In intellectual communities like Vanderbilt University, integrity is the foundation of good academic work. Students are expected to be honest about their contributions and their reliance on the contributions of others in their own academic endeavors.
The truth is, colleges like Vanderbilt require a lot from you. You're bombarded with assignments, exams, presentations, and projects, leaving you feeling overwhelmed. With little time to spare, it's easy to crumble under the pressure. A stressful situation is almost always the culprit for a breach of academic integrity.
The unfortunate thing about allegations of academic misconduct is that they're taken seriously regardless of whether a student intentionally violated regulations are not. Many students thought they were saving time by cutting corners, or by completing their assignments in a way they feel is innovative, but in the eyes of the school, they're merely engaging in academic misconduct. Unfortunately, students with pure intentions are found guilty of these charges, and as a result, their academic and professional careers are put in jeopardy.
To take back control of your college career in the midst of accusations of academic misconduct, you absolutely need the help of a student defense attorney. In this article, we'll address how Vanderbilt addresses academic misconduct and why you need an attorney by your side throughout your school's procedures.
How Does Vanderbilt University Define “Academic Misconduct?”
Academic integrity is the expectation that students will make choices that reflect integrity and responsible behavior.
Vanderbilt's handbook for students outlines the behavior that constitutes academic misconduct. It includes:
Plagiarism: using the ideas, research, or language of another without specific or proper acknowledgment. The only way to avoid plagiarism is to attribute others' contributions in your work, no matter how miniscule that contribution is. If all else fails, trust the value of your own intellect.
Unauthorized Collaboration: collaborating with another student or students beyond the extent specifically approved by the instructor. If the syllabus does not include a policy on collaboration, students must ask the instructor for clarification before assuming that collaboration in the completion of assignments is permitted.
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. Some examples of cheating are copying answers from another student, asking another student to do your work for you, fabricating results, or using electronic or other devices during exams. To completely avoid cheating, the best way is to do original work for each class.
Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: knowingly helping or attempting to help another student violate any provision of the Code. An example of this is working together on a take-home exam.
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.
Vanderbilt University's Procedures for Handling Academic Misconduct
The Review Process
Upon receipt of an allegation of academic misconduct, the dean will conduct an initial assessment of allegations to determine whether the alleged misconduct falls within the scope of school policy. To determine whether or not an accusation is valid, Vanderbilt University uses the preponderance of evidence:
- The respondent engaged in academic misconduct; and
- The academic misconduct marked a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant academic community
The inquiry consists of information gathering and fact-finding to determine as a preliminary matter whether an allegation of academic misconduct warrants further, formal review. At the conclusion of the inquiry, the fact-finding committee will prepare a draft written report summarizing the process and information reviewed and recommending whether to proceed with an investigation.
An investigation must be initiated and completed in a reasonable time period consistent with a complete and thorough investigation. The investigation consists of a formal examination and evaluation of all relevant information to determine if misconduct occurred. The investigation is privy to the inquiry findings but is not bound by the findings of the inquiry.
The consequences for academic misconduct at Vanderbilt can be very serious, possibly including suspension or expulsion from the institute. Instructors are given the discretion to handle violations of academic integrity how they see fit. There are several situations in which sanctions can be imposed:
Academic consequences within a class or research project
Within a class, the instructor determines what action is appropriate to take. Such action may include:
- Requiring the student to redo the assignment for a reduced grade
- Assigning the student a failing grade for the assignment
- Assigning the student a failing grade for the class
For a research project, the supervisor determines what action is appropriate to take. Such action may include:
- Terminating the student's participation in the research project
The instructor or supervisor may also submit documentation to the Office of Student Citizenship in the form of a letter to file or a formal complaint.
Letter to file
The instructor or supervisor writes a letter describing the nature of the academic integrity violation, which is placed in the student's discipline file. The student's discipline file is maintained by the Office of Student Citizenship (OSC) and is not associated with the student's academic record.
- A letter may be filed with the OSC in addition to the action already taken in the class or research project
- If a student receives a letter to file, he/she has the right to:
- Submit a play, that is added to the student's file
- Appeal the letter to the Committee on Discipline (COD) for a full hearing
- In resolving the violation described in the letter, the OSC reviews any previous violations which are documented in the student's discipline file.
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.