Academic Integrity Committee Minutes
November 4, 2005
Present: Present were Thomas Michaels (Faculty member), Robert Kirkman (Faculty member), Thomas Morley (Chair), Mitch Keller (Grad Student), Dino Sammarco (Undergraduate student), Gus Giebelhaus (Chair, Student Honor Committee; Ex-Officio), and Ericka McGarity (Office of Student Integrity)
I. Robert Kirkman agreed to serve as secretary of the committee for the 2005-2006 academic year.
II. Discussion was held to clarify the “Sentencing Guidelines.”
New sentencing guidelines developed by this committee last year suggested that students found responsible for academic dishonesty should face three consequences: a change in disciplinary standing, a learning experience, and an academic impact. Regarding academic impact, the guideline stated that “the typical way to determine academic impact is to give a 0 on the work in question, and then to deduct from the final course grade an additional amount equal to the work in question. Thus if the total points are 100, and the work is worth x, then the grade can be no higher than 100-2x.”
These guidelines were published in an OSI document and distributed widely across campus. This has generated some controversy among faculty. Some faculty are concerned that the 100-2x guideline is too lenient; they would like to have the option of failing the student outright and pushing disciplinary standing to its extreme limit. Other faculty are concerned that the 100-2x guideline is too harsh; they would like to penalize the student, but the guideline would result in outright failure more often than necessary. There is also some concern that the new guideline is not in keeping with past practices, and will lead to inconsistency in sentencing.
This reaction by the faculty raises a serious concern: faculty may simply stop sending cases to OSI if they are unhappy “one way or another” with the sentencing guidelines.
Intertwined with all of this are some broader issues regarding faculty and student (mis)perceptions of the honor process. Faculty sometimes regard the three-impact guideline as a buffet: they would like to choose one or two of the impacts, leaving aside any that they do not like, for whatever reason. The guideline specifically states that sanctions should include all three impacts. Students seem to think that if they do not like the penalty imposed by OSI personnel that they may get a better deal by going before the Honor Committee. This is a misimpression on students’ part, and also increases the caseload of the Honor Committee unnecessarily.
The committee agreed (by consensus) on several steps to address the situation.
Further discussion of the issue was held over for future meetings.