College is something that students look forward to for years, and when they finally arrive, it's easy to get swept up in the newfound freedom. It's exciting to meet new people and learn about new ideas at your Oklahoma college or university. In the midst of all the excitement and fun, it's important to remember that your school most likely has guidelines and regulations they expect you to follow. Most often, this type of document is called a code of conduct. Each Oklahoma school has its own code of conduct or similar document, and it's critical that you're familiar with it. Even if you're not aware of what's included in the code of conduct, your college or university will expect you to follow the rules delineated by the code. Often codes of conduct are available online and in the student handbook you received at the beginning of the year.
Code of conduct violations can cover sexual misconduct, disciplinary charges, and academic misconduct. Your Oklahoma school's code of conduct will most likely require you to follow any applicable federal, state, or local laws. Allegations of code of conduct violations should be taken seriously—they can negatively impact your future and affect your likelihood of admission to graduate school (medical, law, business, etc.), your potential employment and earnings, and more. This extensive guide will explore different types of code of conduct violations as well as how to deal with allegations.
The first step you should always take, if you haven't already, is to find your Oklahoma college or university's Code of Conduct. Your school will explain everything in their code of conduct and student handbook (or equivalent documents), from investigatory processes to hearings and on to sanctions. In this guide, we'll start with academic misconduct and what that might include.
What is Considered Academic Misconduct?
Academic integrity is one of the bedrocks of most colleges and universities in Oklahoma. Take academic integrity at the University of Oklahoma. Their academic integrity code states, "Academic integrity means honesty and responsibility in scholarship" and the school's mission is "to create an academic culture that fosters student integrity both in and out of the classroom." Some schools may refer to academic integrity as academic honesty, and you'll usually hear academic misconduct or academic dishonesty to refer to breaking those standards of academic honesty.
It's likely that your college or university has outlined its own policies in your student handbook. Let's take a look at some potential examples of what your school might include under academic misconduct.
- Unauthorized Collaboration: If your professor doesn't explicitly allow working together with another classmate on something, your university or college might consider your actions as unauthorized collaboration.
- Multiple submissions (i.e., self-plagiarism): Although you might not think that using your own work counts as plagiarism, the truth is that most schools would disagree with you. Frequently, self-plagiarism is taken just as seriously as any other sort of plagiarism
Cheating on an exam, test, or assignment: There are many ways of cheating, some of them more creative than others. Cheating can be intentional or accidental. Regardless, schools take it very seriously.
Plagiarism: Plagiarism is using someone else's words or work and claiming them as your own or not citing them properly. Make sure you know how your school defines it.
Assisting another person to cheat or otherwise be academically dishonest: This can also be identified as "assistance," depending on your college or university.
Altering or destroying research or results: Most colleges and universities have an IRB—or an Institutional Review Board—and research is taken very seriously. Destroying or altering research or results contaminates the data and the integrity of the study.
Altering or destroying someone else's work: This is fairly self-explanatory
Altering academic records: Altering academic records could look like a wide range of actions, from altering a grade on an assignment to something more egregious.
Fabricating (making up) information: Most frequently, this takes is adjacent to altering research results—individuals fabricate information or data in order to influence the outcome.
Bribing a faculty member: Bribing under any circumstances is never accepted at a university or college.
- Unauthorized assistance: Some schools will prohibit students from any help that a professor doesn't specifically authorize. This means that having someone edit your paper, for example, may be prohibited.
You can see on Oklahoma State University's Academic Policy & Procedures, that their list of prohibited behavior includes some of the items listed above, however, it also states these behaviors "may include but are not limited to" prior to their list. This is a common practice throughout most universities and colleges—so be aware that you can be accused of academic misconduct even if your alleged behavior isn't specifically named.
Code of Conduct Disciplinary Charges at Oklahoma Colleges and Universities
Each university and college, similar to the approach with academic misconduct, will have its own set of standards for disciplinary charges. Your code of conduct or student handbook should have a comprehensive list that is specific to your school. However, here are some potential charges you might encounter at your Oklahoma college or university:
- Disorderly or disruptive conduct
- Unauthorized presence
- Alcohol (use, distribution, possession, underage, use in any manner prohibited under law or institutional policy)
- Destruction of property
- Operating a vehicle while impaired
- Violation of federal, state, or local laws
- Public urination or defecation
- Classroom disruption
- Possessing or using explosives or weapons
- Residential misconduct
You'll notice that violation of federal, state, and local laws is on the list above. Many schools choose to include this in your handbook, and it means that breaking the laws may also be handled by the school separately. In other words, their concern will be that you violated the school's code of conduct. Subsequently, when they address allegations of this nature, they'll follow their own procedures for disciplinary hearings (which we'll further explore below) and investigations. The school will not handle them in a courtroom or what you may picture if you've watched any episodes of Law & Order. What this means is that the standards of evidence, due process, and other things that would be required in a courtroom may not be present at your school's hearing. It's critical that you make sure you have the best possible assistance, therefore, when you face these allegations.
