As the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, the College of William & Mary has a long-standing tradition of academic excellence. The William & Mary Honor Code dates back to 1736. Although the Honor Code has evolved since its inception, its central message remains the same: students must not lie, cheat, or steal.
The William & Mary Honor Code requires all students to uphold high standards of responsibility. Students who participate in academic misconduct face sanctions that impact their educational careers. In this article, we'll review William & Mary's Honor Code policies and how to respond to academic misconduct allegations.
What is William & Mary's Honor Code?
All incoming William & Mary students must sign the Honor Code. The Honor Code states, “As a member of the William and Mary community, I pledge on my honor not to lie, cheat, or steal, either in my academic or personal life. I understand that such acts violate the Honor Code and undermine the community of trust, of which we are all stewards.”
Any dishonorable conduct is a violation of the Honor Code. The William & Mary student handbook provides the following examples of Honor Code violations that are forms of academic misconduct:
William & Mary prohibits students from presenting false information with the intent to deceive. Lying includes:
- Misrepresenting oneself to gain an advantage in academics, employment, or co-curricular opportunities
- Falsifying, altering, or forging university documents
- Providing false or misleading information to Honor or Student Conduct members during an investigation of an alleged Honor Code violation
Taking the property of another without the owner's permission.
The William & Mary student handbook includes the following examples of cheating:
- Plagiarism or presenting information, ideas, or phrases as another without appropriate credit
- Unauthorized collaboration such as giving or receiving aid to complete tests, quizzes, assignments, or examinations
- Use of unauthorized materials, including electronic devices, on any course work
- Unauthorized dual submission of previous academic work to fulfill the requirements of more than one course
- Intentionally failing to end an examination, test, quiz, or assignment after time constraints pass
- Failing to follow instructions for course work that results in an unfair academic advantage
How William & Mary Responds to Honor Code Violations
If a faculty member suspects an Honor Code violation, they can report it to the Honor Council Chair within five days. Before filing a report, the faculty member must discuss the incident with the alleged violator. This discussion provides the student with an opportunity to explain the incident.
The faculty member can propose an early resolution for low-level violations. Sanctions for these violations include grade consequences. If a student agrees to an early resolution, they claim responsibility for the violation. They must accept the sanction and lose their right to an appeal.
If the student disputes the charges or if the violation involves a more serious infraction, they will refer the case to the Chair of the Honor Council. The Chair will appoint an investigation team to interview witnesses, collect evidence, and compile relevant information. The Chair then assembles a three or six-person panel and holds a disciplinary hearing.
What Happens at a Disciplinary Hearing?
William & Mary uses disciplinary hearings to impose sanctions and determine whether students are guilty of Honor Code violations. The hearing provides both the claimant and respondent an opportunity to present their case.
The disciplinary hearing begins with a responsibility phase. During this phase, the panel will review information about the violation. A member of the investigating team will present results and call witnesses. The panel can also question the respondent, investigator, and witnesses to come to an informed decision.
If you face an Honor Code violation, you must prepare for your disciplinary hearing. You can explain the circumstances around the alleged incident and present information to defend yourself. William & Mary allows students accused of Honor Code violations to introduce letters and character witnesses from parties relevant to the incident. You can use this opportunity to provide additional evidence and clear your name.
After the responsibility phase, the hearing moves into the sanctions phase. A majority of the panel must find the student committed a violation beyond a reasonable doubt to sanction them. The panel takes the following factors into account when determining sanctions: the impact of the violation on the community, the gravity of the violation, and the actions necessary to remedy the violation.
What Are the Consequences of Honor Code Violations?
William & Mary uses a three-level scale to grade Honor Code violations. Level I violations result in minor sanctions, whereas Level III violations lead to severe sanctions. Depending on the violation level and the facts of your case, you may face the following sanctions for an Honor Code violation:
- Reduced grade on the work involved
- A failing grade or grade of zero on the work involved
- Resubmittal of work for no additional credit
- Referral to the Writing Resource Center or a time management/study skills seminar
- Disciplinary probation for two full semesters
- Permanent dismissal
You can view the breakdown of Honor Code violations by level on the William & Mary website.
How to Respond to an Honor Code Violation
William & Mary students have the right to use an advisor to assist them during disciplinary hearings. An attorney can help you prepare for the proceedings and formulate a defense that is instrumental to your hearing's success.
Attorneys can protect your rights to confidentiality, timely resolution, and resolution that is free from conflict of interest. They can also help you file an appeal if the panel deems you responsible for violating the Honor Code.
You don't have to face an Honor Code violation alone. By hiring an experienced student-discipline attorney, you have a fighting chance of achieving a favorable outcome in your case. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent many years defending students accused of academic misconduct. He has the skills to challenge school authorities and defend you. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation today.