To say that the world of higher education is big on integrity is an understatement. Academic communities like the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) can only thrive when every member is fully committed to the principles of academic integrity. To ensure students reach their educational goals, Caltech has enforced a number of rules that serve to preserve and maintain academic integrity in all scholastic endeavors.
Students who break these rules, knowingly or accidentally, will be accused of academic misconduct. Accusations of academic misconduct are serious, and will be punished through the school's judicial system. Guilty determinations of academic misconduct have been known to jeopardize students' college careers and affect their professional lives down the line as well.
In this article, we'll address how Caltech handles allegations of academic misconduct and why you need a student defense attorney to assist you through the process once accused.
The California Institute of Technology's “Honor Code”
The Honor Code is a fundamental principle of conduct for all members of the Caltech community. This code of ethics guides the entire campus community of students, staff, and faculty. It simply states that: “no member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community.”
This is a vague definition, and it is impossible to give a set of comprehensive examples that displays every possible situation in which the Honor System must be carefully applied. For the purposes of this article, we'll outline a few areas of life at Caltech and demonstrate how the principles of the Honor System should be considered.
The vast majority of examinations at Caltech are take-home. On each exam, the conditions under which it must be taken, including the time limit, the materials allowed, and the due date will be specified. Anything done outside of the parameters of these conditions, like working with other students or consulting outside resources, is considered a violation.
Homework and Laboratory Assignments
Instructors are to state their policies regarding collaboration and related concerns at the beginning of each academic term. It is a student's responsibility to get this information. If a policy seems ambiguous, it is in a student's best interest to seek clarification from the instructor. According to the Honor Code, violating a collaboration policy takes unfair advantage of those who abide by the restrictions placed on them, and compromises the trust of the instructor.
Papers and Reports
A lot is required of Caltech students. They all will be required to produce reports and research papers during their careers at Caltech. In collecting data and information, as well as in writing, students must actively avoid plagiarizing the work of others. Proper footnoting of source material and documentation of borrowed ideas is essential.
Plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, takes unfair advantage of any original authors, the instructor who incorrectly believes that the ideas are the plagiarist's, and other students who correctly footnote all sources. So, a guilty determination of these claims will lead to sanctions.
The California Institute of Technology's Procedure for Handling Academic Misconduct
When students fail to follow the Honor Code, Caltech will take measures to protect the community from those actions. Keep in mind, that the procedure can be lengthy. These measures include:
The Board will determine if there is sufficient evidence to determine if a violation took place in a hearing. The board will assess all of the relevant evidence, including statements by the respondent and witnesses during the hearing and any documentary evidence. During the hearing, the respondent and witnesses will be asked to explain any circumstances concerning the event or action in question.
Nullification of Unfair Advantage
This is where the Board officially quantifies the scope of the effect of the violation. For example, in a case where a respondent had access to all of the solutions for a problem set but copied only one solution, the Board may still recommend nullification of all the whole problem set since the respondent would have been able to check and verify all of their work. However, if the Board determines that a respondent's advantage was confined to only portions of an assignment, the Board may vote to nullify only those portions. Therefore, nullification is assessed on a case by case basis.
Protection of the Community
After deciding on the measures necessary to nullify the unfair advantage, the Board will decide if measures to protect the community from further Honor Code violations are necessary and what these might be. The Board determines its protection recommendation by considering any factors it considers relevant, including the severity of the violation, the respondent's honesty during the process, and prior convictions.
The protection recommendation, as its name indicates, is not meant to be punitive. Rather, it reflects the Board's assessment of the degree to which the respondent's past and present violations indicates a need to take steps to improve the respondent's understanding of the Honor Code and protect the Caltech community from future violations. The most serious recommendation the Board can make is to place a student on leave for one or more terms, or even permanently.
Appeals may be heard by the Vice President for Student Affairs within 10 days.
Academic Integrity Attorney
An academic misconduct violation can jeopardize the academic and professional goals you or your college student have set. If you value the investment you've made into your education and your professional future, contacting a skilled student defense attorney is a must. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped students who've acquired serious academic misconduct charges recover from these allegations, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686 for more information.