To say that the world of higher education is big on integrity is an understatement. Academic communities like the University of Pennsylvania can only thrive when every member is fully committed to the principles of academic integrity. To ensure students reach their educational goals, UPENN has enforced a number of rules that serve to preserve and maintain academic integrity in all scholastic endeavors.
Students who break these rules, knowingly or accidentally, will be accused of academic misconduct. Accusations of academic misconduct are serious and will be punished through the school's judicial system. Guilty determinations of academic misconduct have been known to jeopardize students' college careers and affect their professional lives down the line as well.
In this article, we'll address how UPENN handles allegations of academic misconduct and why you need a student defense attorney to assist you through the process once accused.
What is Academic Misconduct?
Any behavior that doesn't align with UPENN's academic integrity guidelines is considered academic misconduct. This is a pretty broad definition, so here are a few examples of the most commonly committed types of academic misconduct according to the Academic Integrity Code of the University of Pennsylvania.
- Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, material, or study aids in examinations or other academic work or preventing, or attempting to prevent another from using authorized assistance, material, or study aids. Example: using a cheat sheet in a quiz or exam, using a cell phone or other technology to obtain or share information during an exam, altering a graded exam and resubmitting it for a better grade.
- Plagiarism: using the ideas, data, or language of another without specific or proper acknowledgment. Example: copying another person's paper, article, or text from a website and submitting it for an assignment, quoting someone else's ideas without attribution, failing to use quotation marks where appropriate.
- Fabrication: submitting contrived or altered information in any academic exercise. Example: making up data for an experiment, fudging data, citing nonexistent articles, contriving sources.
- Multiple submissions: submitting, without prior permission, any work submitted to fulfill another academic requirement.
- Facilitating academic dishonesty: knowingly helping or attempting to help another violate any provision of the Code. Example: working together on a take-home exam.
- Unfair advantage: attempting to gain unauthorized advantage over fellow students in an academic exercise. Example: gaining or providing unauthorized access to examination materials, obstructing or interfering with another student's efforts in an academic exercise, lying about a need for an extension for an exam or paper, continuing to write even when time is up during an exam, destroying or keeping library materials for one's own use.
- Misrepresentation of academic records: misrepresenting or tampering with or attempting to tamper with any portion of a student's transcript or academic record, either before or after coming to the University of Pennsylvania. Example: forging a change of grade slip, tampering with computer records, falsifying academic information on one's resume.
Misconduct can occur in any academic situation including, but not limited to, a course research project, independent study, presentation, qualifying examination, preliminary examination, or dissertation.
UPENN's Procedures for Handling Academic Integrity Violations
Faculty members are given wide discretion to judge the academic work of their students. If a faculty member concludes that a student has violated academic integrity regulations, they have two options: (1) assign a grade that reflects their view that the work was done inappropriately, or (2)refer the matter to Penn's Office of Student Conduct for discipline - depending on whether or not the student has admitted the violation.
The university disciplinary process at Penn may involve the following stages:
- Bringing a complaint to the office of student conduct
- Resolving a complaint by mediation
- Investigating a complaint
- Filing charges by the university against a student
- Resolving charges by voluntary agreement to sanctions
- Resolving charges by a disciplinary hearing
- Appealing the decision of a hearing panel
- Imposing sanctions on a student
- Fulfilling sanctions imposed by the university
Students who are found “responsible” for academic misconduct via disciplinary hearing can be subjected to a wide range of sanctions. These include a warning, reprimand, a fine, restitution, disciplinary probation, the withdrawal of privileges, suspension, indefinite suspension, and in extreme cases, expulsion. In addition to these sanctions, students may be required to perform a designated number of hours of University or other community service.
It's important to note that the effects of repercussions for an academic integrity violation are far-reaching and often extend outside of a student's education into their professional life. With evidence of this type of misconduct on your academic record, other institutions and jobs may question your integrity or morale. Government jobs, professions in law, and careers in academia are industries that have been known to disqualify applicants for having academic misconduct on their record.
Only respondents may appeal the hearing panel's findings of responsibility and/or recommendation of sanction(s). An appellant must submit any appeal to the Disciplinary Appellate Officer (DAO) in writing within 10 days after the Hearing Panel has rendered its opinion. The appeal must state in detail the specific grounds upon which it is based.
Appellate review is limited to allegations of material and prejudicial procedural error in the conduct of hearings, error in the interpretation or application of university regulations, the consideration of new evidence, or the accusation of too severe a sanction. After considering an appeal, the DAO will promptly issue his or her decision in writing and provide copies to the respondent.
Pennsylvania Academic Integrity Attorney
An academic misconduct violation can jeopardize the academic and professional goals you or your college student have set. If you value the investment you've made into your education and your professional future, contacting a skilled student defense attorney is a must. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped students who've acquired serious academic misconduct charges recover from these allegations, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686 for more information.