It’s That Time of the (Academic) Year Again

The 2022 Apple Cup is in the books, and the Huskies are enjoying their well-deserved 365 days of bragging rights. That also means the end of the semester is drawing near; college students across Washington will soon be taking final exams and submitting final projects. 

The end of the semester is usually the most stressful for students. That stress may be compounded by a student’s lagging GPA, as they often need to make a certain score on final exams to pass a course, keep scholarships, or simply stay enrolled. These pressures sometimes cause students to—intentionally or unintentionally—run afoul of a university’s academic integrity or academic misconduct rules.

Through the Washington Administrative Code, universities have the legal authority to conduct investigations, hold hearings, and execute disciplinary measures related to student code violations. The procedures for handling alleged violations are set up to purportedly protect students’ due process and academic rights. The problem is the school officials are not legal experts and students do not know or understand their rights.

Take, for example, cheating, one of the most common accusations leveled against students mired in academic misconduct allegations. When many people think of cheating, they envision a dishonest student posting exam questions, word-for-word, on some online or public forum. 

However, universities consider cheating to encompass a wide range of questionable situations. Perhaps a close-knit group of students enrolled in the same course produced similarly worded answers on a few open-ended exam questions. The exam grader could see this is a red flag for cheating and notify the dean’s office and thus trigger an academic misconduct investigation. Now, those students who otherwise had no ill intent are the subject of an often-flawed process that could result in anything from a warning to expulsion from their university.

Consequences of an Academic Misconduct Allegation

Between a warning and expulsion, however, lie several disciplinary actions that can seriously jeopardize a student’s academic progress. School officials may choose to suspend a student for a semester or order them to retake the course in question. That can majorly disrupt plans for students if that course is only offered once a year or is a prerequisite for other required courses. A finding of academic misconduct could also result in a student’s exclusion from participation in extracurricular activities associated with the college or university and/or result in a record that could impact a student’s ability to transfer schools or apply to master of doctorate levels of higher education.

The bottom line? Allegations of student code violations are serious and should be handled by an attorney who understands these unique disciplinary processes. While these processes have many things in common with criminal investigations and adjudications, there are plenty of distinct differences. 

The attorneys at our firm have deep experience representing students accused of a wide variety of conduct violations, which sometimes occur parallel to criminal charges. Protecting the right of a student to have an education is always at the forefront when our firm takes these cases. Our team is relentlessly thorough when examining a client’s case and will fight as long as it takes to help deliver justice. 

Allegations of student code violations are nothing to ignore or brush away. Contact our firm as soon as you can so we can take action and defend your rights.

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