How CUNY Brooklyn Treats Academic Misconduct

Maybe you caught this story in the New York Post, from June 13, 2020: “CUNY Professors Uncover ‘Scandalous' Level of Cheating in Final Exams.” It's more than a little disheartening to hear professors at CUNY Brooklyn reveal that, in some cases, over a third of their students plagiarized coursework in one way or another.

Obviously, no university wants to be associated with cheating. It hurts a school's reputation, and that makes it harder for graduates to find good jobs. As you might expect, a school that's been through a scandal like the CUNY Brooklyn scandal will do almost anything to fix the problem, including using stricter methods for catching cheaters and instituting harsher punishments for those who are caught.

The trouble is, when universities go to such lengths to stop academic misconduct, everyone becomes a potential suspect. Schools inevitably wind up punishing innocent students and assigning sanctions that are far out of proportion to the violations. If you're one of those students, don't allow yourself to get caught up in a problem you didn't cause. Learn all you can about CUNY Brooklyn's academic misconduct policies and how to protect yourself if you're ever accused.

Defining Academic Misconduct

In a general sense, academic misconduct refers to any activity that gives you an unfair advantage in your coursework. CUNY Brooklyn lists two specific types of misconduct: cheating and plagiarism.

1. Simply put, cheating involves using unauthorized resources to complete academic work. “Resources,” of course, can mean anything, from a crib sheet you've snuck into class on the brim of your baseball hat to advanced copies of an exam, online resources, even another student. In fact, the CUNY Brooklyn policy offers a wide range of examples, such as:

    • Changing a graded exam and submitting it for more credit
    • Writing answers in a blue booklet before an exam
    • Using books during a closed-book exam
    • Copying off another student during an exam
    • Collaborating on homework assignments
    • Submitting the same paper in more than one course
    • Inventing or falsifying data for an assignment

It is worth noting that CUNY Brooklyn also prohibits helping others to cheat and treats this kind of help as just as serious as cheating on your own behalf.

2. The school defines plagiarism as “the act of presenting another person's ideas, research or writing as your own.” Here again, the policy provides examples, though these aren't meant to be exhaustive:

  • Copying verbatim without using quotation marks or citations
  • Presenting someone else's ideas without giving them credit
  • Failing to acknowledge other student collaborators
  • General internet plagiarism, including downloading papers

In addition to these two types of direct misconduct, CUNY Brooklyn identifies two more academic misconduct:

3. First, it notes generally that obtaining an unfair academic advantage violates the principles of academic integrity. A rule such as this one serves to cover anything that might not be examples of cheating and plagiarism.

4. Finally, CUNY Brooklyn defines “Falsification of Records and Official Documents” as academic misconduct.

Justice Procedures

An appointed Academic Integrity Officer is responsible for most disciplinary matters that relate to academics. In addition, each college at the university maintains its own Academic Integrity Committee to review cases

Violations of the policy are divided into two types: academic and disciplinary. Each type comes with its own particular sanctions and its own particular set of judicial processes.

Low-level offenses are usually dealt with exclusively by the instructor through academic sanctions. An instructor who suspects a student has committed an offense is supposed to meet with the student to gather more information before coming to a decision about responsibility and possible academic sanctions. The policy does not specify sanctions, but often these include things like re-writing an assignment or a reduced grade on an assignment.

If the academic sanction the instructor assigns will result in a reduction of the student's course grade, the instructor must also submit documentation to the Academic Integrity Officer. This documentation is placed in the student's academic file so the Officer can identify repeat offenders.

The Academic Integrity Officer also has the right to impose disciplinary sanctions for what the school calls “disciplinary” offenses: repeat offenses or single offenses of a particularly serious nature, like stealing an exam from a professor's office. Disciplinary sanctions can include penalties such as probation, suspension, and even expulsion.

The grievance processes differ depending on whether a student is protesting an academic or disciplinary sanction.

Students who accept responsibility for an academic violation but disagree with an instructor's sanction are entitled to submit their position in writing through their college's grade appeal process.

Students who refuse to accept responsibility for the violation may appeal to the Academic Integrity Committee. Each college's committee maintains its own procedures, but they must allow both the student and the instructor to present evidence and witness testimony.

If the misconduct is deemed a disciplinary infraction, students may appeal both their responsibility and their sanctions to the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee, which conducts its own formal hearings.

Joseph D. Lento, Academic Misconduct Attorney

Students often treat academic misconduct allegations lightly. It can be tempting to simply accept responsibility and the assigned sanction, especially if these are relatively light. However, every accusation—even the smallest—carries weight. Repeated violations can add up and result in far more serious penalties. More importantly, any violation can wind up in a student's academic file, and that can hurt scholarship applications, graduate school applications, even job applications.

Whatever the accusation, then, a qualified, experienced attorney can help.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented hundreds of students over the course of his career, protecting them from unfounded charges of academic misconduct and helping them negotiate fair sanctions. Joseph D. Lento is a highly-qualified attorney, comfortable in a courtroom. However, he specializes in school misconduct cases. He knows how schools' judicial policies work. He's comfortable dealing with faculty and administrators. He's practiced at advising students in one-on-one meetings with school officials and at representing students in front of disciplinary committees. Joseph D. Lento can get you the justice you deserve.

If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct by your college or university, don't just accept the accusation. Fight back. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or by using 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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