Student Defense: Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico

The Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (PUCPR) is a private university established in 1948 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The university maintains Roman Catholic principles, with additional campuses in Arecibo, Mayaguez, and Coamo. PUCPR offers over 160 undergraduate programs and boasts 12,000 students. With a diverse student body and an emphasis on professional development, students have many opportunities to enhance their skills and gain experience. Upon graduation, students can look forward to multiple career opportunities that help them flourish personally and professionally. However, to remain enrolled at PUCPR, students must demonstrate high ethical standards and avoid academic misconduct.

As a student, college is undoubtedly an exciting phase in your life that prepares you for the rigors of the real world. However, not every experience is smooth sailing, especially for those under pressure or stress. Due to the constant need to stay ahead and keep up with peers, you may engage in less-than-favorable activities that have severe future consequences. PUCPR imposes harsh sanctions for students who commit egregious violations or multiple infarctions. Without the help of an attorney-advisor who specializes in student defense, you may face issues such as probation, suspension, and even expulsion.

Academic Misconduct Policy at Pontifical Catholic University

The student handbook at PUCPR outlines acts punishable by disciplinary procedures due to violating established behavioral norms. Like most colleges and universities, the administration prohibits actions that allow students to gain an unfair academic advantage over their peers. Since PUCPR is a Catholic institution, these standards are doubly-important since they reflect the religious principles that support the university and community. According to Article VI in the handbook, the following actions constitute academic misconduct:

  • Violating the established norms of the university
  • Deliberate dishonesty in preparing and presenting academic work
  • Taking a test for a classmate and vice versa
  • Plagiarizing the ideas and words of an original author without providing a source
  • Misuse of electronic and computer resources
  • Fraudulently completing applications, applying for readmission, and financial aid
  • Disorderly, offensive, or unseemly conduct in the university or towards a peer or professor
  • Doctoring, editing, or altering identification, notes, tests, and records
  • Disturbing the tranquility of the classroom, campus, or university
  • Distributing libelous materials
  • Intentionally damaging materials and university property
  • Not complying with the conditions of professors

The university also lists other actions in the handbook considered violations open to interpretation on a case-by-case basis. Students who go against these principles face minor and significant sanctions, depending on the nature of the incident and the Vice President of Student Affair's decision.

Administrative Hearing Processes

If you violate the university's terms for academic misconduct, the sanctions and the investigation process depend on its gravity. The Vice President of Student Affairs or a delegate notifies the student of the charged offense, lists the possible sanctions for these offenses, and allows you to defend yourself. You may present documentation and evidence to support your claims. After reviewing the matter, the designee or VPSA sends the investigation results to the Office of Student Affairs.

You'll attend an administrative hearing for significant violations because the sanctions for such infarctions include suspension and expulsion from the university. You may have an advisor present, but it must be one of the professors at the university. The accused and the accuser may provide evidence of the violation, including witness statements. After the hearing ends, the committee deliberates and decides on the best course of action. It recommends sanctions and lets you know in writing what they entail.


Fortunately, you have the right to appeal the administrative committee's decision to the President of the University. You and your advisor have ten business days to file an appeal to overturn the committee's decision. Unlike other institutions, sanctions are effective immediately, even if you decide to appeal. The only way to stop the sanctions is if the President of the University overrides the decision and decides to remove them.

Sanctions for Academic Misconduct

PUCPR has a lengthy list of sanctions for those who violate principles of academic integrity. Although not all sanctions have a detrimental effect on your future, some are harsher than others. According to the student handbook, the following are possible sanctions for academic misconduct:

  • A written or verbal warning issued by the university
  • Suspending the student from participating in non-academic activities
  • Placement on probation
  • Dismissal for a maximum of one semester
  • Asking the student to reimburse expenses
  • Asking for an apology or redress
  • Suspension for more than one semester
  • Permanent discharge (expulsion) from the university and banning the student from being on campus grounds

Regardless of the sanction, having anything negative on your permanent record leads to multiple issues down the road. Whether you plan to continue grad school or start a career, your transcript matters and poses challenges when you want to explain what happened to a hiring manager or admissions officer. As for suspension and expulsion, they have even more significant repercussions and place your dreams of graduating on hold temporarily – or even permanently.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor

With so much that can go wrong, you need the experience of an attorney-advisor who works in your best interests—someone who knows what's at stake and negotiates for the best possible outcome. Even if PUCPR does not allow you to have an external advisor present, you can still benefit from the guidance and experience of a professional.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento specializes in student defense across the United States. With years of experience tackling cases for hundreds of students nationwide, attorney-advisor Lento increases the likelihood of a favorable decision that saves your reputation.

You spent countless hours studying and looking forward to graduation. Whether it's a genuine mistake or a momentary lapse in judgment, you deserve a fair hearing and investigation of your case.

If you or someone you love face allegations of academic misconduct at PUCPR, don't wait until the appeals process to speak to a professional. Call the Lento law Firm at 888-535-3686 for a thorough consultation today.