Mississippi College Code of Conduct Student Defense Advisor

Mississippi colleges and universities draw in students from across the country. For many of these students, it's their first time away from home. The full responsibility of making (and following) a schedule is often in their hands for the first time. College has been touted as the time for teenagers to “find themselves” and this frequently doesn't refer to academic studies.

In addition to their academic studies, college offers countless chances for students to pursue and investigate their passions and interests. Whether they love to play sports, to party, to act, or something else, there's a high likelihood that it's available for them to try out. Maybe school spirit is important to you, and you chose Ole Miss for that very reason. All of these opportunities, however, also come with the chance to violate college or university policies, whether the given activity is on campus or off campus.

These policies can usually be found inside your Mississippi school's code of conduct and/or student handbook. Many universities and colleges also provide online access via a student portal or the school's website. It can be easy to gloss over the many pages outlining the policies, however, this could be a costly mistake.

Even if you never read your college's sexual misconduct or Title IX policies, you are still responsible for abiding by them. You may not be familiar with the procedures for disciplinary violations; however, you'll be expected to participate in your school's process if you face allegations of misconduct. A professor who suspects academic dishonesty isn't going to ask if you've read your Mississippi school's section on academic integrity in the student handbook.

Allegations — and “responsible” findings — can dash your dreams of medical school, law school, or other future academic studies. Gaps in your transcript that result from responsible findings could cause your future employer to question whether or not you are the right person for the job. Loss of academic (or sports) scholarships and financial aid could saddle you with mountains of debt for numerous years.

The good news is that if you take the time to familiarize yourself with the policies, you'll be ahead of many of your peers. And, if you do face allegations of any code of conduct violations at your Mississippi school, you'll have some ideas about what steps you can take to protect your future.

In this guide, we'll take a closer look at some of the main types of misconduct you could face at your Mississippi college or university: sexual misconduct/Title IX violations, academic dishonesty, and code of conduct disciplinary charges. We'll also offer a surface-level view of how disciplinary hearings tend to proceed, including sanctions and appeals. For specifics, however, you'll want to be sure to consult your school's own documentation.

Academic Misconduct at Mississippi Colleges and Universities

Academic integrity is critical at the collegiate level, and colleges and universities throughout Mississippi all have their own individual academic misconduct/integrity/dishonesty policies. For your particular university or college, you should consult your code of conduct or student handbook. Occasionally, you'll also find these policies inside your school catalog. We'll provide an overview; your school, however, may have its own variations.

What's important to remember is that the general framework for academic honesty or integrity is the same: academics should be founded on integrity and truthfulness. If you're trying to decide whether an action may or may not veer into academic dishonesty, that framework can help you evaluate your choices.

Issues of academic misconduct can drastically impact your collegiate studies, as well as any future graduate work. Financial aid awards could be at risk, leading to significant financial distress.

Let's take a closer look at Ole Miss's policies on Academic Conduct so that we can see this in action. At Ole Miss, the undergraduates have their own policy. This is common at many schools. Often law schools, graduate schools, and even international studies may have their own additional policies — or policies that stand in place of the college's undergraduate requirements. At the University of Mississippi, the Schools of Law and Pharmacy have Honor Code systems, and so they deal with their own students through a separate process than that which governs the rest of the schools at the university. The overview we're going to look at does not pertain directly to the Law and Pharmacy schools.

So, what does Ole Miss include as academic misconduct?

  • Plagiarism
  • Using someone else's work
  • Attempting to gain (or gaining) an unfair advantage
  • Knowingly allowing someone else to use your work
  • Altering documents or providing false information
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Harm to the facilities that are integral to (and support) the academic environment

The final inclusion is “violations are not limited to the areas and examples given.” Most schools have some variation of this included in their policy.

Often, it's phrased as “academic dishonesty/misconduct/violations include, but is/are not limited to” and is placed at the top of the section prior to offering any examples.

