You have accepted the cost of enrolling at Portland State University—student loans, a time investment, and the cost of living in Portland, for starters. You have attended class (perhaps religiously) and studied your rear-end off, yet now you stand accused of academic wrongdoing.
If you are deemed guilty of an academic integrity violation, all of your financial and personal investments could be for naught. Your focus should be on minimizing the harm to your reputation and professional future. Start by hiring an attorney-advisor to handle your case.
What Academic Dishonesty Allegations Can Online Students Face?
Scholarly findings suggest that cheating is more prevalent in online courses when no proctor monitors the students. Higher rates of academic dishonesty in online courses may be caused by:
- Easy access to digital information
- Lack of in-person faculty monitoring students' activities
- Perceptions that cutting corners is more acceptable in online courses
- Less fear of being caught
These factors may have prompted a lapse in your judgment. It's also possible that you have been accused baselessly of academic wrongdoing. After all, many professors are required to “interpret higher class exam averages on their own” when it comes to online coursework. Some may assume you are cheating even without evidence.
Regardless of your culpability, it's important that you:
- Understand Portland State's rules on academic dishonesty
- Understand the stages that your case will include
- Know how to appeal a ruling
- Weigh the importance of hiring a trained advisor for your case
You will not get a pass from PSU because you were enrolled in an online course. The potential consequences of a ruling against you may be devastating.
How Does Portland State University Define Academic Misconduct?
The PSU Code of Student Conduct and Responsibility defines “academic misconduct” as:
“...actual or attempted, fraud, deceit, or unauthorized use of materials prohibited or inappropriate in the context of the academic assignment.”
The PSU Code of Student Conduct and Responsibility specifies specific acts that qualify as academic misconduct. Those include:
- Word-for-word plagiarism of another party's work
- “Borrowing” of words or phrases from texts without proper attribution
- Purchasing completed work from a third-party
- Purchasing tests or other coursework that would give the student an unfair academic advantage
- Performing assignments for another student
- Altering student records without authorization
Many of the acts cited by Portland State's Student Code are also forbidden at other universities. The important questions are whether you are credibly accused and what consequences you may face for a “conviction.”
How Does PSU Handle Allegations of Academic Misconduct?
Should you be accused of academic wrongdoing, expect the following sequence to occur:
- Your instructor files a formal complaint with The Office of the Dean of Student Life
- The Office of the Dean of Student Life “receives and processes” the complaint
- If it moves forward with your case, the Office of the Dean of Student Life notifies you of a scheduled administrative review meeting through your Portland State email address
- You will attend the meeting, at which time you will have the opportunity to defend yourself, admit wrongdoing, request leniency, or take other appropriate action
- The Office of the Dean of Student Life will make a ruling and possible hand down sanctions
PSU literature states that your sanctions will be based on “the extent of the dishonesty” and whether you have prior allegations of academic dishonesty.
What Punishments Can You Receive for Academic Dishonesty?
If the university rules against you, then you may:
- Be dismissed from Portland State University
- Be suspended from Portland State University
These are not unlikely punishments—they are the first consequences mentioned by the Portland State University Office of the Dean of Student Life.
The faculty member who reports misconduct may give you a failing grade on the assignment in question. They may not, however, give you a failing grade on the entire course. If you are dismissed or expelled from Portland State, then your grade in the course may be of little relevance to you.
Academic sanctions of any kind can compromise your future in several respects. They may:
- Disqualify you from certain job candidacies
- Make your job interviews significantly more difficult
- Make you a less desirable professional prospect
- Harm you financially
- Create significant stress
You may avoid these consequences through a successful defense or appeal.
Can You Appeal Portland State's Ruling on Your Case?
Yes, you can appeal a ruling that:
- You believe is incorrect
- You believe is unjustly punitive
- You believe is flawed in any other respect
PSU explains that you can file an appeal “if certain criteria have been met.” This criterion may vary on a case-by-case basis. If the school grants you an appeal, then the Provost for Academic Affairs will make a final ruling regarding your case.
Can an Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor Help You?
Chapter IX of PSU’s Code of Student Conduct and Responsibility explains that you can have up to two third-party advisors on your side during your hearing. Your advisors may:
- Gather all facts related to your case
- Determine the best defense
- Present favorable evidence during your hearing
- Explain what you should (and shouldn't) say during your hearing
- Handle your entire appeal (if an appeal is necessary)
Hiring an attorney-advisor allows you to focus on your current responsibilities. They will deal with your case while you worry about school and your personal life.
Portland State University does not serve you. It is a university with its own motives and concerns. You need an attorney-advisor who works directly for you, not for Portland State University.
An Online Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor Can Accept Your Case
Attorney Joseph D. Lento specializes in student discipline defense and helps students across the United States. Among the countless colleges and universities nationwide where he has helped, he has relevant experience at Portland State University handling cases like yours. He knows what it takes to defend students from allegations of academic dishonesty. He and his team will fight to have your case dismissed or to have sanctions reduced.
The Lento Law Firm can speak with you about your case today. Do not wait to contact us, as your case may be moving forward as you read this. Call us at 888-535-3686 today for a consultation.