Defending Exercise Science Students

Pursuing an exercise science degree is a noble cause. Students seeking to make a future within industries focused on health and wellbeing are putting a huge investment of time and money on the line. Graduating with a B.S. degree or an advanced degree in exercise science can lead to careers that range from the military to corporate wellness. What happens, though, when those dreams are cut short or stunted because a student is accused of misconduct or poor academic performance?

How Should Exercise Science Students Defend Themselves?

Until it happens to you or someone you love, most don't realize how quickly and easily their exercise science careers can be put at risk after one bad decision. Still yet, sometimes the exercise science student has done everything right, but they face termination from their program because of poor performance. There are any number of circumstances that will put your collegiate career in exercise sciences at risk if you don't mount a swift defense. If you or your child is facing the threat of discipline for academic performance or misconduct, you need to contact a student discipline defense attorney right away.

Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is a serious offense, and to make matters worse, sometimes students don't even realize they're committing it. Some instances of cheating are obvious, while other types are innocent mistakes. Either way, if you're accused of academic misconduct, you could face serious consequences such as retaking a class or even suspension. Some accused of cheating ultimately lose access to financial aid in the wake of the disciplinary actions against them.

Types of academic misconduct include:

The above list is by no means exhaustive, and each college will have rules specific to its own academic misconduct policies. If you're seeking an advanced exercise science degree from Columbia University, for example, you'd need to adhere to its specific academic integrity policies. Like most schools, Columbia University prohibits plagiarism, which it defines as:

  • “Failure to cite or otherwise acknowledge ideas or phrases used in any paper, exercise, or project submitted in a course but gained from another source, such as a published text, another person's work, or materials on the Web.”

Where a student could get caught up, however, is in the school's prohibition of self-plagiarism, defined as:

  • “The submission of one piece of work in more than one course without the explicit permission of the instructors involved.”

This prohibition against self-plagiarism is a good example of how an exercise sciences student could unwittingly get into trouble for academic misconduct. Most understand they shouldn't steal another person's work, but they'd incorrectly assume that they can borrow from their own work. This assumption could get them into trouble at Columbia.

You should always review the academic honesty and misconduct policies at your university to see what is and isn't considered bad behavior. Even then, the rules can be ambiguous, and you may need to speak to an experienced attorney-advisor who can help you interpret the policy.

Academic Performance

Also relating to academics, exercise science students need to consider how their academic performance could cause problems with their overall collegiate career objectives. Everyone knows you have to pass your classes to graduate, but many fail to understand how quickly life can get in the way of even the best study efforts. It only takes one bad semester, where a student has family emergencies or has to worry about keeping up with a job, to derail grades.

If your cumulative GPA passes below a certain threshold, you could be booted from your program, lose your financial aid, or be dismissed from the university entirely. Before you are heavily penalized, you should have an opportunity to explain your side of the story to your school. This is more easily accomplished if you hire a student defense attorney who knows how to facilitate productive conversation between students and their schools.

Failure to Progress

Failure to progress through your exercise science program can have serious consequences. Often, programs require students to meet certain benchmarks before they can progress to the next level of course work and a failure to make it through to the next level can mean an exercise science student is ultimately dismissed.

Student Misconduct

Student misconduct can be characterized as disruptive behavior that may also be aggressive, violent, or sexual in nature. Additionally, behavior that constitutes misconduct can include activities that seem innocent enough. Hazing is a good example of this seemingly innocuous misconduct, but the University of Texas goes so far as to provide an online report form for suspected hazing incidents. Exercise science students accused of student misconduct at their university need to take accusations seriously.

Other types of student misconduct violations include:

  • Drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Destruction of property
  • Causing a disturbance
  • Stalking
  • Sexual violence
  • Threatening others on campus
  • Hate crimes

Often, those accused of student misconduct don't feel the allegations are justified. After all, most kids away at college will partake in partying or might even cause a disturbance in the form of protests. Sometimes, these protests even constitute protected free speech. In these scenarios, it's still imperative you contact a student misconduct defense attorney immediately. A college or university's primary objective is to protect itself, but exercise science students also deserve an advocate ensuring they're protected against unfair allegations.

Professionalism Concerns

A lot of students and even their parents may think professionalism isn't of the utmost importance when pursuing a degree in exercise science. This would be a false assumption, however, and students who don't exhibit minimum professionalism standards could be dismissed from their exercise science programs.

Exercise science graduates go on to work in the military or as an athletic director at a school. These career paths absolutely require pretty pristine professionalism histories and schools that feed into these career paths know it. As such, some schools will take into consideration a student's emotional maturity or self-awareness in advancing them to the next level of their studies. If you find you're failing to advance because of professionalism concerns, you should contact a student defense attorney-advisor who can help you communicate with your exercise science program directors.

Title IX Accusations and Sexual Misconduct

Title IX is a federal law that addresses a specific kind of student misconduct. The specific types of conduct Title IX prohibits are:

  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual harassment
  • Rape
  • Sexual violence
  • Discrimination on the basis of sex

While Title IX provides important protections for most individuals on campus, there are times when the accusations are the result of a misunderstanding or even altogether false. For exercise science students learning a discipline that inherently involves the body, there are times when the actions of one student could be misinterpreted as sexual misconduct.

