Southern University School of Law (SIU Law) is a public law school established in 1972. SIU Law is part of Southern Illinois University and offers the Juris Doctor program with joint degree options. It is the only law school in Southern Illinois. The law school prides itself on diverse faculty and students, emphasizing experiential learning and a vibrant curriculum for existing and prospective students. SIU Law takes pride in its history and expects students to demonstrate the highest standards of academic integrity. Violations lead to potential issues down the line, especially regarding your future career as an attorney.
Law school is a notoriously difficult and exhilarating time for students. The pressure to succeed, immense workload, and high expectations lead to stress for students. And while this is normal, some students buckle under the weight of these expectations and commit lapses in judgment. In other cases, innocent students are victims of unfair and unsubstantiated allegations. Without the help of an attorney-advisor, students face sanctions that have short and long-term implications on their progress and reputation.
Honor Code at SIU Law
According to the honor code, SIU Law School implements a strict code that applies to students and faculty. The Honor Code maintains that: “Law students [must] uphold the standards of professional conduct reflected in this Code, including obligations, to be honest, to act in a manner that is civil toward others and, when engaged in activities that would be governed by the applicable rules of professional conduct if engaged in by licensed attorneys, to comply with those rules.”
The honor code lists academic misconduct as a severe violation that leads to a hearing and possible sanctions. These actions fall under four tiers, with different penalties depending on the tier and seriousness of the allegation.
- First Degree: These infarctions include taking notes for an exam, taking a test for another student, and extorting a member of the university to gain educational benefit.
- Second Degree: These include exchanging information with others during a test, submitting plagiarized work, and aiding others.
- Third Degree: These violations include retaining examination copies and hiding and concealing material for use by others. Other examples are aiding others in committing misconduct and damaging law school property.
- Fourth Degree: These acts include not stopping writing on an exam after time ends, fabricating attendance sheets, and breaching exam anonymity.
Although the list is not exhaustive, it allows students to gauge what actions go against the code and the degree to which it falls. All sanctions negatively impact a student's reputation – but some repercussions have life-altering consequences and may cost you a job.
Procedures and Hearing Process
Any member of the Law School community may report a suspected code violation to the Examiner. Once the latter receives a report, they investigate if they believe that reasonable suspicion may lead to the discovery of an infarction. If the Examiner finds probable cause after investigating, they schedule a hearing. During the hearing, panel members review the evidence and witness statements and ask the accused questions. After the meeting ends, the Hearing Officer recommends a sanction and forwards the matter to the Dean.
The Dean may accept or reject the Hearing Officer's findings based on the evidence and what happened during the hearing. A rejection is only possible if the Dean does not find that the evidence supports the allegations. Once the Dean decides on the outcome, they send a notification to the accused, the Examiner, and the complaining party involved in the case.
An accused law student may appeal a hearing decision. To do so, the student must write a notice of appeal to the Ethics Appeal Board within five calendar days of receiving the Dean's message. Once the Board receives this notice, it informs the Dean of the matter, and the Board considers the appeal.
Once the Board decides on whether the appeal has merit, they take action within seven days of receiving the request. The Board may affirm the Dean's decision, reverse the action, or modify it. After the Board makes a final decision, the student may not apply for another appeal.
Many students wait until the last minute to speak with an experienced attorney-advisor, usually when they must appeal. Waiting is not the best action as appeals are more difficult to reverse once a hearing panel decides they committed a violation. The sooner you speak with an expert, the higher the chances of a favorable case outcome.
Sanctions for Academic Misconduct
The sanctions for academic misconduct at SIU Law depend on the violation degree, the student's history, and previous offenses. As per the honor code, the following penalties are possible:
- Failing the course
- Withdrawal of the course
- A written reprimand
- Suspension for two or more semesters
- Permanent Dismissal
Because SIU Law takes such a hard stance against violations, it's essential that you take action before it's too late. You may lose years of time and effort without the proper guidance and support. Moreover, starting over in another law school is difficult due to the limited options you have in Southern Illinois and the preference for students with unblemished records by admissions officers.
Contacting an Attorney-Advisor
Every moment counts when you face allegations of academic misconduct at SIU Law. Instead of tackling the issue yourself, you need the guidance of an attorney-advisor who knows what you are going through.
Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento has years of experience working with law students accused of academic misconduct violations. Advisor Lento specializes in student defense and knows what facing a panel feels like for students and their families.
You are a student, and making mistakes is an inevitable learning process. Don't let one error determine the course of your academic path and ruin your reputation. You worked hard and spent countless years wanting to become an attorney – fight back with an advisor who knows what is at stake.
If you or someone you care for face accusations of academic misconduct at SIU Law, don't delay or wait for the appeals process. Contact the Lento Law Firm today for a constructive consultation at 888-535-3686.