Appendix I: A Policy Statement
Here is reprinted verbatim a document prepared for several audiences, describing the actual constitution of the University of Rochester Board on Academic Honesty as of March 27, 1988, and formally endorsed by the Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences in October of 1988. In most particulars it is not new, but follows a decree of 1965 which first established what is essentially the present system governing undergraduate students in the three University of Rochester "River Campus" undergraduate colleges: Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Nursing. (The Eastman School of Music and the various graduate and professional schools have procedures of their own). It was also already obsolete in one detail: The Board on Academic Honesty, as of the fall term of 1988, had five, not four, members. (But it still required only three members for a hearing).
It was intended by the author that the several parts labeled To the Student, To the Professor, and so on would be separately printed and distributed to those audiences at suitable times, and that some version of the whole document, freed of the redundancy required by this comprehensive format, be printed in the Faculty Handbook, replacing a rather briefer statement that had been there and in the faculty regulations for over twenty years.
The administrative features of this constitution are consistent with the recommendations (and general philosophy) defended in this book, and can serve as a model statement for those who wish to use these procedures. It does not contain a detailed definition of plagiarism or the various forms of cheating, which some colleges think it useful to provide for their students; for this, a separate statement would be needed. Princeton University (Princeton, 1986, p 41-51) publishes an admirable cautionary essay on scholarly documentation as it is expected of the writer of an historical or critical essay, with examples of how student papers may (wittingly or not) contravene those standards; but a more comprehensive statement, including such things as the illegitimate use of others' computer programs or "take-home exam" solutions to numerical problems, is not known to me. My own view is that the definition of academic dishonesty as given in Paragraph 2 of the section headed Definitions and general policy below is sufficient for all practical purposes, and that detailed advice on scholarly practice is best left to professors in their classrooms.
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
BOARD ON ACADEMIC HONESTY
INFORMATION FOR FACULTY AND STUDENTS
The University Board on Academic Honesty has jurisdiction over all cases of academic dishonesty involving River Campus undergraduates (Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Nursing), and Eastman School undergraduates when enrolled in River Campus courses. The Board consists of four River Campus professors appointed by the Provost.
Academic dishonesty is defined as the presentation of work which is not the student's own as if it were his own, in order to receive credit or a grade he would not be entitled to if the source were known; or of the presentation of a falsified account on any academic matter which could have the same result; or of collusion, or the deliberate assistance in another's doing any of these things. Thus unauthorized copying or collaboration on examinations and other assignments and any deliberate plagiarism are examples of academic dishonesty, as also would be the forgery of an official signature, the invention or forgery of scientific or other scholarly data, and some kinds of vandalism, if committed in pursuit of academic credits or grades. In addition, any collusion or conspiracy with others to help them in any act of academic dishonesty is also dishonest, no matter who the intended beneficiary may have been.
To Faculty members: It is your duty as a teacher to insist on academic honesty in your students, and to report apparent violations of the canons of academic honesty when they come to your attention. To minimize the occasions for dishonesty you should be explicit in all your assignments, making clear what collaboration with other students is or is not allowed, what use of secondary sources is or is not permitted, and what documentation of such assistance is required.
In courses where unsupervised assignments are used in grading, it is essential that you define in writing the permissible limits of collaboration among students, and to direct your instructions not only to those who might otherwise use unauthorized material, but to those who might be tempted to provide it to their friends or classmates. Experience has shown this warning to be particularly important where computer programs and reports of laboratory work are in question.
Assignments of papers to be done outside of class should never be repeated verbatim from one year to another, and should be so focused on particular questions that no papers written by previous generations of students can be borrowed wholesale and still meet the assignment. And in examination rooms you should arrange the seating or the style of questioning so as to make cheating difficult or easily detected.
Any faculty member in charge of a course who discovers a probable case of academic dishonesty in the setting of that course should put a stop to it if it is in progress, and in any case initiate an early, even immediate, meeting with the student involved, if this is possible. (Between semesters, or if the student is not available, this step may be omitted). Unless the matter proves to be a clear and simple misunderstanding, the faculty member should then send the Chairman of the Board a written report of the incident, including all pertinent documents, and should in the meantime, pending adjudication, take no action against the student except to report an "N" as the term grade for the course if the term ends before the case does.
The Chairman of the Board on Academic Honesty will inform the professor directly in cases where the student is not found guilty, and the professor will take no further action except to restore the status quo ante. In cases of guilt it will be the Dean of the student's college who informs the professor of the outcome, and of that part of the penalty that may affect the professor's grading of the student.
