The University of San Diego encourages inventive, self-confident, imaginative thinkers to leave their mark on this world. As the youngest university to make the US News Top 100 universities list, it is incredibly focused on providing a legal education that is free from academic dishonesty. A student accused of violating the school's honor code will face long-lasting consequences at the university and beyond, including potentially not being able to practice law at all. If the University of San Diego School of Law accuses you of violating their honor code, it is important you find an attorney-advisor to advocate on your behalf. Attorney-advisors can help mitigate negative consequences and bring about the best possible outcome.
At the University of San Diego School of Law, all students are notified of the Honor Code and given access to its obligations. The Honor Code stipulates that academic dishonesty is a violation of the code. Academic dishonesty includes violations such as:
- Giving assistance during an examination to another student without permission.
- Falsifying or inventing data, citations, or other authority on an exam, project, or paper.
- Collaborating with another student on an exam, project, or paper without authorization.
- Plagiarizing – submitting the work or ideas of another and pretending it is your own (it doesn't matter if the source is published or not).
- Using, taking, or concealing course or library materials to deprive others of their use so that you can gain an academic advantage on an exam, project, or paper.
- Other violations the instructor might outline that are specific to their course.
- Violations of the rules or policies the student board has outlined.
Academic Dishonesty Disciplinary Procedures
Initially, the instructor or supervisor has the responsibility to determine whether a student engaged in academic dishonesty. They will investigate the information and circumstances of the incident and contact the student to inquire further into the matter, giving the student an opportunity to explain. After, the instructor must determine whether there was an act of academic dishonesty, and if so, whether it was an infraction or a serious violation.
If the instructor or supervises determines there is sufficient evidence that the student violated the honor code and the violation constituted an infraction, whatever sanction they determine to be appropriate will be final. The student does have the ability to appeal this decision but must do so within 15 days. If they find the instructor or supervisor has made a mistake, the Associate or Vice Dean will review the matter.
Penalties imposed by the instructor might include:
- Reducing the student's grade
- Forcing the student to withdraw from the course or exercise
- Forcing the student to retake all or part of the course or exercise
- Requiring the student to perform additional work
Serious Violation & Infraction Appeals
The Hearing Committee hears serious violation allegations and appeals from infraction determinations. This committee is composed of five members of the law school community, and the University of San Diego School of Law ensures that no member of the committee has a conflict of interest with the student.
The committee will have time to review the written record of the investigation and instructor's determinations. Then, after consulting with the instructor and the accused student, they will establish procedures for the hearing and hold a hearing to determine whether a serious violation or infraction did occur. If they determine that a serious violation occurred, they will outline sanctions appropriate for the circumstances.
Sanctions for serious violations might include:
- Suspension for up to one academic year
- A letter of censure
- Forcing the student to take additional courses or get additional credits to graduate
- Enforcing sanctions as the instructor recommended
If the Hearing Committee sees that no serious violation or infraction has occurred, they will return the issue to the instructor or supervisor so that they can take further action that is consistent with the committee's findings. If they determine that expulsion is warranted, or if two of the committee members dissent, the student may appeal the decision in writing within 30 days.
Consequences of Academic Dishonesty
As alluded to above, accusations of academic dishonesty can have disastrous effects on a student's long-term goals. Like all graduate schools, law schools are held to more than just their school's code of conduct. They are held to ethical and professional rules in the hopes that students will graduate with these rules already engrained in their practices. Academic dishonesty is a violation of those ethical standards lawyers are supposed to uphold.
If the law school accuses a student of academic dishonesty and finds that the incident is a serious violation, they may expel the student. Being expelled from law school would likely bar admission to any other law school. For lesser sanctions, the student would, at the very least, have to explain the incident on their character and fitness for acceptance to their state's bar. The consequences of academic dishonesty will follow the student around well into their professional career, marring their reputation and ability to gain employment.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
All law students are allowed access to an advisor for these hearings. An attorney-advisor will work diligently to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and advocate with the School of Law on your behalf. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have worked with hundreds of law students accused of violating their school's honor code. They work hard to ensure that the universities are upholding their students' rights. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation. You do not have to weather this storm alone. Lento Law Firm wants to help; let them.