Policy on Academic Integrity

The College exists primarily to sustain the pursuit of knowledge. Scholarship, teaching and learning are possible only in an environment of academic integrity characterized by honesty and mutual trust. Simply expressed, academic integrity requires that one’s work be one’s own. Every member of the College community — students, faculty and administrators—has the responsibility to ensure that the highest standards of academic integrity are maintained. To achieve this end the College has established policies and procedures regarding breaches in academic integrity.

Offenses Against Academic Integrity

The following are examples of offenses to academic integrity that are prohibited by Saint Michael’s College. The passages in italics constitute the Academic Regulations regarding academic integrity. These are followed by a brief discussion of the policies. Given the complex nature of the topic, the discussion does not include every possible offense against academic integrity but provides some typical examples.

1. Plagiarism

"Presenting another person’s ideas as one’s own, by directly quoting or indirectly paraphrasing, without properly citing the original source. This includes inadvertent failure to properly acknowledge sources."

When using ideas, arguments, and/or data from other sources the student must clearly define the sources using appropriate quotations and citations. Plagiarism may occur even when not using the exact words of another author. Paraphrasing a section of an article or book without the proper attribution is considered plagiarism. A student should ask his/her professor if there is any question about the proper use and citation of material from other sources.

Compositions, term papers, or computer programs acquired either in part or in whole from other students, the Internet, commercial or any other source and submitted as one’s own work shall be considered plagiarism. If the work contains the thoughts or words of others, and the student inadvertently fails to acknowledge the source(s), this action is considered plagiarism. Plagiarism applies to printed sources, electronic/magnetic sources, video/audio sources, CD-ROM and material obtained through network sources, including e-mail.

2. Unauthorized Assistance

"Giving or receiving assistance during an examination or in the preparation of other assignments without the authorization of the instructor."

There are many possible instances of unauthorized assistance. Using crib sheets or unauthorized notes during an exam is prohibited unless the professor provides explicit permission. Copying from another individual’s examination or providing information to another student during an examination is a breach of academic integrity. Soliciting, obtaining, possessing, or providing to another person an examination prior to the administration of the exam is prohibited.

Take-home exams, papers, and other outside work, such as computer assignments, are the sole responsibility of the individual student. Certainly the above regulations do not prohibit group study sessions and consultation with other students to clarify points under study. In certain instances a professor may permit and even encourage students to work together on certain projects. This is generally not the case when the work is represented as the student’s own effort. If the students have any questions they should ask the professor to provide clear guidelines regarding what assistance is authorized.

3. Interference

"Interfering with the work of any other member of the College community by: (a) compromising academic materials (laboratory reports, papers, presentations, etc.) or (b) infringing on the fair and equal access of all to the academic resources of the College."

Any action that limits another student’s access to the academic resources of the College or modifies their work is considered interference. For example, the unauthorized removal of library material is forbidden. Any tampering with a fellow student’s lab work or other academic work is a breach of academic integrity.

4. Interference Using Information Technology

"Interfering with the work of any other member of the College by using information technology to: (a) alter another person’s files, reports or data; (b) compromise data housed in the College’s academic information systems; or (c) engage in any unauthorized access to computer material whether on a College system, on a personal device located at the College, or over the Internet using College systems."

Any form of computer cracking, i.e., obtaining access to computer data of any sort without authorization, is a violation of academic integrity. This includes stealing or decoding passwords, destroying or modifying data, or reading another person’s files (including e-mail). In addition, any dissemination of computer-generated material such as viruses or spam, as well as preventing legitimate access to information via technology, are violations of this policy.

5. Multiple Submissions

"Submitting the same academic work to fulfill the requirements for more than one course without authorization of all instructors involved."

It is clear that submitting the same paper for more than one course is a breach of academic integrity. There may be instances where a student may want to extend the research completed on a different project. In these cases, the student must obtain the explicit permission of the professors involved.

Procedures

1. Offenses in a Course

"If a breach of academic integrity occurs in a course, the primary responsibility for dealing with alleged offenses to the Academic Integrity Policy rests with the instructor in whose course the alleged offense occurs. In these cases, the instructor shall notify the student and thoroughly discuss the evidence of the offense and the sanction to be imposed. Depending on the severity of the offense, the instructor may require that an assignment be repeated with a reduction in grade for the assignment, may record a grade of zero or failure for the assignment, or may record a failure for the course. The instructor will file an Academic Integrity Offense Report, which shall include the nature of the incident and the sanction imposed. The instructor shall file the report with the Associate Dean of the College and the report shall be maintained in a confidential file in the Office of the Provost-Vice President for Academic Affairs. The instructor shall send a copy of the report to the student(s) involved in the incident. If upon the submission of an Academic Integrity Offense Report the Associate Dean determines that a student has a prior offense, the Judicial Review Board will examine the case according to procedures outlined in the Student Handbook. At any point in this process the matter may be referred to the Judicial Review Board by the instructor or may be appealed by the student.