Almost all universities have policies against sexual misconduct, but only schools that receive federal funding must adhere to the federal Title IX law. While most private schools receive at least some federal funding and must abide by federal law, even private schools that don't have to adhere to Title IX generally have rules that mirror Title IX.

Competent defense of sexual misconduct claims is perhaps more important than any other kind of student defense. In today's political climate, even the appearance of sexual misconduct will leave a lasting impression on peers, and the more you can do to fight the stigma through the appropriate legal channels, the better.

What's at Stake for Exercise Science Students?

Exercise science students often go into careers that require being around children, students, or they may even end up with jobs in the military. Regardless of whether you go into the education system or the United States military, you'll need a nearly spotless record. Disciplinary proceedings that take place while you're in school can and do go on your permanent record. Future employers, especially school administrators and the military, will review those records.

Whether your academic record or your conduct record is at risk of being tarnished because of actions you're accused of, you need to be proactive in mounting a defense. Even if you don't get entirely dismissed from your exercise science program, you may end up losing out on jobs or internship opportunities. Protect your educational investment and speak with a defense attorney-advisor.

What Should Accused Exercise Science Students Do?

If you've been accused of any misconduct or academic performance issues at your university, there are some things you should and shouldn't do. Going through accusations and investigations can be overwhelming for exercise science students and their families. Your first reaction may be to try and explain yourself or justify your actions. You may even want to confront your accuser. These actions would all be mistakes. While you should cooperate with your school, you should also talk to a student discipline defense attorney who can help facilitate communication with your school.

Things you shouldn't do after an accusation:

  • Don't confront your accuser
  • Don't ignore the notices you receive from your school
  • Don't post about the accusations on social media
  • Don't lash out at your school's investigatory body

Things you should do after an accusation:

  • Do take the accusations seriously
  • Do contact a student discipline defense attorney
  • Do act appropriately and respectfully moving forward
  • Do retain and preserve any evidence that might help your case

When you're accused of conduct that jeopardizes your college career, it can be traumatizing, making your efforts to concentrate on your studies even more difficult. It may feel like the end of the world, but with experienced help, you still have ample opportunity to get back on track.

The Disciplinary Process for Exercise Science Students

The disciplinary process is similar at colleges and universities throughout the country. If someone lodges a complaint against you for misconduct, the school will perform an informal initial investigation to see if there's enough credibility to the claim to launch a formal investigation. You'll receive notice of any formal complaint and investigation against you, and during the investigation, your school will begin conducting interviews and collecting evidence to present at the formal hearing.

At the hearing, you'll have an opportunity to defend yourself and present evidence that can help your case. While this hearing isn't a criminal trial, it can resemble one, and it's difficult for students to fully defend themselves without the help of an experienced attorney. At the conclusion of the hearing, the committee could make their decision on the spot, or they may delegate the responsibility of determining a course of action to another body.

If your grades are what's landed you in hot water, and your academic record triggers a performance review, you won't be subject to the same type of hearing described above. Instead, you'll probably receive a notice that you're on academic probation and be offered a chance to explain yourself in some cases. If the terms of that probation are violated, you will face the consequences.

Remediation, Probation, or Dismissal

With the help of a student defense attorney, you'll be better equipped to navigate the investigation, hearing, and punishment stages of your misconduct allegations. The severity of your punishment could depend on different factors, including whether this was your first time getting into trouble. In a worst-case scenario, you could be dismissed from your school or program completely, but that's a punishment generally reserved for serial offenders or egregious acts. More likely, you'll be asked to retake a course in the case of academic performance issues, or you may be given a short suspension if the issue was related to misconduct.

The role of your attorney will be to help the hearing committee or academic board understand how and why you deserve to continue with your exercise sciences education. Remember, sometimes the goal isn't to have the accusations be completely disproven. Sometimes this is an impossible goal. Instead, remember that the true aim of your defense strategy is to return to class with as little impact on your future as possible.

Appealing Your Grade or the Disciplinary Board's Decision

There may be instances when the decision made against you is completely unreasonable and unjust. This is rare, but it does happen. In misconduct cases, for example, there's an opportunity for bias in the hearing committee. Sometimes it can be so extreme as to constitute discrimination or another form of constitutional violation. Having an experienced attorney on your side to safeguard against these injustices is important.

Even when you have a legal advocate working on your behalf, you may still have an unfavorable outcome that you'll want to appeal. The appeals process will vary from school to school, but in general, you can count on there to be a tight deadline to meet. Appeals often work to have the sanctions reduced when they were originally too harsh.

You may also want to appeal a grade given to you in a class. Even your cumulative GPA may have been erroneously calculated, entitling you to an appeal of it. The process for appealing your grade can be difficult without experienced help.

While it may be easy to give up after a hearing doesn't go your way, or after you receive a devastating grade, there are procedures in place that allow you to appeal. Your future is at stake, and you should use every tool available to you to give you the best chance.

Retaining a Defense Attorney-Advisor

Exercise science students work hard for their degrees, and since they often go into the world of education employment themselves, misconduct or performance issues can be devastating. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has worked with university students across the nation, helping them mount a defense against the accusations made against them. To learn how Mr. Lento and his dedicated team can help you, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686, or contact us online.

Contact Us Today!

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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