It is not necessary for a professor or any other person reporting a possible case of academic dishonesty to be absolutely convinced that the student reported is guilty. Indeed, it often happens that two students are reported to have apparently collaborated when in fact one of them has plagiarized the work of the other without that other's knowledge. Therefore a professor is not necessarily accusing a student of wrongdoing when submitting his name to the Board. The professor may be a witness and source of information, and may be called by members of the Board for information or testimony as necessary, but he is not required or permitted to be a "prosecutor" in a case of suspected academic dishonesty, nor may he make a judgment or apply any penalties for dishonesty except as instructed by the Dean. It is the policy of the Board to hold hearings as promptly as possible, but not until some earlier investigation makes it clear that a hearing is warranted. It should be the policy of the professor to withhold all further action until the results of the Board's deliberations are announced.
A note on plagiarism: If a paper or other assignment was supposed to be original work, or to be documented in a certain way, but has manifestly been copied (or partly copied) from other sources, or insufficiently documented, the professor is entitled to downgrade it as not having met the assignment, even though the Board on Academic Honesty does not later find it was done dishonestly. However, the professor should always speak first to the student about any such incident, and should always report it to the Board if there is any possibility that dishonesty is in question, i.e. if it is not "a clear and simple misunderstanding." The Board may then assess a further penalty if it finds this warranted. It is only if --- and while --- a suspected case of academic dishonesty is before the Board that the professor is to suspend judgment temporarily, and award the "holding" grade of N if necessary at the end of the term.
Procedures for students accused of academic dishonesty
To the student: It is your duty, and that of every other student, to acquaint yourself with the meaning of academic honesty, and to behave honestly in all your academic work. Your grades should reflect your performance, and your neighbors' theirs; if the University tolerated academic dishonesty, then your honest work could be mistakenly compared with the false performance of someone else, and your accomplishment would suffer in the comparison. You should therefore not only behave honorably yourself, but should actively discourage academic dishonesty in other students. And willful collaboration with other students in any form of academic dishonesty is as culpable as that other student's actions.
If you are mistakenly thought by a professor or other official to have violated the University policy on academic honesty, you should explain your view of the incident without delay; you may thereby avoid having to defend yourself before the Board on Academic Honesty. If you receive a letter concerning an apparent infraction from the Chairman of the Board, you have a second opportunity to explain yourself (this time in writing) before a formal hearing is called. Your grade in the course will be reported as "N" if the semester ends before your case does; this will in no way affect the final grade, as it is a temporary marker and not even an "Incomplete."
If you are then called to a hearing, you will be given written notice by the Chairman of the Board on Academic Honesty, and you will be able to know the nature of the evidence in advance. You may bring with you to the hearing a friend or counselor of your choice, up to three people in all, provided they are members of the University or of your immediate family, besides any actual witnesses you may want the Board to hear. When the hearing is ended, the panel (which consists of either three or all four members of the Board) will consider its verdict in private. If you are not found guilty of any violation, you and your professor will be notified directly, and your course grade will reflect a face-value assessment of any assignment that had been put in question. In the other case, the Chairman of the Board will inform your Dean of the verdict, with a recommended penalty, and the Dean will notify you and your professor of his decision, which may (but usually does not) differ from that of the Board. If you think you have been unfairly treated you may appeal your judgment by writing to the University Provost within two weeks of receiving notice of that judgment from the Dean.
Penalties that have been applied in recent times have been: failure in the course, a zero grade for the assignment, a lowering of the course grade by a certain number of points, the assignment to do "volunteer " work in the University hospital for a certain number of hours, and the revocation of some privilege, like permission to live in a fraternity house, or to play on some athletic team, for a certain period of time. For aggravated or repeated offenses, students have been suspended or expelled from the University. Penalties are intended to be educational as well as punitive, and are not standardized.
The proceedings of the Board on Academic Honesty are confidential and are not disclosed to anyone who is not directly concerned. Penalties, if any, are not part of the student's academic record, except (in case of a lowered grade) the bare fact of the grade finally recorded, or of the disciplinary suspension (though only for the period of that suspension, after which the notation is removed). The complete record of any case is held in the files of the Board for five years, after which it is destroyed; the permanent archive of the Board contains only summary information without identification of individuals.
Any person who observes an apparent incident of academic dishonesty should put a stop to it if possible, and inform the persons involved that the matter will be reported to the professor in charge of the course, if that is appropriate, or to the Chairman of the Board on Academic Honesty if the incident is not within the context of a discernable course. This should be followed by a written report to the professor or the Chairman of the Board, who will then assume responsibility for the next step.