"When an instructor has filed an Academic Integrity Offense Report, the Associate Dean will meet with the student to discuss the matter and the sanctions imposed. The Associate Dean will ensure that the student has a full understanding of the seriousness of the offense, the procedures to be followed and the possible consequences of the breach of academic integrity. The Associate Dean will ask the student to sign a form acknowledging the offense and accepting the imposed sanctions. This form will be filed along with the Academic Integrity Offense Report.

"If a student does not accept the determination of the instructor and prefers to not sign the form accepting the sanctions, the student may appeal the decision of the instructor to the Judicial Review Board. In such instances, any other reports regarding violations of academic integrity involving the student shall be made available to the Judicial Review Board.

"At any point in this process prior to being referred to the Judicial Review Board by the Associate Dean, the instructor may refer the matter to the Judicial Review Board, or the student may appeal and ask the Judicial Review Board to hear the case."

There are several points in the above passage that should be highlighted for the sake of clarity. The primary responsibility for maintaining the Academic Integrity Policy lies with the professor. If a professor believes that a student has committed an offense against the policy, he or she must discuss the situation with the student before imposing sanctions. The professor will submit a report of the offense and the sanction to the Associate Dean of the College, who will in turn file the report in a confidential file in the Office of the Provost-Vice President for Academic Affairs. The student will receive a copy of this report. The primary purpose of this requirement is to determine whether a student has committed multiple offenses. These reports ARE NOT part of the permanent record, will not appear on the transcript and will be destroyed when the student graduates or permanently withdraws from the College. (It should be added that any suspensions or expulsions by the Judicial Review Board do become part of a student’s permanent record.) If the Associate Dean determines that a student has committed multiple offenses the Judicial Review Board will review the case.

The Associate Dean shall ask the student to meet and discuss the Academic Integrity Offense Report, as well as any sanctions imposed. In addition, the student will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of the offense and acceptance of the sanctions. The student has the right to not sign the form and to appeal a professor’s sanction to the Judicial Review Board. An appeal may be made to dispute the severity of the sanction or the facts of the case. If a student wishes to appeal a professor’s decision, he or she should contact the Associate Dean of the College.

2. Offenses Outside a Course

"In instances of alleged academic “vandalism” outside the context of a specific course, such as interfering with another’s work using information technology systems, the case shall be presented to the Associate Dean of the College for review. The Associate Dean shall undertake a thorough investigation of the alleged offense, and if sufficient evidence warrants further action, the Associate Dean shall refer the case to the Judicial Review Board. The Associate Dean shall file a report in the Office of the Provost-Vice President for Academic Affairs."

Sanctions

"When an offense occurs in a course, the instructor will determine the specific sanctions imposed for each offense. These sanctions include, but are not limited to (a) repeating the assignment with a reduction in grade for the assignment; (b) failure for the specific assignment; (c) a reduction in the student’s grade for the course; (d) failure for the course; (e) dismissal from a course. The Judicial Review Board may determine that additional sanctions are warranted.

"When an offense occurs outside the context of a course, the Judicial Review Board will determine the sanctions imposed for each offense. These sanctions may include (a) suspension from the College for a determined amount of time; or (b) expulsion from the College."

Judicial Review Board Procedures

"The Judicial Review Board for hearing cases of academic integrity consists of seven members appointed annually: three students appointed by the President of the Student Association, and four faculty members appointed in accordance with the Faculty Regulations. The Associate Dean of the College convenes the Judicial Review Board.

"The Judicial Review Board shall examine alleged offenses to the Academic Integrity Policy in the following instances: (a) when they occur outside the context of a course; (b) when the case is referred or appealed by any of the parties of an alleged in-course offense; (c) when the Associate Dean of the College determines that the student has a prior offense. As soon as an offense against Academic Integrity has been reported, the Associate Dean of the College shall call a meeting of the Judicial Review Board to hear the evidence and make a determination regarding any further action to be taken. The Board will determine its own chair.

"In the event that a seven member Board is not possible, a three member Board consisting of two faculty and one student may hear a case and recommend appropriate findings.

"The Judicial Review Board shall hear all relevant evidence from the involved parties on the matter. Based upon its determination of the facts, the Board may impose the full range of sanctions, which an instructor may impose, but the Board may also impose more severe sanctions including suspension or expulsion from the College. Since multiple offenses are particularly grave, the Board will usually find that suspension is the minimum sanction to be imposed in such instances. The President shall have the power to review any decision of the Judicial Review Board and to reverse or modify any decision."

When the Board hears a case pertaining to academic integrity the Board will consist of three students, appointed by the President of the Student Association, and four faculty members, to be chosen according to Faculty Regulations. The range of sanctions to be imposed by the Judicial Board may include suspension to expulsion from the College.

There are four situations when Judicial Review Board may adjudicate issues related to the Academic Integrity Policy: (1) when a student appeals a professor’s decision, (2) when a professor asks the Board to review a case, (3) when a student has committed multiple offenses, (4) when there are offenses outside of the context of a course. Students may appeal any decision of the Judicial Review Board regarding academic integrity to the Provost-Vice President for Academic Affairs.

For further information please contact the Associate Dean's Office, 802.654.2347

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