In the Ole Miss policy, it states, “any act that violates the principles of honesty and fairness may be subject to academic discipline. Some acts, such as sabotage of another student's work or sabotage of an instructor's records, may not fall neatly into any one of the six areas listed above but are subject to academic discipline if found damaging to the academic environment at The University of Mississippi.” (Emphasis added). If you take a look at the italicized portions, you'll have a sense of how to evaluate actions not specified within the school's policy. Although we're using one university's policies, you can follow the same process for your own college or university.

Some other behaviors that are frequently cited as examples of prohibited academic conduct could include:

  • Bribery
  • Any unauthorized assistance (when a professor doesn't give express permission for any help)
  • Self-plagiarism, i.e., multiple submissions in different classes
  • Cheating on any assignment, test, or exam

If you face academic misconduct allegations, there will be several steps to the process. If it's determined that you are responsible, you can always appeal. We'll return to the process in a later section.

If you are taking classes online, make sure you know if your school makes use of programs such as Honorlock or Proctorio. These software programs frequently present built-in concerns, such as biases, spying on students, and entrapment. Overall, understand that academic issues are serious, and you should address allegations (and get assistance) as early as possible.

Code of Conduct Disciplinary Charges at Mississippi Colleges and Universities

Schools not only write their own policies and guidance around academic honesty; they also craft their own policies around disciplinary violations and unacceptable behavior in general. These behaviors may also include academic and sexual misconduct and Title IX violations. What we're going to look at here, however, are disciplinary violations.

Behaviors that could fall into this category include:

  • Hazing
  • Alcohol (use, distribution, possession, underage, use in any manner prohibited under law or institutional policy)
  • Marijuana (use, distribution, possession, underage, use in any manner prohibited under law or institutional policy—including for medical purposes)
  • Residential misconduct
  • Retaliation
  • Destruction of property
  • Violation of federal, state, or local laws
  • Possessing or using explosives or weapons
  • Unauthorized presence
  • Verbal abuse, intimidation, coercion, or bullying that's “sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive” so as to limit another student's ability to participate
  • Stalking
  • Smoking or tobacco use; use of any sort of e-cig, rolled cigarette, pipe, or vapor products in any part of campus, at any event, facility, or in areas where the use is prohibited
  • Contempt of any disciplinary proceedings
  • Failure to comply with sanctions that are imposed
  • Threats or violence against a faculty or staff member (or their family)
  • Disorderly or disruptive conduct
  • Public urination or defecation
  • Unauthorized use
  • Voter fraud

Similar to how academic guidelines are listed, you may find that your school offers a blanket statement such as “any behaviors not in keeping with the school's mission” or “may include but is not limited to.” This is why you need to take time to review the student handbook or code of conduct that your Mississippi college or university provides. One thing you should note is that although the school will not handle legal proceedings, most Mississippi schools do prohibit behavior that violates local, state, or federal laws. This means that if you are facing these types of charges, you could also have to face your school's disciplinary proceedings in addition to any other processes.

What You Need to Know About Title IX and College Sexual Misconduct Allegations at Mississippi Colleges and Universities

Title IX allegations and college sexual misconduct allegations can jeopardize everything you've worked so hard for. It can impact both your academic career and your professional future. It can be confusing to understand what the distinction is between the two of them and whether they're the same or different.

Title IX guidelines are applicable to any institution that receives federal funding and refer to the use of sex as the basis of “exclusion” or the “denial” of any “benefits.”

Each Mississippi school will have its own list of what is covered between Title IX and/or its own sexual misconduct codes. This usually includes behaviors such as:

  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Fondling
  • Incest
  • Statutory rape

What can sometimes lead to confusion, however, is that guidance on implementing Title IX can change as presidential administrations come and go. The most recent updated guidance from the Trump administration came from Betsy DeVos' Department of Education. There were several key changes, such as:

  1. A narrower definition of sexual misconduct
  2. The ability for schools to determine whether to use “clear and convincing evidence” or the old standard of a “preponderance of the evidence” (preponderance of evidence is a lower standard of proof than clear and convincing)
  3. Only activities on campus qualify now; this is a narrower geographic scope than previously

These types of allegations can prompt many different types of emotions: fear, anger, confusion, overwhelm, panic, and indignation. With so many emotions running, it's important to remember to create a plan for how to fight and navigate these allegations. One way to do this is to make sure to familiarize yourself with what is in your school's code of conduct/handbook. Another critical step is to speak with an attorney-advisor who understands the intricacies of Title IX and college sexual misconduct allegations. You don't have to—and shouldn't—face these on your own.

