Fall term’s Honor Code cases, provided by the Honor Council: details regarding the cases, outcomes and sanctions of Honor Council hearings from last term

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By Honor Council

­­­As per the Honor Code, summaries of all cases heard by the Honor Council will be shared with the entire campus body.

The following are cases heard from the Fall Term 2012:

The Honor Code is available at honorcode.union.edu. The Code describes the procedures that the Honor Council uses when presented with evidence of possible academic misconduct.

The Honor Code makes it clear that students have a responsibility to ensure that their work meets the standards set out in the code.

If a student claims to have had good intentions (for example, claiming to have been rushed, or to have accidentally included text or ideas without proper citation), this is not an excuse.

The sanctions for second offenses are harsher than for first offenses: the normal sanction for a first offense is failure in the course, whereas the normal sanction for a second offense is suspension or expulsion.

The minimum sanction for a first offense mentioned in the Honor Code is “failure on the assignment,” but the Honor Council recognizes that, given the weight of an assignment, failing the assignment may cause a student to fail the course.

1. A junior turned in a paper that resembled the paper of a classmate, both in structure and in wording. The student claimed to have sought help from a classmate after missing class, talking about (but not copying from) the classmate’s outline and paper. The Council determined that the student had drawn from the work of the classmate to a degree that was unacceptable, and that it went beyond merely discussing one’s ideas than doing the work on one’s own. The Council found the student guilty of violating the Honor Code. The sanction was receiving no credit on the paper.

2. A junior turned in a paper that resembled the paper of a classmate, both in structure and in wording. The student claimed to have helped a classmate who had missed class, sharing notes and discussing the paper. The Council determined that while the classmate violated the Honor Code, under the circumstances this student did not have reason to believe that the classmate would do so. The Council determined the student did not violate the Honor Code.

3. A first-year student turned in a homework assignment that duplicated the steps and final answers of a classmate’s assignment—including the classmate’s unusual errors. The student admitted to having looked at the classmate’s notes and homework, despite the fact that collaboration on the homework was prohibited. The student claimed not to have read about the prohibition in the syllabus, and also claimed not to have cheated because using the classmate’s homework led to real understanding. The Council determined that the student did cheat; the sanction was a zero on the assignment and a letter grade reduction in the course.

4. A sophomore turned in a homework assignment that closely resembled a solution available online, including errors in the solution. (The professor’s instructions prohibited using online solutions when completing homework.) The student stated that the resemblance was a coincidence. The Council determined that the student did cheat; the sanction was a letter grade reduction in the course.

5. A junior took an exam with notes written on his/her legs, concealed under clothing. The student admitted to having violated the Honor Code. The student had previously committed an act of academic misconduct. The Honor Council determined that the student would fail the course and would be suspended for the following term. In accordance with the Honor Code, the student’s transcript will include a note that the suspension was due to academic misconduct.

6. A sophomore submitted a lab report with some structure and ideas that resembled a report that was on file from a previous term. Some of the material would have been more appropriate to the lab procedures from the previous term. The student claimed to have worked with a tutor on background and introductory material—sometimes consulting by phone—and claimed not to have realized that the tutor included suggestions that were tied so closely to the previous lab. The council determined that the student had not directly copied from the previous lab report, and that the student had not violated the Honor Code.

7. A senior’s lab report appeared to contain ideas and phrases from outside sources that were not cited. The student claimed that a previous lab professor had indicated that quotation marks were not appropriate in this particular context. The Council observed that the comments on the previous lab report directed the student to paraphrase rather than quote. The Council concluded that the failure to acknowledge the source of the material in the report did constitute plagiarism. Since this was the student’s second offense, the sanction was a one-term suspension in addition to no credit on the assignment.

8. A senior’s paper from the previous term contained passages and ideas from sources that were not cited. The student accepted having committed academic misconduct, and asked for a Chair-Dean review. The Chair and Dean determined that the student would receive a failing grade on the paper.

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