Colleges and universities take academic misconduct seriously, as well they should. A school lives or dies on its reputation for scholarship. Think about it: what company wants to hire employees from a school full of cheaters?
Still, the quest to maintain academic integrity can go too far. During the 2020 pandemic, cheating supposedly doubled at some schools and tripled at others. How much of that rise, though, was the result of students giving in to the temptations that accompany online learning, and how much was the result of instructors worrying over the temptations of online learning? Paranoid professors have been known to develop itchy trigger fingers.
If your school has accused you of cheating, you should take it seriously. Your integrity and your school's integrity do matter. That doesn't mean, though, that you should allow your school to railroad you into accepting responsibility for something you didn't do or that you should simply accept a penalty that's far worse than your offense really deserves. Take the time to understand your school's policy towards academic misconduct. Then, find an attorney who is skilled at defending students from these kinds of accusations.
Defining Academic Misconduct
Boise State's Office of the Registrar defines academic misconduct as “behavior and/or action by a student that interferes with education or fair evaluation of a student's performance or work.” That's a bit of a mouthful. What does it actually mean?
In the Student Code of Conduct, the school goes further in outlining specific types of academic misconduct. It lists five in all.
- Cheating: Most of us know what cheating is, but BSU provides a thorough discussion of this behavior. Cheating, for instance, isn't just defined as the “unauthorized use of materials” but includes possession of unauthorized materials and even the attempt to possess such materials. Those materials can include anything from your own notes to internet websites to other people. And just to be sure you've got the message, BSU goes on to list several examples of cheating:
- Copying someone else's work
- Gaining unauthorized access to an assignment
- Keeping collections of assignments
- Having someone else complete your work for you
- Submitting your own work in two different classes
- Fabricating sources
- Violating the rules of an exam
Finally, Boise State is careful to note in the introduction to this section that, while these five are important examples of academic misconduct, there may be other types. That is, the school reserves the right to come after you for conduct it hasn't specifically identified here.
The Resolution Processes
For the most part, Boise State gives instructors themselves wide latitude in dealing with academic misconduct. Instructors have the primary responsibility for identifying misconduct. Once they have, they are expected to notify you of their findings and schedule a meeting to resolve the issue.
Both you and the instructor are allowed to bring an advisor to this meeting, but an advisor may not participate in any direct way. Ultimately, the instructor has sole discretion to determine guilt and to assign any penalties. Typically, penalties can include,
- Oral reprimand
- Repeating the assignment
- Lower grade on the assignment
- Failure on the assignment
- Reduction in course grade
- Failure in the course
You do have the right to appeal your instructor's decision within ten days. If you do so, an appeal board reviews the decision as to your guilt and considers whether the penalty is appropriate.
A second violation of the academic misconduct policy automatically results in an academic sanction hearing. This committee is different from an appeal board. It doesn't, for instance, question the instructor's decision. Rather, the hearing is to determine if sanctions should be imposed in addition to those recommended by the instructor. These can include anything from verbal warnings to expulsion.
When to Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento
A university hearing isn't like a court case. Schools aren't bound to respect your rights, and many don't. Boise State may tell you, for instance, that they're looking out for your best interests, that you don't need to hire an attorney. They don't want you to question the process. They'd rather you simply accepted your punishment. If you decide to complain, it disrupts their entire system, and they'll do whatever they can to make sure that doesn't happen.
Don't get steamrolled by your school. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento immediately upon learning of an academic misconduct issue. Joseph D. Lento has defended hundreds of clients just like you from academic misconduct allegations at schools across the country. Joseph D. Lento will make sure that you are treated fairly and that you get the best possible resolution to your case. Don't risk your academic future. Don't risk your professional future.
If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct at San Jose State University, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.