Just like the majority of the colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, Robert Morris University's community has expectations of behaviors by which its participants are expected to abide. In academic environments comprised with scholars - students, instructors and researchers - these standards are referenced as academic integrity.
If you are a student at RMU and have been accused of breaching your school's academic policy, you should take these charges seriously. In the eyes of the institution, academic misconduct is one of the most serious actions that can be committed on campus. Academic communities thrive when academic integrity is practiced by each member. Once a person, especially a student, is proven to have displayed otherwise, an adversarial relationship between the school and a student is created.
In order to understand the gravity of an academic misconduct charge at RMU, you must grasp how the institution defines, constitutes, and ultimately remedies academic misconduct violations. For the purposes of this article, I will provide an overview of your school's academic integrity policies, and the processes for determining a finding of responsibility.
Robert Morris University's “Academic Integrity” Policy
Academic misconduct comes in various forms. RMU's student handbook splits these types of actions that constitute said misconduct into the following categories:
Plagiarism. There are many actions that fall under the realm of plagiarism. Basically, it's a failure of a person to properly acknowledge the ideas, words, and works - either in part or completely - of another author in their work. Plagiarism involves failing to cite source material that is quoted, paraphrased, or summarized in an academic project, or signing one's name to another's work.
Cheating. This form of academic misconduct is defined as using deceitful methods to gain academic merit. Oftentimes, cheating is executed by using unauthorized materials, devices, or other resources (including people). Behaviors like copying students' work with or without their knowledge, the use of certain technologies during exams (calculators, cellular devices etc.) when forbidden, misrepresenting your identity during a test, or allowing another party to represent you in a course will be regarded as an attempt to cheat.
Fabrication. Students are not permitted to falsify or invent documents or date within their academic work.
Facilitation. Students are not allowed to give or sell their academic work to other students so that the other students may pass off this work as their own. Buying papers, projects, and other academic works from organizations or writing groups created to do so is still considered facilitation.
Unauthorized collaboration. Although most academic settings are collaborative environments, collaborating with classmates without permission from an instructor can land you in trouble. Some assignments will require that students work together in order to complete the task. In these cases, the instructors will provide a framework for student collaboration. Other projects will require that a student work by themselves. The bottom line is that collaborations are only acceptable in the event that an instructor explicitly says so.
This list should not be construed as either restrictive or exhaustive in regard to academic integrity violations. Other actions that a reasonable person could categorize as academic misconduct may also be charged and penalized under RMU policies.
When a violation of RMU's academic integrity policy has been identified by a faculty member (usually an instructor), the following procedure should be implemented:
Major vs. Minor Violation
When an instructor suspects that a student has committed academic misconduct, he or she must decide if this conduct should be labeled as either a major violation or a minor violation. This decision is a determining factor in how the remainder of the process will proceed. If an instructor deems a suspected violation as minor, he or she is encouraged to meet with a student and resolve the matter on their own terms. However, if the incident is declared as major, the faculty member will be required file a detailed written report to the Associate VP of Academic Affairs. From then on, the academic affairs will convene a meeting with the Academic Integrity Council, and will both come to a decision of whether charges should be filed against the student. If the review committee determines that charges should be filed against a student, the AIC will file the charges and notify the student in writing within three university business days.
A student has the choice of resolving these charges either informally or formally. In the event that a student chooses the informal route, he or she will be forfeiting their rights and responsibilities under RMU's academic integrity policy. An informal resolution is typically reached when a student accepts responsibility for the incident at hand, and can accept the recommended sanction made by an instructor.
If an informal resolution is not reached, or if a student requests a judicial hearing, a formal hearing with the Academic Integrity Council (AIC) within 10 days will be scheduled. The hearing board will be comprised of three faculty members and two student members of the AIC. It is the responsibility of an accused student to investigate, prepare, and present his or her own case before the AIC.
This is why it's important for accused students to retain a student defense attorney. After all, attorneys prepare for trials (which resemble hearings) for a living and can help you make the proper preparations to prevail in a hearing.
If the AIC determines that you are responsible for said violation, the recommended sanctions will be imposed.
The following sanctions may be implemented for a first offense:
- Educational intervention
- Parental notification of dependent students
- Counseling regarding issues of academic integrity
- Course-related consequences (failed assignment grade, failed course grade)
The following sanctions may be implemented for a second offense:
- Suspension from the university with re-admittance at the discretion of the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs
- Parental notification for dependent students
The following sanction may be implemented for a third offense:
- Expulsion from the university with no possibility of readmission or re-enrollment
Fortunately, a student who finds a determination unfair, unjust, or biased is afforded the option of appealing a decision or sanction. An appeal must be submitted within five days of the determination for it be considered by the institution.
Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney
As you can see, academic misconduct charges can jeopardize your educational and professional goals. If you value your investment into your education at RMU, retaining a student defense attorney in lieu of these allegations is a must. With over 15 years of experience, Joseph D. Lento has helped students who have been in your predicament to prevail in a hearing, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today for help.