Student Defense: West Virginia University College of Law

Established in Morgantown in 1878, the West Virginia University College of Law (WVU Law) is a historical professional law school. The curriculum combines a traditional legal education with law clinics and externships to rigorously train students to hone their legal skills. WVU Law is the first and only law school in West Virginia. The institution publishes the West Virginia Law Review, one of the top five oldest nationwide.

WVU has a low tolerance for violations of ethical principles. Students must demonstrate high academic integrity standards that align with their future professions. However, if a mistake or lapse in judgment happens, many cannot defend themselves appropriately. Without the help of an attorney advisor, law students are at a higher risk of receiving debilitating sanctions, such as suspension or permanent dismissal, that affect their graduation prospects.

Policy on Student Academic Integrity

The Policy on Student Academic Integrity at West Virginia University applies to all students, including those of WVU Law. The policy outlines prohibited conduct, adjudication, and examples of each violation. As per the policy, academic dishonesty includes:

  • Plagiarism: This action involves using another person's work or ideas without properly acknowledging the author. Examples include using materials provided by others, such as written assignments or asking someone else to complete an academic exercise. Multiple submissions are also a form of plagiarism, such as when a student completes work for one professor and submits it for another.
  • Cheating: This violation is one of the most common ways students engage in academic misconduct. When students cheat, they intentionally use unauthorized means to gain an advantage over other students. Examples include copying, using technological resources unauthorized by a professor, and using material that belongs to another student.
  • Fabrication: According to the policy, this action is when a student knowingly misrepresents, forges, or fabricates academic material. It also includes altering a transcript or providing a panel with false statements.
  • Facilitation: When students facilitate academic dishonesty, they engage in activities that allow other students to violate the code. Examples include providing unauthorized assistance and compelling a peer to engage in misconduct on a student's behalf.
  • Other Forms of Misconduct: Any action not listed in this policy that constitutes academic misconduct is subject to sanctions. It includes violating syllabus rules and violating general university and legal standards.

Any member of the WVU community may report a violation using the Academic Dishonesty Form within ten days of observing the alleged activity.

Hearing Process

The Director of Academic Integrity receives a complaint and reviews it to determine whether the issue is valid or should undergo a process. If a student has no previous issues on their record or the matter is not egregious, a Course-Level Process applies.

If the student does have prior incidences of misconduct or the violation is significant, it undergoes the Academic Dishonesty Conduct Process. The Course-Level Process is less severe in penalties than the conduct process.

The Academic Dishonesty Conduct Process may involve a hearing if possible sanctions include suspension or expulsion. Students stand before a panel and have the opportunity to present evidence to defend against accusations. During the hearing, students may have an advisor present. Still, they must have a license to practice in West Virginia to engage in the process actively. Once the hearing ends, the committee deliberates and sends its sanctions recommendations via an Outcome Letter if the accused is deemed "responsible" for a violation.

Appeals

Students can appeal a hearing panel's decision within five days of receiving an Outcome Letter. The student should send their request with any supporting documents they have to obtain a review of their case by the Office of the Dean of Students. They must also send a copy to the Campus Student Code Administrator.

The Dean or a designee considers the decision within 30 days of receiving the request. The Dean may approve, deny, modify, or reduce the sanctions imposed by the panel. The Dean's decision is final.

Sanctions for Academic Dishonesty

WVU maintains that the sanctions imposed must be "fair and proportional" to the violation. However, administrators also consider multiple factors before rendering the punishment, such as the student's behavioral history or any aggravating factors. As per the policy, these sanctions include:

  • Remediation through educational classes or community service
  • Repeating the academic exercise
  • Receiving a reduced grade
  • Failing an assignment or the course
  • Failing the course with exclusion from further participation
  • A written reprimand
  • Deferred suspension
  • Disciplinary suspension
  • Dismissal from an academic program
  • Permanent dismissal
  • Additional sanctions determined by the committee

With such an extensive list of sanctions, students risk losing a significant chunk of their time defending themselves against allegations. However, in many cases, students may experience bias during the proceedings. Moreover, panels are not immune to procedural errors, ultimately harming the student, even unintentionally. To avoid these events from ruining your future, you need the help of a seasoned professional who understands what's at stake and works tirelessly for your rights.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor

It isn't easy to find another law school after a suspension or expulsion from your current law program. This concept is especially true in West Virginia due to the lack of law schools available for future lawyers. With so much that can happen, you need an attorney-advisor who understands the risk an academic misconduct charge imposes on your future.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento has years of experience working with law students nationwide to fight debilitating accusations. Attorney-Advisor Lento specializes in student discipline defense, and as needed, negotiates with administrators for a fair and reasonable outcome. With his knowledge and experience, Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm will go above and beyond to help receive a better case outcome.

If you are facing accusations of academic dishonesty at WVU Law, it's not too late to take action. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for a detailed 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 the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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