Colleges and universities maintain standards regarding behavior and conduct that students are responsible for understanding. Administrators have procedures in place for assessing the alleged misconduct and imposing sanctions or penalties. Students have an opportunity to appear before a panel to rebut the allegations. Rulings are based on whether a preponderance of the evidence shows the violation did occur.
Acts of Academic Misconduct
Various acts may be considered as academic misconduct. A student may have taken credit for the work of another party without citing the source. Allegations may involve fabricating or forging documents or records. Students may be accused of academic dishonesty by attempting to cheat on an exam or assignment, or collaborating with others to do so.
Some institutions allow for violators of the code of conduct that acknowledge the violation to ask the disciplinary staff to review the imposed sanctions. At Penn State University this request is made in writing and must contain some rationale that suggests the sanctions imposed are excessive. The Sanction Review Officer may modify the sanctions if they feel it is justified. A sanction review should not be confused with the appeals process, which challenges the ruling (findings) of the violation itself.
Grounds for Appeal
Schools have specific provisions that contain the grounds for pursuing an appeal. Some examples include:
- Princeton University: The judicial committee will consider appeals that suggest an error was made in procedure or that the decision was unfairly reached. Sufficient cause may also exist when the relevant information was not considered by the committee.
- University of Wisconsin: An appeal may be permitted if the accused believes that the evidence was insufficient to support the decision. The student may also assert that proper procedure was not followed or that the decision is contrary to federal or state rules involving educational equality.
- Penn State University: An appeal may be considered when the process did not adhere to procedural guidelines or potentially violated the rights of the accused. Another possibility is when new relevant evidence exists that was not available before.
Schools typically have a clearly defined deadline for filing an appeal. For example, at Penn State a written request must be received within five business days or 14 days at Boston University. If an appeal is granted there may be a subsequent hearing conducted.
Attorney Involvement in Disciplinary Proceedings
Often those facing allegations of misconduct mistakenly do not consider retaining legal counsel until after an initial ruling has been made. At this phase, an attorney will assist you with drafting a document that clearly presents the grounds for an appeal. It is also possible that more favorable sanctions may be negotiated.
Student Disciplinary Defense Attorney
Are you a student facing allegations of academic misconduct in a campus disciplinary action? Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience necessary to successfully defend those who are seeking to avoid harsh sanctions and penalties in these matters. Contact the office today for a complimentary consultation at (888) 535-3686.