La Salle University's “Academic Integrity” Policy
According to La Salle's student handbook, academic integrity is defined as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.” Each member of the university is expected to routinely display these attributes, especially in their endeavors to complete and submit academic works. The handbook proceeds to mention that a breach of academic integrity invokes a lapse of trust - a condition that negatively impacts relationships in academic settings.
From this portion of the student handbook, an accused student can conclude that once academic misconduct allegations are made, the institution automatically assumes you are untrustworthy and forms an adversarial relationship with you. This means that you can't rely on a school to discover the truth, or even sympathize with you throughout these processes.
You may have made a genuine mistake, or were completely unaware that your actions were in violation of school policy. Unfortunately, being oblivious isn't regarded in these processes. Instructors are obligated to evaluate works that have been submitted, not what was intended to be submitted. If you accidentally submit an early draft of an essay without a bibliography, for example, you could still be accused and penalized for plagiarism - a form of academic misconduct - despite your intentions of submitting the finished product.
The handbook vaguely outlines the various forms of academic misconduct La Salle University students commonly commit. The following actions constitute academic misconduct:
Cheating. This is the act of wrongly using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, study aids, or the ideas or work of another. Cheating includes giving or receiving unauthorized aid in the completion of such things as written assignments, quizzes, or tests. Submitting the same written work for two different courses (without the permission of the instructors involved) also qualifies as another form of cheating.
Plagiarism. This is defined as the unacknowledged use of other person's ideas, both written and unwritten. La Salle, as well as every other academic institution, enforces that academic projects including the scholarly works of other authors must generously acknowledge their debts to predecessors by carefully giving credit to each source. Using any type of information from another author without proper acknowledgement is plagiarism.
Unauthorized collaborations. When group projects or cooperative learning activities require collaboration, students are expected to understand what is proper and improper cooperation. This means that if one group member plagiarizes, the whole group can be held accountable. Also, collaborations at a time when they aren't permitted is considered academic misconduct.
When a faculty member (usually an instructor) suspects that there was an academic integrity violation, he or she must meet with the student within one calendar week that these suspicions are fueled. This discussion must take place through either face-to-face, telephone or through video messaging. La Salle claims that email is not an appropriate medium to discuss such sensitive measures. During this meeting, a student must be notified about an instructor's suspicions, the evidence that supports this suspicion, and the instructor's intentions of filing official charges. After this notification, a student will be given space to provide an explanation as to what occurred.
Academic Dishonesty Report
If, after the confrontation, the instructor believes that an academic integrity violation is still possible, he or she is obligated to file a written Academic Dishonesty Report (ADR) within one calendar week of the discussion with the student. An ADR prepared by an instructor must contain his or her's department, the accused student's name, the date of the violation, and the place of the violation. It must also provide a detailed summary of the incident, and how this constitutes as a violation. Any evidence gathered to back an instructor's case must also be attached for it to be considered viable. The ADR will be mailed to the accused student at his or her home address and campus address (if any).
An accused student is given a time frame of one week from the date of notification of an ADR to send a rebuttal to the instructor making an accusation. The handbook implies that despite a student's vehement denial of an academic misconduct allegation, the instructor generally has the authority to make the final judgment if there are facts and evidence that back their allegations. However, accused students still have options.
If an instructor continues to believe that an academic integrity violation has occurred, he or she can choose to impose one or more course-level sanctions. It's important to note that in order for a sanction to be proportional in the eyes of the institution, an instructor must consider past violations, and the level of severity of the infraction. An instructor can only, however, impose course-level sanctions. The following sanctions can be implemented by an instructor:
- A re-submitted assignment
- A reduction in grade recorded for the assignment/test
- A zero recorded for the assignment/test
- An “F” grade assigned for the course
If a student believes that the charge of academic misconduct or the sanctions imposed as a result of an alleged academic integrity violation is unfounded, unfair, based on bias, whimsy, or caprice, a student is afforded the right to appeal. An appeal is essentially a request for an instructor to reconsider its decision. A student may appeal an instructor's decision within two weeks of the date of the final judgment and sanctions. An appeal must be based on the following limited grounds:
- The sanction is disproportionate to the action committed
- Information is available now that was not available at the time of the investigation
- The University disciplinary procedures were violated in a way that may have adversely affected the outcome of the case
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