Rider University is a private college of more than 5,000 students in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Just like other schools in the state and country, Rider treats instances of academic misconduct very seriously and doles out severe punishments to students who violate its rules of academic integrity. These rules are embodied in Rider University's Code of Academic Integrity, which also sets out the procedures for investigating suspected academic misconduct, determining if an instance truly broke the school's rules, and sanctioning the student.
Because student cheating and other instances of academic misconduct are evolving, though, Rider University leaves these rules somewhat vague in order to apply them broadly to new and unforeseen circumstances. It is precisely because they are so flexible, though, that Rider's rules regarding academic integrity can also implicate students who have done nothing wrong. Fighting these baseless accusations can take the skills of an attorney.
Academic Integrity at Rider University
Rider's Code of Academic Integrity is a rulebook that all students at the University are presumed to have read and understood. The Code provides specific regulations for three sets of academic situations:
- Out-of-class assignments
- Conduct during an examination
The section focusing on out-of-class assignments deals primarily with issues relating to plagiarism, demanding that all material handed in by Rider students be written or otherwise created by the student him or herself, prohibiting the practice of ghostwriting. Collaborative assignments require acknowledgments to be provided to each and every collaborator on a project and are only allowed if expressly permitted by a faculty member. The section dealing with assignments done outside of the classroom also requires students to appropriately cite ideas and information that are not their own.
The Code of Academic Integrity also deals with appropriate conduct during an exam. Students at Rider are not allowed to have access to the exam, ahead of time, are prohibited from giving or receiving unauthorized aid during the test, and must take the exam on their own, without a proxy. Exams at Rider are presumptively “closed book,” so having any written notes or electronic device during the test can constitute a violation of the Code.
Finally, the Code of Academic Integrity outlaws falsification of data, documents, or other facts. This is especially important in scientific experiments done during coursework at Rider: Intentionally manipulating results of an experiment or observation can violate the Code. However, the falsification of data can also apply to things like doctor's notes or photographs, as well as claims that a student was present at a meeting or event when they were not.
Initiating the Investigation of Potential Integrity Code Violations
Faculty members at Rider University are responsible for initiating investigations into potential violations of the Code of Academic Integrity. These violations can have happened during a course that it ongoing, or in a course that was completed up to four months earlier.
When they have reason to believe that a student has committed a violation, faculty members are required to notify the student of the potential violation and schedule a meeting with the student within five working days of the notification. This timeframe can be extended to ten days, at the faculty member's discretion. If the meeting does not occur, then the faculty member can skip the rest of the investigation process and proceed straight to the sanctions portion of the academic dishonesty procedure.
Initial Hearing With Faculty Member
At the initial hearing, the faculty member will discuss the potential violation with the student. If the faculty member determines that the Code of Academic Integrity was not violated, then the matter is dropped. If the faculty member decides that academic dishonesty has occurred, he or she will notify the student of this decision within seven working days of the meeting and will indicate which of the following potential sanctions will be invoked:
- Require the student to resubmit the assignment, directing the Registrar to change the grade to “incomplete,” if necessary,
- Lower the student's grade in the course, failing the student, if necessary, or
- Initiating academic integrity charges against the student through the Academic Integrity Committee.
If the sanction is to resubmit material or lower the student's grade, the student can make a written appeal, within seven working days, to the chairperson of the faculty member's department, who has seven working days to affirm or overrule the faculty member's decision. Written appeals of this decision can be made to the dean of the college in which the course was taught within seven working days.
The Academic Integrity Committee
If the faculty member's sanction involves the Academic Integrity Committee, the faculty member has to send a letter detailing the alleged violation to the Committee, the faculty member's department chairperson, the student's academic dean, the Dean of Students, and to the student involved.
This Committee includes faculty members and a Rider student, and will convene a hearing within ten working days after receiving the charge of academic dishonesty, though the Committee can extend this deadline in its discretion. The student has a right to an attorney at this hearing if Rider University is seeking dismissal. If the University is not seeking dismissal, the student has to notify the school more than seven working days in advance if they are bringing an attorney to the hearing.
The hearing involves opening assertions and responses by the student and the faculty member, testimony of relevant witnesses, and each side's questioning of the witnesses.
After hearing the evidence, the Committee will deliberate and issue their final decision, which cannot be appealed. The student will receive this decision within five working days of the hearing.
Student Discipline Attorney Joseph D. Lento
Facing charges of violating Rider University's academic integrity protocol is serious. It can saddle your future professional life with a blemish that can be difficult to overcome. Fighting against these allegations is critical if you want to start your future on the right foot, and having attorney Joseph D. Lento on your side is the best way to protect your rights and future.
Contact him online or at 215-535-5353 if you are facing charges of academic dishonesty at Rider University.