Academic Integrity Policy to See Updates


In what has been a long time coming for Manhattan College’s academic integrity policy, the Educational Affairs Committee (EAC) will be instituting updates and revisions regarding levels of dishonesty in work.

The updated version of the policy aims to define actions considered academically dishonest, and it also hopes to distinguish between the varying severity of those actions.

Senior Kaitlyn von Runnen held the position of vice president for academic affairs during the 2017-2018 school year.  She was first introduced to the need to update policy as a member of the EAC.

“Because [the policy] hasn’t been implemented to the fullest extent possible …  [the] administration, the EAC [and] Provost Clyde decided they wanted to revisit it and come up with a better system that will be better implemented and addresses all the issues that students are facing on campus in regards to the academic integrity policy,” von Runnen said.  “There’s been some students who really follow the rules, and then they’re not taken into account for that, when other students who are constant violators aren’t being documented and reported.”

Sr. MaryAnn Jacobs is a faculty member of the School of Education, as well as a voting faculty member of the EAC.  She feels the new policy will make violations more explicit.

“The changes include making the violations more specific. The listing of the violations is meant to bring attention to what not to do,” she said.

According to Kerry Cavanagh, the current vice president for academic affairs, the EAC has been working on the policy updates for about a year and a half, since the time von Runnen held her position.

“The policy wasn’t clear enough … [on] what the violations were, what were the consequences, what were proper reporting mechanisms,” Cavanagh said.  “So there really came a need to fix that policy and to make it a bit more streamlined and have clear cut … guidelines as to what counts as a violation of academic integrity on campus.”

Cavanagh is one of three students currently on the EAC, and believes that providing the student voice is absolutely essential to the success of the committee.

“[Students] are outnumbered in the committee, so it is very important that the three students voice their concerns whenever they come up, because after all, these policies and things are being made with students in mind.  So it’s important to have that student perspective.”

The new policy will implement a point system to evaluate instances of academic dishonesty.  Higher point values indicate more severe violations.

The least severe infraction is recorded as a “warning.”  Warnings are classified by assumed inexperience and are noted as having “a lack of evidence of planning or collaboration.”

Other  infractions will be evaluated on a four-point scale, with point values rising according to the severity of the dishonest action.  Students can receive one, two and four-point violations.

One-point violations are infractions that involve “low-level” planning, but no collaboration.  Such violations include “looking at another student’s answers during an exam or plagiarism not exceeding ten [percent] of the work.”  Two-point violations involve moderate levels of planning and/or collaboration, including “materials created for the purposes of cheating or plagiarism exceeding ten [percent] of the work.”

Four-point violations are the most severe, and are characterized by “substantial” levels of planning and/or collaboration.  According to the most recent draft of the updated policy, “These consist of instances involving cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or academic misconduct when there is documented that the student’s actions represent a blatant disregard or disrespect for the expectations of academic integrity.”

As the policy is still going through final drafting stages, the above information is subject to change at the discretion of the EAC.

According to Cavanagh, implementing a point-system helps students and faculty recognize various types of academic dishonesty, as well as the severity of those types of dishonesty.

“There really are very different forms of … academic dishonesty … and so, how do you characterize … not citing properly in a paper versus going into an exam and very clearly looking at someone’s paper?  They’re on different levels, so I think they felt the need to have those in a point-based system to have it [be] more fair,” Cavanagh said.

The EAC currently aims to implement the revised policies into practice during the Fall 2019 semester.