Examples of offenses not associated with particular courses, that might be reported directly to the Chairman of the Board, are: Forgery of a document affecting grade reports or credits, and cheating in a language proficiency examination.
Any person is entitled, and urged, to report offenses; this includes administrative officials, staff members and students, and anyone else who wishes to assist the University to judge fairly the academic performance of its students, and to keep its grade records honest and trustworthy.
Administration and procedures of the Board on Academic Honesty:
The Board on Academic Honesty is composed of four faculty members from River Campus colleges with undergraduate programs. They are named by the Provost, who also designates one among them to be Chairman, to serve terms of whatever length is needed to provide for continuity in membership.
Upon receiving a report of possible violation of University policy on academic honesty, the Chairman writes to the students named informing them of the nature of the complaint and asking them to write an short letter explaining their views of the incident. The Chairman may dismiss the charge for want of evidence at this point, or he may assign some member of the Board to conduct an investigation, which usually consists of studying the documents and questioning witnesses in an informal manner. While the case is under investigation, the student is not permitted to withdraw from the course, nor is the professor to give a grade other than N if the semester ends before the adjudication. If the evidence seems sufficient, the Chairman summons the students involved, and any witnesses necessary, to a hearing, which may be conducted by any three members of the Board.
Any student asked to appear before the Board is given sufficient notice, and is permitted to bring with him a friend or counselor of his choice --- up to three such persons, provided they are members of the University or of his immediate family. He is entitled to know in advance the nature of the evidence against him, and to cause the Board to hear testimony from any witnesses he wishes to bring forward. The hearing itself is conducted as a committee meeting, and not an adversary proceeding, with the Board asking questions in an informal way, and with an opportunity for any relevant statement to be made by any party.
Decisions of the Board are made in camera. If a student is not found guilty he is informed of this directly, and so is the professor if there is a course grade that could have been affected by the outcome. If a student is found guilty of any violation of University policy on academic honesty, the Board determines a penalty which it recommends to the Dean of the school in which the student is enrolled, forwarding that recommendation with the complete file on the case.
The Dean administers the penalty, informing the student and any relevant professor, or the Registrar, of whatever part of the result that person needs to know. In case of a failure or lowered grade for a course, or if an "N" grade must be replaced, the change is reported by the professor when he has learned the Dean's decision. It is rarely necessary for the Registrar to be informed directly of such a penalty as having emanated from disciplinary proceedings, and in fact the student's academic record will not permanently indicate actions of the Board on Academic Honesty, though in case of suspension or altered requirements for graduation the record will necessarily refer to an action of the Dean so long as the requirement is not yet satisfied. No student will receive degree while involved in an unfinished case of academic dishonesty, even if all his other requirements have been met.
The Dean will then return the file to the Board, which maintains it for no more than five years, after which the entire file is destroyed. Files of students not found guilty are also kept for at most five years. During this time the Board's files are available only to its members, the Dean, the President, the Provost and other University officers designated by them, and the file on a particular case may be shown to the student involved for use in defense. A student may appeal any verdict to the Provost within two weeks of having been notified of it.
The penalties applied by the Dean may include (but are not limited to) admonition, lowering of a course grade, lowering of the grade for an assignment, failure in a course, the requirement to take an extra course (or more) for graduation, the requirement to take a particular course, or a course of a particular nature, without its being an addition to graduation requirements, or to perform some academic exercise outside of course work, as a requirement for graduation. Also, a student may be deprived of some privilege, such as permission to participate in intercollegiate athletics, or to live in a certain fraternity house or dormitory, for a prescribed period; or he may be fined (if the transgression was destructive of University property) or asked to make restitution; or he may be required to perform some volunteer work in a local hospital or other public service agency. A student may be suspended for a stated period or expelled permanently from the University. There is no statutory association of certain penalties with certain offenses; the gravity of the offense and the entire record of the student will be considered, and where possible the penalty should be educational as well as punitive.
The Chairman of the Board on Academic Honesty submits to the Provost a report at the end of each academic year, giving summary statistics on the number and nature of the cases and their disposition, but not identifying the persons involved. The report should also identify the members of the Board, and include suggestions (if any) for improvement of in the system. Part of the report should be put into a form suitable for publication within the University for the information of students and others, in order to emphasize the University's commitment to academic honesty, and to remind members of the University of their responsibilities in this regard.
Ralph A. Raimi, Chairman,
Board on Academic Honesty
27 March 1988