A primary responsibility of higher education is to provide students with the opportunity for inquiry and the freedom to discuss and express their views openly and freely without fear of retaliation or abuse of person or property. Students have an obligation to act in a fair and reasonable manner toward their peers, faculty, staff, administration, and physical property of the College. Violations of college regulations that have been adopted to protect the college community will be subject to academic sanction and/or disciplinary action. This may include, but is not limited to, violations of regulations governing plagiarism, cheating, examination impersonation, submitting a substantially similar paper or project for credit in two (or more) courses unless expressly authorized to do so by your faculty member(s), academic fraud and acts of personal behavior such as sexual harassment, vandalism and substance abuse. The College’s policies and processes provide guidance to the individuals charged with administering disciplinary action or academic sanction while outlining the protection to be afforded to students through their right of appeal. Disciplinary authorities are encouraged, whenever possible and appropriate, to settle findings of violation by informal resolution.
The purpose of this information is to
- Help if you have been accused of academic dishonesty; or
- Help you understand academic integrity better so you can avoid unintentional acts of academic dishonesty.
It is the responsibility of the student to know and follow the rules.
What to do if you are accused of cheating or plagiarism:
- Answer questions honestly. The instructor (or designated instructional leader) has an obligation to investigate and to try to determine the truth. Lying or fabricating evidence may lead to a more severe sanction or disciplinary action.
- Remember, there is an appeal process available to you. Regardless of the circumstances, you must be allowed an opportunity to “tell your side of the story.” Remember that allegations of cheating must be substantiated by some kind of evidence (having seen the act, having physical proof, or having receipt of a report from another student).
- Consider the evidence against you. Contrary to popular belief, evidence does not have to be conclusive. The burden of proof is based on the “balance of probabilities;” that is, if a reasonable person can say: “Based on this evidence, cheating probably took place.”
- If you encounter an instructor who, in your opinion, is handling a cheating accusation unprofessionally, you may want to seek advice from someone else (another faculty member, a department chair or division director, or administrator) who may help you.
- Keep in mind that the College is obligated to handle incidents that may result in sanction or disciplinary action with the strictest confidence and so should you. Therefore, discuss these sensitive matters only with those in whom you can place the most trust.
Summary: This document defines the principles of academic integrity as detailed in the values statement below. It contains, by reference, the expectations, rights and responsibilities, sanctions, and related processes essential to maintain the standards of academic integrity within the College.
Purposes: Upon the recommendation of the faculty, the College adopts the following values statement, “Academic Integrity is a commitment to fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. From these values flow principles of behavior that enable academic communities to translate ideals into action.” Specifically, these values are defined as follows:
- An academic community of integrity advances the quest for truth and knowledge by requiring intellectual and personal honesty in learning, teaching, research, and service.
- An academic community of integrity fosters a climate of mutual trust, encourages the free exchange of ideas, and enables all to reach their highest potential.
- An academic community of integrity establishes clear standards, practices, and procedures and expects fairness in the interaction of students, faculty, and administrators.
- An academic community of integrity recognizes the participatory nature of the learning process and honors and respects a wide range of opinions and ideas.
- An academic community of integrity upholds personal responsibility and depends upon action in the face of wrongdoing.
On all course work, assignments, or examinations undertaken by students at the College, the following pledge is implied by virtue of admission: On my honor as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this assignment. Violations of the academic integrity policy are purposefully divided into two distinct categories: (1) Basic violations (which result in academic sanctions) and (2) Capital violations (which result in academic sanctions and/or disciplinary action). Basic violations of academic integrity shall include, but are not limited to:
- Consultation of textbooks, library materials, or notes in examination, or electronic sources where such materials are not to be used during the test;
- Use of “crib sheets” or other hidden notes in such an examination;
- Looking at another student’s test paper to copy strategies or answers or allowing another to do so;
- Possessing a confederate contraband supply of questions or answers for any assignment or examination;
- Having a person other than the one duly registered and taking the course stand in at an examination or any other graded activity;
- Deliberate falsification of any graded activity;
- Collaboration with others except where such collaboration is permitted or encouraged;
- Submission of previously-graded work for a new assignment (without instructor’s prior consent);
- Use (either in part or whole) of documents obtained from internet sources designed to encourage dishonesty and which are not the immediate result of the student’s own academic effort;
- Continuing work on an examination or assignment after the allocated time has elapsed; /or
- Plagiarism (in any form) defined as taking of another person’s intellectual work and using it as one’s own; and/or
- Use of any unauthorized electronic device.
