Swarthmore College's Academic Misconduct Policy
According to Swarthmore College's student handbook, academic misconduct is defined as “a violation of the College's standards of academic integrity.” It proceeds to mention that a violation is validated in cases where the misconduct was intentional or unintentional.
Misinformation and a lack of knowledge of what constitutes academic misconduct are the largest culprits of these charges among students. In most circumstances, students aren't aware of how they breached their school's academic integrity policy. Unfortunately, All that matters to schools is that a violation occurred. A student's intentions are not considered throughout the course of these processes. As a result, students who merely made a mistake are branded as dishonest or a cheater, and will have to deal with consequences that can ultimately compromise their academic and professional goals.
There are a plethora of ways to commit academic misconduct. The student handbook provides examples of several forms of this charge. They include (but are not limited to):
- Glaring coincidences in the work of students on papers, exams, problem sets, etc. where collaboration in producing work was not permitted
- A student's work coincides with or closely paraphrases a source that isn't properly acknowledged
- A student submitted the same assignment in more than one course without each instructor's prior approval
Although I've provided you with the core terms and examples of academic misconduct stated in your student handbook, it is highly recommended that you access this information yourself. A well-informed respondent who knows the ins and outs of their school's policies and processes is more likely to achieve a favorable outcome than one who doesn't know what to expect. Once you understand what is expected of you from a school, you can retain a student defense attorney to help you make preparations.
An instructor who has evidence that backs their suspicions of academic misconduct must first consult with the department chair about the case. After this meeting, an instructor will be obligated to notify the student in question about these suspicions, and request an explanation. If after this meeting an instructor's suspicions are not diminished, he or she will submit a report to the direct of student conduct. It must include a narrative of the incident and evidence supporting the charge. It will be up to the Judiciary Committee to resolve the complaint under his or her discretion.
Throughout the course of this process, a student may request a method of resolution known as “administrative adjudication.” At this request, a student conduct administrator, who is an objective party, will meet with an instructor and the responding student to determine responsibility and render a decision as to what sanctions, if applicable, may be implemented. This decision will be made with the help of a case packet, containing a report of the charges, relevant academic materials, and the student's response to the allegations. Students and instructors will be given the opportunity to review the case packet in advance to include relevant information that supports their side of the story. The final decision will be made based on the “preponderance of evidence standard”- whether the conduct was more likely than to have occurred as alleged.
The Committee on Academic Requirements (CAR) is the entity that determines the sanctions that will be imposed for a case. The dean of students and the associated dean of academic affairs serve as co-chairs for this committee. When implementing a sanction, the committee accounts for prior violations and the seriousness of the current charge. From these factors, the committee will draw a conclusion to take one of several corrective actions including, but not limited to:
- A warning: a student will be required to meet with the dean periodically for check-ups
- Probation: a student may either be placed on probation, continued on probation, or removed from probation.
- Required to withdraw: A student will be obliged to take a leave of absence for at least a semester to engage in meaningful activity: classes, work, or volunteer activities. If a student wishes to return to Swarthmore College, a student must write a detailed letter entailing what transpired, what was achieved while the student was away, and a plan for how the student will address these issues if allowed back.
A student may appeal a determination of responsibility or sanctions(s) in writing to the dean of students or designee. This request must be submitted within three business days of receiving notice of the outcome. It's important to note that dissatisfaction with an outcome is not enough to substantiate an appeal. There must be a good reason, or reasonable grounds, as to why one is being requested. The limited grounds for an appeal are as follows:
- New evidence that could affect the finding was unavailable at the time the decision was made
- Procedural error(s) that had a significant impact on the fairness of a decision
- The imposed sanctions were grossly disproportionate to the violation committed
Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney
As you can see, academic misconduct is a charge that Swarthmore College does not take lightly, and you shouldn't take it lightly either. For students who value their education at this institution, retaining a student defense attorney is a must.