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Accused of an Honor Code Violation at an Ivy League School? Advice from a College Student Defense Lawyer

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2018

The university honor code is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years starting with some of the oldest colleges in the nation. An honor code is a set of standards that the school believes all students must follow. Many Ivy League universities believe it the basis to which a trusting relationship between staff and students is created. So, what happens when you are accused of an honor code violation at an Ivy League school? Read on for the answer from a college student defense lawyer.

What are considered honor code violations?


These honor code violations include: gaining an academic advantage like using unauthorized resources or academic aids like a test bank or past course materials. You could be accused of looking at another student’s test or using a cell phone in the bathroom or at your desk to look up test answers. Asking another student what was on a test is also considered cheating.


These honor code violations include: Forgetting to cite a source in a paper, using assignments purchased online or having a friend do your work. Turning in your friend’s work as yours or turning in the same paper to two classes is also considered plagiarism.

Other Honor Code Violations

These honor code violations include: having of drugs or weapons (even BB guns) on campus, using or possessing alcohol on campus; improper behavior in a clinical or internship setting, or even inappropriate verbal behavior like cursing.

How serious is an honor code violation?

Tier 1 colleges like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, or Stanford take any honor code violations very serious. Some of these schools require a suspension and possibly community service for the first honor code violation. Two violations? You will be expelled from the university.

I didn’t commit an honor code violation but know someone who did. I didn’t report them and now I am charged with an honor code violation.

Schools that uphold the honor code believe that the code is only as good as those who believe in it. This means that students are tasked with not only following the guidelines, but also reporting those who do not. This means that if you saw someone cheating during an exam, you must report them or could face the same consequences as the person who cheated. If you saw someone drinking in a dorm, you have to report them. No matter what the honor code violation, you must report the violation or face the same consequences as the offending student.

I didn’t commit an honor code violation, and someone is falsely accusing me.

Being falsely accused of an honor code violation is one of the most frustrating situations a student can be in. Ivy League universities are cut throat and class rank is highly competitive. A corrupt student can easily use the honor code to gain an academic advantage and put a competing student in a terrible situation.

How can I fight the honor code violation?

Every honor code violation requires an academic hearing. The hearing can be informal meaning in front of a hearing officer, or formal which is held in front of a panel of students and staff. At the hearing, the student gets the chance to defend themselves against the violation. I cannot stress enough the importance of preparation. You only get one shot at fighting the charges, you must have a well-thought out and strategic plan for your defense.

Advice for fighting honor code violations at Ivy League universities.

In my experience, the honor code can work in the student’s advantage when it comes to violations if you use the system to your advantage. The honor code violation is often investigated by students. This investigation can be flawed, and overzealous students can make mistakes. Spotting these mistakes can make all the difference in guilt vs. innocence in an academic hearing.

Recommendations from an experienced student defense lawyer

Hire an experienced student defense lawyer immediately

The honor code violation investigation and hearing process is time sensitive. An experienced college student defense lawyer will be able to navigate you through the process and use all resources available to gain the best result possible.

Bring an experienced lawyer for college discipline to the honor code hearing

Universities may be more agreeable to reducing a disciplinary sanction if a lawyer is present. An experienced lawyer for college discipline can help you make the best defense presentation possible. A lawyer will also make sure that that the school follows its policies and procedures.

Can you help an Ivy League college student defend an honor code violation?

Yes. I have assisted Ivy League students all over the county defend against honor code violations. Each student’s situation is unique, and my defense strategy depends on the situation. As a lawyer for college students, my specialized experience in the Ivy League university disciplinary process gives each student the best chance for success. I also attend honor code hearings with students to give on the spot support.

You get only one chance at success. Make it your best.

Richard Asselta is an award-winning lawyer who handles all college issues and offers student defense adviser services throughout the United States. He is experienced in defending all types of college issues including Ivy League honor code violations. Call Asselta Law today for a free consultation and start building your defense today.855-338-5299Click here to read what clients are saying about Richard Asselta on AVVO, a lawyer review website.