Academic Misconduct Hearings -
According to the Academic Misconduct Code, students charged with academic
misconduct may request a hearing to contest the charge or just tell their side
of the story. At last count, roughly twenty percent of academic misconduct
cases on the Norman Campus result in hearings. In about half of those hearings
the students represent themselves. The remainder -- ten percent of all cases --
is evenly divided between UOSA counsel (OU law students interning with the University of Oklahoma Student Association) and private
attorneys. About 90% of all hearings result in a finding of guilt.
It is currently Legal Counsel's policy to provide representation for faculty
only in hearings where the student is represented by a private attorney.
However, even in other cases questions can arise that are outside the
experience of most faculty. This sheet is intended to be a quick guide to
presenting your case and dealing with any unforeseen contingencies. All
references below are to the Norman Campus Academic Misconduct Code.
The hearing process.
Hearings are arranged by the college that offered the course. The hearing
panel, called the Academic Misconduct Board (AMB or Board), consists of three
faculty and two students from that college. Hearings are closed to the public.
Students who wish to bring family or friends in addition to their counsel must
obtain consent from the Board and you -- you do have the right to say
no. Sec. 5.4(f).
What should I do before the hearing?
- Get your documents
together. Presumably you have already sent a memorandum detailing the
charge, along with supporting documents, to the College. Supporting
documents normally include the assignment in question, if it was written,
the original source of a plagiarized assignment, if available, and the
syllabus from the course, especially if it contains any warnings about
misconduct. The College normally takes care of providing this material to
the panel. Students may obtain it from the College upon request. Make sure
to bring a copy for yourself, and it is a good idea to have an extra copy
- Make sure you've received
all possible information from the College. In its notice to you, the
College should tell you the date, time, and location
of the hearing. Make sure these are acceptable. It should also tell you
whether the student has either UOSA or private counsel. You also
have the right to request copies of any documents the student plans
to produce, along with the names of any witnesses and what they
plan to testify about. (The student has the right to request the same
information from you.)
- Understand the procedure.
The Provost's web page contains a helpful introduction to the academic
misconduct system: http://www.ou.edu/provost/pronew/content/integritymenu.html,
with links to the Academic Misconduct Code and the Provost's Student Guide
to Academic Integrity.
What should I do at the hearing?
- Make sure the Board is
acceptable. In rare instances there may be someone on the Board who is
too close to you or the student to judge the case fairly. The chair of the
hearing panel should normally make sure that's not the case, but if you
see a problem you should mention it. AMC § 5.4(i)
- Present the facts. It
is the faculty member's job to speak first, present the facts of the case,
and present and explain any available evidence. The faculty member bears
the "burden of proof" -- it is your job to show guilt, not the
student's to prove innocence. However, guilt need only be established by a
"preponderance of the evidence." AMC § 5.4(l). Unlike a
prosecutor at a criminal trial, you need only show that it is "more
likely than not" that the student committed an act of academic
misconduct. Remember that a "smoking gun" -- witnesses to an act
of cheating, or the publication from which a paper was plagiarized -- is
not always necessary to establish that likelihood. Your recollections of
events, and your impressions as an experienced professional, are evidence
- Don't accept unfair
surprise. Occasionally a student may present a defense you didn't
expect and aren't prepared for. If that happens, explain the situation
and ask the Chair for a continuance so you can consider the situation,
examine the new evidence, or consult with an advisor. It may be an
inconvenience to delay or reschedule the hearing,
but fairness should be more important than expediency.
- Don't be daunted by
legalistic arguments. The Board's job is to decide the facts, not
adjudicate legal technicalities. If the Board appears to be unduly concerned
with what seems like a technical problem -- whether the student's act
constitutes academic misconduct, for instance, or whether a certain piece
of evidence is admissible -- gently suggest that the question could be
resolved with a call to the Provost or Legal Counsel. AMC sec. 5.4(n).
What should I do after the hearing?
Once the hearing is over, the panel's findings and recommendations are
normally issued within a few days. Immediately upon a finding of guilt you are
free to impose whatever grade penalty is appropriate. If you have definite
ideas about other penalties--community service, suspension, etc.--feel free to
communicate them to the dean and the provost. If the student is found innocent,
that is usually the end of the matter, and no grade penalty for misconduct
should be imposed. Appealing the decision is possible in some limited