Facing Academic Misconduct Charges at Arkansas Tech University

Schools take academic misconduct seriously these days, sometimes too seriously. There's nothing wrong with a commitment to academic integrity. After all, no one wants their school to be known for cheating; that tends to put a damper on your job prospects. Still, when faculty are trigger happy about tracking down “offenders” and schools assign punishments that are far out of proportion to the nature of actual offenses, innocent students can wind up in trouble they don't deserve.

What do you do if it happens to you? How do you handle it if you find yourself falsely accused or facing a sanction like failing a course or expulsion? First, don't panic. You can handle this situation. Take the time to find out all you can about your school's rules, how it punishes academic misconduct, and what the processes are for defending yourself. Then, find someone to stand beside you, to help you prepare your case, and make sure your rights are protected. The right attorney-advisor can give you your best chance of restoring your reputation and getting your academic career back on track.

How Arkansas Tech Defines Academic Misconduct

It's important you know the rules at your school. Obviously, this will help you avoid trouble in the first place. Just as important, though, it can help you prepare a solid defense if you're ever accused. You can't hope to defend yourself properly unless you know exactly what you've been accused of doing.

Of course, every school defines academic misconduct in its own particular way. Arkansas Tech's Code of Academic Integrity lists four categories of misconduct.

  • Cheating: The Code is somewhat vague about what this term means, mentioning “several categories of dishonesty.” It does offer several concrete examples, including copying from another student's exam, obtaining advanced copies of an exam, and buying term papers. Ultimately, however, the Code clearly states that cheating is “not limited” to these examples, making it anyone's guess as to why you might be charged.
  • Plagiarism: Arkansas Tech talks about plagiarism in stark terms, as “stealing” another person's work or ideas and using them as your own.
  • Impersonation, Fabrication, and Forgery: In simple terms, this means using any form of deception to gain an advantage in your coursework. Inventing lab report data or making up a source for a paper would both qualify. So too would forging a doctor's note to get out of taking a quiz.
  • Collusion: Finally, the school forbids you from collaborating with other students without the express permission of your instructor.

It's also worth knowing that, generally speaking, instructors are responsible for defining the rules in their own classrooms. That is, they may institute their own policies, so long as those policies are spelled out in the course syllabus. This is why it's always important to read over your syllabuses carefully at the beginning of each semester.

Defending Yourself From Charges

In addition to knowing the rules for academic integrity at your school, you should find out how the judicial process works. Who is responsible for investigating allegations, for example, and what sanctions do you face if you are found responsible for a violation?

As at most schools, instructors at Arkansas Tech have the primary responsibility for identifying and punishing instances of misconduct. As the Code puts it, “Faculty members have sole purview for any academic sanction administered if a violation of the academic integrity policy is found to have occurred.” That makes sense, given that they have the authority to create rules and that they are in the best position to recognize when misconduct occurs. However, it does invest a lot of authority in one individual.

Instructors are required to report all incidents to Academic Affairs, who actually handles the paperwork. This office informs the Department Head and Dean as well as the student. You have only five days from receiving notification of your violation to schedule a meeting with your instructor. Otherwise, you forfeit your right to challenge your responsibility and sanction.

In general, instructors use a variety of sanctions to punish academic misconduct. These can include:

  • Verbal or written warning
  • Makeup assignment or re-submission
  • Academic assignment on the nature of integrity
  • Lowered grade on the assignment, up to a zero
  • Lowered grade in the course, up to a failure.

The meeting with your instructor can have one of three outcomes:

  • You can offer evidence that convinces your instructor you are innocent. In such cases, the charges are dismissed.
  • You can admit to the charges and accept your punishment. The case is then closed, though a record remains with Academic Affairs. Should you commit additional offenses, you may face stiffer penalties, including probation, suspension, and expulsion.
  • You can appeal the allegation to the Academic Appeals Committee. This committee reviews evidence from the instructor as well as your statements and comes to a conclusion as to your level of responsibility.

As this description suggests, it's not always easy to navigate the judicial procedures at Arkansas Tech. In addition, the system isn't set up to favor respondents (the accused). For instance, you must take responsibility for challenging your instructor's decisions. Otherwise, it's taken for granted that their accusations are true. In addition, you don't get the opportunity to address the Academic Appeals Committee directly. Instead, you must rely on written statements to convince them. When you have disadvantages as a defendant, you need an attorney-advisor more than ever to make sure you're not being treated unfairly.

Joseph D. Lento, Student Conduct Attorney-Advisor

Academic integrity allegations can have long-reaching effects on both your academic and professional careers. You don't have to be facing expulsion, either. Even a warning can cause you problems if it should wind up in your academic record. It could interfere with your scholarships, prevent you from getting into graduate school, and even hurt your chances with job applications.

Don't risk it. Take every accusation seriously. Find out what you're up against and get help to handle it.

Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified, fully-licensed defense attorney. He knows how to create an air-tight strategy. He's devoted his career, though, to using that knowledge to help student clients. Joseph D. Lento knows how your school operates. He's familiar with judicial procedures and experienced in dealing with faculty and administrators. Joseph D. Lento has represented literally hundreds of students just like you, helping them defend themselves from all kinds of accusations, from simple cheating on a test to complicated plagiarism schemes. If you're a student looking to take on your school, and you need the best possible representation, you need Joseph D. Lento.

If you've been accused of any type of academic misconduct, don't wait to find out what might happen next. Contact Joseph D. Lento today to find out what he can do for you. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

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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