Stetson University College of Law holds the distinction of being the first law school in Florida state. Established in 1900 in Gulfport, the law school occupies a historic hotel resort and has another campus in Tampa. Stetson Law offers the Juris Doctor program in six concentrations and guarantees a clinic or externship for every student. Stetson Law ranks among the highest nationwide for its trial advocacy and legal writing programs. Being part of the Stetson Law community opens many doors for the future – but students must demonstrate ethical behavior befitting future lawyers. Academic misconduct violations incur multiple sanctions and may delay or prevent graduation.
Stetson Law expects students to engage in honest and ethical behavior to enrich the academic community. However, in rare instances, students engage in lapses of judgment due to the significant pressure to succeed. Regardless of the violation, however, all students have the right to a fair investigation free from bias and procedural error. For support and to increase the likelihood of a favorable case outcome, students need the help of an experienced attorney-advisor.
Academic Integrity at Stetson Law
The Academic Honor Code published by Stetson defines what constitutes academic misconduct and describes the adjudication process. As per the Code, academic misconduct is any activity that stems from dishonesty in a student's educational affairs. The list is comprehensive, detailing multiple examples of each type of violation. The actions include:
- Cheating: Students may not use any unauthorized object or means to complete an academic exercise or examination.
- Unauthorized assistance or collaboration: Students must not provide their peers with any form of help, knowing that a professor did not authorize the act. Students may not collaborate without the permission of the instructor.
- Inappropriate Use of Another Person's Work: When students use another person's work, they must cite their sources or credit the original author. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism.
- Misappropriation of and Damage to Academic Material: Stetson Law penalizes persons who deliberately damage educational material so that others cannot access them.
- Compromising Examination Security: Students must not tamper with or invade the security of any storage facility that contains confidential exam material.
- Multiple Submissions: In some cases, students may use work they completed for one professor in another instructor's classroom. Submitting numerous times is a prohibited act. The student must receive a written note of approval from both professors before engaging in this activity.
- Deception and Misrepresentation: This act occurs when students lie about their academic achievements, engage in signature forgery, or falsify internships or clinic documentation.
- Electronic Dishonesty: Students may not tamper with their or another student's online academic account.
- Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: Engaging with others to commit an act of misconduct encourages academic dishonesty and is a prohibited act.
- Writing Past End of Examination: Students may not continue writing their exam after the allotted time ends.
- Failing to Disclose Arrests and Convictions: All students must disclose previous convictions or arrests before submitting an admissions application at the college of law.
- Failing to Amend Admissions Application: Students who submit an admissions application with false information or errors must amend the application and report it to the Associate Dean of Academics.
Any member of the Stetson Law may report suspicions of academic dishonesty. Reports go to the Associate Dean of Academics or the Honor Code Investigator to determine if an intervention is necessary. If either person believes that the case warrants an investigation, they report it to the Honor Code Investigator.
Honor Code Investigator
The Honor Code Investigator reviews the referral and takes charge of the investigation and determination of fault. The Honor Code Investigator informs the student of the case and schedules a meeting to discuss the matter in-depth and allow the latter to respond. Stetson Law does not conduct a formal hearing with multiple attendees, unlike other law schools.
Although students may bring witnesses, they cannot be in the same room as the accused when making statements. Once the meeting concludes, the Honor Code Investigator determines whether academic misconduct occurred and recommends sanctions.
The Honor Code Investigator's decision is final unless a student asks for a “review” of the case. Only students who receive a suspension, expulsion, or revoked admission may request a review of the Honor Code Investigator's Decision. Students wishing to take advantage of this opportunity may send a review request to the Dean and Academic Integrity Officer within five days of the decision. The Dean makes a final decision regarding the matter.
Sanctions for Academic Misconduct
Depending on the violation and how many times a student commits it, sanctions range from moderate to severe. They include:
- Verbal or written warning
- Verbal or written reprimand
- Community or college service
- Completing an educational task
- Asking students to write a letter of apology
- Academic penalties such as a failing grade
- Revoking a student's privileges
- Disciplinary probation
- Revocation of admission
- Denial of a Dean's certificate
- Cancellation of the student's degree
Since the academic misconduct actions and sanctions list is more exhaustive than many other law schools, Stetson students must proceed with caution. Although an advisor may not attend the meeting with the Honor Code Investigator, students can still benefit from their expertise and knowledge.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Much can go wrong when students face such a rigid adjudication process that rests in a few people's hands. However, this does not mean that they must resign to the decision without reducing the negative impact of an investigation. Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm specialize in student discipline defense. With years of professional experience and a strong track record of success, Attorney-Advisor Lento is a shoulder to rely on when the adjudication process is complex.
If you or someone you love face the potential for suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions at Stetson Law, don't wait to take action. Attorney-Advisor Lento helps students and their families negotiate and identify bias and procedural error. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for more information.