For a couple of days ago I had an in class online quiz consisting of multiple choices. I had read and prepared for the quiz and got a 80%, not too well but not bad either.

Several days after the exam I got a email from my professor saying that two different persons had come to him and told I was observed cheating by searching the web for answers. I met up with the professor and he blamed me straight away for cheating. I never talked with him before but he sided immediately with the other side rather than me, even though he had no "past impression" of me. He tried to scare me to admit to something I did not do while I repeatedly told him I did not do it. He made me very uncomfortable, saying I should drop the class and so on...

He was being very childish and immature, I told him it was unfair to take someone’s word over mine when there was no prior relationship, he just started working here. He kept threatening me and I told him I would never admit to something I did not do and it is wrong to accuse someone based on a rumor, this means that I could potentially wrongfully accuse someone of cheating and they would be in trouble.

I am very scared now and I suffer from social anxiety, I have been scared to show up to class as I feel the professor is out after getting me. After this incident, he has also given me very bad grades, borderline failing me, even though I am a student with a 3.5 GPA and very hard working. Also he has been talking about me "cheating" to other students, started a rumor about me that has spread among several classmates, which makes me very uncomfortable being around people.

I have gotten several reports from classmates that he has shared this private matter with them. Whatever I do in class now is not good enough; he keeps on punishing me with bad grades and gave me a zero on the quizzes, making the class hard to even pass. I have no clue what to do in such a situation, and as mentioned before I suffer from heavy social anxiety and I am scared of going to class.

We had a quiz with the same format as the other one shortly after with same amount of questions from a different chapter, I had to finish that quiz while he was looking at me and I got the same exact result as the previous one. I thought that would be proof enough, but he told me that he believes the other person more than me, without giving any reason for why.

I don't want to be labeled for something I am not or punished for something I have not done. Is he allowed to talk to other students about such a private thing? What about my rights? What can I do?

  • 2
    I have no where else to go, I tried doing that and what happened was that the department head an the professor ganged up on me. I wish if someone that has been in a similar situation or have some knowledge about what a professor can and can not do could help me out a little bit. I am trying to take this to the dean when I am ready
    – Josef
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 6:13
  • 5
    I don't see a problem in asking here at AC.SE (which is created for academics and those enrolled in higher education). Regarding your question, I think the professor should have a solid evidence on cheating to act upon it. He is completely unjustified to accuse you based on other students words. If you are not able to resolve the issue with the professor directly, go to the department head and discuss with him/her (or at @T-K suggested below, go first to Student Conduct and seek advice).
    – jak123
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 6:26
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    There is something I don't understand here. As you stated, you were observed cheating by searching the web for answers by two different persons, as the professor says. How do they know you searched the web? Did they see your computer/smart phone? Are they students or instructors? If they are students, they are cheating as well (they were looking at your computer). If they are instructors, you probably have no case. Please clarify.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 7:17
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    Voting to close for now as we cannot give a more specific advice than “take this to the appropriate authority” without knowing the answers to the questions @Henning asked.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 8:15
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    I live in the US, a other student got called up to his office today to talk about me, this student do not like the Professor and what he is doing so he audiorecorded him without telling the Professor. He has a 10 minute audio tape where the Professor continously try to get him to admit that I cheated
    – Josef
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 15:15

4 Answers 4


First, you should check and read the entire academic dishonesty statement at your university. This should give you an understanding on how the university normally treats these types of issues. Actually being proactive on contacting an office of academic integrity or student conduct, depending on its name at your university, can help you understand what the standard route for a professor to take for academic integrity.

While it is appropriate for a student to come to a faculty member to talk about another student's cheating, it seems to be a red flag for your instructor to ask others about your cheating by name. A vague announcement about seeing that people are not looking at their own papers or looking at their phones is appropriate, but actively singling a student out for their academic misconduct could violate one's privacy in a case of academic dishonesty. This is something you should check with your university though.

Another person who may be of help is the undergraduate chair of the department in which this is occurring, but it seems in the comments you have tried.


I do not know in which country you are studying in, but in the UK all universities have a Student Union or Student Association. I always recommend that students seek advice from representatives of the Student Association who will have some experience of handling this kind of thing in the past. The Student Association can also support you by providing representative to speak to the department on your behalf.

I know this might not be available everywhere but I felt it should be included as an answer to a question like this to remind staff and students about the excellent role that Student Unions provide in the case of difficult disputes between staff and students.

I also have significant experience in the university pastoral care system of representing and guiding students who are experiencing similar accusations of unfair means from their departments. Some universities do provide neutral academics who can advise students who find themselves in such difficult positions.


Your university should have (a) a formal process to be followed for accusations of cheating and (b) a formal process for resolving disputes between students and academic staff. Contact either your student support or your personal tutor (or both) and seek to get these formal processes engaged. Do not try and resolve this personally by engaging with the professor. Ensure you continue to attend class and perform further coursework to the best of your ability.

Your professor should be following process for dealing with your alleged cheating not arbitrarily punishing you with lower grades on unrelated tests.


You give no information on the country where you are studying, and I really only know about the German examination system. In Germany, university grades are administrative acts, implemented by an examination board, which is governed by public law. Therefore, students can lodge a formal objection (Widerspruch) against an unjust grade, which then is readdressed.

Having said that, I would recommend to look into your exam regulations, as a first step, to find out whether a similar procedure exists at your institution. In many English-speaking countries, complaints can be brought to the student ombudsperson. They might also explain further options.

You seem to have a good case, as you have been accused based on hearsay where you should have been given the benefit of the doubt.

  • 2
    I live in the US, a other student got called up to his office today to talk about me, this student do not like the Professor and what he is doing so he audiorecorded him without telling the Professor. He has a 10 minute audio tape where the Professor continously try to get him to admit that I cheated
    – Josef
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 15:15
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    @Josef: You'll want to be very careful with what you do with that audio-recording. It might not be legal.
    – user10885
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 20:15
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    It might not be, but a doomsday weapon can yet come in handy.
    – Joshua
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 19:02

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