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How can a student contest an allegation of academic dishonesty they believe is untrue?

As a student, you have a right to due process if you have been unfairly accused of cheating. There are three steps to this process. 

Step 1.  Meet with your instructor.  In a calm and respectful way ask him or her why he or she believes you have cheated.  You then should explain why you believe you did not commit an act of academic misconduct.  Remember, pleading ignorance of the rules of say, plagiarism, is not a defense for your actions.  If you believe witnesses are available to support your position, ask your instructor to meet with them and you--the sooner the better.  By the end of this conversation, you may come to the conclusion that, although you didn’t mean to cheat, your behavior was academically dishonest.  Alternatively, your instructor may come to see your behavior in a different light and decide to withdraw their accusation.

Step 2. If you are unable to resolve the dispute with your instructor, you may discuss the matter with the chair/director of the department/school that offered the course.  Again, it is important that you conduct yourself in a mature and respectful way.  Emotions may run high in these meetings, but it is best for all if you can keep them in check.  If the chair/director feels that you have been unjustly accused, they can speak to the instructor on your behalf.  If they believe that your behavior was an instance of academic dishonesty, you face a choice.  You can accept responsibility and the penalty grade that has been assessed or you can take your case one more step. 

Step 3.  The final step in the process is to request an academic grievance hearing before the University Academic Integrity Hearing Board.  For an explanation of the hearing process, visit our page on How to File a Request for an Academic Grievance Hearing.

If the hearing board clears you of the charge, your instructor can appeal the decision or accept the decision and recalculate your grade. 

If this is your second Academic Dishonesty Report (ADR), your dean may request an academic disciplinary hearing to assess additional sanctions.  If you are contesting this second ADR the disciplinary hearing would proceed only if the hearing to contest the allegation upholds your instructor's charge.  Students who are accused of cheating and for whom an academic disciplinary hearing has been requested have 10 class days to file a written request for an academic grievance hearing to contest the allegation.

You may consult with the University Ombudsperson at any time during these negotiations.  The Ombudsperson will explain the process of contesting an allegation of academic dishonesty, review the university rules and policies regarding academic integrity, and explain the hearing process.