Ramapo College is a public university in Mahwah, New Jersey, with a student body of nearly 6,000. The school takes its names from the nearby Ramapo Mountains. Like other colleges and universities in the U.S. and New Jersey, Ramapo College takes academic integrity and misconduct very seriously and punishes violators severely. The rules and procedures for academic misconduct at Ramapo College are outlined in its Academic Integrity Policy, which includes provisions that define academic misconduct, the process for determining if a violation has occurred, and the sanctions that can be administered for a violation.
Recognizing the reality that academic misconduct allegations are often baseless, the Policy also lays out a handful of rights for Ramapo students who are being charged with academic misconduct. Nevertheless, the help of an attorney can be invaluable if you have been accused of cheating or violating the Integrity Policy, as the blemish of a conviction can hurt your first steps into the professional world.
Academic Integrity at Ramapo College
Students at Ramapo College have a responsibility to know, understand, and comply with the school's Academic Integrity Policy, and to notify the appropriate authorities if they see a potential violation of the Policy during their time at the school.
Those violations, according to the Policy, come in four broad forms:
- Academic misconduct
Cheating involves copying another student's work or letting someone else copy your own work, as well as using unauthorized materials during an exam, collaborating with someone else without the specific authorization by the course instructor, or being involved in an instance of examination by proxy.
Plagiarism includes treating someone else's thoughts or ideas as those of the student submitting the work, whether those thoughts or ideas are in the form of a quotation or paraphrase.
Academic misconduct includes acquiring tests that have not been administered, yet, altering grades, submitting the same work to multiple classes, and sabotaging another student's work.
Finally, fabrication involves the falsification or invention of any facts or research. This includes claiming to have used sources that were not used, submitting someone else's work as your own, or forging signatures on official Ramapo College documents.
Violations of the Academic Integrity Policy
While everyone in the Ramapo College community is responsible for reporting violations of the Academic Integrity Policy, it is faculty members who are the most likely to initiate a charge. While they are encouraged to initiate a report within 30 days of discovering a potential violation, they are only required to do so no later than the last day to submit grades for the term, unless new evidence surfaces.
The faculty member can either resolve the case themselves or can refer the alleged academic violation to the Vice Provost of Ramapo College.
Investigation by the Faculty Member
If the faculty member chooses to resolve the case on their own, they need to notify the student, in writing, of the allegation and schedule a meeting. At the meeting, the faculty member will present their evidence and leave the student with two options: Either continue to work with the faculty member on a resolution or take the case to the Vice Provost. If the student stays with the faculty member for resolution, the faculty member will determine if a violation of the Integrity Policy was made and issue a sanction. Sanctions available to the faculty member include:
- Performing the assignment or exam again
- Failing the student for the assignment or exam
- Failing the student for the entire court
The finding and the sanction are reported to the Vice Provost, along with all supporting evidence. If the Vice Provost finds that this was not the student's first offense, the case can get referred to the Academic Integrity Board for review.
If the faculty member and the student cannot resolve the situation, or if the student wants to appeal the faculty member's finding or sanction, then the case goes before the Vice Provost.
Investigation by the Vice Provost
If the allegation is referred to the Vice Provost at the outset by the faculty member, or if the student demands it is investigated by the Vice Provost rather than the faculty member, or if the student appeals the findings of the faculty member, then the Vice Provost will investigate the claim of academic misconduct. After reviewing the allegations of the faculty member, the Vice Provost will schedule a hearing if he or she thinks there are sufficient facts to warrant an investigation, and notify the student of the hearing at least three business days beforehand.
If the allegation is particularly severe and can lead to the student's suspension or expulsion, or if this is not the first allegation of academic misconduct that a student has faced, the Vice Provost will refer the case to the Academic Integrity Board for the hearing.
If the Vice Provost leads the hearing, the evidence of the violation will be presented and the Vice Provost will issue a decision and, if the student is found responsible for a violation of the Integrity Policy by a preponderance of the evidence, a sanction.
Hearing by the Academic Integrity Board
The Academic Integrity Board consists of three of Ramapo's faculty and staff and two students and hears cases alleging the most severe academic integrity violations. If it is the Board that will conduct the hearing, the student will be notified of it at least seven business days beforehand.
During hearings by the Academic Integrity Board, the Vice Provost will present evidence of the violation and manage the process of the hearing. Over the course of the hearing, the Board will hear testimony from the student, the person who filed the allegation of misconduct, and any witnesses. The student facing the allegation can question anyone providing evidence at the hearing and respond to what they say.
After the hearing, the Board will determine its finding and issue a sanction if it finds a violation of the Integrity Policy by a preponderance of the evidence.
There are only three grounds for appeals from the Academic Integrity Board's decision:
- The sanctions are grossly disproportionate for the violation
- There were specific and substantial procedural errors or mistakes in interpreting the rules
- New evidence has become available that was not discoverable before the hearing
The appeal must be submitted to the Vice Provost, in writing, within five business days of the Board's decision. The Vice Provost will hear the appeal only if there is clear evidence that one of the grounds for appeals exists.
Student Misconduct Attorney Joseph D. Lento
Having attorney Joseph D. Lento at your side if you are facing academic misconduct charges can be the best way to fight against them. Contact him online or by phone at 215-535-5353 if you have been accused of violating Ramapo College's Academic Integrity Policy.