Florida Atlantic University devotes a good bit of time and resources to preventing academic dishonesty. With good reason. Like all colleges and universities, FAU's reputation rests on the quality of the education it offers. In simplest terms, no one wants to hire graduates from a school known for cheating.
That doesn't mean the school doesn't make mistakes. Indeed, the very fact that FAU takes academic misconduct so seriously means it is more likely to accuse some students who are completely innocent and assign harsher penalties than some students deserve.
What can you do to protect yourself? Find out everything you can about your university's academic misconduct policies. What do they consider academic misconduct? How do they deal with policy violations? The more you know, the better prepared you'll be should the dean ever come knocking on your door.
FAU's Definition of Academic Misconduct
Florida Atlantic University's academic misconduct policy is spelled out in its “Code of Academic integrity,” regulation, 4.001. Basically, the school divides “dishonesty” into three categories, cheating, plagiarism, and “other.” In addition, the code provides several examples of each category.
Under “Cheating,” for instance, the code mentions:
- Using unauthorized materials on an exam or assignment;
- Giving or receiving unauthorized assistance on an exam or assignment;
- Having someone else take an exam or complete an assignment for you;
- Obtaining, receiving, or sharing an unauthorized copy of an exam.
Under “Plagiarism,” the code lists:
- Using someone else's words without proper citation;
- Using someone else's ideas without proper citation;
- Turning someone else's work in as your own.
Finally, the “other” category of the code includes:
- Falsifying or altering information;
- Failing to follow exam regulations;
- Submitting an assignment in more than one class without permission;
- “Any other form of academic cheating, plagiarism, or dishonesty.”
It's worth noting that last entry. As you might expect, FAU reserves the right to charge you with academic misconduct, even if what you do isn't listed here. That's a wise move. Students are nothing if not inventive and always coming up with new schemes for getting around the system. However, that phrase leaves students open to misguided accusations. It can be difficult to counter a charge of dishonesty if the school hasn't fully defined what dishonesty means.
FAU's Academic Misconduct Procedures
In addition to describing the different types of academic misconduct, regulation 4.001 also outlines how FAU deals with violations of the policy.
- When an instructor suspects misconduct, they are required to meet with the student to get the student's impression of the event and to inform the student about the charges and the assigned sanction.
- Assuming the instructor hasn't changed their mind after this initial meeting, the instructor provides the student with a written summary of the charges and the sanction.
- The student is then entitled to meet, together with the instructor, with the department chair to discuss the matter. The student must request this meeting within five days of the initial meeting with the instructor.
- At this second meeting, the chair will explain to the student how the appeal process works. The chair will write a summary of the meeting and forward this summary to the instructor, the student, and the dean of the college administering the course.
- The student must present a written appeal to the dean within five days of meeting with the department chair.
- The dean will convene a Faculty-Student Council hearing. The panel will include two faculty members and two students, with the dean acting as chair.
- At the hearing, the student and instructor may each offer testimony and documentary evidence. Witnesses may also appear, but only at the dean's discretion.
- The panel reaches a conclusion regarding the instructor's findings, and the dean issues a written statement of that finding to the student and the instructor.
- The student may further appeal the case to the Provost, whose decision is final.
Students are entitled to appoint an advisor to help them prepare their case, and nothing in the regulation says the advisor cannot be an attorney. However, the advisor is not allowed to speak during the hearing other than to advise the student.
Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento for Academic Misconduct Defense
You should never take a charge of academic misconduct lightly. You may think it's easier to accept an instructor's sanction than to go through a lengthy hearing process. In fact, a grade reduction in the class may be the least of your worries. Once you've been found guilty or admitted guilt, the university places a notation about cheating on your academic record:
“Violation of Code of Academic Integrity, University Regulations 4.001.”
That notation could prevent you from getting scholarships, from enrolling in specific degree programs, and from transferring to another institution. Worse still, it could prevent you from finding that all-important first job after college. The school does offer a process for expunging this notation from your record, by should you commit a second offense, FAU will expel you, even if the notation has been removed.
Keep in mind as well that the school is not on your side in an academic misconduct case. Importantly, while the hearing panel includes two students, the dean casts the deciding vote. The instructor who made the allegation is a representative of your university, and the university would usually rather expel you than admit one of its representatives made a mistake. Indeed, the administration may even try to convince you that you don't need to talk to an attorney.
Don't believe them. You need someone on your side, someone to look out for your best interests. Attorney Joseph D. Lento built his career defending students against charges of academic misconduct and helping clients overcome school-related issues and concerns. He understands how university judicial systems operate. He also knows the law as it applies to colleges and universities. Joseph D. Lento will fight for your rights. He will stand with you from start to finish and make sure you get the resolution you deserve.
For more information about academic misconduct, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.