Lafayette College Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Procedures

Lafayette College's “Academic Integrity” Policy

Lafayette's academic integrity policy defines academic integrity as a shared set of values and assumptions that are united by the common goals of acquiring and advancing knowledge. Essentially, the expectation is that students are expected to maintain a level of transparency and honesty in their academic endeavors. When a student fails to uphold this standard - either intentionally or inadvertently - this failure is regarded as a breach of academic integrity, also known as academic misconduct.

There are a variety of ways for students to commit academic misconduct at Lafayette. The institution's handbook provides a list of actions that could constitute as academic misconduct. These behaviors include:

  • Submitting work that was done by someone else and allowing an instructor, classmates, or other members of the community to believe that the work is authentically yours. This includes published or unpublished writings, words, images, computations, data, analysis, performances, videos, computer code, and other products of a person's intellectual work.
  • Incorporating in whole or party, someone else's ideas, phraseology, computations, data, etc. from their respective original work and passing if off your own.
  • Purchasing or attempting to purchase someone else's work, or arranging to have your own academic work done in a whole or in part by someone else, with or without compensation.
  • Reusing-material from previous courses without the explicit permission of the current course instructor
  • Engaging in unauthorized collaboration with other students (including in online discussion group); unauthorized collaboration entails sharing information and working on assignments with other classmates and other parties without authorization from an instructor
  • Copying answers from other students
  • Accessing electronic messages or online content without the instructor's permission
  • Altering or misrepresenting experimental data, and programming calculators to store equations and other information
  • Using the textbook or your instructor's solution, or using previously administered tests without the instructor's permission

This list is not to be construed as exhaustive or restrictive. Any actions that could reasonably be considered academic misconduct may be penalized by the school.

Procedures

Complaint

Every member of the community is encouraged to report any perceived instances of academic misconduct. When a faculty member (usually an instructor) has suspicions that a student is exhibiting academic misconduct, their first step is to consult with another member of the department. This consultation is done to ensure that the suspicions are valid and that an instructor isn't being presumptuous. If the instructor's assessment is upheld by the second member of the department, the instructor is obliged to submit a written statement to someone known as a case administrator, containing all relevant information and course materials.

Unlike most other schools, the instructors at Lafayette will not immediately contact the student and give them a chance to provide an explanation. Most of the contact occurs between a case administrator and a student, who will not be known as a respondent.

Case Administrator Meetings

Once a case administrator receives this complaint, he or she will be prompted to reach out to the respondent for purposes of conducting a meeting. This is the first time that a respondent will be notified of the potential allegations. During this meeting, the respondent will be informed of their procedural rights, and given details as to how school policy was allegedly violated. The respondent will then by given a copy of the written complaint of their instructor, and will be asked to discuss the circumstances surrounding these allegations with the case administrator.

After this initial meeting and discussion, the respondent will be responsible for scheduling a subsequent meeting to elect one of three courses of action:

  1. Accepting responsibility. When a respondent chooses this method of resolution, they are admitting that they did, in fact, exhibit academic misconduct in their scholastic endeavors. After this confession, the dean of Advising and Co-curricular Programs will determine an appropriate sanction for this conduct.
  2. Accepting responsibility and requesting a sanctioning hearing. This course of action also involves a student accepting responsibility. However, they don't wish to simply accept the sanction that an instructor or dean conjures up. Instead of going along with the sanction imposed by school authorities, the student essentially requests that the Academic Progress Committee deliberates to recommend a sanction that is fair and in proportion with the violation committed. It's important respondents understand that previous academic and/or student conduct violations will be taken into account when determining the severity of a sanction.
  3. Denying responsibility. A student who chooses this route completely denies that a violation occurred. In an effort to uncover the truth, the case administrator will refer the matter to the Academic Progress Committee for a full conduct hearing.

Academic Progress Committee Hearing

Typically the chair of the Academic Progress Committee will chair this hearing. A quorum of the committee will be comprised of five members of whom at least three have faculty status. The other two may be students or members of the university fulfilling other positions. Decisions are made by majority vote for those present.

At this hearing, a respondent, and the instructor bringing the charges will be given an opportunity to make their case. Any relevant witnesses will give a testimony to back each party's account of events. Questions posed to the respondent, instructor, or other parties must be answered, and these parties will be given a space and time to pose questions if they feel it necessary. After both sides have been heard and all questions have been answered, the committee will deliberate and come up with a finding.

Shortly after deliberation, the respondent will be informed promptly in writing of the finding. If a respondent is found “not responsible” for a violation, the process will end. If a respondent is found “responsible” for violation by the Academic Progress Committee, the committee will recommend a sanction.

Appeal

Fortunately, respondents who endure an Academic Progress Committee are afforded the option of appealing a determination. An appeal is a request for the committee to reconsider its decision. In order for an appeal to be granted, it must be based on reasonable grounds. These limited grounds include:

  • A procedural error occurred that could have meaningfullt impacted the outcome of the conduct meeting or the hearing
  • There was new information available that was unavailable at the time of the original conduct meeting or hearing
  • The sanctions imposed in the case were substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation

Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney

If you are facing allegations of academic misconduct at Lafayette College, you should not take them lightly. You should contact a skilled student defense attorney immediately so we can help you prepare for a hearing and achieve a favorable outcome. Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience helping students who were once in your situation avoid tainting their academic record with an academic misconduct violation. He can do the same for you. Contact him today.

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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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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