With its storied history, Columbia University is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. The university is an Ivy League school and expects that all students “uphold the highest standards of respect, integrity, and civility.” The school considers academic misconduct to be one of the most serious offenses possible. If you've been accused of alleged academic misconduct at Columbia University, it's critical to consult with an attorney-advisor who can assist you with the disciplinary proceedings. You should especially take action prior to admitting any responsibility for the allegations. You've worked hard in order to be at Columbia University, and a blemish on your permanent academic record could negatively affect your ability to gain acceptance at medical school, law school, or other further studies.
What Are Academic Violations At Columbia University?
First and foremost, it's always best to read through the syllabi your instructors provide. Often, professors will list specific expectations of what constitutes academic misconduct. However, beyond that, Standards and Disciplines: Student Conduct and Community Standards, (SCCS) offers a place to begin.
The list begins with the facilitation of academic dishonesty. That's right. If you help someone, knowingly or otherwise, violate academic integrity, you could be facing academic misconduct allegations. Unauthorized assistance and collaboration are also instances of academic violations. The usual suspects of cheating and plagiarism are listed and explained in detail.
There are a few, however, that are unique. Failure to safeguard work is an academic offense. This means that you cannot leave work on public computers or share information (such as notes or assignments) with other students without the instructor's permission. Dishonesty is described as “Falsification, forgery, or misrepresentation of information to any University official in order to gain an unfair academic advantage in coursework or lab work, on any application, petition, or documents submitted to the University, is prohibited.” Sabotage, including altering another student's experiment data also falls under academic misconduct. Finally, any action that violates the already-established policies related to ethics, honor codes, or professional standard of a student's school, is considered an academic violation. For further descriptions, read section D (pp. 9-11) of the Standards book linked above.
What is Dean's Discipline?
Dean's Discipline is the entire process of investigating and responding to allegations of academic misconduct at Columbia University. During the process, there's opportunity for students to discuss both accountability for their actions and the impact of their behavior on the community and themselves. Dean's Discipline begins when an academic integrity violation referral is filled and received by SCCS.
What Are the Procedures for Responding to Academic Misconduct at Columbia University?
If a Dean's Discipline hearing is necessary, the student will receive an email notifying them of the allegations as well as the scheduled time for the hearing. The office will ensure that the hearing is scheduled around the student's academic calendar. Students are required to participate in a Dean's Discipline process, once scheduled. If the student receives two notices of failure to participate, then a decision may be finalized without their presence.
Prior to the hearing, a student may request a file review. They must schedule the time at a minimum, one business day in advance. An SCCS staff member will meet with them while they review their file. This staff member will explain the Dean's Discipline process to the student. Students may take notes, however, they may not ask questions regarding the specific details of the alleged academic misconduct or possible penalties. Taking photographs or videos of the file or documents is strictly prohibited.
Students are also encouraged to write a statement for the hearing and to meet with an advisor or Dean's Discipline Student Navigator. The written statement may be up to 5 single-spaced pages, using size 12 Times New Roman font and 1-inch margins.
During the hearing, only an advising dean or an administrator selected by the SCCS may accompany a student.
How does a Dean's Discipline Hearing Proceed?
During the hearing, the student may present their statement and present information on their own behalf. This occurs after the relevant information about the alleged academic violation is presented. A summary will be made of the proceedings, referred to as “hearing notes.” These notes are not a transcript, but rather provide a summary of the substance of the hearing.
A student is not held responsible for the allegation until the Hearing Officers complete their presentation of evidence. The standard of proof required is the “preponderance of the evidence” standard.
If the student's alleged academic violation is shown as proven, then sanctions will be issued. According to the SCCS, “A violation of academic integrity compromises the intellectual foundation of the institution. To violate that principle is one of the most serious offenses at Columbia University. Although each case is considered uniquely, a student found responsible for academic-related policy violation(s) should expect to receive a minimum sanction of Disciplinary Probation. Irrespective of the disciplinary outcome, faculty members reserve the right to assign grades as they deem appropriate.” Page twenty details all the potential sanctions, which range from Educational projects or assignments to degree revocation, and everything in between.
The only sanctions noted on a student's transcript are “Disciplinary Suspension; Disciplinary Expulsion; or Withdrawn with Disciplinary Action Pending.”
Students may appeal both the outcome and the sanctions, if they so desire, within five business days of receiving the decision letter. There are three grounds for appeal: procedural error, new information, and inappropriate sanction.
The Best Academic Violation Attorney-Advisor
If you're facing academic misconduct allegations at Columbia University, it is a very serious offense that the school does not take lightly. Although an attorney-advisor cannot accompany you to the Dean's Discipline Hearing, an experienced attorney-advisor can help you navigate how to best craft a defense. Your written statement is a chance to shine, and an attorney-advisor can help you pull together the evidence that will strengthen your case. Joseph D Lento has helped hundreds of students at elite universities fight for their due process. Call today at 888.535.3686 or contact us today online for your consultation.