Texas A&M University holds all students accountable for living by the Aggie Code of Honor. For many years, the Aggie Code of Honor has promoted academic integrity and enhanced education at the university. The Aggie Code of Honor is comprised of one simple verse: “An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do.”
Although the Code of Honor is simple, the university's process for dealing with infractions is more complex. Students who violate the Code of Honor face different discovery procedures and a wide range of outcomes. Regardless of the offense, students should treat Code of Honor violations with the utmost importance. They can have a long-term impact on your academic and professional future.
If the university accuses you of a Code of Honor infraction, you may not know what to do next. In this article, we'll review Texas A&M University's disciplinary procedures and the steps to take should you face sanctions.
What Is Academic Misconduct?
Texas A&M considers academic misconduct fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, reviewing, or reporting research or course work. The university expects students to authenticate their work. Failure to do so can result in an academic misconduct violation. The Honor System Rules include the following examples of academic misconduct:
- Cheating: Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, notes, study aids, or other devices or materials in academic exercises
- Fabrication: Reporting or submitting fabricated data, results, or documents
- Falsification: Manipulating research or changing or omitting data or results
- Multiple Submissions: Submitting substantial portions of the same work for credit more than once
- Plagiarism: Appropriating another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving them credit
- Complicity: Helping or attempting to help another person commit academic misconduct
- Abuse and Misuse of Access: Abusing or misusing computer access to gain access to unauthorized information
- Violation of Rules: Violating college, program, departmental, or course rules relating to academic matters
Although these examples refer to individual misconduct, the university can also enforce misconduct committed by groups. If someone in a group project commits academic misconduct, Texas A&M can hold all members accountable for the violation.
Consequences of Academic Misconduct
An academic misconduct violation can have immediate and long-term effects. Texas A&M enforces academic misconduct through two umbrella categories: educational sanctions and academic sanctions.
Educational sanctions require students to perform rehabilitative acts that relate to the academic misconduct violation. The school might force you to complete an Academic Integrity Development Program, writing workshop, community service, report, and more. Students may also face requirements related to their academic major.
Academic sanctions have an impact on your grades and standing with the university. First-time offenders typically receive an honor violation probation and a grade of F* in the course involved. An F* grade goes on your student transcript along with a notation that states you failed due to academic misconduct. This notation can jeopardize your academic career if you desire to transfer or attend a graduate program.
Academic probation limits your ability to participate in university events. While on academic probation, you cannot hold student office, participate in college athletics, receive a university scholarship, pre-register for classes, or receive your diploma. You must petition to remove your F* grade and academic probation standing.
Depending on the nature and number of violations, the university may also impose additional sanctions. The Aggie Honor System Office provides the following examples of academic misconduct sanctions:
- Grade reduction for a course
- Zero on an assignment
- Extra requirements for a course
- Redoing an assignment
- Failing an assignment
- Counseling or remediation
- Dismissal from the university
Texas A&M typically removes students from the university for repeat academic misconduct offenses. Upper Division students found guilty of academic misconduct do not receive honors at graduation — such as Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, or Summa Cum Laude.
Texas A&M University Disciplinary Process
If an instructor has reason to believe you committed academic misconduct, they will report the infraction to the Aggie Honor System Office. The instructor will meet with you to discuss the allegations and explain the potential sanctions. The meeting determines whether you are responsible for the violation.
If the instructor believes you are guilty, they will submit a report to you and your department head detailing their findings and recommended sanctions. The case moves to an Honor Council Hearing if you dispute the allegation, are a repeat offender, or if the instructor is unsure that the violation occurred.
The Honor Council Hearing provides a more detailed investigation into the allegations. You will have at least three business days to prepare for the hearing. During the hearing, you have the opportunity to share information related to the violation. You can provide witnesses, records, character statements, and evidence that support your position.
After the hearing, the Honor Council Panel will deliberate and decide if you committed the violation. It's important to note that the burden of proof lies with the reporter of the violation in disciplinary proceedings. The university can only find you guilty if it is more likely than not that you committed the infraction. You can review the Texas A&M adjudication process on the Aggie Honor System Office website.
Texas A&M University Appeals Process
If you believe the Honor Council came to an unwarranted conclusion, you can file an appeal. You must file an online appeal to the Director of the Aggie Honor System Office within five business days of the Honor Council's decision. The Director will review your submission and determine whether to move forward with a new hearing.
Since the Director's decision regarding appeals is final, you must ensure that you have a valid reason for a new hearing. The Aggie Honor System Office provides four bases of appeals:
- There is substantial new evidence that was not available during the original hearing. This evidence must be sufficient enough to alter the Honor Council's decision.
- There was a violation of due process rights during the hearing. The university did not give the student a reasonable opportunity to prepare or refute the allegations.
- The sanction was not commensurate with the violation.
- The finding of responsibility was not based on a preponderance of the evidence. The evidence and facts in the case were not sufficient enough to establish a violation.
How an Attorney Can Help
Many students fail to challenge academic misconduct charges, and they end up paying the price. You should not face an academic misconduct violation on your own. Texas A&M allows students to use advisors of their choice during conduct hearings. Although you have many options for an advisor, selecting an experienced student discipline defense attorney is the best course of action.
An experienced student-discipline attorney can prepare you for your meetings with the university and your disciplinary hearing. They will use their expertise to challenge accusations and reduce sanctions. Attorneys will also hold the university accountable for preserving your rights, such as notice of your hearing and the use of neutral investigators. They can also help you appeal decisions and sanctions that do not match the violation.
An academic misconduct violation can negatively impact your academic career. If you face an academic misconduct charge, you should consult an experienced attorney right away. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience defending students around the country in academic discipline matters. He has successfully challenged school officials when they are in the wrong and achieved favorable outcomes in a variety of academic misconduct cases. If you're serious about disputing an academic misconduct violation, contact Joseph D. Lento. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.