Academic Integrity Committee

Minutes of Meeting





Brandi Williams (Office of Student Integrity)

Elliot Moore (ECE)

Peter Paquette (OSI)

Anil Shetty (OSI)

Joel Sokol (ISyE)

Ken Cunefare  (Exec Bd Liaison)

Jeff Davis ECE (Chair)

Academic Integrity Committee


The purpose of this meeting was to discuss and explore the details of the current Sanction Model on Academic Misconduct.  This semester our committee will actively review this policy and possibly recommend some changes to this document.  The motivation of this course of action is to provide clearer guidelines on implementing grade penalties and providing concrete steps toward suspension.


Comments on Disciplinary Sanctions


1.  Because only suspensions are reported externally, the question was raised as to whether suspension needs to be given more frequently as a sanction.


2. There was a discussion on whether the 20% benchmark is the correct threshold for disciplinary probation.


Comments on Programmatic Educational Experience


There was not a lot of discussion on this point; however, one suggestion was that this seminar should be listed as a regular class that the student must take.  This could be taken on a pass/fail basis, but this would provide some indirect feedback to institutions or employers looking at the transcript to know that they have taken a seminar class on “Academic Integrity.” 


Comments on Grade Penalty


There was discussion on the verbiage on how this penalty is engaged given the percentage that the assignment is worth.  The main comments were as follows:


1.  Perhaps the statements should be made clearer to acknowledge that some professors will grade on a bell-curve and some will not. 


2. There seemed to be no disagreement on the committee that a student found guilty on cheating on an assignment should be given a zero on that assignment.  Perhaps it is up to the faculty’s discretion as to determine if this means a zero on specific questions of the assignment or the whole assignment; however, this distinction should not be mentioned in the guidelines.


3. There perhaps is some disagreement on whether the grade penalty MUST include a letter grade drop.  However, it seems clear that the current guideline says that this must have at least ONE letter grade drop in the grade.  This could be more if the assignment has a significant weight in the calculation of the overall grade.


4. A possible revision would be to keep in the minimum letter grade drop to help deter students from cheating on small assignments; however, perhaps the last part of this section could be simplified to say that the student will receive a 0 on the assignment that will be used to calculate the final grade.  The grade will also be calculated as if cheating did not occur to determine if the penalty has indeed dropped the grade by at least one letter grade.



Aggravating Circumstances


There was also a discussion on the “premeditation” designation in the “aggravating circumstances” which could be invoked to trigger a more severe disciplinary penalty.  The current guidelines look at how the person cheated and not just that he/she cheated.  For example, cheating in the heat of a moment on an exam because a student panics is less serious than a student who has come INTO an exam planning to cheat with pictures of the tests, hidden notes, etc…



Additional Items


1. A question arose by Prof. Cunefare as to whether the disciplinary sanctions can impact a student’s participation in extra-curricular activities.  His comments are as follows:


“With respect to participation in Extracurricular Activities, Section XVII.A.3 states: ‘Any student placed on academic drop/dismissal, review, suspension, or expulsion is immediately ineligible for participation.’


Section XIX.E.1, in speaking to sanction, uses the term ‘Suspension Held in Abeyance’ which is not found in XVII.A.3. Further, XIX.E.1.c, in speaking to Suspension Held In Abeyance, that ‘During the time of Suspension Held in Abeyance, involvement at the Institute is restricted to 1) academic activities and 2) non-academic activities specifically approved by the Office of Student Integrity.’


This creates an eligibility bar with respect to participation in extracurricular activities, which is not covered under the eligibility criteria of XVII.A. ‘Suspension in Abeyance’, if added to the criteria in XVII.A, would resolve the inconsistency.”


2.  There was also brief mention as to whether this sanction model should apply to both undergraduate and graduate students.  The only discussion was on international students who claim ignorance to certain policies (e.g. plagiarism), which is possibly condoned in their native country.