Skip to main content

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 instructor may impose a grade penalty up to an including failure in the course.  In the School of Business, all faculty members assign a grade of zero to any work in violation of the Code. The policy and procedures governing academic integrity violations are available on the university website.

Back to Top

What happens next?

Your faculty member will inform his or her department chair and dean (or designee) of the violation. If the department chair or dean (or designee) has questions or concerns, they 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.

Back to Top

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 (email) to the dean asking for an appeal. 

Back to Top

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. 2) A record will be kept on file by the dean of your college and the Office of the Provost. 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. 

Back to Top

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. 

Back to Top

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. You also can use this information to request a change from a Class 1 to a Class 2 violation.

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

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. 

Back to Top

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 Board of Academic Integrity 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. You speak first in a hearing and answer questions from panelists before the faculty member speaks, so the faculty member has a chance to hear all of your statements, see your evidence and follow along, and hear your answers to the panelists' questions. Then the faculty member presents evidence, responds to your evidence, responds to your answers to questions from the panelists, and then answers the questions from the panelists. Once the faculty member is finished, then you have the chance to respond to any additional evidence the faculty member has submitted, to the faculty member's comments and to the faculty member's answers to the questions posed by the panelists. After you are finished, the Chair of the Board of Academic Integrity will invite the panelists to ask either you or the faculty member additional questions.  Once the panelists inform the Chair that they have heard all they need to hear, you and the faculty member will be excused. The panel deliberates. The vote by secret ballot allows each panelist to make a personal decision as to the preponderance of evidence in the case. If the panel agrees that you did not violate the academic integrity code, the Chair of the Board of Academic Integrity will ask the faculty member to remove the grade penalty. 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.

Back to Top

Will I see all the evidence before the hearing?

The faculty member normally will have discussed with you the alleged violation of the code.  Sometimes this discussion does not happen.  The Chair of the Board of Academic Integrity will provide you a copy of the reporting form completed by the faculty member and the main evidence submitted with that form. The main rule about evidence in advance of a hearing is that the student must know the charge and the main evidence supporting that charge so he/she can prepare a defense. Therefore, a faculty member cannot come to a hearing and change the charge or add new charges. However, at every appeal hearing both the faculty member and the student usually present some evidence that the other has not seen and they also say things in response to questions that each has not heard before.

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

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 minor or there were mitigating circumstances. 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 or after the panel hearing your appeal has found you responsible for the violation.

Back to Top

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

Violating the Code 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. 

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

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.

If you have questions, feel free to make an appointment with the Chair of the Board of Academic Integrity. 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.

Back to Top

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

You 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 your 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 your record, Villanova will not report the violation, because no permanent record exists, but you are 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. You may request at any time a letter from the chair of the Board of Academic Integrity that explains Villanova's policy, the emphasis on an educational approach to violations of the university's code and affirming your good character, because you reported the violation.

Back to Top

Office of the Provost

Tolentine Hall, Room 103
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Phone: 610.519.4520
Fax: 610.519.6200

Meet Our Staff