Academic Advising

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Academic Integrity

College Board Procedure for Dealing with Accusations of
Violation of Academic Integrity

Contents:

  1. Academic dishonesty
  2. General principles
  3. Initiating a review of possible violations
  4. Procedures for College Board hearing
  5. Sanctions
  6. Appeal of Board decisions

Section I: Academic Dishonesty

Academic integrity is highly valued at Clark. Research, scholarship and teaching are possible only in an environment characterized by honesty and mutual trust. Academic integrity requires that your work be your own. Because of the damage that violations of academic integrity do to the intellectual climate of the University, they must be treated with the utmost seriousness and appropriate sanctions must be imposed. The maintenance of high standards of academic integrity is the concern of every member of the University community.

Several ways in which academic integrity may be violated are outlined below.

Cheating has three principal forms:

  • Unauthorized use of notes, text, or other aids during an examination or in performance of course assignments.
  • Copying the work of another.
  • Handing in the same paper for more than one course unless the faculty members involved give their explicit permission to do so.

Plagiarism refers to the presentation of someone else’s work as one’s own, without proper citation of references and sources, whether or not the work has been previously published. Submitting work obtained from a professional term paper writer or company is plagiarism. Claims of ignorance about the rules of attribution, or of unintentional error are not a defense against a finding of plagiarism.

Unauthorized collaboration refers to work that students submit as their own but which was arrived at through a process of collaboration without the approval of the professor. Since standards on appropriate or inappropriate collaboration may vary widely among individual faculty, students should make certain they understand a professor's expectations before collaborating on any class work.

Alteration or fabrication of data includes the submission or changing of data obtained by someone else or not actually obtained in the performance of an experiment or study, except where allowed by the professor. It also includes the changing of data obtained in the performance of one's research.

Participating in or facilitating dishonest activities includes, but is not limited to:

  • Stealing examinations
  • Forging grade reports or grade change forms, or altering academic records
  • Sabotaging the work of another student
  • Selling, lending, or otherwise distributing materials for the purpose of cheating
  • Forging or altering Graduation Clearance forms
  • Forging letters of recommendation
  • Forging signatures on any official university documents

Section II: General Principles

  1. Members of the Board and other University officials who have a judicial or investigatory role in a case are required to observe standards of confidentiality. The University expects that all other persons involved in a case will act in such a way as not to defame the reputation of other members of the University community.
  2. The College Board makes decisions about possible violations of academic integrity on the basis of the preponderance of the evidence.
  3. The mission of the College Board is educational as well as regulatory. Therefore, sanctions for violation of standards will reflect punishment for wrongdoing but will also represent attempts to teach students to uphold strict standards in the future.
  4. The University regards the violation of standards of academic integrity as a serious offence. Anyone who has information that a violation has occurred is expected to take appropriate action as outlined below. No person who, in good conscience, brings allegations of a violation of academic integrity will be adversely affected, and retaliation will not be tolerated. However, anyone who knowingly makes false or frivolous charges will be subject to discipline.

Section III: Initiating a Review of Possible Violations

A professor who suspects a violation by one of his/her students should investigate the incident. Any other person who observes an incident or possesses information about activities which s/he believes to be in violation of academic integrity should initiate a review normally by approaching the professor of the course in which the suspected violation occurred. In unusual circumstances, the individual may approach the chair of the College Board.

Any person who is uncertain whether to approach a professor or make a charge to the Board may approach the chair of the College Board in confidence to discuss the situation and seek consultation.

1. Consultation with the chair of College Board

Any person, including a student, who observes an incident or possesses information about a possible violation may approach the chair of the College Board to discuss the situation in confidence. Any person who feels that concerns about suspected violations of academic integrity have been improperly handled may also consult with the chair of the Board. The chair is available to offer consultation to help determine whether sufficient evidence exists to bring formal charges.

  1. Where the chair and the person agree that the evidence is insufficient, no formal charge is brought to the Board.
  2. Where evidence is insufficient to bring charges, but doubt remains, the chair can work with the person to consider informal solutions. (For example, approaching the professor and, without making specific charges against a student, explaining the reporting person’s concerns and discussing the possibility of more rigorous monitoring to prevent violations.)
  3. In exploring informal approaches, care should be exercised to avoid making statements which imply that a student has violated academic integrity since no hearing has been held and no finding of guilt has been made.
  4. Where charges seem appropriate, the chair will advise the person on the proper procedure for initiating a Board hearing.