Related Academic Sanctions
As the primary arbiters of academic integrity, individual faculty members may address incidents of academic misconduct on a “case by case” basis (see Process). Specific sanctions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Verbal Warning/No grade-related action;
- 0/F on the assignment/quiz/examination (with the possibility of makeup);
- 0/F on the assignment/quiz/examination (with no possibility of makeup);
- 0/F in the course (no prohibition of future enrollment);
- 0/F in the course (prohibition of future enrollment);
- Designation of “XF” grade (with or without prohibition of future enrollment); and/or
- Recommendation for administrative academic sanction(s).
“Capital” Violations of Academic Integrity
Violations of academic integrity which occur in the context of other violations (which may or may not be subject to disciplinary or criminal charges) are considered “capital” offenses against academic integrity. As such, these cases shall be considered on the totality of the evidence, and primarily as academic offenses. Examples of such violations include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Committing an act of academic dishonesty in collaboration with another;
- Attempting to gain unfair academic advantage for oneself or another by bribery or by any act of offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting anything of value to another for such purpose;
- Changing or altering grades or other official educational records;
- Obtaining or providing to another an unadministered test or answers to an unadministered test;
- Gaining unauthorized access into a building or office or electronic media for the purpose of obtaining any course related information or examination; and/or
- Repeated acts of basic violations of academic integrity.
Related Academic Sanctions
Upon the recommendation of the faculty and/or discipline committee, the College may effect such academic sanctions and/or disciplinary action as deemed appropriate including but not limited to:
- Verbal warning/No grade-related action;
- 0/F on the assignment/quiz/exam (with or without possibility of makeup);
- 0/F in the course (with or without prohibition of future enrollment);
- Designation of the “XF” grade;
- Course Specific Enrollment Prohibition;
- Formal Reprimand;
- Probationary Status;
- Suspension (of one semester or more);
- Reduction of college-awarded scholarship;
- Retraction of college-awarded scholarship;
- Suspension from participation in activities which represent the College;
- Requirement of community service hours;
- Denial of graduation application;
- Expulsion; and/or
- Any other reasonable actions as deemed appropriate by academic administration.
As an academic matter, basic violations of the academic integrity policy result in academic sanctions applied by the respective faculty member. However, students shall receive due process prior to disposition of sanction or disciplinary action, as follows:
- Notification of the allegation(s) and possible sanctions;
- Notification as to how their alleged actions violated college policy;
- Opportunity to meet with the faculty member and/or Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) and hear the evidence to be applied as justification for academic sanctions and/or disciplinary action;
- Notification as to the recommendation to be made by the faculty member and/or AIC; and
- Opportunity to appeal the application of academic sanction and/or disciplinary action (as outlined above).
Academic Integrity Committee (AIC)
The AIC will serve as an advisory committee to the Vice President, Academic Affairs (VPAA) called to serve in those instances when (a) the affected faculty member is unable or unwilling to recommend academic sanction, (b) the nature of the violation requires the recommendation of disciplinary sanction (i.e., for capital violations), and (c) when the student appeals the decision of the VPAA. The VPAA will not serve on the AIC, but reserves the right to appoint the chair and AIC members (in consultation with the faculty and staff).
When a student appeals an academic sanction and/or disciplinary action, he or she is entitled to due process and a hearing with the AIC. The request for an appeal must be made in writing to the Chair of the AIC (through the VPAA) on or before the fifth working day following the disposition of academic sanction or disciplinary sanction. (Note: A working day is defined as any day the College is open for business.) The Chair of the AIC shall notify the student concerned, in writing, of the date, time, and place for the hearing which shall take place within fifteen working days after the date of the letter. The decision of the AIC is final.
