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Cheating

Accused Of Cheating After Using A Group Chat Or Discussion Board?

By July 30, 2020April 6th, 2022No Comments

Students have always used study groups to study and learn materials. 

In this digital age, though, students can participate in study groups without leaving the comfort of their rooms. They no longer have to meet up in study halls or libraries to discuss and share ideas. All they need is an electronic device.

Various forums have been created to enable multiple people to discuss at different times. Such programs, including group chats and discussion boards, have made it possible for students to engage in virtual study groups. 

But what happens if you’re accused of cheating as a result of using these virtual study group platforms?

Pros and Cons of Using Group Chats Or Discussion Boards To Study

With the fear of cheating accusations in mind, you may be reconsidering using online study groups, but there are some benefits:

  • Study groups allow you to participate in a group discussion at a time and place that suits you
  • You can reflect more and think deeper on the topics being discussed
  • You may feel more comfortable discussing your ideas online, especially if you’re usually shy around people
  • You have time to compose your thoughts before putting them into words

Even with these advantages, online study groups also have their disadvantages:

  • Potential cheating accusations (which we discuss in detail below)
  • Potential technical problems that leave you out of certain discussions
  • Discussions can go off topic and veer into unchartered territory

With these pros and cons in mind, let’s discuss the possibilities for cheating accusations when using online discussion boards.

How Can You Get Into Trouble By Using A Group Chat Or Discussion Board To Study?

You may have joined a group chat or discussion board in a bid to learn, with no ulterior dishonest motive in mind. 

Regardless, there are a few types of discussions that may be regarded as cheating by your college. 

  1. One of the ways you can get into trouble by using a group chat or discussion board is when you or another user posts examination questions or answers. It doesn’t matter if it’s an online exam or not. If a member posts the questions of an online examination on the group chat before the end of the exam, the college will consider it cheating. 
  2. The same goes for regular in-class examinations. If a student that has already taken the exam posts the materials used in the exam, it may be considered cheating. This is, however, dependent on whether or not different student sections are taking the same examination. 
  3. Another thing that your college may consider cheating is when the members of the group chat discuss a graded assignment. When an assignment is given, and it’s not group work, the rules are generally that you can’t collaborate. So if some members of the group chat or discussion board begin sharing information on the assignment, it will be considered cheating.

What Do You Do When You’ve Been Accused Of Cheating?

It’s possible that you had no hand in any of the cheating activities that took place on the group chat or discussion board. In fact, you may not even have been aware of it. 

Nonetheless, you’ve been accused of cheating because you were a part of the group chat. What do you do?

Before you begin to defend yourself, you should first go back and check the records of the group. 

  • Were you still a part of the group chat or discussion board when the materials in question were posted? 
  • Did you have access to the group when the alleged cheating took place? 
  • Can you prove that you didn’t have access?

Answering these questions may exonerate you from the cheating accusations.

If you still think you’re at risk of a cheating accusation, don’t try to handle the situation yourself. School rules about academic misconduct are complicated, and having it be an online allegation makes it even more complicated. You need the advice of an attorney with experience in defending college students accused of all kinds of misconduct and crimes. Contact his office today for a consultation.

DC Student Defense is here to help

Group chats and discussion boards are a handy way to study and learn from other students. However, it’s important to know when the discussions have crossed the line into actual cheating. When you notice that trend in an online study group you joined, you might be facing an accusation of cheating. Contact DC Student Defense for the help of an attorney who can fight for you.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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