertise to your situation. Reach out via phone at 888.535.3686 or contact the Lento Law Firm online to discuss your specific circumstances and concerns.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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