Utah State University expects its students to abide by its academic integrity policy as outlined in The Code of Policies and Procedures for Students at Utah State University (revised September 2009), Article VI, Section 1. The University holds students to a high standard of academic honesty, and an infraction by any student can lead to serious consequences. What follows is a summary of the standards students are expected to uphold, how violations are reported, and the school's disciplinary actions.
Utah State Academic Integrity Policy
Students at the Utah State University are asked to abide by what the University calls the Honor Pledge, which states: "I pledge, on my honor, to conduct myself with the foremost level of academic integrity." Violations in the form of cheating, falsification, and plagiarism are expressly defined in the University's academic honesty standard. Other violations not defined in the policy are handled on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the University.
- Cheating: This is by far the longest section in the entire code of conduct. Within it are seven discreet definitions for cheating. Cheating infractions can be seen as falling along a spectrum, anywhere from continuing to work after time has been called for a test to using an unauthorized cheat sheet on an exam. The University makes it clear that it categorizes all of these forms of cheating the same and may seek the same disciplinary action for any student falling anywhere on the cheating spectrum. It's also important to note that cheating is handled the same way, whether it be on a homework assignment, for a paper, on a quiz, or in a test or exam. Examples of other forms of cheating are given as:
- Working in a group when work is supposed to be individual
- Using any unauthorized aid for academic work
- Sitting for an exam as another student
- Submitting homework for another student
- Submitting the same work for multiple classes
- Acquiring tests from another person.
- Falsification: Defined as altering or fabricating any information in an assignment, including a citation.
- Plagiarism: Defined as passing off someone else's writing as one's own. This includes directly copying and even paraphrasing another person's published or unpublished works for any academic exercise.
How Are Violations Reported?
Utah State employs an Academic Integrity Violation Form (AIVF) to record and track academic misconduct. The form itself outlines the steps by which action can be taken against a student suspected of violating the policy and, according to the University's academic misconduct policy, "ensures minimum due process requirements are met." Here are the steps for filing a report:
- An instructor suspects a student of committing an infraction and deems it appropriate to take action.
- The student appeals the determination if he so desires.
- The instructor submits the AIVF outlining the infraction committed by the student.
- The form is kept on record in the Vice President of Student Affairs office for the duration of the student's academic career at the University.
- Resolution is agreed upon between the instructor and the student, and a Resolution Report is filed along with the AIVF. The Resolution Report details the corrective actions agreed upon by both parties.
What Disciplinary Actions Can Be Taken?
Utah State leaves it up to the instructor's discretion to determine the appropriate action to take against students who violate the academic integrity policy. Potential sanctions include resubmitting an assignment or exam, adjusting the student's grade, either on an assignment or for the class at large, handing down a failing grade for the course.
Professors impose sanctions in their specific classroom. The University may take further disciplinary action as deemed appropriate by the Judicial Officer and other administrators.
- Probation: The student may continue to participate in academic activities provided a predetermined set of requirements are met satisfactorily. Probation time periods are fixed, though the student must request termination of a probation period in writing.
- Suspension: The student is suspended from participating in academic activities for a fixed duration of time and may return once eligible.
- Expulsion: The student is permanently dismissed from an academic program or the University.
- Other penalties: Community service; relinquishing of degrees; distinction of an academic integrity infraction on the student's transcript.
How Do I Appeal a Ruling?
Should an unsatisfactory ruling be handed down from an academic misconduct hearing, the accused student may initiate the appeals process. Within ten days of the decision, the student may write a letter to the Vice President of Student Affairs; alternatively, anyway may enter an appeal on the student's behalf in light of new evidence. If no appeal is filed in the allotted time, the ruling becomes final.
If the student requests an appeal, the Vice President of Student Affairs must refer the matter to the Appeals Board, at which point the student may make a case in his defense. The Appeals Board will only look at the facts pertaining to the original case to determine if the review was conducted fairly and thoroughly. Should the Appeals Board find that the original hearing was unjust or inadequate in the case against the student, they can recommend that the case be reopened.
Ultimately, the findings from the Appeals Board must be submitted to the University President for a final decision. The President's decision is final and will be communicated back to the student via the Vice President of Student Affairs.
Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento
If you are a student or a parent of a student accused of academic misconduct, assembling the right support team is critical. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are experts in the arena of academic integrity. Attorney Lento has years of experience helping students navigate the storm of an academic misconduct allegation. Your reputation carries you not only through your academic career but into the professional world as well. We'll work to ensure your record is kept clean of inappropriate or unnecessary blemishes. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686 to schedule a consultation.