Stockton University is a mid-sized college in Galloway, New Jersey. Like all schools at this level, Stockton University takes academic honesty very seriously and harshly punishes anyone who violates its rules concerning academic misconduct. The school's Academic Honesty Policy outlines the procedures that the school will take for investigating and prosecuting violations of the Campus Conduct Code, which is codified in the Student Handbook.
These rules concerning academic honesty, though, easily implicate innocent students who have done nothing wrong. Wrongful accusations like these can put a Stockton student's future at risk with the potential of a serious tarnish on their academic record. Having an attorney can be necessary to protect your future professional life.
Academic Misconduct at the Stockton University
Stockton University's Academic Honesty Policy lays out the terms and conditions for students who take classes at the college. Some of the most crucial pieces of this Policy define what it means to commit academic misconduct. According to this Policy, “dishonesty may be manifested in a number of irregularities including, but not limited to, plagiarism and dishonest conduct in the completion of course work.” The Policy gives examples of academic misconduct, which include:
- Copying another student's work on an exam or paper
- Using notes that are “inappropriate”
- Using an unauthorized electronic device in a test
- Misrepresenting or falsifying documents or official papers
- Collaborating with other students on coursework when not authorized by the instructor
Unfortunately, these guidelines are expressly not all-inclusive. This allows Stockton University to extend the penalties outlined in the Policy to instances that do not clearly violate the Student Code, but which the university finds to be intellectually dishonest. As a result, you can be found in violation of Stockton's Academic Honesty Policy even when you have not done anything that runs afoul of its express terms.
Worse, Stockton University's Academic Honesty Policy makes it very clear that its prohibition against plagiarism does not care whether a violation was intentional or not. Instead, “unintentionally plagiarized work may carry the same penalty as an intentionally plagiarized work.” This puts the students of Stockton University at grave risk of an accusation of plagiarism and academic dishonesty when they have only made a harmless mistake.
Faculty Initiates Academic Misconduct Investigation
The academic misconduct enforcement procedure is begun by a faculty member who becomes suspicious that one of their students is being academically dishonest. At the outset, faculty members have wide latitude on how to proceed when they corroborate their suspicions that a student is violating the Academic Honesty Policy. They have the power to do any of the following after notifying the student of the charge and sharing the supporting evidence:
- Have a formal discussion about academic honesty with the student
- Have the student repeat the assignment
- Reduce the student's grade on either the assignment or the entire course
- Give the student a failing grade on either the assignment or the entire course
Only if a punitive action is taken—those including a reduced grade in either the assignment or the course—does the faculty member have to report the incident to the Office of the Provost. Notifying the Provost of the misconduct allegation and the sanction needs to happen within five days of the faculty member corroborating the suspected misconduct, and cannot happen more than five days after the student's grade has been submitted to the Registrar.
Student Notification and Response
If punitive action is taken by the faculty member, the Office of the Provost will notify the student of the charge and provide all of the relevant documentation within five days of receiving the allegation from the faculty member. Before responding to the misconduct charge, the student is advised to discuss the allegations with someone from the Provost's office, which can result in a different resolution than the original sanction.
If the student decides not to respond to the charge, the charge and sanction are upheld and will be reflected in the student's permanent file. These will be removed at graduation, provided that there is no subsequent charge of academic dishonesty.
If the student decides to respond to the charge, it will constitute an appeal.
Appealing a Charge of Academic Misconduct at Stockton University
If the student being charged with academic misconduct wants to appeal the charge or sanction, he or she has to write a letter of appeal to the Office of the Provost within ten business days. This response needs to provide a clear explanation for the appeal and provide supporting documentation, if possible.
Appeals lead to a hearing by the Stockton University Academic Honesty Appeals Board, which is filled with a mixture of faculty members and current students at the school.
At this hearing, both the student and the charging faculty member are separately questioned by the Board. Alternatively, the student or the faculty member can choose to let their case rest on the documentary evidence that they have provided throughout the process. Students can bring an attorney to the hearing, but the attorney cannot address the Board, directly. Instead, the attorney can advise the student on what to say.
After hearing all relevant evidence, the Board takes a majority vote on the charge and appropriate sanction. Both the majority and the dissenting opinions of the Board members are sent to the Office of the Provost within three business days. These are just opinions, however, and do not represent the final decision in the matter. The Provost uses the Board's opinion as a recommendation to fashion Stockton University's final decision.
New Jersey Student Misconduct Attorney
Having a lawyer on your side is not only a huge help; it is also worth it. Facing charges of academic misconduct can saddle your professional future with a blemish before it even begins. Fighting these charges is not just a matter of graduating: It is a matter of starting your career on the right foot.