Academic misconduct allegations can be hard to bear, particularly if you're an online student. Online students already have to deal with technology complications and other stressors that come with a remote education. If you've just received a notification that Florida International University is going to investigate you for online academic misconduct, you might feel hopeless. Is there anything you can do to turn this around?
Fortunately, there is action you can take - but you'll need to work quickly in order to make sure that these allegations don't blow out of proportion. These allegations may not seem like they're a big deal—particularly if they're the result of a miscommunication or a technology glitch. However, if Florida International University decides to place a note on your permanent record or transcript of your alleged involvement in an academic dishonesty violation, that could make your future much more difficult than it needs to be.
Here's what you need to know.
Florida International University's Academic Code of Conduct
Florida International University defines academic misconduct as ‘any act or omission by a student which violates the concept of academic integrity and undermines the academic mission of the university in violation of the code.' The University's code contains more concrete examples of prohibited conduct. These behaviors include:
- General academic dishonesty: The University provides specific examples, but also wants to note that anything that is ‘outside of the customary scope of preparing and completing academic assignments' may be subject to punitive measures.
- Bribery: Students may not offer services, items, or money to any University-employed professionals in order to commit academic misconduct.
- Cheating: Students may not use unauthorized materials in order to complete any academic assignment. They also cannot assist another student in doing so, or have another person complete an assignment for them.
- Selling Course Materials: Florida International University students may not sell academic materials to other persons without the explicit permission of the University.
- Complicity: Students cannot act together to perform any type of academic misconduct.
- Falsification of Records: Students cannot provide false information or tamper with information in any way.
- Plagiarism: Students at the University may not deliberately use another person's work without proper citation or assist another student in doing so.
If the University becomes aware that any person may have committed any of these infractions, the University will initiate its due process procedures to learn more about what may have happened.
How does FIU support students who are fully (or mostly) online?
If you're an online student, you're fully aware that there are many issues unique to your own experience. For example, you may have to deal with:
- A steep learning curve associated with navigating online platforms
- Constant distractions, both in your environment and while navigating academic software
- Reduced access to the (often crucial) in-person resources or academic opportunities other students enjoy
- Frustrating (and even debilitating) technical issues, sometimes on a recurring basis
While FIU makes some online resources available for its online student community, the very nature of these aids—such as external links on avoiding plagiarism—make it clear that online students are on their own.
Never is this thrown into more clear focus than when an online student is under suspicion of academic misconduct. Since professors cannot watch their behavior, since these students don't have the benefit of a friendly rapport with their professors, and since there's a large nationwide push to crack down hard on instances of online misconduct, these online students often get the short end of the stick.
This is particularly apparent with AI proctoring software or online plagiarism catchers. While these types of programs tend to advertise themselves as state-of-the-art, the truth is, they can often misinterpret innocent actions (such as referencing licit notes) as cheating. In the absence of a personal connection, FIU Online professors may simply opt to penalize a student for no real reason.
Due Process and Consequences at Florida International University
Once an instructor suspects or becomes aware that a student may have allegedly committed academic misconduct, they will initially have a private conversation with the student. In many cases, this is enough to resolve the situation, often with an associated light academic sanction such as a grade reduction or a repeated assignment.
If this is not enough, the instruction will file academic misconduct charges with the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity. This office will review all information available to them and launch an investigation if necessary to learn more. Following this process, they will either have an educational conversation with the student in question or proceed to an information session and administrative hearing. The administrative hearing will give the student an opportunity to state their side of the story in a formal manner. At the end of the administrative hearing, the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity will provide a summary of findings and a recommendation for sanctions. The student has fourteen business days in which to appeal this sanction if they can demonstrate that there has been a procedural anomaly. After this, Florida International University considers the proceedings final.
What can a student defense advisor help me with?
Your school may offer you an advisor to help represent you during Florida International University's disciplinary procedures. As thoughtful of a gesture as this may seem, it's always better to turn this down. It's extremely unlikely that any school lawyers offered to you will have the targeted expertise necessary to help students avoid misconduct charges. Additionally, if the adjudication of your alleged offense becomes a long, drawn-out affair, your school's lawyers will always be, first and foremost, loyal to your school.
Your own student defense attorney will be an invaluable part of your strategy to protect your future. An experienced advisor can:
- Help you draft documents
- Stay on top of your stress
- Assist you with preparations for hearings
- Go through your University's code of conduct
- Help make sure your school takes you seriously
- Determine whether you have the basis for an appeal
When your entire future's at stake, it's important that you work with the best. Take steps today to protect your future by working with the Lento Law Firm on a strategic defense.
A Student Defense Advisor Ready to Help Florida International University Students
Your education is important. You've worked hard for every credit you've received, and you need your degree in order to move towards your future goals. If an unfair academic misconduct violation is going to stand in your way, it's vital that you take action to make sure that this does not happen.
As an online student, you may be used to accomplishing things on your own. That's commendable. This particular situation is one that you're going to need help with. Navigating your school's disciplinary processes well and strategically will require an experienced legal professional—one who's successfully helped students avoid outsized consequences for years.
Joseph D. Lento is one of the nation's top student defense advisors. He can assist with your investigation, adjudication, or anything else that happens over the course of your school's disciplinary procedures. He'll guide you through due process towards a successful outcome.
Give the Lento Law Firm a call today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.