How Does My Mississippi College or University Handle Allegations of Code of Conduct Violations?

Although each college or university throughout Mississippi handles code of conduct violations in their own manner, there's a general approach that most schools follow. This approach has four stages:

  1. Investigatory
  2. Disciplinary Hearings/Committees/Procedures
  3. Determination of responsibility and sanctions
  4. Appeals (if necessary)

The investigation phase typically follows an allegation of a violation. This could look like a faculty member filling out a form that reports an infraction of academy integrity, campus security filling out a form that alleges a violation such as tobacco use, or a reporting faculty member filling out a form that notes a Title IX allegation. The investigation is generally exactly what it sounds like—an opportunity for the school to have an independent party dive into what occurred and whether or not it's possible that a violation occurred. The investigatory process can take as little as a week or as long as several months, depending on the circumstances and the school's policies.

After an investigation is complete, if it's deemed that there's enough evidence present, the allegations will be taken to a disciplinary hearing or disciplinary proceedings. Sometimes this stage resolves itself at the faculty level and doesn't go beyond. If the issue does go to the hearing process, there are several standard aspects. Generally, the committee (or whatever it's called) will be comprised of representatives from the student body and the faculty. Some hearings are closed, while others are less private. The purpose of the hearing is usually to listen to the evidence/cases from both sides and then make a determination. Sometimes this involves having witnesses present/speak; other times, it only involves the investigator, the complainant, and the defendant. Many schools will allow students to have an advisor with them. Even if the advisor isn't allowed to speak formally, they can be a very helpful asset during the hearing. Once the information is fully presented, the hearing committee will usually deliberate and decide whether or not the chance is more likely than not that the offense occurred. If they believe this to be the case, they will (often) also select possible sanctions. In some instances, a provost or vice president or dean is responsible for determining the appropriate sanctions.

Finally, most schools have an appeals process. The appeal process frequently has a tight timeline, so you'll want to be very deliberate about knowing this information prior to the hearing. If the appeal process fails at the school level, it is possible to appeal at a higher level. A knowledgeable code of conduct attorney-advisor will be able to advise you about these options.

What Sanctions Might You Face at Your Mississippi College or University?

Sanctions can vary based on the severity of an offense, the frequency of an offense (first-time offender vs third offender), and other factors. Some behaviors (usually ones that involve possible suspension or expulsion) automatically go to a hearing process rather than allowing for an earlier conclusion. Here are some possible sanctions that your school could assign:

  • Reduced grade, F, or zero on the assignment
  • Reduced grade or an F in the class
  • Take another exam or submit another version of the assignment
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Revocation of Academic Degree
  • Academic/Disciplinary Probation
  • Educational Assignments

Experienced Attorney-Advisor for Mississippi Code of Conduct Violations

College can be a time of great growth and unique opportunities. And it takes a lot of work just to get there! When faced with code of conduct violations that can ruin your future, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by all of the potential repercussions. It's important that you do not stay stuck in paralysis. And the great news is that you don't have to navigate these challenges alone.

The Lento Law Firm and Joseph D. Lento have assisted countless families as they tackled allegations of code of conduct violations. Whether you're facing Title IX/sexual misconduct allegations, academic dishonesty allegations, or disciplinary action for code of conduct behavior, they can help. Their understanding of the unique process at the collegiate level has allowed them to successfully fight (and negotiate when needed) on behalf of thousands of students and their future. Call them online today at 888.535.3686 or contact them online to learn more about how they can be of assistance.

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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 the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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