Your college years should be among the most amazing of your life. This is your chance to finally spread your wings, define who you are as a person, and make decisions about where you want your life to go. An accusation of academic misconduct can disrupt all of that.
How? If you're found responsible for violating your school's policy on integrity, you could face probation, suspension, or dismissal. Even if you're just given a warning, if a record of your offense should show up in your academic file, you could lose scholarship money, have trouble getting into graduate school, or even struggle to find a good first job.
If you should find yourself accused, take it seriously, no matter how minor the charge might seem. Find out everything you can about how your school handles infractions, and make sure you have a skilled attorney-advisor on your side, someone who knows the system and who has experience representing students in disciplinary cases.
How the College of Staten Island Defines Academic Misconduct
Every college and university treats academic integrity just a little differently. As part of the CUNY system of schools, the College of Staten Island focuses on four specific types of violations.
- Cheating: The word “cheating” has broad applications. In concrete terms, it means the use of any unauthorized resources in completing your coursework. That can mean anything from looking on a classmate's paper during a quiz to Googling answers during an exam. Asking someone to take a test for you would qualify. Asking a classmate from another section what's on the test would too. Basically, if you're not getting the answers from your own brain and you don't have permission to use the source, you're probably cheating.
- Plagiarism: “Plagiarism” refers to any attempt to pass another person's work off as your own. Like cheating, it can be applied in a number of different situations. Obviously, buying a term paper from an online paper mill would be cheating. You can also be accused, though, for far more minor infractions, like failing to properly cite a quotation. In addition, plagiarism doesn't just apply to text. You can plagiarize images, music, and even computer code.
- Falsification of records and official documents: This includes forging signatures and changing grades on any official record. Broadly interpreted, though, it could also apply to activities like signing a classmate's name to the daily attendance sheet or using a fake doctor's note to get out of taking an exam.
- Obtaining unfair advantage: Here again, you can get in trouble for large violations, like destroying another student's project, or much less obvious behaviors like stealing a book from the library.
Finally, keep in mind that in addition to this list of rules, your individual instructors probably have course policies of their own. Generally speaking, if something is prohibited by your course syllabus CSI will probably hold you accountable for it.
If you're going to successfully defend yourself from a charge of academic misconduct, you're going to need to know how the school's judicial processes work. Who has the authority to sanction you, for instance, and how do you go about proving your innocence?
CSI's system for dealing with issues of academic integrity is complex. There are several different processes, and which ones are applicable to you depends on the precise nature of your offense.
Primary responsibility for identifying and punishing academic misconduct rests with your instructors. If they suspect you've violated the policy, they're supposed to meet with you and give you a chance to explain. If they conclude you are responsible for a violation, they have the authority to issue an “academic sanction.” These are punishments within the context of the course, like:
- Verbal or written warning
- Re-submission or makeup assignment
- Lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
- Lowered grade in the course, up to an F
If you admit to the violation but object to the severity of the sanction, you can challenge that sanction through the college's grade appeal process. This involves having an appeals committee review the evidence and make a recommendation.
If you dispute the allegation itself, you have the right to present your case to the school's Academic Integrity Committee, where you may offer evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf.
CSI requires instructors report all instances of academic misconduct to the school's Academic Integrity Officer. This administrator keeps a record of all offenses. In addition, they have the authority to add further “disciplinary sanctions” on top of any academic sanctions the instructor has assigned. Disciplinary sanctions are usually reserved for particularly egregious violations of the integrity policy or repeat offenses.
Disciplinary sanctions can include more serious punishments such as:
All disciplinary sanctions involve a hearing before CSI's Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee.
If you've been given both an academic and a disciplinary sanction, the disciplinary case is heard first. Only after the Student-Faculty Disciplinary Committee has ruled, can you then proceed to challenge the charge before the Academic Integrity Committee.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
By this point, you probably have a pretty good sense of why you might need an attorney-advisor to help you handle your academic misconduct case. Everything is at stake in these cases, and the procedures are difficult to navigate. Proving your innocence or protesting an unfair sanction may involve multiple meetings with your instructor, a grade appeal, and at least two separate sets of hearings. An attorney-advisor can help guide you through all these processes, can offer important advice on preparing your case, and may even be able to accompany you to meetings and proceedings.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully-qualified defense attorney. That means he knows how to construct air-tight arguments, organize evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. Day-to-day, though, he applies those skills to help get justice for students like you. Joseph D. Lento knows the law and particularly how it applies to higher education. He also knows how to communicate effectively with faculty and administrators. Whether you've been charged with something big, like coordinating a large-scale cheating conspiracy, or small, like forgetting to cite a source in a paper, Joseph D. Lento is ready to help you get the very best possible resolution to your case.
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.