Dealing With Academic Misconduct Accusations at National University College

Cheating is on the rise on university campuses. What does that have to do with you? You're an upstanding student who would never violate your school's integrity policy. The thing is, when more students cheat, sometimes professors start to get trigger-happy with their accusations and harsher in the penalties they assign. In today's academic environment, you can easily find yourself accused of something you didn't do.

And, let's face it, we all make mistakes. As honest as you may be, it is possible to commit academic misconduct without realizing you're doing it.

What do you do if it happens to you, if you should find yourself accused and facing a sanction you don't deserve? First and foremost, you make sure that you know exactly what to expect. You find out everything you can about the rules. You learn what investigations look like. You research how to go about defending yourself.

Then, you find a qualified, experienced attorney-advisor to help you prepare your case. You need to know what you're up against, but you also need to know that you can't handle it on your own. The right attorney-advisor can help you gather evidence, track down witnesses, and draft documents. They're your best chance for a positive outcome.

The Rules at National University College

As a starting point for your defense, you need to understand what you've been accused of doing. Only when you know what you're charged with can you begin the process of refuting those charges.

At NU, academic misconduct is included as part of the overall Student Code of Conduct. The rules themselves are relatively straightforward. At the broadest level, the school prohibits any act that “defrauds the academic process.” In simple terms, you should have no unfair advantage over any other student at the school, and your degree should reflect that you have mastered knowledge in your field.

In addition, the school adds some more specific prohibitions.

  • Cheating: This involves using any unauthorized materials to complete your coursework, from using your book during a closed book exam to texting your roommate for answers during a quiz.
  • Plagiarism: In simple terms, this means claiming credit for work or ideas that are not your own. As with cheating, there are lots of ways to commit plagiarism. Obviously, buying a paper online would qualify. So too, though, would forgetting to provide a proper citation when you include a quotation in your work.
  • Submitting the same work in multiple courses: This means what it says. You aren't allowed to turn in the same work in two different classes unless you have express permission from both instructors to do so.
  • Asking another person to take an exam for you: You can't ask someone to take an exam in your place, nor can you take an exam for someone else.

The rules may be relatively straightforward. The enforcement rubric is quite complex. NU uses a four-level classification system, with Level-Zero violations the least serious and Level-Four violations the most serious. In addition, each level comes with its own set of “sanction points.”

  • Level Zero = 0 sanction points
  • Level One = .5 sanction points
  • Level Two = 1.5 sanction points
  • Level Three = 3 sanction points

Sanction points dictate what kind of penalties you may face.

Processes and Penalties

An academic misconduct charge at National University College can be a simple matter if you accept responsibility for a violation and whatever sanction your instructor chooses to assign you. However, should you choose to challenge the accusation or the sanction, things can get complicated.

Generally speaking, instructors have primary responsibility for identifying misconduct and deciding on appropriate punishments. In making this decision, they are supposed to use the sanction rubric, though the Student Code of Conduct says nothing about how sanction points should correspond to specific sanctions. In general, sanctions can include

  • Verbal warning
  • Written warning
  • Rewrite or makeup an assignment
  • Extra assignment on the nature of academic integrity
  • Lower grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
  • Lower grade in the course, up to an F

In addition, faculty are required to submit a record of any incident to the Office of Student Conduct (OC). This office may assign additional sanctions, depending on the nature of your offense and whether or not you have a record of past offenses. These sanctions can include

  • Probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Revocation of degree

You may accept responsibility and contest the severity of the sanction. This involves submitting a written appeal which is reviewed by the school's Appeals Panel.

If you wish to challenge the accusation itself, you can take your case to the OC. This office assigns a Conduct Officer to investigate and, if necessary, conduct a formal hearing.

Joseph D. Lento: Academic Misconduct Attorney

Students sometimes just accept accusations of misconduct and whatever penalty their instructor happens to assign them. You can understand why. Hearing and appeals processes can be complicated and difficult to navigate. You have no guarantee that you'll win your case, and, in fact, it's often difficult to convince school administration that one of their own faculty made a mistake.

Ultimately, though, you should always challenge your instructors' decisions. Here's why. No matter what sanction you're facing, there's always the possibility that a record of that sanction could show up in your permanent file. If you're given a warning, and it appears on your record, it could have serious repercussions. You could lose scholarship money, have trouble getting into graduate school, or even struggle to find a first job.

It isn't easy to take on your school. You don't have to do it alone, though.

Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney with vast experience in education law. Whether you're simply meeting with a professor to discuss their accusation or going before the dean to prove your innocence, Joseph D. Lento can help. Joseph D. Lento has handled hundreds of cases just like yours. He's a skilled negotiator and a tenacious fighter. Don't let your school trample your rights or impose penalties far out of proportion to your offense. If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct, contact the Lento Law Firm today.

Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.