Your Liberty University education is important to you. You've spent countless hours figuring out how to make your education happen where you are—at home, at work, or the other places that you spend your time. You've learned how to use new academic platforms, and navigated on-the-go or at-home learning setups. It's been a lot, but you've done it.
Now, Liberty University is investigating you for an alleged online academic misconduct infraction, and you're confused. This is overwhelming, frustrating, and scary. Is all of your hard work about to go down the drain?
At the Lento Law Firm, we don't want to see that happen. That's why we're here to help you with the information and support you need for success. Here's what you need to know.
Liberty's Academic Misconduct Policy for Online Students
Liberty University provides detailed information to help students avoid unfair academic misconduct charges on its website. The university also acknowledges that navigating academic issues as an online student can be difficult. It further notes that all students, including those who conduct their education remotely, should refrain from making copies of university-owned software.
Liberty University has also put together a code of computing ethics and academic computing policy to guide students away from actions like plagiarism, eluding proctoring software, and using the internet for communications that could be less than helpful. The university states that students who violate the school's computing policy could be subject to disciplinary action—even for violations that don't seem related to academic behavior. In addition, if a student takes action that results in financial loss to Liberty University, the university can assess those costs to the student.
Liberty University's online honor code also contains information about specific types of academic misconduct that the university can find punishable. These activities can include:
- Unauthorized collaboration
- Copying another student's work or allowing another student to copy yours
- Buying, selling, stealing or receiving coursework of any kind
- Re-submitting work for additional credit
- Taking an exam or completing an assignment for another student
- Any type of sabotage
- Any type of solicitation
- Fabricating data
- Falsifying academic or attendance records
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Any action that earns the attention of a faculty member, results in an investigation, and concludes with a reasonable amount of confidence in the student's guilt can result in disciplinary action. Unfortunately, if your misconduct allegation is nuanced or the result of a miscommunication, your university will be unlikely to give you the benefit of the doubt. That's why it's vital that you work to get an experience student defense attorney on your side—today.
How does Liberty University respond to issues that online students uniquely face?
As an online student, there's a lot that you have to deal with before you even start your normal school day. You may not have access to technology that works optimally for your class requirements. You may have to troubleshoot recurring software or hardware issues, making lengthy negotiations with Liberty University's IT department necessary prior to logging in and starting assignments. You're doing all of this at home or remotely, which means that you don't get to build the rapport with your professors and classmates that other students enjoy.
Liberty University does provide some modicum of very general support; their Academic Information and Policies document states that online students should “contact the Liberty University Online Academic Advising Office for help with any school-related problems they may encounter during the academic year.” However, when push comes to shove, it's clear that online students remain on their own.
This is also true when the student is placed in an adversarial position with their school.
Since fully online (or even hybrid) programs constitute some form of uncharted territory, professors tend to be wary of even potential evidence of student dishonesty. If it's ever your word against an allegation of cheating initiated by an AI proctoring tool or something odd your professor's plagiarism software detected, your professors will likely decide to simply write you up for academic misconduct instead of investigating further.
What's the reporting and appeal process at Liberty University?
Liberty University's Online Student Honor code uses a preponderance of the evidence standard when investigating any alleged student guilt. That means that the university only needs to find out what is more likely than not to have happened—which may not exactly work out in your favor.
Once an instructor realizes that a student may have completed a prohibited action, that instructor will speak with the student in question. They will outline their thoughts about what has happened and give the student a chance to respond. As a result of this discussion, the instructor should form a determination about the likelihood that the student has indeed committed academic misconduct.
The instructor will then file a report and, if no further consultation is required, administer appropriate academic disciplinary action. Typically, this includes a grade reduction or a brief probationary period. The instructor will provide written confirmation of the allegations, determinations, and recommended consequences.
In more severe cases, the instructor can refer the case to the Office of Community Life. This office can impose additional sanctions if necessary, including more severe sanctions such as suspension or even expulsion, for particularly severe or repeated types of academic misconduct. If the student wishes, they may appeal. In this case, the department chairperson will review the appeal and make a final decision regarding responsibility and university consequences.
Why Hire a Student Defense Attorney?
You may wonder why you can't just handle this on your own. You could—but Liberty University likely wouldn't take you very seriously. Your school does not have an incentive to administer a less harsh consequence or hear you out; instead, your school is going to take action to close your case as simply as possible. In order to negotiate a lesser sanction or ensure that Liberty University does not ruin your reputation long-term, you need to have a professional on your side.
At the Lento Law Firm, that's precisely what we offer.
Liberty University Students, Call Joseph D. Lento for a Strong Academic Misconduct Defense
Liberty University students take note: Your online academic misconduct case does not have to feel hopeless. You do not have to feel overwhelmed, confused, or alone. You're not alone. At the Lento Law Firm, it's our privilege to ensure that students have the opportunity to protect their reputations, their degrees, and their futures.
When you're managing your academic misconduct case from afar, it can be difficult to keep all of the moving pieces together. You may have a hard time going through your school's policies, meeting deadlines, or figuring out how best to represent yourself through this stressful process. Yet you know you need to take action quickly, because your entire future's at stake.
Call on attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you succeed. He'll guide you through your school's investigative and adjudicative procedures, he'll help you draft documents, navigate policies, negotiate lesser sanctions and more. Reach out to the Lento Law Firm today to work with Joseph D. Lento. Allow a professional to help you shoulder this burden by calling 888-535-3686 today.