Handling Academic Misconduct Charges at Santa Fe College

College can be the best four—OK, maybe five—years of your life. It's a chance to establish your own independence, make lifelong friends, and explore what you want to do with the rest of your life. A charge of academic misconduct can put a damper on all of that, though.

Schools these days take academic integrity extremely seriously, in many cases too seriously. After all, you're still figuring out who you want to be, and you're bound to make mistakes along the way. A slip-up shouldn't cause you to fail a course or worse, get you suspended or expelled. In fact, some instructors are so trigger happy when it comes to identifying and punishing violations that they wind up accusing students who've actually done nothing wrong.

If you find yourself in this situation, you have the right to defend yourself. Of course, that's easier said than done. Your school may put up all sorts of roadblocks. You don't have to take on the system alone, though. The right attorney-advisor can help you prepare your case and make sure no one violates your rights.

How Santa Fe College Defines Academic Misconduct

A strong defense starts with knowing the rules. Only when you fully understand what you've been accused of doing can you hope to prove your innocence.

Santa Fe College identifies seven separate kinds of academic violations.

Cheating: The word “cheating” is often applied generically to all types of academic misconduct. In fact, it has a very specific meaning. Cheating involves the use of unauthorized materials to complete coursework. Looking on another student's paper during a test qualifies. So, too, does using your phone to Google answers during a quiz. Simply put, if you don't have permission to use the resource you're using, you're probably cheating.

Plagiarism: Most of us know that plagiarism involves using another person's words or ideas as your own without giving them credit. You may not realize, though, that plagiarism doesn't just apply to written work. You can plagiarize images, video, even computer code. In fact, many instructors will accuse you of plagiarism if you use an image you found online without citing it properly.

Bribery: Bribery means “offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting” anything of value in exchange for an academic advantage. The thing of value can be money, sexual favors, even something as seemingly innocuous as a cup of coffee.

Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation can involve big deceptions like hacking the school's computer system to change your grade. It can also involve much smaller deceptions, such as forging a doctor's note in order to get out of taking an exam.

Conspiracy: You don't have to commit misconduct on your own behalf to be charged with a violation. Helping someone else commit misconduct makes you just as guilty as the person who's actually committing the offense.

Fabrication: You can fabricate sources in a paper. You can also fabricate lab results. Basically the word applies to any sort of falsification that gives you an academic advantage.

Failure to Cooperate: This is a somewhat unusual item compared to how other schools deal with misconduct. It means that you can be charged with misconduct simply for refusing to turn over materials related to an accusation.

Of course, the policy notes that academic misconduct is “not limited” to this list of seven violations. In fact, instructors typically have carte blanch to define misconduct as they see fit, as long as they include the rules in their syllabi. That's why it's so important to read these documents carefully at the start of every semester.

Academic Misconduct Procedures

Your instructor has the primary responsibility for identifying and punishing instances of academic misconduct. However, at Santa Fe College, they are under certain restraints in making their decisions.

  • Faculty must notify you of charges within seven days of discovering misconduct.
  • Faculty must meet with you in order to explain the charges and any potential sanctions. They must also give you a chance to explain your side of the story.
  • Finally, faculty must submit a Student Conduct Report (SCR) to the school any time they suspect misconduct.

Classroom sanctions can include anything from a verbal warning, to a makeup assignment, to an F in the course. In addition, a Student Conduct Officer can assign additional disciplinary sanctions in extreme cases or if you have a history of violations. These can include probation, suspension, and expulsion.

Importantly, Santa Fe College gives you the right to contest the accusation itself and the severity of the punishment. The process for doing so involves a hearing before the Student Conduct Board, a panel of three decision makers trained in the school's judicial procedures. You are allowed to choose an advisor to accompany you to this hearing, and they may participate in all aspects of the process.

Further, you have the right to appeal the outcome of the hearing to the school's three-member appellate board. You must do so, though, within five days of being notified of that hearing outcome.

Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor

Students don't always contest the charges against them. It may seem like it's just too much time and trouble to complain. That's almost always a mistake, though. Again, sanctions can be serious—up to, and including expulsion. More importantly, even a minor sanction, like a written warning, can have long-term consequences. If a sanction appears on your transcript, it alerts scholarship committees, internship committees, and hiring committees that you have a history of dishonesty. You have the right to contest your instructor's decisions, and it's in your best interest to take advantage of that right.

You're going to need help, though. Santa Fe College gives you the right to an advisor, and this advisor may be an attorney.

Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in advising student clients. In fact, he built his career fighting for student rights. 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, you can trust Joseph D. Lento to get you 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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