Colleges and universities take cheating allegations pretty seriously, and you can understand why. A school lives and dies on its reputation for academic excellence. Employers don't want to hire graduates from a second-rate school, and students don't want to attend a school that can't help them get a job.
There's “serious,” though, and then there's “draconian.” In their rush to find and punish cheaters, schools can and do make mistakes. Innocent students get accused; violations are punished more severely than they deserve. The consequences can sometimes be devastating. Of course, you can be expelled for academic misconduct, but even if you aren't, a black mark on your record could make it hard to get scholarships, get into graduate school, and apply for jobs.
It's important you take the time now to learn all you can about how your school treats classroom honesty and integrity. You can never predict when you might find yourself accused, and you want to be prepared to protect your future.
Defining Academic Misconduct at CUNY, City College
The very first thing you need to know is what your specific school regards as academic misconduct. Of course, this can help you avoid problems in the first place. However, it can also be crucial information if you're ever faced with a charge.
CUNY, City College, divides misconduct into four categories, though there is some overlap among them.
- Cheating: City College offers a long list of examples of cheating. These include everything from using notes during a closed-book exam to falsifying the results of a lab experiment. What do all of the examples have in common? All of them involve using unauthorized materials to complete coursework. In short, whether you're getting help from another person, a book, or a website, if it hasn't been authorized, it's cheating.
- Plagiarism: As with cheating, there are many ways to plagiarize. All of them come down to the same thing: trying to pass another person's “ideas, research, or writing” off as your own without giving them due credit.
- Obtaining unfair advantage: In many ways, this is at the heart of all academic misconduct. CUNY, City College wants to ensure that you obtain your degree honestly. However, the school's policy does list three specific examples in this category: stealing exam materials, retaining exam materials, and vandalizing library resources.
- Falsification of records and official documents: Most of us probably know we'll face the consequences if we hack the school's servers and change our course grades. This one also includes less obvious offenses, though, like forging a doctor's note to get out of a quiz or signing a classmate's name on the attendance sheet.
All four of these categories make it clear that attempting to commit misconduct is the same as actually succeeding at the misconduct. In addition, they all note that helping someone else to commit misconduct makes you equally responsible.
Processes and Penalties
CUNY, City College's procedures for dealing with academic misconduct can be somewhat confusing, in part because you are subject to two separate levels of disciplinary action, each with its own set of procedures.
In simplest terms, allegations and “academic” punishments originate with faculty. An instructor who suspects you of cheating will typically call you into their office to discuss the matter. If they are convinced you have violated policy, they have the power to find you “responsible” and assign whatever sanction they feel is appropriate.
However, your instructor is also required to report your infraction to the school's Academic Integrity Officer. This official maintains the report and has the power to issue additional “disciplinary” punishments to repeat offenders.
Of course, if you are facing a first offense and accept your instructor's findings and sanctions, the case is fairly simple. You take your punishment, whatever it may be, and move on. The school keeps a record in your confidential academic file.
Things get a bit trickier, though, if you should be given a “disciplinary” sanction or if you should contest any aspect of the process.
- If you accept responsibility for misconduct but disagree with your instructor's proposed sanctions, you can appeal your punishment through the college's “Grade Appeal Process.” Basically, you submit your side of the story to a committee, and they come to a decision on the matter.
- If you refuse to accept responsibility for the misconduct, your case goes before the Academic Integrity Committee for a hearing. You have the right to appear at the hearing and to present evidence and witnesses on your behalf.
- Finally, if you have been given a “disciplinary” sanction, you can appeal the case to the school's Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee.
As all of this suggests, it may not be clear when you are initially accused just where your case will ultimately end up. In fact, you could potentially be dealing with two separate processes: one for any “academic” sanctions you face and a different one for “disciplinary” sanctions.
Joseph D. Lento Knows Academic Misconduct Cases
Given just how complicated academic misconduct cases can be, it's never a good idea to try to deal with an allegation on your own. Everything is at stake, and schools tend to side with instructors over students.
Even if you're only facing what seems like a minor sanction, you should never simply accept it. How do you fight your instructor, though, let alone your school? You do it by making sure you have a professional at your side.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully licensed, qualified attorney, but he built his practice serving as an advisor to students in academic misconduct cases. Joseph D. Lento has dealt with literally hundreds of such cases, helping students prove their innocence and negotiate fair sanctions. He spends every day talking with school faculty and administrators. He knows how to work with them to find solutions where those are available. Make no mistake, though. Joseph D. Lento is ready and willing to fight tooth and nail on your behalf to make sure your school treats you fairly, and you get the resolution you deserve.
If you've been accused of academic misconduct, make sure you have Joseph D. Lento on your side. Call 888-555-3686 to find out more or use our automated online form.