A campus hearing isn't the same as a court of law. No one is going to send you to jail for turning in a paper you bought online. That doesn't mean you should take charges of academic misconduct against you lightly. On the contrary—the standards of evidence, elements of the offense, and burden of proof are all much lower than in a criminal proceeding, and the consequences of being found guilty can have far costlier impacts on your future than a minor criminal charge.
For one thing, academic misconduct violations can appear on your transcript. That can make it difficult to transfer to another school or to get that all-important first job. Most employers aren't eager to hire students who have a history of dishonesty. You could lose scholarships or find yourself ineligible to apply for future scholarships. You could be suspended or even expelled.
It's important you educate yourself about your school's policies towards academic misconduct. This can help you avoid making mistakes in the first place, but it can also prepare you to fight the charges if you ever are accused.
Defining Academic Misconduct at Kennesaw State
Kennesaw State takes academic integrity seriously. You may remember signing the school's integrity pledge at some point. In signing, you agreed that you have a “personal responsibility,” a “duty,” to maintain the “highest level of academic integrity” (18). What does that mean exactly, though? KSU lists seven specific types of academic misconduct.
- Cheating: The student code of conduct lists this violation first since it seems to include all the ones that follow. They note that cheating involves any attempt to receive or provide “unauthorized assistance” on any coursework. As they go on to outline, unauthorized assistance means direct help from classmates and other students. It also includes the use of “electronic devices.” In short, you shouldn't Google answers to your calculus exam. Importantly, the policy points out that an instructor can set his or her own standards for academic integrity. That means if it's on the syllabus, you're responsible for it.
- Plagiarism: KSU expects you to cite your sources and holds you responsible if you don't.
- Self-plagiarism: You might think if you wrote something, you have the right to use it in any way you like. Turning the same paper into two different classes, though, is just another form of plagiarism.
- Misrepresentation or falsification: This can include anything from lying on a scholarship application form to having another student take an exam for you.
- Unauthorized access to university materials: Examples here might include copying an exam and sharing it with your classmates or hacking into a professor's online grade book and changing your discussion grade.
- Malicious misuse of computer services: This category also covers a multitude of sins. Among these sins, you should be aware that copyright infringement constitutes academic misconduct.
- Malicious removal, retention, or destruction of university research materials: KSU expects you to respect its property, whether that means lab equipment or library books.
Kennesaw State University has defined a very specific set of procedures for handling allegations of academic misconduct. They've even created a handy flowchart to help clarify the process.
When an instructor accuses a student of academic misconduct, his or her first responsibility is to schedule an informal resolution (IR) meeting with the student. Often, an accusation can be the result of a simple misunderstanding, and an IR meeting can straighten things out. If an instructor decides you just made a mistake, he or she may actually drop the complaint.
If a faculty member decides to proceed with the complaint, he or she will then offer the student a resolution. This could include anything from a reduced grade on the assignment to a failure in the course. The student then has a choice whether to accept or reject the resolution.
In any event, the case is next referred to the Assistant Director for Academic Integrity. At this point, the student once again has the option to accept the instructor's proposed resolution. If the student continues to reject this resolution, the assistant director then schedules a hearing on the matter. The hearing panel determines whether the student is responsible for the offense and assigns any penalties as necessary. Finally, if those penalties include suspension or expulsion, the student has the right to appeal the decision to the Dean of Students.
It's important to remember that this process is designed for first offenses. If a student has multiple offenses, the instructor may not even be involved. Instead, the student will automatically be referred to the Assistant Director for Academic Integrity and will go before a hearing panel to determine his or her fate, which can include more severe penalties.
When to Contact Joseph D. Lento
A great deal is at stake when it comes to the issue of academic integrity. Your reputation for honesty does matter. Yet, schools don't have to abide by the same rules as a court of law. They don't have to respect your rights, and because they have a vested interest in backing their faculty, they'll do whatever they can to accept your punishment. They prefer that you don't make a fuss. In an effort to protect themselves, schools may even try to convince you not to hire an attorney. That's precisely why you do need one, because someone needs to look out for your interests.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento built his career on academic misconduct cases. He understands how colleges and universities operate, and he knows how to navigate the system. Joseph D. Lento specializes in protecting student rights. He'll make sure that you are treated fairly and that you get the best possible resolution to your case. Don't risk your academic future. Don't put your future career in jeopardy before it even begins.
If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct at Kennesaw State University, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.