If you or your loved one is concerned about an academic dishonesty charge at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, it's important that you familiarize yourself with the school's documents. Doing so will ensure that you understand the process and the potential sanctions that could be imposed. You've worked hard to get to UNC-Chapel Hill, and it's critical that during this challenging time, you do all that's possible to protect your academic future. With so much at stake, consider speaking with an academic misconduct advisor who can assist you in navigating UNC-Chapel Hill's judicial process.
What are Honor Code Violations at UNC-Chapel Hill?
The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance lists out what constitutes an honor code violation at UNC-Chapel Hill, in sections II.B and II.C II.B lists the components that fall under academic dishonesty, and so we will review those. The section begins by stating that academic integrity is the guiding principle and that students must not participate in “all forms of academic dishonesty including, but not limited to, the following.” It's critical, then, to understand that although the document lists potential acts, it is not exhaustive. What are some of the potential violations?
- Cheating (this includes using any unauthorized materials, such as notes, prior exams, and electronic devices)
- Falsifying, fabricating, or misrepresenting data, citations, or other information
- Unauthorized assistance or unauthorized collaboration
- Violating procedures that pertain to the academic process at UNC-Chapel Hill (this includes submitting work that you turned in to another class without explicit permission from the instructor, and compromising the security of an exam)
- Forging, falsifying, or misusing University documents and records
- Violating any University policies that are meant to maintain academic integrity
- Helping anyone else engage in behavior that violates academic integrity
One key phrase that almost every example in the document uses is that these apply to anything tied to academic work, “whether graded or otherwise.”
What is the Honor System Process at UNC-Chapel Hill?
The Honor System Process at UNC-Chapel Hill is a four-part process and begins once someone reports a suspected violation to the Office of Student Conduct and the case is sent to the relevant Student Attorney General (SAG). Most cases follow this process, although each individual case is reviewed on its own. Let's break down the four components that most cases follow.
Once the Office of Student Conduct sends a case to the SAG, the SAG will investigate, preliminarily, whether or not the alleged conduct falls under an Honor Code violation and whether or not there's a reasonable basis for the allegation. If the SAG decides to charge a student, that means that the investigation demonstrated sufficient evidence to warrant a hearing. As they conduct the investigation, the SAG may meet with relevant parties, such as the person who reported the incident and the accused student. If you meet with the SAG, you are not required to answer any questions that may be self-incriminating. If there is not sufficient reason to proceed to a hearing, then the matter is closed.
Hearings occur in the relevant Honor Court, depending on the student's status (undergrad, graduate, postgrad). All hearings are closed, unless the student requests otherwise, and recorded. There are three possible pleas: guilty, not guilty, and no plea, which defaults to not guilty. There are five possible types of hearings that may occur, dependent on what type of plea a student chooses. They are: not guilty hearing, expedited hearing process, full guilty plea, honor court alternative resolution, and student-instructor alternative resolution. You can learn more about how these differ here.
If the hearing results in a decision by the Honor Court that “clear and convincing evidence” exists to demonstrate that an Honor Code violation occurred, then they will also select sanctions to apply to the case. Whether the Honor Court decides to exonerate or finds the student guilty, all students must participate in a post-hearing meeting with the Office of Student Conduct. A staff member will discuss the case, including sanctions, the incident, and any feedback about the process.
The Appeal Option
The Office of Student Conduct has three possible grounds for an appeal of an Honor Court judgment. They are: insufficiency of evidence, violation of basic rights, and severity of sanctions. If you decide to appeal a decision based on one of those grounds, you have five business days to submit your appeal after the Honor Court makes their decision. The appeal goes to a Judicial Programs Officer, who will make a determination. There is a cover sheet that must accompany your written petition.
What are Sanctions Associated with Honor Code violations?
UNC-Chapel Hill provides a one-page pdf that offers an overview of possible sanctions for Honor Code violations. Two key terms in the document are “usual sanctions” and “minimum sanctions.” Usual sanctions are the standard sanctions that would apply to a situation that does not have extenuating circumstances that merit either lessened sanctions or more severe sanctions. Minimum sanctions are the least possible penalties that will occur, although a more serious sanction is possible, depending on the circumstances. For academic dishonesty, the minimum sanction for a first offense is a failing grade on the assignment or on the course. For a second offense, the minimum sanction is suspension for a full semester. Clearly, UNC-Chapel Hill takes academic integrity very seriously.
Hiring the Best Academic Misconduct Advisor
If you or a loved one is currently facing academic dishonesty allegations at UNC-Chapel Hill, you do not have to tackle this on your own. With so much at stake, it's critical that you find an experienced attorney-advisor who can assist you in fighting for your rights and your future. Joseph D. Lento has helped countless students achieve the best possible outcomes over many years as they fought for their academic futures. He brings heart and dedication to each interaction and each case. Let him help you with your academic dishonesty charges. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or contact us online to discuss your case.