Handling Academic Misconduct Allegations at Pace University

We've all seen movies like Animal House, Road Trip, and Old School. In those movies, the worst thing that might happen to you on a college campus is to be chewed out by the dean. Times have changed. If you should find yourself accused of something like academic misconduct, you could very well find yourself facing dismissal from the university.

In other words, you can't afford to take any allegation against you lightly. You need to know the rules, and you need to know how to defend yourself if you're accused of violating them.

Just as important, though, you need to know how to find a qualified attorney-advisor to help you prepare your case. Colleges and universities take academic integrity seriously, and if you're going to challenge their decisions, you're going to need all the help you can get.

Defining Academic Misconduct at Pace University

Obviously, if you're a student you need a good working knowledge of what's required of you. That means knowing the rules about academic honesty. Knowing the rules is also key, however, to defending yourself when you're accused of misconduct. Only when you have a clear sense of what you're being charged with can you hope to prove your innocence.

Pace University's Academic Integrity Code is extensive, listing thirteen separate types of offenses, including:

  • Cheating: The use of unauthorized materials to complete your coursework
  • Fabrication: Falsification of any information related to an academic exercise
  • Facilitation of dishonesty: Helping someone else to commit academic misconduct
  • Plagiarism: Attempting to pass another person's work off as your own without giving them due credit
  • Misrepresentation: Providing false information related to academic work
  • Unauthorized possession of academic materials: “obtaining, possessing, using, or distributing” examination or other materials not released by the course instructor
  • Unauthorized communication: Communicating with others about the content of an exam
  • Forgery: Falsifying a signature on an official document or making unauthorized changes to an official document
  • Theft or destruction of academic materials: Destroying or altering any coursework or trying to alter it to hide a poor performance
  • Duplicating work: Submitting the same work in multiple courses without prior approval from the instructors
  • Acts harmful to other students: Removing or damaging school materials, interfering with another student's work, or destroying another student's work
  • Making false statements to the Academic Conduct Committee
  • Other violations: Violations of any other policy not specifically mentioned here

With so many different rules, it can sometimes be hard to know just what you're being charged with. The last item on the list, in particular, suggests the school could accuse you of almost anything. If you're at all confused by the charges against you, make sure you talk to an attorney-advisor before you meet with your instructor or any school administrators.

Pace Universities Sanctions and Procedures

Pace University's judicial process for dealing with allegations of academic misconduct is just as complicated as its list of rules.

The process of making accusations is reasonably straightforward. For the most part, identifying and responding to misconduct is primarily the responsibility of the PU faculty. If they suspect you of violating the policy, they're supposed to meet with you and go over the accusation and the proposed sanction. This gives you an opportunity to present your side of the story.

Typical sanctions include:

  • Verbal or written warning
  • Makeup work or re-submissions
  • Educational assignments such as research on academic integrity
  • Lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
  • Lowered grade in the course, up to an F

In addition, your instructor must report your infraction to the Chair of the Academic Conduct Committee. This individual keeps a record of all violations and has the power to punish repeat offenders with sanctions, including probation, suspension, and expulsion.

Of course, if you accept responsibility for the violation and the penalty that goes with it, the case is over. Again: reasonably straightforward.

However, if you should object either to the accusation, the proposed sanction, or both, things can get complicated.

  1. You can participate in Direct Resolution. Essentially, this involves an additional meeting with your instructor where you present documentary evidence and make arguments as to your innocence or the excessive nature of the sanction.
  2. If you do not resolve the issue through Direct Resolution, the Complainant (your instructor) must notify the Chair of the Academic Conduct Committee. The Chair may try to resolve the matter themselves.
  3. If the Chair cannot resolve the matter, the case is referred to the Academic Conduct Committee for a full hearing. At this hearing, both you and the Complainant can make arguments, submit evidence, and call witnesses to testify on your behalf.
  4. Finally, you have one last option: appealing your case to the Provost. However, grounds for appeal are extremely limited.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

Students are sometimes reluctant to go through the process of challenging their instructors' decisions, even when they are entirely innocent. It's not hard to see why. It's hard enough to collect evidence and fill out administrative forms but preparing for a hearing is an impossible task to attempt in the middle of a semester. As a result, many students just accept their punishment, especially if it seems light.

Here's the problem with that kind of thinking: ultimately, there are no “light” punishments. Even a warning can cause serious long-term consequences if it shows up in your academic file. A record of cheating could interfere with scholarships, keep you from getting good internships, prevent you from getting into graduate school, and even cause problems in job interviews.

The good news is, you don't have to deal with this situation all on your own. A qualified attorney-advisor can offer advice, help you develop a defense strategy, and even accompany you to meetings and hearings.

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.

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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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