Oklahoma Colleges and Universities: What you need to know about College Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Allegations
Sexual misconduct and Title IX allegations can have an inordinately negative impact on your future. Colleges and universities throughout Oklahoma take these allegations very seriously. Given the severity of the allegations and the impact, it's important to not attempt to face these on your own. Rather, you want an attorney-advisor who's well-versed in defending students from these types of allegations.
What exactly is the difference between Title IX and Sexual misconduct allegations? There are a few things. First of all, schools often handle the allegations through two separate processes. Secondly, the guidance for Title IX is set at the federal level, whereas sexual misconduct rules are determined by each college or university. The most current Title IX guidelines included the following updates from the Obama-era guidance:
- A narrowing of geographic scope — only activities that occur on campus qualify, rather than study abroad or off-campus locations (as before);
- A much narrower definition of sexual misconduct;
- A potential for a higher standard of proof, as the school chooses (the option to use "clear and convincing evidence" rather than the "preponderance of the evidence" standard);
What are some behaviors that your school might consider under either of these umbrellas? Here's a possible list.
- Non-consensual sexual activity
- In person stalking and cyber stalking
- Sexual exploitation
- Sexual assault
- Domestic or dating violence
Again, each college and university will have their own policies in place, and so it's important to consult your code of conduct or student handbook to ensure that you understand what those are. A college sexual misconduct defense attorney-advisor can help you navigate what those proceedings may look like and can protect your rights as the investigation (and hearing) occurs.
How Will My Oklahoma College or University Address Allegations of Code of Conduct Violations?
Each university and college will have a distinct process for how it addresses allegations of violations. Some schools may have one process for academic misconduct, one for Title IX, and one for everything else. Others will have one process for everything, with different adjustments for the varying types of violations. To be certain, consult your code of conduct or student handbook. There generally, however, is a basic structure that most schools follow, and we'll take a closer look at it here. Although we've broken this into four main stages, many schools may have sub-stages, such as different levels of investigation, or hearings, depending on their code of conduct processes. We'll examine each of the four main components individually.
- First: An investigation of some sort
- Second: A disciplinary hearing or procedure
- Third: A decision on the allegation and recommended sanctions
- Fourth: Appeals
For instances that involve academic misconduct, the investigation stage usually begins after either an academic dishonesty/integrity form has been submitted by a faculty member or student. For Title IX and college sexual misconduct, this might take place after an allegation has been filed, either by a student or by a mandated reporter. During an investigation, a third party will attempt to gather as much information as possible about the circumstances and situation. This could include written testimony, footage, and much more. Most colleges and universities have a set amount of time allotted to how long an investigation can take—your code of conduct or student handbook will have more details.
The disciplinary hearing
Disciplinary hearings or proceedings are usually held in front of a representative panel, composed of students and faculty members. This panel might be called a hearing panel, a hearing committee, or something else. Each school will have its own makeup of panelists: the general idea, however, is that there should be representatives from both the student body and the faculty.
Some universities offer closed hearings for certain topics/offenses. Universities or colleges might allow students to speak, or they might have mostly the third party present evidence and then allow rebuttals/responses. Again, you'll want to see what your Oklahoma school recommends before you take any action. You may be given a chance to waive your right to a hearing—this is generally not recommended. Many Oklahoma colleges and universities will allow you to have an advisor present with you during the hearing (whether or not they are allowed to dress the hearing panel).
The decision and sanctions
Once the involved parties have presented their information and the panel has heard answers to any remaining questions they have, the committee or panel will usually excuse themselves to make a decision. Sometimes that decision is available immediately, but more often, the decision is sent via email or mail to the involved parties. Frequently, schools will also recommend specific sanctions (see below for a broader list).
