What do you do if your professor suddenly accuses you of cheating on an exam or plagiarizing a term paper? First and foremost, you don't take the situation lightly. Academic misconduct is serious business. Your professor could lower your grade on the assignment or even fail you in class. More importantly, the charge itself could wind up in your permanent record, and that could cost you scholarships, internships, graduate school positions, and jobs.
What do you do next? You find out everything you can about how your university treats academic misconduct. If you're going to successfully defend yourself, you need to know the rules and you need to understand the judicial processes.
Finally, you need to get help. There's a lot at stake, and it's not easy taking on your school. Once you've taken the time to learn all you can about academic misconduct, find an attorney who can serve as your advisor, someone who knows how colleges and universities operate and who has experience representing student clients.
Defining Academic Misconduct at the University of Alaska, Anchorage
Knowing how your university defines academic misconduct is essential to avoiding accusations. Just as important, though, it can help you respond to accusations when they do arise.
The University of Alaska, Anchorage policy on misconduct mentions three broad categories of academic misconduct: cheating, plagiarism, and academic dishonesty. The policy goes further, though, and lists twelve specific types of violations:
- Presenting another person's work as your own without proper citation
- Using a device your instructor hasn't authorized
- Using a resource your instructor hasn't authorized
- Getting or receiving help from another student without your instructor's permission
- Submitting the same work in more than one course without permission
- Having someone take an exam for you or taking an exam for someone else
- Deception to affect your grade or to get into a course or program
- Falsifying or misrepresenting data
- Buying, selling, obtaining, or possessing an advanced copy of a test
- Altering grade records
- Attempting to bribe someone for a better grade
- Violating the ethical or professional standards of a program
Knowing the university's rules should keep you out of trouble for the most part. However, you should know that the ultimate authority when it comes to course rules is your instructor. Generally speaking, they can hold you accountable for anything they believe is important, and the school will back them up as long as they clarify their expectations in a syllabus. That means if you really want to avoid an allegation, you need to take the time at the beginning of each semester to take a close look at all your course syllabi.
Judicial Processes at the University of Alaska, Anchorage
Most accusations of academic misconduct originate with instructors, though anyone can accuse you. Your instructor also has the authority to recommend an academic sanction for any violations. Sanctions typically include
- Verbal warnings
- Written warnings
- Rewrites, re-takes, or makeup work
- Lower grade on the assignment, up to a zero.
- Lower grade in the class, up to a failure
The process doesn't end with your instructor, however. The University of Alaska, Anchorage requires them to report the incident to the Dean of Students Office. This office must sign off on any academic sanctions your instructor decides to impose. In addition, it reserves the right to assign you a disciplinary penalty if the violation is especially egregious or if you have a history of violations. These sanctions can include probation, suspension, and expulsion.
Before imposing an academic sanction, your instructor is required to initiate a Formal Notation Process. This involves a “developmental conversation” between you and the instructor. In some cases, an administrative official from the Dean of Students Office may attend as well. The goal is to make sure you understand the nature of your violation and how to avoid making it in the future.
Obviously, if you accept responsibility and the penalty that goes with it, the case is over.
The Formal Notation process is also your opportunity to challenge the accusation itself or the proposed sanction. Even if you admit to an offense, keep in mind that Instructors can be heavy-handed when it comes to handing out sanctions, and often it is in your best interest to argue for a fairer penalty. Should you dispute either the finding or the sanction, your case moves to the Formal Student Conduct Process. This process involves a “full investigation and review” of the facts. As part of this review, you get to meet with the administrator and explain your side of the situation.
The Formal Student Conduct Process is also used should you challenge a disciplinary sanction.
The policy makes no mention of an appeals process, suggesting an administrative official's decision in these matters is final. This makes it crucial that you get advice from an attorney-advisor as soon as you're accused so you can defend yourself before your case reaches this point.
Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor
It's not each to take on your college or university. The administration almost always sides with faculty, which means proving your innocence or arguing that you deserve a lower sanction can be an uphill battle. That's why it is so important to get help when you're facing such an accusation. An attorney-advisor can offer advice on developing arguments, help you collect evidence and draft documents, and coach you on how to respond in meetings and interviews.
Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in advising student clients. Joseph D. Lento knows the law and particularly how it applies to higher education. He also knows how schools operate. He's seen them stack the deck against students, and he's committed to holding them accountable for such tactics.
Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of clients get the justice they deserve. Whether you've been charged with something big, like coordinating a large-scale cheating conspiracy, or something 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.