Facing Academic Misconduct Charges at the University of New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire has strict policies regarding academic integrity. Ultimately, that's to your benefit. As a graduate of the university, you want your school to have a stellar reputation. Employers aren't anxious to hire graduates from schools that are known for cheating.

That doesn't mean UNH always gets things right. It does sometimes accuse students who are completely innocent. It occasionally issues disciplinary sanctions that are out of proportion to the nature of the offense. What do you do if you're the victim of one of these mistakes?

First and foremost, you find out absolutely everything you can about UNH's policy on academic misconduct. You need to understand exactly what you've been accused of doing if you want to fight back, and you have to understand how the judicial process works if you expect to win. In addition, you need to recognize that you can't handle this situation all on your own. Your academic future could be at stake, and the weight of your school is against you. So, once you've learned all you can about UNH policies, take the time to find an advisor who can help you protect your career.

Defining Academic Misconduct

In a broad sense, “academic misconduct” means any behavior or activity that could give you an unfair advantage in completing your coursework or obtaining your degree. Within that general context, UNH's policy on academic integrity lists four specific kinds of violations.

  • Cheating: “Cheating” often gets used as a generic term for academic misconduct. In fact, it refers specifically to the use of unauthorized materials to complete assignments. UNH goes to the trouble of discussing in-class and out-of-class cheating, but the principle is the same. Whether you're asking another person to take an exam for you, looking up answers on Google during an exam, or collaborating on writing your term paper, if your professor hasn't authorized the source you're using, you're probably cheating.
  • Plagiarism: In simplest terms, plagiarism involves trying to pass another person's work off as your own without giving them due credit. Obviously, this would include buying a term paper from an online paper mill. However, you don't have to go that far to commit plagiarism. Using another person's argument as the basis of your paper would qualify as well.
  • Misrepresentation: This is a broad term that covers many different types of misconduct. Hacking the school's computer and altering your transcript is misrepresentation. So, too, is signing a classmate's name on the daily attendance sheet.
  • Academic Policy: Finally, UNH includes this catchall category that includes such offenses as “removing materials from the library without proper authority” and “duplicating course materials expressly forbidden by the instructor.”

Defending Yourself From an Accusation

As important as knowing the rules, it's just as important to know how your school's judicial procedures work. You'll need to know how to navigate them if you hope to defend yourself successfully.

The UNH policy notes that the primary responsibility for identifying and punishing instances of academic misconduct rests with your instructor. If your instructor believes you have violated the policy, they should schedule a meeting with you to discuss the charges and allow you an opportunity to present your side of the situation.

If, after this meeting, they still believe you committed an offense, they may assign an academic sanction. Possible sanctions include:

  • Verbal warning
  • Written warning
  • Makeup or substitute assignment
  • Reduced grade on the assignment up to a zero
  • Reduced grade in the course, up to failure

You should know that your instructor is required to report misconduct to the department chair, and the incident may also be reported to the college dean. The Dean's Office can assign additional disciplinary penalties, such as probation, suspension, and expulsion, for especially egregious or repeat offenses.

The process for appealing a sanction is relatively straightforward, though it is also somewhat limited. Basically, you submit your appeal along with documentation to the college dean. This individual then schedules a meeting with you to hear your side of the case before rendering a decision. In essence, then, a single individual has total authority to decide your fate. You can appeal the dean's decision to the school's Academic Standards and Advising Committee. However, this body only hears appeals based on procedural irregularities.

You are allowed to select an advisor to help you at your appeal. However, the school requires that this advisor must be someone affiliated with the campus community. In other words, you cannot bring an attorney with you to your meeting with the dean. However, an attorney is still be vital to protecting your interests. At a minimum, an attorney can help you organize your evidence, draft your appeal, and prepare to present your case, even if they are not permitted to accompany you. More importantly, they can advise you as to whether the school has violated your rights, and will not have any possible conflicts of interest, the way a member of the campus community might.

Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Advisor

Many students don't bother to protest charges of academic misconduct. Sometimes it just seems easier to accept your punishment—even if you're innocent—and move on. The problem with that approach is that if you're found responsible, it can have long-lasting consequences. Obviously, you don't want to re-write an assignment, much less have to re-take a course. Even a warning, though, can have serious repercussions if it winds up in your academic file. Transcript notations about cheating can keep you from getting scholarships, hurt your chances of enrolling in grad school, and even affect your job prospects.

Don't just accept an accusation of academic misconduct or the sanction you've been assigned. Even if you committed an offense, there's every possibility that your punishment is too severe.

Joseph D. Lento can help. Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in defending student clients. Over the years, he's helped hundreds of students just like you defend themselves from all types of academic misconduct charges, big and small. As an attorney, Joseph D. Lento is highly adept at making arguments and crafting defense strategies. He also understands the intricacies of campus justice procedures. He knows the kinds of tactics your school will use against you, and he knows how to fight them. UNH may not let you bring an attorney to official meetings, but Joseph D. Lento knows how to help you from the sidelines. He can make sure your school treats you fairly and that you get the very best possible resolution to your case.

If you've been accused of academic misconduct, don't wait. Contact Joseph D. Lento today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

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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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