Santa Clara University - Academic Misconduct

Santa Clara University adopted its academic integrity pledge to promote academic excellence. Since 2014, all incoming students must sign the following pledge: “I am a person of integrity. I pledge, as a member of the Santa Clara University community, to abide by and uphold the honor code.”

Students who violate the academic integrity pledge face a wide range of consequences. Committing academic dishonesty can lead to course failure, probation, suspension, and expulsion from the university.

If Santa Clara University members accuse you of academic dishonesty, you must undergo a disciplinary investigation. The results of the investigation may jeopardize your future. In this article, we'll review school policy and how to respond to academic dishonesty allegations.

What Is Academic Dishonesty?


The Student Conduct Code sets forth the standards of behavior for Santa Clara University students. Engaging in any form of academic dishonesty is a violation of the Conduct Code. Academic dishonesty refers to any act “generally understood to be dishonest by faculty or students in an academic context.”

The university handles academic dishonesty on a case-by-case basis. In general, Santa Clara University considers any of the following acts academic dishonesty:

  • Plagiarism: Representing the work or ideas of another as your own.
  • Cheating: Any prohibited act intended to create an unfair advantage, such as copying someone's work.
  • Falsification of data: Intentionally skewing results to create a favorable outcome.
  • Misrepresentation of research: Deceptively reporting data to gain an advantage.
  • Using prohibited materials during an exam: Using study aids or other unauthorized items during exams.

How Santa Clara University Deals With Academic Misconduct

If a Santa Clara University faculty member believes you committed academic dishonesty, they will meet with you to discuss the allegation. This meeting allows you to respond to their accusation. Following the discussion, the faculty member will either drop the charges or move forward with sanctions. They will follow sanctioning guidelines to determine an appropriate punishment.

The faculty member will then submit an Honor Code Violation Report to the Honor Code Council. This document includes a description of the allegation and the designated sanction. If you disagree with the faculty member's decision, you must contact the department chair for the related course. The university will then move the case into a disciplinary hearing.

Disciplinary hearings are formal reviews of alleged misconduct. A panel of faculty members and students conducts the hearings. During the hearing, the panel will review information and statements related to the allegation.

You will have an opportunity to submit evidence, respond to questions, and make statements that support your position. You also have the right to bring a support person to the hearing, although the support person must be a member of the Santa Clara University community.

After the hearing, the panel will send a recommendation of responsibility and sanctions to the department chair. The department chair will review all information and make a final decision regarding sanctions.

Sanctions for Academic Misconduct

Academic dishonesty can result in academic and university sanctions. Your sanction will depend on the severity of the violation and your conduct history.

In general, a minor offense will lead to a zero on the course assignment involved. Minor offenses refer to dishonesty that would not considerably increase your grade in the course and had no premeditation or planning. Major offenses lead to an ‘F' in the related course. These offenses involve a substantial portion of work and premeditation, such as cheating on an exam or paper.

Flagrant offenses are major offenses with more grave circumstances, such as involving multiple students or affecting multiple courses. In addition to an ‘F' in the related course, flagrant dishonesty may lead to suspension or dismissal from the university.

Honor Code violations can also lead to any of the following university sanctions:

  • Warning
  • Educational sanctions, such as completing counseling or papers
  • Community service
  • Restitution
  • Fines
  • Loss of privileges
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Interim or deferred suspension
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

Your sanctions will also go on your student file for the remainder of your enrollment. This record can follow you for years and may raise red flags during background checks.

What to Do if You're Accused

Santa Clara University does not take academic dishonesty charges lightly. If you face an Honor Code violation, you must take action to refute the allegation.

While you may think you can fight the charges on your own, trying to challenge the university by yourself can do more harm than good. Few students know how to refute accusations strategically. Since the university has so many resources at its disposal, you need all the help you can get to level the playing field.

Your best option is to hire a student discipline attorney. An experienced attorney can create a defense that helps strengthen your argument. Although an attorney can't serve as your hearing advisor, they can prove invaluable in preparing you for the disciplinary process.

Unfortunately, few students know their rights in university disciplinary proceedings. Santa Clara University provides students with the right to notification of violations, a fair and impartial hearing, present witnesses during hearings, information about the appeal process, and more. Your attorney will fight to protect your rights and challenge university members who impede upon them.

A student discipline attorney can also help you file an appeal in the event of a biased decision. Santa Clara University presumes you are innocent until proven guilty. The claimant must prove that it is more likely than not that you violated the Student Conduct Code to punish you. Your attorney can help you overturn decisions made due to procedural errors, unsubstantiated claims, or biased panel members.

Your Attorney-Advisor

An academic dishonesty violation can disrupt your life at a moment's notice. It can negatively impact your future at Santa Clara University as well as other institutions. You must take action to refute accusations if you want to get your educational career back on track.

If you face an academic dishonesty allegation, attorney Joseph D. Lento is here to help. He has defended thousands of students in disciplinary matters at universities across the nation. He has the experience to fight for a successful outcome and get you the result you deserve. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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