During the recent Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. colleges and universities saw a significant rise in academic misconduct. It's not hard to identify the reasons. On the one hand, students have reported feeling a significant increase in stress during this period. Online course materials just can't replace a good class discussion, and office hours aren't the same over Zoom as they are face-to-face. On the other hand, students who suddenly weren't under their professors' watchful eyes have felt far more temptation to use electronic resources to do their coursework.
Maybe you've given in to this temptation. Or maybe your school is so worried and hyper-vigilant that you've found yourself falsely accused of cheating. Whatever the case, if you find yourself accused of academic misconduct, you should take it seriously. If you're found guilty, punishments can include suspension and even expulsion. Even if your punishment is far lighter, a record of academic misconduct can interfere with your academic career or even make it difficult to get your first professional job. Know the rules about academic misconduct and the process for resolving accusations at the University of South Carolina so you'll be prepared if you ever have to defend yourself.
Defining Academic Misconduct
Academic misconduct at the University of South Carolina is a violation of the school's “Honor Code” and the first tenet of the Carolinian Creed, which reads, “I will practice personal and academic integrity.” That's a fairly broad statement. In fact, the honor code notes that violations can vary widely, “from careless scholarship to academic fraud.”
Just to make sure you're clear on what they have in mind, though, the school goes on to define four specific kinds of academic misconduct and provides multiple examples of each.
- Plagiarism: Plagiarism involves presenting someone else's work as your own. You can do this deliberately. For instance, you might simply copy another scholar's ideas in your own paper without giving them credit. It can be unintentional as well, though. Failing to write a citation properly technically counts as plagiarism. You can also be accused of “self-plagiarism” if you turn in the same work in two different classes.
- Cheating: Cheating involves “improper collaboration” or “unauthorized assistance” on coursework. This definition includes good old-fashioned cheating, like copying your neighbor's answers on a test. Cheating can also be digitally based, as in the unauthorized use of Google to help you find answers on a quiz.
- Falsification: The school defines this as misrepresenting or misleading others to gain an academic advantage. Importantly, the code of conduct specifically notes that signing someone else into a class—a popular tradition on most college campuses—is an example of falsification.
- Complicity: Finally, the school is clear in explaining that helping someone else commit academic misconduct is every bit as serious as committing the academic misconduct yourself.
The resolution process for academic misconduct at the University of South Carolina can be quite complex. For example, students typically face two separate punishments.
First, the instructor will assign an academic sanction within the context of the course. That might include re-writing the assignment, accepting reduced points on the assignment, failing the assignment, or failing the entire course.
Additionally, the instructor is required to report the Honor Code violation to the Office of Academic Integrity for further investigation. As part of this investigation, the student meets with a conduct officer to discuss the event. Ultimately, the office determines whether to hold the student “responsible” or “not responsible” for the academic misconduct. If the student is found responsible, he or she can face additional university sanctions. The school can assign the student an academic punishment, such as taking an ethics workshop or completing a research project on academic integrity. For more serious offenses, students can be punished with probation, a transcript notation, suspension, or expulsion.
Should the student dispute the findings of the Office of Academic Integrity, he or she can ask for a Carolina Judicial Council Hearing. Here, the student can explain the situation, present evidence, and call or question witnesses.
It's important to note that an accused student may choose an advisor to help him or her through any part of this academic misconduct process. That person cannot participate in conferences and hearings directly but can be an invaluable resource in helping the student plan a defense strategy.
Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento
The stakes when it comes to academic misconduct are high at the University of South Carolina. A student need not be expelled, for example, in order to receive a transcript notation that explains he or she has violated the Honor Code. A notation like that can prevent a student from getting scholarships, registering for specialized academic programs, even finding a first job. It isn't unusual for employers to ask for transcripts during the hiring process, and most companies avoid hiring students with a history of dishonesty.
With that much at stake, if you feel that you are being treated unfairly, or that your rights are being violated in any way, you should contact an attorney immediately to look into the matter. Most schools would prefer you don't and may even advise you against it. In academic misconduct cases, though, the university isn't looking out for you. They're protecting themselves. You need someone on your side, someone who will protect you.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience with academic misconduct cases. He's represented hundreds of students in cases just like yours. Joseph D Lento is a fighter. He knows how to deal with university bureaucracy and how to protect your due process rights. He also knows how to mitigate outcomes if a student made a poor decision or had a lapse of judgment. Ultimately,dDon't risk your academic or professional future unnecessarily. If you choose to fight, fight with Joseph D. Lento by your side.
If you or your child has been accused of academic misconduct at the University of South Carolina, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.