2. Initiating a charge:

Charge initiated by the course professor:

The faculty member may investigate the situation, confront the alleged violator and, where the person acknowledges guilt, recommend a sanction to the Board. The faculty member then informs the chair of College Board of the case, making the accusation, providing evidence supporting the charge, and recommending a sanction.

The chair of College Board will review the information provided by the faculty member as well as any prior records of the student involving breach of academic integrity in determining sanctions (see section V: Sanctions).

In cases of first offenses, the College Board most often will ratify the sanction recommended by the faculty member. A letter explaining the charges and sanctions will be sent to the student, as well as kept on file.

Faculty members may recommend to the College Board a range of sanctions, including the following responses:

  • Warning without further penalty
  • Rewriting of assignment
  • Lowering of assignment grade
  • Failure of particular assignment
  • Failure of the course

Once a student has been notified that s/he has been charged with a breach of academic integrity, s/he may not withdraw from the class until the charge is resolve. If the outcome of the review is confirmation of the charge with a sanction of a failing grade in the course, the student may not withdraw from the class. The grade will be entered as a standing F. Students' whose sanction is less than failure, are able to withdraw from teh class if they elect and if it is still within the course withdrawal period.

If the accused student challenges the charge and/or sanction, and/or the offense is so serious as to warrant it, the student, the faculty member, or the College Board may call for a hearing on the case. The College Board will then convene a formal hearing.

Review initiated by other members of the university community:

A student or any member of the university community who observes an incident or possesses information about activities that s/he believes to be in violation of academic integrity is encouraged first to approach the faculty member teaching the course in which the alleged violation occurred.

  1. The meeting with the faculty member is in confidence.
  2. The complainant’s suspicions and the meeting with the faculty member should not be discussed with others. As appropriate, the faculty member may inquire to determine if others witnessed the incident or have pertinent information about it.
  3. Students or others who are approached to determine if they have witnessed specific events or have information about possible violations are also expected to maintain confidentiality.
  4. When a faculty member investigates an incident, the procedures outlined above apply.

Taking a complaint directly to the College Board:

Any member of the university community may bring a charge directly to the College Board. Procedures for a College Board hearing are outlined in section IV below.

