San Joaquin Valley College (SJVC) is a for-profit college that promises its students an education that will equip them with skills employers actually want. For-profit colleges are intended to provide students with flexibility and the ability to finish programs quicker, getting them into higher-paying positions faster. But many students do not have positive experiences while attending these universities because of the university's quick and sometimes irrational response to accusations of academic misconduct. For-profit colleges have an incentive to put their financial interests ahead of their students' educational endeavors. As such, they are sometimes quick to dismiss students without ensuring fair and just due process.
Students accused of academic misconduct should reach out to an attorney-advisor as soon as possible to help mitigate the negative consequences of such unfair actions. Attorney-advisors will work quickly to advocate for the student and make sure the college provides them with proper disciplinary hearings.
Code of Conduct
SJVC provides every student with a code of conduct at the beginning of each school year. The college expects students to familiarize themselves with the code and understand that they are bound by the guidelines within. The guidelines are specific rules SJVC has established to guarantee that the educational efforts of the students are free of inequality. SJVC expects students to conduct themselves as business professionals while on campus grounds. As such, for students who are found to violate the academic honesty standards outlined in the code of conduct handbook, the college has the right to take action against the student.
The college outlines academic honesty violations, commonly called academic misconduct, as any action that gives a student an unfair advantage over other students. The three basic violations include:
- Misrepresentation: using the work or thoughts of another as if they were your own; submitting a paper or other work for multiple courses; submitting an assignment for credit that was prepared by someone else
- Interfering with academic activities that call for independent work: providing, accepting, or using materials on an exam, paper, or project without permission; collaborating with another student on independent work; altering or removing course materials so others cannot use them
- Buying, selling, or bribing: offering to buy or sell your help on exams, papers, or grades; offering or accepting bribes associated with exams, papers, or assignments
Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Procedures
As many colleges do, SJVC has implemented specific courses of action when accusing a student of violating academic honesty. Generally, the college expects the instructor or another student to make their suspicions of academic misconduct known to the administration. The instructor or a member of the administration may give the accused student a verbal or written warning. This warning makes it clear that further misconduct will result in more serious penalties for the student.
Depending on the severity of the misconduct, students may also be subject to restitution – they will have to pay fines to the college or other groups for the misconduct. SJVC reserves suspension and termination actions for heinous acts of academic misconduct.
The Campus President or the Student/Evenings Dean can immediately suspend a student to maintain order within the student body. This suspension cannot be longer than 14 consecutive class days and endeavors to make the student aware that further academic misconduct will result in more severe punishment, like expulsion from the college.
During the suspension, the student is unable to enter campus grounds or participate in any college activities. Additionally, the Campus President or Student/Evenings Dean will use this time to investigate the accusations to determine if dismissal from the college is warranted.
At SJVC, they rarely administer terminations for academic misconduct accusations, but they mark the dismissal on the student's transcripts and academic history when they do. In addition, they will bar the student from campus grounds and college activities.
Students are allowed to appeal the college's decision in writing within five days of the date the decision went into effect. The Campus President then has five days to reply to this appeal. It is important to work with an attorney-advisor to make these replies. An attorney-advisor will understand the nuances of these accusations and draft a response that provides evidence and witness testimony clearly to bring about the best possible outcomes.
Consequences of Sanctions at For-Profit Colleges
Many for-profit colleges are so bent on protecting their financial interests, they forget about the accused student's rights. They fall through with providing a disciplinary process and prevent the student from being heard. For-profit colleges often dismiss students for misunderstandings or because other competitive students make vindictive accusations.
For terminated students, the consequences are long-lasting, preventing them from attending other institutions and negatively affecting their reputations. The notice of their termination is recorded on their permanent file, making it something they must carry with them when trying to gain admission to another school. They will have to explain the issue and hope the other school is more understanding. Additionally, for certain professions, academic transcripts are necessary to gain employment. If a student is accused of or disciplined for academic misconduct, it may negatively affect future job interviews.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Attorney-advisors will strategize with students to create the best possible reply to these accusations. Further, if students exhaust their in-school appeals processes, attorney-advisors can help students bring suit against their schools. If you are unfairly dismissed without due process or cause, you have a right to seek legal action. Now, it may not be an easy road to follow, but an attorney-advisor will be able to review the facts of the incident, the relevant witness statements and uncover evidence to decide whether it is beneficial to pursue such action.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm are passionate about holding for-profit universities accountable. They will work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure the institution upholds your rights. You've worked so hard for your dream career, and being accused of academic misconduct can feel like a major roadblock, but the Lento Law Firm can help. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.