Student Rights – Understanding Alleged Student Violations

April 22, 2022 College, College Student Disciplinary Hearing, Criminal Defense

Attending a prestigious school like Florida State University (“FSU”) can be daunting and stressful at times for students. It’s not uncommon for them to find ways to make their academic life easier or to de-stress in ways that are not in their best interest. Most students strive to make it to the top of their class but those that take the easy path can end up causing themselves more harm than good.

All Universities, whether large or small, consider plagiarism and cheating serious transgressions. First-time offenses involving egregious violations of the Academic Honor Policy can even result in suspension or expulsion. FSU’s Academic Honor Policy defines plagiarism as “presenting the work of another as one’s own” without giving the proper credit to the source it is taken from.

Abby Young-Powell, in her article titled “How serious is essay plagiarism?” wrote how there are students who don’t realize they are plagiarizing by improperly crediting their sources, with many claiming to have done it accidentally. FSU encourages their students to avoid plagiarism by giving them access to Turnitin, which checks that their works are properly cited (making those claims from students that they “accidentally” plagiarized less likely to have any tractions).

So, what is the Student Conduct Code? How is it different from the Academic Honor Policy? And what happens when a student is caught Cheating or Plagiarizing by their school? This blog will dive into these questions and more!

What is the Student Conduct Code?

Students who find themselves enrolled in a Florida University are made aware at one point or another (normally at Orientation or during the application process) that their school has a Code of Conduct they are expected to uphold. Unfortunately, like the average service agreement or privacy policy people find online, very few students probably take the time to thoroughly read the many clauses and provisions they are committing to upholding during their time at school.

FSU sets out its expectations for those students who wish to attend their university in a Student Conduct Code (the “Code”). This Code sets out the many policies, procedures, and offenses that students are responsible for while they attend the University. It’s important to understand that FSU’s Code co-exists alongside the Academic Honor Policy, with the Code focusing on whether “a student’s conduct warrants modification of or restriction” of being a member of the University community.

FSU emphasizes that the core function of the Code is to foster an environment of wellness and belonging in the community that students inhabit. The takeaway here is that the Code normally looks to violations done by students and organizations involving behaviors that disrupt the values and expectations of the community.

To learn more about FSU’s Student Conduct Code, visit our blog here.

Types of Student Conduct Violations

Violations of the Code include:

  • Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct,
  • Endangerment of people or property,
  • Harassment,
  • Invasion of Privacy,
  • Hazing,
  • Weapons and Dangerous Substances
  • Fire and Safety,
  • Unlawful possession of Alcohol, Controlled Substances, and Illegal Drugs,
  • Disruptions and Obstruction to the University process,
  • Falsification and Misrepresentation,
  • Damage or Destruction of Property,
  • Unauthorized access or entry into a Computer or Computer Systems,
  • Gambling,
  • Other Violations
    • Which can include violations of federal or state laws
    • As well as a violation of the Academic Honor Policy

What is an Academic Honor Policy?

A school’s Academic Honor Policy normally outlines its expectations for students’ academic work and the procedures for resolving any alleged violations of those expectations. FSU introduces new students to their Academic Honor Policy during orientation, and students have to pledge to uphold these standards during their convocation (which is an academic ceremony performed by the University).  Because the Academic Honor Policy focuses on students’ academic work, it is much narrower in scope than the Code of Conduct. 

To learn more about FSU’s Academic Honor Policy, visit our blog here.

Types of Academic Honor Violations

Generally, Academic Honor Violations focus on work done by students for classes they are enrolled in. It’s important to note that violations resulting from students not enrolled in the related course are governed by the Student Code.  For example, a violation can result when another student gives a copy of their previous essay or exam to a student currently in a course governed by the Student Code.

While the following list is not all-inclusive of FSU’s Academic Honor Violations, it does cover most of the expectations the school has for students’ work.

  • Plagiarism,
  • Cheating,
  • Unauthorized Group Work,
  • Fabrication, Falsification, and Misrepresentation,
  • Multiple Submissions,
  • Abuse of Academic Materials
  • Complicity in Academic Dishonesty
  • And any attempt to commit any of the above offenses.

Student Rights

Perhaps one of the most important parts of this article is what rights students have going into any of the above disciplinary violations. Thanks to House Bill 233, which was signed by Governor DeSantis on June 22, 2021, and took effect on July 1, 2021, students now have much stronger Due Process rights when facing disciplinary hearings. This new bill amended Fla. Stat. § 1006.60, which sets out the State Board of Education codes of conduct for the Florida College System. Students are now able to have legal counsel during all aspects of their disciplinary hearings.

Students can now pick an advisor, such as a family member, a friend, or even an attorney to assist them during any alleged violation. Advisors are even able to present and respond to evidence as they would in a courtroom. Opening statements, presenting of the student’s case, cross-examination of witnesses, and even closing statements can now all be done on behalf of students facing conduct or academic hearings.

The new bill opened a whole new world of opportunity for students while ensuring the proceedings are fair and dependable for everyone. This is thanks to the fact that the new bill granted due process protections to students facing disciplinary hearings as well as those students bringing a complaint.

To read more about the new bill introducing students’ rights visit our blog here.   

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of cheating, plagiarism, or a student code violation it is of the utmost importance that you seek out the help of an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney. Especially if you also face criminal charges, since students enrolled at FSU, Florida A & M University and Tallahassee Community College can be found in violation of their Student Conduct Code with possible suspension or expulsion depending on the severity of the charges. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients from all over the state of Florida. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today for a free consultation.

Written by Jesus Lozano

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