Using a Smartphone May Violate Your University’s Code of Conduct

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Sep 20, 2022 | 0 Comments

Colleges and universities have a code of conduct that describes both expected behavior and prohibited activities. These policies generally require that students refrain from cheating, which includes the use of unauthorized devices. Unauthorized devices may include smartphones, computers, watches, and calculators.

Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, smartphone use has become a common part of daily life. Helpful as these phones can be for students, these devices increase the likelihood of cheating.

Policies that limit the use of smartphones and other electronic devices can be either university-wide or course specific. For example, a math professor may allow calculators on one exam but not another.

If you've been accused of using an unauthorized device, you need to understand the basis for the claim and its potential repercussions. Using an unauthorized device may result in academic discipline, up to and including dismissal from a program or school.

Policies on Unauthorized Devices

One of the most common prohibitions is on cheating, which often includes the use of unauthorized devices.

Indiana University's Code of Student Rights, for example, prohibits not only the use of electronic devices but also unauthorized books and tutors. This code mentions that any violation of course rules, including class-specific bans on certain equipment and devices, is against university policy.

The University of Texas prohibits unauthorized materials under its academic misconduct section. The University of Texas language, perhaps anticipating how quickly technology can change, mentions that unauthorized devices are not limited to the listed options.

In comparison, Northern Illinois University directs students to review individual course policies to determine what may constitute an unauthorized device. NIU also bans the unauthorized use of both university-provided accounts and equipment.

Disciplinary Action

While looking up a fact or confirming a mathematical formula may seem innocent, such actions may result in disciplinary action. While each school has its own procedures, most investigations into academic misconduct follow a similar path.

Accusations are generally required to be made in writing. Some programs, such as medical schools, may have a duty to report if a student or faculty member witnesses behavior such as cheating.

After receiving a complaint, the school will launch an investigation to see if the complaint has merit. If it does, the case will proceed to a hearing, and most hearing boards also determine if any disciplinary action should be taken. Students are generally given the right to appeal.

While most universities allow a student to select a member of the faculty or staff to act as their advisor, these individuals may not be truly independent. If accused of cheating, a student should seek an outside advisor who will be involved solely to support the student.

False Accusations

That a student has been accused of use of unauthorized devices may not mean they've violated university policy. Likewise, a student may have made an innocent mistake, such as confusing which exam forbids electronic devices or feeling pressured to act dishonestly.

Both the investigation and the hearing offer a student the opportunity to show and explain their version of events. A team that specializes in student defense can help build a strong case.

Protect Your Education

If you've been accused of using a smartphone or other device in violation of university policy, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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