Defending Yourself From Academic Misconduct Charges at Fort Hays State University

It's not easy being a college student. You're learning to be independent and trying to work out who you want to be, all while dealing with calculus.

If you're facing an accusation of academic misconduct, though, things can get much tougher in a hurry. It isn't just that someone is calling your integrity as a scholar into question. It isn't just that you might be looking at an F on a paper. Even a warning, if it winds up in your permanent record, could have serious and lasting repercussions on your future. It turns out, most employers aren't interested in hiring graduates with a history of cheating.

It's important, then, that you take every allegation seriously. Question every sanction. Fight for your future.

How do you do that? You start by learning everything you can about your school's academic misconduct policy. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Then, you find a qualified advisor; someone experienced at taking on university faculty and administrators. Because you definitely need to fight for your rights, but if you're taking on your school, you're going to need help.

Defining Academic Misconduct

The first thing you need to know is how Fort Hays State University defines academic misconduct. This will help you avoid making mistakes. It will also give you insight into how to defend yourself should you be accused.

FHSU's rules are relatively straightforward. The school identifies just four types of violations. However, it's important to note that these four are general enough to cover virtually every conceivable type of offense.

  • Plagiarism is first on the list. You probably know the basic definition: presenting or attempting to present another person's work as your own. You're not supposed to steal another person's ideas; you're not supposed to steal another person's words. You may not realize, though, that this rule also prohibits you from buying an essay from an online paper mill or paying your roommate to do your lab homework for you. If you didn't write it or come up with the idea for it, you must give credit to whoever did.
  • Next up is cheating. The word “cheating” gets thrown around a lot in academia. The specific definition, though, is the use of unauthorized materials to complete your coursework. Here again, “unauthorized materials” is a general enough phrase to cover anything you could possibly think up. A textbook would be “unauthorized” during a closed-book exam. Crib sheets hidden on the inside label of your soda bottle would typically qualify. So too would websites, answer sheets stolen from your professor's office, and the answers on your nearby classmate's paper.
  • FHSU also prohibits “falsification.” For example, you aren't supposed to change answers on a test your instructor returns to you and then try to claim they made a grading mistake. This rule would also seem to cover things like forging a doctor's note to get out of a quiz or signing a classmate's name on the daily attendance sheet.
  • Finally, Fort Hays considers helping someone else commit academic misconduct to be its own form of misconduct. Writing your roommate's term paper will get you in just as much trouble as it gets them.

Academic Misconduct Procedures

At most schools, including Fort Hays, instructors are responsible for identifying and punishing academic misconduct. That means defending yourself from an accusation will likely begin with them.

Faculty can assess a variety of different “academic sanctions,” including:

  • Verbal or written warnings
  • Makeup work for full or partial credit
  • Lowered grade on the assignment, up to an F
  • Lowered grade in the course, up to an F

It's important to note that if your instructor should assign you a lower grade on the assignment or in the course, they must report your misconduct to school administrators. If the conduct was especially egregious, or if you are a repeat offender, the school may then assign additional “disciplinary” penalties such as probation, suspension, or expulsion.

The entire system works quite smoothly, assuming you admit responsibility for the misconduct and accept whatever sanction you've been given. However, if you plan to dispute either, you'll need to go through a somewhat more complicated process.

  • FHSU recommends you first talk to the instructor about your complaint.
  • If you cannot resolve your problem with the instructor, the school recommends visiting with the chair of the department that houses the given course.
  • If talking to the department chair doesn't resolve the matter, you are then entitled to lodge a more formal appeal with the school's provost. This official will then convene a committee to review the matter. That committee consists of an academic administrator, the assistant vice president for student affairs, four faculty members, and a student. The decision of this committee is final.

Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Advisor

Many students are content to accept an allegation of academic misconduct, even when they know they are innocent. It may seem like dealing with a punishment is easier than battling your instructor, a department chair, and an intimidating collection of school administrators.

The problem is every allegation matters, and even the smallest sanction can wind up causing you problems in the future. Of course, if you should find yourself accused again, you may face a more extreme penalty. Beyond this possibility, though, if your file includes a notation about cheating, you could risk scholarships. You might have trouble getting into graduate school. Your past offenses can even show up during job interviews.

Don't risk your future. It's not easy fighting your school, but it beats the alternative.

Joseph D. Lento can help with the fight. Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in academic misconduct cases. In fact, he built his practice representing students just like you, helping them defend themselves from all types of allegations. Joseph D. Lento is a skilled negotiator. He knows how to work with faculty and administrators. In fact, he's on the phone every day helping to resolve his clients' cases. Make no mistake, though: Joseph D. Lento is tough as nails. He'll do everything he can to protect your rights and to make sure you get the very best possible resolution to your case.

If you've been accused of academic misconduct, don't wait. Contact Joseph D. Lento today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

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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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