It can be tempting just to ignore a charge of academic misconduct. As a college student, you've got a lot on your plate: classes, projects, organizations. You don't have time to deal with allegations—false or not. And, what's the big deal anyway, right? Accept responsibility and whatever penalty comes with it, and just move on. After all, that's what the school wants you to do.
Here's the problem with that thinking: even a minor charge and a minor sanction can have major repercussions on your academic and professional future. A warning that finds its way into your academic file could cause you to lose scholarships, keep you from getting into graduate school, or even interfere with your ability to establish your career.
That's why it's important you dispute every allegation and question every sanction. How do you go about doing that? How do you prepare yourself to do battle with your university? First, make sure you know your school's academic integrity policy inside and out. Only when you know the rules will you know how to defend yourself against charges that you've broken them. Then, make sure you're not going into battle alone. Having an experienced attorney-advisor by your side can be the difference between winning and losing your case.
Defining Academic Misconduct at Wilmington University
Wilmington University's academic integrity policy is reasonably simple. It lists just four basic categories of violations. Simplicity isn't the same as straightforward, though.
- Plagiarism: As plagiarism policies go, WU's is fairly strict. It doesn't just define plagiarism as the effort to pass off another person's work as your own. Any failure to acknowledge a source through “complete, accurate, and specific references” qualifies as an offense. That means simply getting a citation wrong could potentially get you accused of academic misconduct.
- Fabrication: This is a fairly broad category of offense. It includes obvious misconduct like falsifying lab results or inventing sources. It could also be interpreted to include far less obvious violations, like forging a doctor's note to get out of an exam or signing a classmate's name on the official attendance log.
- Cheating: As with fabrication, WU defines cheating in broad terms. Specifically, it's described as any “deception” or attempted deception to convince others that you have “mastered information on an academic exercise.” WU's own examples include everything from buying a paper from an online paper mill to using a cheat sheet during an exam.
- Grade and test tampering: Hacking the school's computers and changing your transcript would seem to be covered already under “falsification,” but WU goes to the trouble to list it as its own category of offense.
Right away, you may notice that how WU describes these four categories leaves a lot of room for interpretation. That makes it easier for an instructor to accuse you of wrong-doing, and it makes it harder for you to defend yourself. This is yet one more reason why consulting a skilled attorney-advisor can be so vital to the success of your case.
Processes and Procedures at Wilmington University
At WU, your instructor has almost total “freedom” to identify and punish instances of academic misconduct. This puts a lot of power in the hands of a single individual.
The good news is, the school encourages faculty to be forgiving of minor first offenses:
“Students who exhibit minor levels of plagiarism in freshmen courses may benefit more from a personal conference during which the faculty explains the infraction and offers the student an opportunity to redo part or all of an assignment.”
The bad news is that the school doesn't mandate faculty practice this sort of leniency. Instructors are free to impose a variety of sanctions on students they believe have committed misconduct. These can include warnings, conferences, and makeup assignments, but they can also include lowered grades on assignments or a lowered grade in the course.
The worse news is that second offenses warrant almost no leniency whatsoever. Faculty are required to report all offenses, and if you should be accused a second time, you can be “temporarily suspended” while the Student Discipline Committee decides your fate. In most cases, you can expect your final sanction to be an actual suspension or dismissal from the university.
The worst news of all? Wilmington University's policy offers no information about how you might go about challenging an instructor's accusation or questioning the severity of a sanction. It does explain how to appeal disciplinary sanctions such as suspension or expulsion. The lack of a clear process for appealing faculty decisions, though, suggests the school is committed to accepting those decision with little or no question.
Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor
Facing off against your school can be an uphill battle. That seems especially true at Wilmington University, where the integrity policy doesn't even acknowledge the possibility that your instructor might get things wrong—that a student might be falsely accused or that a penalty might be more severe than the misconduct warrants. If you're going to defend yourself against that kind of system, you're going to need help.
Joseph D. Lento can provide that help. Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in advising student clients. He understands how difficult it can sometimes be to get justice from a faculty member or an administrative official. Schools just don't like to admit they're wrong. They'll do whatever they can to back up their faculty, even if it means bending judicial processes in a faculty member's favor. Joseph D. Lento has dedicated his entire career to confronting these kinds of tactics. He's helped hundreds of clients defend themselves from charges big and small, and he can help you get the justice you deserve.
If you've been accused of academic misconduct, contact Joseph D. Lento today to find out what he can do for you. Call 888-555-3686, or888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.