Academic Misconduct Policies at Western Washington University

Western Washington University (WWU) considers academic honesty essential to learning. As members of an academic community, students have an obligation to fulfill responsibilities to uphold academic integrity in their coursework. The university deals severely with students who do not conduct themselves with honesty and transparency.

If you are accused of cheating, plagiarism, or another form of academic misconduct, you should know that the future of your college education could be on the line. WWU will pursue formal conduct procedures to determine if you have truly committed academic misconduct, and the process can be overwhelming. When you are facing such an accusation, consider working with a specialized student defense attorney-advisor who can help you through it.

Academic Misconduct at WWU

WWU has an Academic Honesty Policy and Procedure that defines academic misconduct and how the university proceeds if a student is accused of academic dishonesty. Students are responsible for reading the policy, along with other student codes, to know what may be considered academic misconduct. Failure to read or understand the policy is not a sufficient defense if you are accused of academic misconduct.

Examples of Academic Integrity Violations

WWU's Academic Honesty Policy defines academic dishonesty as “misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent means. Academic dishonesty compromises the instructor's ability to fairly evaluate a student's work or achievement.”

The list of examples provided in the policy is not exhaustive but merely illustrative of what may be considered academic misconduct:

  • Giving or receiving unauthorized information to or from another student during an assignment or test
  • Obtaining or providing exam questions or answers prior to the exam without authorization
  • Using unauthorized sources during an exam
  • Helping someone take an exam for someone else
  • Using signals to give or receive answers during a test
  • Altering answers on a test that has already been scored and resubmitting it for a higher grade
  • Collaborating with others on a required assignment when it's not allowed by the instructor
  • Stealing class assignments or files and submitting them as one's own
  • Not giving sufficient credit to all participants in a group project
  • Representing as one's own in whole or in part the argument, language, creations, conclusions, or scientific data or another without explicit acknowledgment

How WWU Handles Academic Misconduct

WWU emphasizes academic dishonesty education on the part of its instructors in an effort to take a proactive stance on cheating and plagiarism. However, the conduct process is still in place for instructors who suspect their students may have committed academic misconduct.

Discussion with the Instructor

As soon as a professor suspects academic misconduct from a student, they have ten working days to arrange a meeting with that student to discuss the potential infraction. If the instructor is unable to meet with the student before final grades are due, the student receives an “X” grade until the two can arrange a meeting. If the student doesn't contact the instructor to have the “X” grade changed within ten working days, the grade becomes an “F.”

Instructor Decision

The student has a chance to explain themselves at the meeting with the instructor to demonstrate why they have not committed academic dishonesty. Following the meeting, the instructor has ten working days to decide whether the student is responsible for academic misconduct or not.

If the instructor believes the student is responsible for academic misconduct, they will report it to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Registrar, the university judicial officer, and the dean's office. The reported violation stays on the student's record unless the student appeals.

Academic Honesty Board

If a student is found responsible for academic misconduct by an instructor and it's the first offense, the student must complete a workshop about academic integrity. If it's the second offense, the student must go before an academic honesty board with a recommendation that the student should be permanently dismissed from the university.

The academic honesty board is also in place to hear appeals from either students or faculty members following the dean's decision about academic dishonesty(see the below section about appeals).

Both the student and faculty member can go before the academic honesty board and may be accompanied by one person. That person cannot speak on their behalf, however. Each side can present evidence, make oral arguments, and call witnesses. At the end of the hearing, the board can either overrule the dean's decision or not.


Students may appeal an instructor's decision regarding their academic misconduct if the student wants to dispute it. The student has five working days after the instructor's finding to appeal to the unit head or dean. The dean then has ten working days to make a ruling.

Following the dean's decision, either the student or faculty member may make another appeal to the academic honesty board within five working days (see the previous section about how academic honesty board hearings proceed).

After the academic honesty board's decision, either students or faculty members may appeal again to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, whose decision on the matter is final.

Potential Sanctions for Academic Dishonesty at WWU

There are only two sanctions that students found responsible for academic misconduct may face at WWU:

  • A self-paced workshop covering academic integrity if it's their first offense
  • Expulsion if it's their second offense

Students may also face lowered grades or a potential “F” in a course if they fail to meet with the instructor who has accused them of academic misconduct before final grades are turned in.

How a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Can Help

The policy for academic dishonesty at WWU isn't clear or easy to follow for someone unfamiliar with the process. As a student accused of academic misconduct, you may not be sure what comes next or how you should proceed. If you have a student defense attorney-advisor by your side, they can help make sense of this confusing policy and coach you on how to present yourself during meetings and hearings.

Joseph D. Lento has helped college students across the country with academic misconduct issues and can help you protect your future too. Contact Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3686.