Section IV: College Board Hearing

  1. The charge must be submitted in writing to the College Board. The charge should be factual, must include a description of the action(s) which is (are) believed to constitute violations of academic integrity, and must outline the substantiating evidence. Names of witnesses, if appropriate, must be included in the written charge at the time it is initiated.
  2. The chair of College Board will inform the student accused of the breach of academic integrity of the charge. Whenever a charge is brought by a person other than the professor of the course in which the alleged violation occurred, the chair will also notify the professor of the course in which the alleged violation occured, the chair will also notify the professor who will ordinarily serve as a witness. The student charged will have five business days from the point of notification to respond as requested to the charge. During the academic year, the respondent will be required to meet with the chair of College Board to discuss the charge. If the student acknowledges the accuracy of the charge, and if this is a first offense for the student, the College Board Chair will accept the recommendation of the instructor of the course for the sanction to be imposed. There will be no need for the full College Board to review the charge in a formal hearing.
  3. If the accused student denies the charge, s/he will be informed of the date and location of the College Board hearing at which the case will be heard. The accused will be provided with a copy of the charge, copies of any document(s) to be used in evidence, and an outline of the hearing procedure. The charge will be read to the Board and any member who has a conflict of interest will be excused from hearing the charge. The Board will then determine the charges to which the accused must respond.
  4. The student will be advised of the right to bring witnesses and the deadline for informing the Board of the names of witnesses. The student will also be advised of the right to have an advisor present during the hearing (c.f. #7 below).
  5. The chair of the Board will also inform the faculty member or student making the charge of the date and location of the hearing and of the charges to which the student accused must respond. The Board will provide the person making the charge with a copy of the procedures for the hearing.
  6. Witnesses: Names of witnesses must be included in the initial charge. The Board may allow the addition of witnesses not available at the time the charge was made. Such information must be provided to the Board no later than two business days before the hearing.
  7. Advisers: Both the complainant and the respondent may request the assistance of an adviser from within the Clark community. The adviser may remain throughout the hearing and be available for consultation. However, advisers are not allowed to provide information to the Board or to question the complainant, the respondent or witnesses. The name of an adviser must be submitted to the chair at least 48 hours before the hearing.
  8. Recording: Anyone attending a hearing may take notes. Only the Board may, at its discretion, tape-record the hearing.
  9. Hearing procedure:
    • Both the complainant and the respondent will be present at the hearing together and will have the opportunity to make statements separately to the Board.
    • The Board will question the complainant, the respondent and witnesses.
    • The respondent will have the opportunity to respond to all information provided to the Board which is pertinent to Board’s decision.
    • At its discretion, College Board may invite an expert witness to participated in the hearing during the presentations of the complainant and respondent. The expert witness will remain after the complianant and respondent have been excused to respond to questions that members of the Baord may have.
  10. Deliberations:
    1. Board deliberations are ordinarily held immediately following a hearing and are completed as soon as possible after the hearing
    2. Only Board members will be present during deliberations.
    3. Board deliberations will not be tape-recorded.
    4. Board will first determine, by majority vote, accused student's guilt or innocence of each charge.
    5. Board will determine sanction(s) for the charge(s) of which the respondent is found guilty.
    6. Where applicable, Board will determine actions to be taken should the respondent fail to comply with a sanction. Board may delegate that decision to the chair.
    7. Sanctions will be specified in detail, with deadlines and methods of documenting compliance clearly outlined, where appropriate.
  11. Notification
    1. Within two business days of completion of the Board’s deliberations, the Chair of the Board will notify the accused in writing of the outcome of the Board’s deliberations and of any sanctions levied by the Board.
    2. Chair of the Board will notify the accuser of the Board’s decision regarding guilt or innocence of the charge(s) within two (2) business days of completion of the Board’s deliberations. The Board, at its discretion, may also inform the complainant of any or all sanctions applied.
  12. Records
    1. At the conclusion of the hearing, the chair will collect all materials provided to the Board members and all documents used as evidence. Copies of the material will be kept in the confidential files of the College Board.
    2. Any tape recording of the hearing will be erased after the period allowed for appeal of the Board decision has expired.

Section V: Sanctions

  1. As stated in the general principles governing actions of the Board, its mission is educational as well as regulatory, and sanctions will therefore reflect not only punishment for wrongdoing but also efforts to teach students to uphold rigorous standards of integrity in the future.
  2. In determining the appropriate sanction, the College Board will take into consideration the student’s prior history of academic integrity, and the seriousness of the violation. Sanctions may include but are not limited to one or a combination of the following responses:
    • Letter of warning to the student
    • Grade of zero for the particular assignment
    • Grade of F for the course
    • Academic probation, the length of which will be determined by the Board
    • Notation of sanction on student's academic record
    • Suspension: student may be suspended for one semester or one year; the Board may suspend the student without opportunity for transferable credit
    • Expulsion from the University

Section VI: Appeals of Board Decisions

  1. An appeal of a College Board decision in an academic integrity case may be made only either by the respondent or by the complainant.
  2. Any appeal of the Board’s decision must be filed in writing within 10 business days of notification by the Board. Exceptions to this limit may be made at the discretion of the Board, if circumstances warrant.
  3. Appeals must be based either on the new information not available at the time of the original hearing or on flaws in the procedure of the original hearing. Appeals may not be based soley on dissatisfaction with the decision of the Board.
  4. a. Appeals of the Board's decision based upon submission of new information are filed with the chair of College Board and will be reviewed by the full Board.
    b. Appeals based upon a perceived flaw in the hearing process are filed with the Dean of the College. Appeals are heard by the Dean of the College or by the Dean's designee(s).
  5. When appeal is heard by the Dean of the College, all documents and recordings of the hearing will be made available to the Dean or the Dean's designee(s).
  6. The decision of the Dean of the College or College Board will be final.

Revised 12/2013