If you're reading this, the odds are that you've either violated or been accused of violating the academic conduct code at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW). If this is true, then you need help. You have much to lose.
UNCW prides itself on “the integration of teaching, mentoring, research and service.” It boasts a “world-class faculty,” and such esteemed educators treat the school's academic honor code with the utmost seriousness. As an online student, you may face steep consequences for any act of alleged academic misconduct.
If you're confronting an allegation of academic wrongdoing, expect the University to pull no punches. You need the best defense that you can possibly access, and Joseph D. Lento will be your attorney-advisor.
Expectations Set by UNCW's Academic Honor Pledge
Every student who attends UNC Wilmington agrees to this “Honor Pledge”:
“As a student at The University of North Carolina Wilmington, I am committed to honesty and truthfulness in academic inquiry and in the pursuit of knowledge. I pledge to uphold and promote the UNCW Student Academic Honor Code.”
Students' commitment to honesty and truthfulness includes avoiding specific dishonest behaviors.
Specific Forms of Academic Misconduct as Defined by the UNCW Honor Code
The UNCW Student Academic Honor Code Section 3(A) broadly defines academic dishonesty as “attaining academic goals by deception.” The Honor Code cites the following offenses as violations of University rules:
- Relying on another person to complete an assignment without clear approval from the professor
- Using work previously submitted in another class without approval from the professor
- Buying, selling, stealing, acquiring, or sharing an exam (or other coursework)
- The unauthorized use of electronic devices to improve academic performance
- Completing another student's work
- Re-branding another student's work as your own
- Attempting to bribe a professor, aide, or other faculty member in pursuit of a higher grade
Doing your coursework online may steer you towards specific types of academic dishonesty. You may face urges to use the internet, notes, or electronic resources during exams. As US News & World Report explains, online academic dishonesty is not foolproof.
If a faculty member suspects you of academic wrongdoing, they will likely initiate reporting and adjudication procedures.
UNCW's Academic Reporting and Adjudication Procedures
UNCW Student Academic Honor Code Section 5 (C)details how the University addresses claims of academic misconduct. The broad stages of the reporting and adjudication process are:
- Reporting of a violation
- Attempted private resolution of your alleged violation (this resolution can only occur if you admit to wrongdoing)
- Referral of your case to the Office of the Dean of Students or dismissal of your case (this decision is at the faculty member's discretion)
If you have a prior violation of the Student Academic Honor Code, then your case will be automatically assigned to the Academic Honor Board. If you do not have a prior violation, then more possibilities exist. Keep reading.
Who Will Hear Your Case?
You will face an “honor hearing” if:
- You do not admit to the allegation levied against you, and:
- The faculty member overseeing your case chooses not to drop the charges against you
As the person accused of academic dishonesty, you have the choice of a hearing before the University's Academic Honor Board or the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students has the right to refer your case to the Academic Honor Board even if you would prefer the Dean to hear your case.
What to Expect from the Hearing Process
Let's outline the hearing process for cases heard by the Academic Honor Board, as this may be the most common scenario for students in your shoes.
Prior to your hearing, you will have a “pre-hearing interview” with the Office of the Dean of Students. You will have the opportunity to admit wrongdoing and accept your professor's sanctions.
To be clear: we do not advise that you admit wrongdoing, especially if you have yet to consult Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm.
If you proceed with a hearing, then you will:
- Be provided a date for the hearing
- Complete a hearing in front of an Academic Honor Board comprised of four undergraduate students and two faculty members
*This makeup may be different for graduate students
During this hearing, you will be permitted to:
- Refute allegations against you
- Contest any supposed “evidence” against you
- Present any evidence that exonerates you
- Make a general oral argument in your defense
After your hearing, the Board will issue a decision that you are either “responsible” or “not responsible” for the allegations against you. The Board will also decide the sanctions that you receive.
What Sanctions May You Receive?
Section I-10(A) of the UNCW Student Conduct Code explains that, for a finding that you are responsible for academic misconduct, you may face:
- Suspension (with specific conditions for re-enrollment)
- A failing grade in a course
- Disciplinary probation
- A written warning
Any type of sanction will be reflected on your academic records. Even if there is no formal allusion to sanctions, you will have to explain inconsistencies in your grades or academic record.
Beyond school-issued sanctions, you may experience:
- Difficulty in the interview process (for jobs or graduate school)
- Poor job prospects due to scrutiny of your academic record
- Lower income due to poor job prospects (as you may be a less desirable job applicant)
- Difficulty repaying student loans due to meager income
- General distress over the official allegation of wrongdoing
It is clearly in your interest to avoid a verdict of guilt or a successful appeal.
Can You Appeal a Decision?
Yes. You can and generally should appeal any decision that compromises your academic and personal futures.
UNCW's Office of the Dean of Students explains that you must request an appeal within two business days “after notification of the original decision.” The Office provides links for submitting an electronic or written appeal petition.
The UNCW Student Conduct Code provides more in-depth information about how the appeals process work.
Should You Hire an Online College Academic Misconduct Advisor for Your Case?
UNCW does not allow you to have an attorney present during your academic misconduct hearing. However, such an attorney-advisor—Joseph D. Lento—can still be of great assistance.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team can:
- Provide direct advice for how to handle your case
- Complete paperwork related to your case
- Utilize its experience defending students accused of academic misconduct
- Be your legally-trained representatives and advocates
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have handled hundreds of cases like yours. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for help.