The composition of the AIC is as follows:
Chairperson (Appointed by the VPAA)
Four faculty members or professional staff personnel
One male student-at-large
One female student-at-large
As an academic matter, faculty members retain all rights of grade assignment and related academic sanctions. Course grades assigned (including the “XF”) may not be altered without the consent of the originating faculty member.
Faculty members retain the right to address those instances of academic dishonesty which they may deem to be less serious using their own professional discretion as may be appropriate; however, the adjudication of either basic or capital violations must be guided by the parameters of this policy following all stated processes when deliberating and recommending academic sanctions and/or disciplinary action.
Violations of the policy which are not resolved informally shall be reported to the department chair and, upon resolution or recommendation of academic sanction or disciplinary action, results shall be briefly documented and reported to the VPAA through the appropriate Division Director. Notification, as described herein, shall not be construed to indicate that faculty members are in any way restrained from applying the academic sanction they deem appropriate.
When a faculty member believes there is sufficient reasonable evidence to demonstrate that a student may have violated the College’s integrity policy, he/she will:
1. Discuss the incident with the student, (in the presence of the department chair if either the faculty member or student so desires)
2. Review the College’s academic integrity policy, explaining to the student how the alleged behavior has violated the policy and the possible penalties that may be the outcome
3. Offer the student the opportunity to provide explanation relevant to the allegation of academic misconduct
4. Advise the student of the academic sanction and/or recommendation for disciplinary action (if any) to be rendered within a reasonable time (if not immediately) and
5. Inform the student of his/her appeal rights (department chair, division director, and VPAA). The decision of the AIC is final
NOTE: Capital violations must be referred to the VPAA for adjudication by the AIC when the recommended academic sanction and/or Disciplinary action exceeds assigning an “XF” grade. If the faculty member determines that academic misconduct has not occurred, no report or documentation is necessary. However, if the faculty member determines that a violation of the academic integrity policy has occurred, he/she shall:
1. Impose an academic sanction and/or recommendation for disciplinary action (as described above);
2. Retain evidence of the integrity violation (if any); and
3. Prepare and forward a (confidential) academic integrity violation report indicating the determination reached and the sanction(s) imposed.
Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) Hearing
The hearing is informal and the Chairperson shall provide reasonable opportunities for witnesses to be heard. Legal rules of evidence do not apply to hearings before the College AIC. The committee may admit evidence that is considered commonly accepted by reasonable men in the conduct of their affairs. Committee members may freely question any witness.
The Committee shall proceed generally as follows during the hearing:
- Committee Chair reads the complaint and reviews the respondent’s rights.
a. Notification of the allegation(s) and possible sanctions;
b. Notification as to how their alleged actions violated college policy;
c. Opportunity to meet with the College AIC and hear the evidence to be applied as justification for academic sanctions and/or disciplinary action;
d. Notification as to the recommendation to be made by the College AIC;
e. Inform the respondent that the decision of the AIC is final.
- The Committee Chair or faculty representative presents the College’s case.
- Respondent presents his/her defense.
- The Committee Chair or faculty representative and the respondent present rebuttal evidence and arguments.
- Each side summarizes its case.
- The Committee will discuss and vote on the issue of whether or not there has been a violation of College rules and policies. If the Committee determines there has been an infraction of College policies, the Committee will determine an appropriate penalty. All members of the College AIC shall have an equal opportunity to vote in all matters brought before the Committee. Each vote shall have equal value; a simple majority will determine the outcome of all matters voted upon. Deliberation and voting are conducted in closed session with only committee members present.
- Committee Chair informs the respondent of the decision of the Committee and of the penalty, if any. If a respondent fails to comply with a notice of hearing, the Vice President, Academic Affairs (VPAA) may impose an appropriate penalty or proceed with the hearing in the respondent’s absence.
- Committee Chair submits a report of the hearing to the VPAA.