Students don't always fight accusations of academic misconduct. Even entirely innocent students sometimes figure it's easier just to accept a sanction and move on than try to take on their professor and the weight of their college. Very few students who know they've violated their school's integrity policy bother to complain about the sanction their instructor has assigned. They assume faculty are minor deities whose decisions can't be questioned.
Here's what's wrong with that thinking: Schools can and do get things wrong. Professors sometimes label perfectly innocent coincidences as “cheating,” and far too often assign punishments that far exceed the nature of the offense. More importantly, accepting responsibility for academic misconduct can have serious long-term consequences on your academic and professional careers. Even a warning in your permanent file can cost you scholarships, keep you from getting into graduate school, and harm your job prospects.
It's not always easy to fight for your academic reputation. Judicial procedures can be complicated, and your school may very well side with your instructor. You don't have to take on the fight alone, though. A qualified, experienced attorney-advisor can make sure you're treated fairly and that you get the best possible resolution to your case.
Defining Academic Misconduct
Just what is academic misconduct? Academic misconduct, as distinguished from disciplinary misconduct, has to do specifically with your coursework. In simple terms, Touro College wants to make sure that you don't have any unfair advantage in pursuing your degree.
What does all this mean in concrete terms? Touro's Academic Integrity Policy identifies three specific types of violation.
- Plagiarism: “Plagiarism” involves attempting to pass another person's work or ideas off as your own, particularly without giving them due credit. It can be large-scale, such as purchasing a paper through an online paper mill or turning in your roommate's paper as though you wrote it. You don't have to do anything quite so dramatic to be guilty of plagiarism, though. Failing to use quotation marks around a quotation from your textbook can get you into trouble as well. It's also worth noting that plagiarism doesn't just apply to written text. Images, video, artwork, music, even computer code can be plagiarized. In fact, many instructors will charge you with plagiarism for taking an image you found online and inserting it into a paper without a citation.
- Cheating: “Cheating” is frequently used as a catchall term for all forms of academic misconduct. However, it refers specifically to the use of unauthorized resources to complete your coursework. As with plagiarism, cheating is a broad term. “Unauthorized materials” can be almost anything, from looking on another person's paper during an exam to asking another person to take an exam for you. Crib sheets, Google, your book, a text message to a friend—all of these can qualify as cheating.
- Research Misconduct: Finally, many students at Touro are lucky enough to have real-world research opportunities. In such situations, the college expects you to abide by the same ethical guidelines as any professional working in your discipline.
Of course, your instructor is the ultimate authority when it comes to what is and isn't allowed in a course. You might, for instance, be allowed to use your book during some exams. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to be familiar with the course syllabus to avoid making mistakes. When in doubt, though, you should ask your instructor directly.
In addition to setting the specific rules in your class, your instructor also has the primary responsibility for identifying and responding to instances of misconduct. However, this does not give them carte blanche to act as they choose. Faculty must report all incidents to their department chair and submit any proposed sanctions for approval. Touro College maintains a three-tiered system of sanctions—A, B, and C. Instructors may only assign sanctions from the C tier. These include
- Makeup work or re-submission of assignment
- Lowered grade on the assignment, up to a zero
- Lowered grade in the course, up to an F
- Academic probation
In addition, the school requires all students who have violated the policy to complete a series of ethics tutorials.
Department Chairs forward a copy of all misconduct reports to the Chief Academic Integrity (CAI) Officer. This officer keeps a record of all infractions and has the power to punish multiple offense with level B or A sanctions, which include suspension, expulsion, and the inclusion of the violation in any letters of recommendation.
You don't have to accept a charge from your instructor. You do have the right to challenge the charge or the proposed sanction. This involves submitting a written statement to the CAI Officer and participating in a hearing before the Touro College Standing Committee on Academic Integrity of the School. The hearing itself is not conducted live. That is, you cannot challenge your instructor directly. Instead, all individuals involved in the incident meet one-on-on with the committee to present evidence and answer questions. The committee itself then discusses the evidence and comes to a decision regarding your level of responsibility or the appropriateness of the sanction.
In addition, you are not allowed to bring legal representation with you to the hearing. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't hire legal representation. An attorney can help you draft documents, prepare to answer questions, and file an appeal if necessary. Perhaps most importantly, an attorney-advisor can make sure your due process rights aren't violated.
Joseph D. Lento, Student Conduct Attorney-Advisor
You must take every academic misconduct accusation seriously. That means finding out as much as you can about what you're up against. It also means hiring a professional to help you defend yourself.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified, fully-licensed defense attorney, who focuses specifically on student misconduct cases. He's devoted his career to making sure students are treated fairly and that they get all the rights they're entitled to. Joseph D. Lento has represented hundreds of clients just like you, helping them defend themselves from all kinds of accusations, from simple cheating on a test to complicated plagiarism schemes. Joseph D. Lento knows how your school operates. He's also familiar with your school's judicial procedures and experienced at dealing with faculty and administrators. If you're a student looking to take on your school, you need the best representation you can find. You need Joseph D. Lento.
If you've been accused of any type of academic misconduct, don't wait to find out what might happen next. Contact Joseph D. Lento today to find out what he can do for you. Call 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.