East Stroudsburg University's Academic Misconduct Policy
There are a plethora of ways a person can commit academic misconduct. It comes in many forms, some of which are relatively conventional - like plagiarism and teaching - and some of which that may stretch the parameters of what people consider academic misconduct. In order to get a comprehensive understanding of how ESU defines and constitutes this behavior, here are a few examples of academic misconduct violations straight from the institution's code of conduct:
- Using unauthorized materials like notes, lectures, etc. during a test or examination
- Providing or receiving assistance in an examination, test, assignment, paper or project in a manner that has not been authorized by an instructor
- Buying, selling, stealing, or engaging in unauthorized exchange, or using any tests or examinations in advance of their administration
- Presenting another person's ideas or works - scholastic, literary, or artistic - as your own in whole or in part without proper and customary acknowledgement of sources
- Falsifying or inventing information, data, or research material
- Attempting to bride or coerce any university employee or student in order to gain an academic advantage
- Misrepresenting oneself as another person, or permitting a stand in to complete a required class activity
- Modifying or forging university academic records, or forging or altering faculty, staff, or administrative signatures on any university form or letter
- Collaborating with others to complete an assignment without the permission of an instructor
If a faculty member (usually an instructor) suspects that a student violated school policy, he or she is obligated to confront that student first. This confrontation usually occurs during a confidential meeting or via email. In whichever way it is conducted, an instructor must notify the student of several pieces of information. The instructor's suspicions, the evidence they have to fuel this suspicion, and his or her intentions of submitting an official complaint must be discussed during this meeting. After these issues have been laid out, the instructor will provide you with an opportunity to provide an explanation. If, after this meeting, an instructor doesn't wish to file charges, the case will be dropped. However, if he or she wishes to file the charges, the process will continue.
From here on out, a student has the option of resolving this matter by means of one out of two ways: an informal hearing or a formal hearing.
Informal Hearing Process
Students contemplating the option of resolving their matters by means of an informal hearing should understand a few things before they make a decision. Firstly, agreeing to attend an informal hearing means that you'll be waiving quite a few rights. The right to an advisor and the presentation of witnesses, for example, are rights that you will not be entitled throughout this process due to its informality. Instead, a student will be required to speak on their own behalf in an interview. The Coordinator of Student Conduct & Community Standards will assess the charge information, consider the statement made by a student, and reach a final decision.
Another factor that a student should consider is that the decisions rendered in informal meetings are final. The right to submit an appeal for redress will be waived. This means that if the coordinator comes up with a determination and recommended sanction that you feel is unfair or unjustified, you won't be able to challenge this decision.
Formal Hearing Process
At a formal hearing, all the rights a student is entitled to are intact. An accused student may be accompanied by an advisor (a legal professional), and will be given the opportunity to make a statement, and bring about a presentation of witnesses.
The hearing, conducted by the Student/Faculty Conduct Board (SFCB), is a chance for objective members of the university to understand the full extent of the charges. In order to do so, the accused will be given an opportunity to present his or her case by offering supporting evidence, and by presenting witnesses with testimonies. For informal hearings, it's highly recommended for students to retain a student defense attorney. An attorney will be able to help them collect evidence, and build a case that will be compelling and effective in the eyes of the board. This is one of the last chances respondents will have to defend their claim of innocence, they need to make it count.
After hearing both sides, the board will deliberate and come up with a final decision. The case may be put on hold for further investigation, or it can be referred to another party if the board cannot agree on a determination.
Most students who receive a guilty determination feel as if this decision is the end all be all of their case. But this isn't true. If a student feels as if the determination, the process, or sanction was unfair or unjustified, he or she is afforded the option of appealing a decision. An appeal is a request for a the board to reconsider its decision based on reasonable grounds. This means that mere dissatisfaction with a case result will not urge a school to redress the determination or sanction, there must be good reason. Appeals are generally granted when they are based on the following limited grounds:
- Lack of due process
- Lack of substantial evidence
- New evidence became available that would substantially chance the decision of a case
- The sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the violation committed
A student has within five working days of a decision to submit an appeal to the Office of Student Conduct.
Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney
As you can see, allegations of academic misconduct warrant serious consequences if a student is given a finding of responsibility. If you have prior violations under your belt, or have been accused of serious charges, retaining an adequate student defense attorney is a must. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has over 15 years of experience helping students in this predicament achieve a favorable hearing outcome, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today for help.