by RICHARD GERLING, Staff Writer
Students know the deal: cite sources, do not copy homework and do not cheat on exams. How the college reacts to violations of academic integrity may not be as familiar to students as those basic concepts. The Educational Affairs Committee worked all of the 2018-2019 academic year to update the college’s policy, hoping to clarify, for both students and faculty, just exactly what academic integrity means.
The policy was completely revamped to create a new point system to track violations reported by professors and to more clearly delineate what counts as a violation of academic integrity.
Violations of academic integrity include but are not limited to cheating, fabrication, plagiarism and academic misconduct.
The new policy organizes academic integrity violations into four groups. There are warnings and then three levels of violations: one, two and four point violations. Classification is based on the severity of the violation and is dependent on a number of factors, including but not limited to: whether the violation is a first-time offense, academic experience of the accused student, nature of the academic exercise, whether there was extensive planning or collaboration involved and/or degree of malicious or dishonest intent.
Warnings consist of those instances when, in the opinion of the faculty member, the student’s actions may be the result of inexperience, most commonly among first year students. Warnings level violations will be characterized by a lack of evidence of planning or collaboration.
The violations become increased in points if there is evidence of planning and collaboration. Low-level planning without collaboration is a one-point violation and moderate-level planning or collaboration is a two-point violation. A four-point violation is when the student’s actions represent a blatant disregard or disrespect for the expectations of academic integrity, and involve substantial planning and collaboration.
The sanctions doled out increase in severity based on the point violation. Students with a warning will have to complete academic integrity tutorials offered through the Center for Academic Success within 30 days of being notified. Failure to complete these tutorials will result in the warning becoming a one-point violation. A one-point violation requires the student to receive a zero on the assignment and to complete the same tutorials from the CAS.
The sanctions that will be enforced on a two-point violation are a failing grade in the course, being placed on probation from the College for one semester with a notation of “academic integrity disciplinary probation/suspension” recorded in the student’s academic file, and required participation in the CAS tutorials. Failure to complete the tutorials could increase the severity of the violation.
Four-Point Violations, or violations that are greater or equal to four points will result in dismissal from the College and a permanent academic integrity disciplinary dismissal notation on the student’s academic file.
Students have seven days within being reported to appeal the decision.
A major baseline to gauging which level of violations is intent and collaboration, meaning that higher levels of cheating and academic dishonesty will result in higher point violations. With the new changes of the policy, students are more aware of what their actions entail and the types of consequences that come with them. All faculty members will be able to view reports in Jasper Connect to allow for a more interconnected system to uphold the procedures to consistently report violations.
When administration met to review the policy, they came to the conclusion that reporting of violations of academic integrity were low because professors felt the policy was too vague and made professors unsure of what to report. At the start of the Fall 2018 semester, a new policy was drafted to clarify violations and what consequences they hold.
The 2018-2019 Educational Affairs Committee consisted of Nadia Itani, the 2019-2020 VP for Academic Affairs; Kerry Cavanagh, the VP for Academic Affairs for the 2018-2019 year; Kaitlyn Von Runnen; Provost William Clyde and Sr. MaryAnn Jacobs. The goal of this committee, among their other tasks, was to update the language of the policy to make actions and consequences more clear to students. Suggestions and comments from the student body were made, primarily through student government.
Itani thinks that policy is moving the college in the right direction.
“From a student perspective, I feel informed on the violations and their consequences, and from a faculty perspective I believe they will be more attentive and willing to report for the betterment of their students with a better understanding of what reporting these actions may bring to them in terms of taking action,” said Itani.
“One thing I can comment on, however, is that the policy should be simplified and distributed to students as an easy way to understand the new policy. To assist with this, I’ve created an info-graphic that summarizes the new changes and will be distributing that at the next Student Government assembly meeting on September 18, 2019.”
Junior education major Camryn Kidney shared some comments.
“I think it’s good that they outlined the rules more distinctly and that it’s not too general anymore. It’s black and white and I know now what is considered cheating and what isn’t in the policy,” said Kidney.
Sophomore chemical engineering major Sofia Rivera heard about the policy but thinks the dissemination of the new policy updates could be better.
“I just didn’t know all of the details. I think that in every class we’ve talked about it for a little bit, but they haven’t done a good job of informing the students,” said Rivera.