Student Misconduct at Ashford University

Ashford University, now known as the University of Arizona Global Campus or UAGC, is an online university headquartered in San Diego. The university website announcing Ashford's new name and affiliation advertises the old university's same passion for success, explaining that Ashford or UAGC is now an independent affiliate of the University of Arizona. One report dates the University of Arizona's acquisition of the 35,000-student for-profit Ashford University to August 2020. Another report confirms the December 2020 transfer of Ashford's ownership to a University of Arizona-affiliated nonprofit.

Ashford University/UAGC offers associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in business, accounting and finance, communications, criminal justice, education, healthcare, liberal arts, political science, and social and behavioral sciences. Like other online higher-ed institutions, Ashford University/UAGC advertises innovative, affordable, flexible, and accessible online programs. Ashford University has been among the leading online schools in attracting students with such offers.

Like other online schools, though, Ashford University shows higher student-loan default rates and lower graduation rates compared overall to traditional public and private nonprofit schools. Indeed, accreditation and litigation challenges at Ashford University, by report going back to at least 2012, may have played a role in Ashford University's sale for the University of Arizona's control. A more recent report indicates that Ashford faced further accreditor challenges in its Iowa state of accreditation. In 2017, California sued Ashford University and its former for-profit owner Bridgeport Education, alleging false promises to students and unfair debt-collection practices, indicating challenges that online schools face.

Misconduct Policies at Ashford University/UAGC

National academic-misconduct attorney and advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm wishes to educate you about your student rights at Ashford University/UAGC. Higher education has long prohibited various forms of academic misconduct, which has its own history. Read here for additional information about college academic misconduct. As the above challenges that Ashford University has faced indicate, though, misconduct may not only be on the student's part. Schools should not be luring students into programs only to unfairly dismiss them for failing to progress or on exaggerated misconduct charges while keeping tuition-loan proceeds. Knowing and enforcing your rights can keep Ashford University/UAGC from ignoring its own policies and procedures to your detriment.

Student Community Standards. Ashford University/UAGC's Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook includes Student Community Standards that prohibit students from the following conduct, progressive sanctions for which include a written warning, educational projects, grade changes, suspension, or expulsion:

  • lapses in integrity including acts of academic dishonesty, selling or otherwise providing coursework or exams to third parties for submission in fulfillment of any course or academic program requirement, or knowingly furnishing false or forged information to any university member;
  • violations of community values including sharing or taking passwords from others, misusing or unauthorized use of university images, or tampering with or improperly engaging a fire alarm in a university building;
  • unfair treatment of others including disrupting teaching, research, administration, or other university activities, harassment or intimidation of a member of a university conduct body in a university conduct proceeding, or failing to comply with a sanction;
  • disrespect including threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal abuse, or any other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person, or any form of discrimination, intimidation, discriminatory harassment, or violence; or
  • hazing including physical abuse, causing excessive mental stress, extreme verbal abuse, or subservience.

Academic Integrity. Ashford University/UAGC's policy on Student Rights and Responsibilities includes a separate section on academic integrity prohibiting plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, collusion, falsifying data, unapproved research, and recycling of academic work. The section includes definitions for each form of academic misconduct. The section states that sanctions include failure to receive credit on an academic assignment, course failure, rewrite of an assignment, completing remediation resources, coaching sessions, referral to the Student Conduct and Community Standards procedure, suspension, or expulsion

Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Violations. All colleges and universities receiving federal funding, which would include Ashford University/UAGC, must comply with new federal Title IX regulations effective August 14, 2020. Read here about those recent Title IX interpretive changes. The current federal interpretation limits Title IX's reach to only these three forms of sexual misconduct, each of which Ashford University/UAGC's Title IX policy also expressly prohibits:

  • sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment (attempting to trade favors for sex); or
  • unwelcome conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal access to education based on sex.

Ashford University/UAGC's Title IX policy states progressive sanctions for Title IX violations from a warning to counseling, probation, suspension, expulsion, withholding of a diploma, and any other appropriate action.

Misconduct Procedures at Ashford University/UAGC

Procedures are important to a disciplinary proceeding's outcome, especially when an accused student disputes the charge. Consider this outline of Ashford University/UAGC's student-misconduct procedures for each of its student-conduct codes.

Student Community Standards. The Student Community Standards section within Ashford University/UAGC's policies on Student Rights and Responsibilities states that misconduct complaints go to a Conduct Officer who makes a preliminary investigation and effort at informal resolution in appropriate cases. The Conduct Officer refers matters not resolved to the Student Community Standards Committee composed of faculty members and senior administrators. The Student Community Standards Committee conducts a formal hearing, the procedures of which the university's policy does not disclose. A student who disagrees with a Committee decision may appeal to the Committee and Conduct Officer, stating the reasons for the appeal. The student may have an advisor's assistance, but the advisor does not otherwise participate.

Academic Integrity. The section on academic integrity within Ashford University/UAGC's policies on Student Rights and Responsibilities does not state the procedures by which the university resolves academic-misconduct charges. A reference to the Student Community Standards process suggests that the university follows its procedures for alleged violations of academic integrity.

Title IX Procedures. Colleges and universities that receive federal funding must follow federal Title IX regulations when determining whether misconduct occurred. Changes to those federal Title IX procedures in 2020 guarantee the accused a hearing at which the accused has the right to attend and cross-examine the accuser and other witnesses to expose false allegations.

Ashford University/UAGC's Title IX policy provides for these Title IX procedures. Title IX misconduct complaints go to the university's Title IX coordinator, who, after a preliminary investigation, may attempt an informal resolution if the matter warrants. Otherwise, the Title IX coordinator initiates a grievance procedure involving an investigator within the Student Dispute Resolution Center. The investigator interviews witnesses, reviews submissions, and prepares a report shared with both sides.

Hearing officers then conduct a formal hearing at which either side may present and cross-examine witnesses. The accused student may retain an attorney advisor for cross-examinations. The hearing panel may not consider the statement of any witness who is not present for cross-examination. The hearing panel determines the charges in writing conveyed to the accused student. A student may appeal an adverse decision.

An Attorney-Advisor's Role

Ashford University/UAGC's several policies, each prohibiting different and overlapping behaviors with, in some instances, vague and ambiguous definitions, could easily confuse or intimidate any student. Attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm is a national academic-misconduct advisor who helps students understand and successfully defend against misconduct charges. Federal Title IX regulations and the procedures that Ashford University/UAGC adopts to comply with those regulations enable attorney-advisor Joseph Lento to evaluate allegations, identify evidence to present, challenge the complainant's evidence, cross-examine witnesses in a Title IX proceeding, and analyze and appeal adverse findings, to defeat false or exaggerated charges.

Experienced attorney advisors play critical roles in successful defenses of student-misconduct charges. Avoid harm to your reputation, education, and career. Do as countless college and university students nationwide have done, and retain Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to defend and defeat misconduct allegations. He has the expertise to help you navigate, defend, and defeat a misconduct charge at Ashford University/UAGC. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use the online service.

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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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