I've Been Accused...

My teacher has just accused me of an academic integrity violation, I have a lot of questions.

What will happen to me now?

The teacher will assign a penalty grade to your work. Typically this will be an F for the course, but, at the discretion of the instructor, a lesser penalty may be assigned. The policy and procedures governing academic integrity violations are available here.

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What happens next?

Your faculty member will inform his or her department chair of the violation. If the department chair has questions or concerns, the chair will ask the faculty member for more information. After that, the chair passes the information on to the dean of the faculty member's college. Eventually the faculty member's dean will send you a letter.

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I just got a letter about an academic integrity violation. What do I do now?

The faculty member has turned the case over to his or her dean. You now have two choices: you can sign the letter and admit that you violated the code, or, if you feel that you did not violate the academic integrity code, you can write a letter to the dean asking for an appeal. 

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What will happen to me if I sign the letter? Will I be expelled from Villanova? Will there be something about this on my transcript?

If this is your first offense, you will not be expelled. If you agree that you have violated the academic integrity code, several things will happen to you. 1) Your faculty member will assign you a penalty grade, which may be an F for the course, or a lesser penalty. 2) A record will be kept on file by the dean of your college. This is an internal record, and will not be on your transcript or revealed to other schools or employers. If there are no other violations, the record will be destroyed when you graduate. 3) Your dean will ask you to undertake an educational program, see details below. 

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I admit that I violated the academic integrity code, but I didn’t do it intentionally. I feel that if I sign this paper I am admitting that I am a cheater, which I am not. Should I still sign?

This is about your academic integrity, not your moral character. It often happens that students violate the code unintentionally (for example, they take notes from a source and then forget that what they have written is not really their own words). You are only being asked to admit that you violated the code; we realize that violations can be unintentional. 

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I admit that I violated the academic integrity code, but I was sick, under a lot of personal stress, and dealing with problems at home. I feel that if I sign the letter no one will understand what was going on in my life.

Many academic integrity violations are a result of stress and other mitigating factors. You may want to enclose additional materials with your signed letter, giving the dean some indication of the factors that led to the violation. This information will not make the violation go away, but it will give your dean a sense of what was happening from your perspective. 

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I feel that I did not do what I am accused of doing. What should I do?

If you have been falsely accused, you should ask for an appeal. Do not sign the letter from the dean indicating guilt. Instead, send the dean a letter explaining your view that you did not do what you are accused of doing, and requesting an appeal.

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I am not sure whether to appeal or not. When is it appropriate to appeal?

You should appeal if you honestly believe that you did not do what you are accused of doing. For example, if you are accused of plagiarism, you should appeal if you actually did the work on your own without consulting other sources.

You should not appeal if you agree that you acted improperly but also feel that there were mitigating circumstances. The following are not good reasons to appeal: you did not realize you were violating the code; you did not intend to violate the code; the teacher did not explain that you should not do what you were accused of doing; the penalty was too harsh; you do not feel that you have acted in a dishonorable way; you were under stress; or you feel that others also violated the code. The appeal process is only concerned with whether a violation occurred, not why it occurred. 

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Suppose I do appeal, what will happen?

You write a letter to the faculty member’s dean, explaining why you think that you have been unjustly accused. Usually the chair of the academic integrity board will ask for an informal meeting with you to review the appeal procedure. After that informal interview, a panel will be chosen and a time for the hearing set up. The panel will include three faculty members and two students. Your faculty member may also be at the hearing panel as well. Both you and the faculty member will explain your positions, and be questioned by the members of the panel. After hearing from you, the panel will come to a decision. If the panel agrees that you did not violate the academic integrity code, the panel will ask the faculty member to review the grade. If the panel feels that you did violate the code, your case will be turned over to your college dean who will handle it from there on. 

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I admit that I violated the academic integrity code, but I feel that the punishment that the faculty member imposed on me was too harsh. What can I do?

There is a separate appeal procedure for cases where the student admits that there is an academic integrity violation but feels that the penalty imposed by the faculty member is too harsh. If you wish to appeal the severity of the penalty, you should contact the faculty member’s chair. You should not appeal your grade while your academic integrity violation case is still pending. Appeals concerning the severity of the grade are only appropriate after you have either agreed that an academic integrity violation has occurred or the panel has determined that such a violation has occurred. 

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What is the difference between a class I and a class II violation?

In some exceptional cases, the faculty member and his or her dean may feel that although the student did violate the academic integrity code, the student should receive a warning rather than a full academic integrity violation. If you have received a class II violation, that means that your case is considered less serious. If you feel that you deserve a class II violation, you may write to the dean requesting this after you have signed the letter admitting that you did violate the academic integrity code. 

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I am really upset by all of this. Is this going to hurt my career at Villanova?

This is very serious indeed, but the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and make sure that you are never again in a situation where your integrity is in question. Like many other bad things, you can make this a positive experience if you learn from it. 

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What will happen to me after I accept responsibility? Will there be additional punishments?

Assuming that this is your first offense, there will be no additional punishments. Your dean will ask you to go through an education program. The purpose of this program is to help you so that you will not have a second offense. One part of the program is the Multimedia Integrity Teaching Tool (MITT), a computerized course about academic integrity. Most students who have done it say that they found it educational and informative, and many have said that they felt it should be required of all students. Your dean may also ask you to do certain other educational activities, again, all will be designed to help you. 

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I still don’t understand what is going on and what I should do, and my parents have a lot of questions I can’t answer; what should I do?

If you have questions, feel free to make an appointment with the Chair of the Academic Integrity Board. The Chair will also be willing to discuss the situation with your parents, but you must first give the chair a written authorization to do so. Call 610-519-4520 to make an appointment with the Chair. 

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If I apply to Law School or to other Professional Schools, will I have to report this on my application form?

A student should report an academic integrity violation when applying to law schools or professional schools, even if there is no permanent record of the violation on the student's transcript. The student should report/explain the violation and the resolution of the matter. Not reporting a violation when asked is lying. If the violation is expunged from student's record, Villanova will not report the violation, because no permanent record exists, but the student is obligated to report when asked. Always err on the side of caution, and when in doubt, please contact the law schools or professional schools for clarification on their questions. 

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