Students don't always take charges of academic misconduct seriously. Sometimes it seems easier to just accept the penalty your professor has assigned and move on, even if you're completely innocent. That's never a good idea. Academic misconduct can carry serious sanctions, including course failure, suspension, and even expulsion. Even something as seemingly innocuous as a warning, though, can have long-lasting consequences if it shows up on your transcript. It could cause you to lose scholarships, keep you from getting into graduate school, and interfere with your ability to establish your career.
It's important you dispute every allegation and that you question any sanction. That's not always easy, though. It's daunting to take on your instructor, let alone the full weight of your university. You're going to need help. Luckily, there are attorneys out there whose primary job is serving as advisors for students. If you're dealing with an unfounded accusation or an unfair sanction, Joseph D. Lento can help safeguard your future.
Defining Academic Misconduct at CUNY Lehman
If you want to successfully defend yourself, you need to know exactly how your school defines academic misconduct. Only when you understand what you've been charged with can you begin to raise questions about those charges.
CUNY Lehman lists four basic categories of offense, though it goes into some detail about each one.
- Cheating: Generally speaking, cheating relates to the use of unauthorized resources to complete your coursework. It can, of course, take many forms. You can't, for instance, use notes during an exam or look up answers in your textbook. Likewise, you can't text a friend or ask someone else to take the exam for you. Also, keep in mind: cheating applies to homework as well as formal exams.
- Plagiarism: Plagiarism means attempting to pass off another person's work as your own. Here again, there are many ways to commit this offense. Obviously, you aren't supposed to download a freshman comp paper from an online site. You can also get in trouble, though, for grabbing an image off a site and failing to footnote it. In addition, video, music, and even computer code can all be plagiarized.
- Falsification of records and official documents: This could include something as serious as trying to change your official transcript or something as mundane as forging a doctor's note to get out of a quiz.
- Obtaining unfair advantage: Finally, CUNY Lehman offers this catchall category. Essentially, any activity that gives you an unfair advantage in completing coursework or obtaining your degree is considered misconduct. The policy includes examples like interfering with another student's work or destroying library materials.
Sanctions for Academic Misconduct at CUNY Lehman
Punishment for academic misconduct is usually in the hands of your instructor. The school doesn't mandate any particular academic penalties, but typically instructors will apply one of the following:
- Verbal warning
- Written warning
- Makeup or alternative assignment
- Lowered grade on the assignment up to a zero
- Lowered grade in the course, up to an F
CUNY Lehman instructors are required to report all serious violations of the misconduct policy to the school's Academic Integrity Officer. This individual is empowered to assign additional “disciplinary” sanctions, including probation, suspension, and expulsion. Usually, these are reserved for repeat offenses or particularly egregious violations. However, they may also be used when students withdraw from a course before they can face any academic sanctions.
CUNY Lehman Procedures
If you accept responsibility for a violation and the sanction that goes with it, your case should be relatively straightforward. The sanction goes into effect, and a note about your violation goes into your file. You're almost always better off questioning the charges, though. If you choose to dispute the accusation or the sanction, things get quite a bit more complicated.
- Appealing just the sanction: If you admit you broke a rule but believe the punishment is too severe, you can appeal through the college's grade appeal process. Basically, you submit your argument in writing, together with documentation, for review by a committee.
- Denying the accusation: If you deny the accusation itself, the school's Student-Faculty Disciplinary Committee undertakes a fact-finding mission and determines whether or not to uphold the accusation.
- In case of disciplinary sanctions: All disciplinary sanctions are processed by the Student-Faculty Disciplinary Committee. In cases where you are appealing the academic sanction, the Disciplinary Committee meets first. You have the right to appeal the Disciplinary Committee's findings, but only under certain circumstances, such as the discovery of new evidence or an allegation of bias on the part of a committee member.
Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor
Facing off against your school is always an uphill battle, as anyone who's ever tried to deal with a campus parking ticket can attest. Colleges and universities don't like to admit they are wrong and, in some cases, will even stack the deck against respondents in judicial procedures, so they don't have to. Your school may tell you that you don't need an attorney or may even bar attorneys from participating in any official proceedings.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't consult an attorney. A lawyer can provide invaluable advice on how to defend yourself. They can offer suggestions on building your case, coach you in answering questions, and help you draft documents. Perhaps most importantly, they can keep an eye on the process and make sure your school doesn't do anything that violates your rights.
Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in defending student clients. He understands how difficult it can sometimes be to get justice from a faculty member or an administrative official. The bottom line is schools just don't like to admit they're wrong. Joseph D. Lento has dedicated his career to taking on-campus judicial systems. 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 or use our automated online form.