Before you participate in the processes at your school, you should understand how your school defines this violation, and the actions that constitute it. In KU's code of conduct lies definitions and examples of academic misconduct. It provides that academic dishonesty is “any attempt to obtain academic credit and receive or influence the grading processes by means unauthorized by the course instructor. This policy provides examples of academic dishonesty that students are expected to be familiar with, and refrain from exhibiting. It proceeds to list the common types of academic misconduct that transpire on campus:
- Plagiarism: the close imitation of the language and concepts of another individual or group and passing them off as your own
- Cheating: taking an exam in a deceitful manner, i.e. having an answer key on hand during the test, or copying off the test of another student
- Multiple submissions: submitting the same assignment for more than one course without the permission of the instructor's involved
- Fabrication/Falsification: To invent something or change the makeup of something and pass it off as true in an academic work
- Misrepresentation: turning in an assignment or a complete work in class for another student; taking on the identity of another student and completing his/her assignment
- Complicity: merely being involved in an academically dishonest act and condoning it, such as allowing another student to copy your work
- Tampering: Altering or misusing your assignment once its been turned in, or the assignment of another student
- Possession: claiming another person's work that isn't yours. Possession could consist of profiting off of sold copies of exams or exams that don't belong to you
Misconduct exhibited both inside of a classroom and outside of a classroom will be penalized. Although I've provided core definitions and terms your school has provided, it's important you read your school's code of conduct yourself. An informed accused student is a student who is fit for success. Knowing the ins and outs of the processes you'll go through, and the options you have and what they entail will give you leverage in your school's processes.
Intention vs. Unintentional Academic Misconduct
At KU, and the majority of higher education institutions in the nation determine the validity of a violation based on what was turned in or submitted. The academic work a student intended to submit is not considered. This means that a genuine mistake, unawareness of misconduct, or any other unintentional acts of academic misconduct aren't regarded for a school. The institution simply doesn't care. Keep this in mind when going through processes.
The Initial Meeting
If a faculty member (typically an instructor) suspects that a student has committed academic misconduct, he or she must notify the student of these suspicions within two weeks. Most instructors choose to have a meeting with the student in person, but some have chosen notification via email. There are several elements that should be discussed in this confidential meeting. These topics of discussion include a teacher's suspicions, the evidence that has fueled this suspicion, and their intentions of filing official claims. After notification, an instructor must provide the student with a chance to explain themselves. If after hearing the explanation, an instructor doesn't feel inclined to file an official charge, the matter will be dissolved. However, if an instructor wishes to proceed with the process, he or she will give the student an Academic Dishonesty Report entailing the alleged misconduct and the recommended sanction for said behavior.
Signing the Academic Dishonesty Report Form
The instructor will give the student a duration of three days to sign, date, and return the Academic Dishonesty Form to them. A student is given two options when signing: (1) the student admits the violation and waives his or her right to a formal hearing or appeal on the matter, or (2) the student indicates that he or she has been informed of the alleged charges and has not admitted to committing the violation.
If a student chooses option one, the process is over. Signing under option two reserves the student's right to request a formal hearing by hand-delivered letter to the Dean of Students within one week. Students are recommended to sign under at least one of these options because failing to do so strips them of their options. No answer from a student is considered an admission of guilt, and their rights to a formal hearing and appeal will be waived. He or she will have to accept the penalty imposed by their instructor under these circumstances.
The Formal Resolution Process
If a student challenges the charges, or an instructor recommends harsher sanctions (than a failure of the entire course) for the alleged misconduct, the formal resolution process will begin. A formal hearing conducted by the Student-Faculty Review Board will be scheduled within three weeks of the date the Academic Dishonesty Form has been submitted. In this meeting, an objective board panel will listen to the testimony and the presentation of evidence brought by both the instructor and a student. After hearing both sides, the board will make a finding as to whether or not the student violated this policy by committing an act of academic dishonesty.
Within one week of the formal hearing, the board shall render its decision in a written report, including a recommended sanction for findings reading “responsible.”
A guilty determination is not the end of the road. Accused students are still afforded the option of appealing a decision made by the board. The appeal must be submitted in writing, and entail details of the grounds for reconsideration and an alternate decision that is desired instead. A student has a week from the day of the ruling to submit an appeal.
Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney
For KU students who are facing serious sanctions of either a withdraw from a program, suspension, or expulsion, the future of your academic rests on a formal hearing. With stakes this high, it's important you exhaust all of your options. Retaining a skilled student defense attorney is the only decision you can make that will ensure your rights are protected, and that you make the appropriate preparations for a hearing. Experienced legal professional Joseph D. Lento has spent over 15 years helping students who have been in this position achieve a favorable hearing outcome, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today for help.