Most colleges and universities offer an option for appeal, whether that's to appeal the sanctions or to appeal the determination. There is often a limited timeframe within which you can do so, however. This means that prior to everything, you should be certain that you know and understand the appeals process and timeline for your specific school so that you can start that process immediately, if it becomes necessary.
In many cases, there are three valid reasons for appealing a decision, as far as your Oklahoma college or university is concerned:
- New evidence that wasn't available earlier is now known and it could significantly impact the decision.
- A procedural error occurred
- Someone on the committee (or involved with the investigation) may have had a bias or predisposition that would've negatively influenced the outcome.
Some schools have one appeal stage, others may have two or even three. At some point, there is a final appeal. An attorney advisor can help ensure you've exhausted all possibilities.
What Potential Sanctions Might I Face if I'm Found Responsible?
Usually, sanctions will depend on several factors, including the severity of the offense, whether or not there are previous offenses, and who's responsible for deciding/assigning the sanctions. Many schools have a process for appealing sanctions, as well as decisions. You will find information both on the sanctions and the appeal process for sanctions in your student handbook. Here are some sanctions that your school might consider.
- Grade reduction for assignment
- Failed grade for assignment
- Failure for the course
- Temporary ban for extracurricular activities
- Revocation of Academic Degree
- Educational Assignments
- Formal reprimand
- On-campus restrictions
- Loss of financial aid and/or scholarships
- Change or loss of housing
How Should I Respond to Charges of Code of Conduct Violations?
When you are facing Code of Conduct violations, whether their nature is academic misconduct, code of conduct, or sexual misconduct/Title IX, you need to take them very seriously. Make sure that you begin by reading your Oklahoma school's code of conduct or student handbook. If you can access it online, command+F or control+F will help you easily search for keywords relevant to your circumstances. Don't discuss any of the allegations with anyone on your campus—not even friends or trusted mentors. It's best to keep those conversations with friends, family, and advisors who are not at the school. You also want to be sure to record everything relevant to the case/situation that you can. It can be easy to forget things as time passes, and having documentation will help your attorney-advisor know how to best advise and assist you. Finally, make sure that you research and contact an attorney-advisor who's worked with college and university students on similar cases/allegations. They'll be able to navigate the university system, which can be complex for advisors who aren't experienced.
Exceptional Attorney-Advisor for Code of Conduct Violations in Oklahoma
The good news? You don't have to face these allegations by yourself. Nor should you. You and your loved one can rest easily knowing that you have an experienced attorney-advisor working alongside you and tirelessly advocating for the best possible outcome. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have advised hundreds of families across the nation as they faced allegations that could derail their academic career and future earning potential. They'll bring their passion and experience to your circumstances in order to ameliorate the impact of the allegations. Call today with your questions—888.535.3686—or reach out online to see how they can assist with your allegations. We're here to help you and your loved one!
Oklahoma colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's disciplinary violation advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Bacone College
- Brown Mackie College Tulsa
- Cameron University
- Career Point College
- Carl Albert State College
- Connors State College
- DeVry University Oklahoma
- East Central University
- Eastern Oklahoma State College
- Family of Faith College
- Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College
- ITT Technical Institute Oklahoma City
- ITT Technical Institute Tulsa
- Langston University
- Mid America Christian University
- Murray State College
- National American University Tulsa
- Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College
- Northeastern State University
- Northern Oklahoma College
- Northwestern Oklahoma State University
- Oklahoma Baptist University
- Oklahoma Christian University
- Oklahoma City Community College
- Oklahoma City University
- Oklahoma Panhandle State University
- Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology Okmulgee
- Oklahoma State University Main Campus
- Oklahoma State University Oklahoma City
- Oklahoma Wesleyan University
- Oral Roberts University
- Redlands Community College
- Rogers State University
- Rose State College
- Saint Gregorys University
- Seminole State College
- Southeastern Oklahoma State University
- Southern Nazarene University
- Southwestern Christian University
- Southwestern Oklahoma State University
- Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology
- Tulsa Community College
- University of Central Oklahoma
- University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
- University of Phoenix Oklahoma City Campus
- University of Phoenix Tulsa Campus
- University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
- University of Tulsa
- Vatterott College Tulsa
- Western Oklahoma State College
College disciplinary violations can impact an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and Joseph D. Lento has a decade of experience passionately fighting for the future of his clients at colleges and universities throughout the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead, prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a student advisor and educational consultant to students facing disciplinary cases in Oklahoma and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today.