Academic Honesty

When we engage in scholarship, we seek answers to questions we care about; we learn from others’ work, and we add our contributions to a growing body of knowledge. However, we cannot honestly value that knowledge unless we also value truth.

Acts of academic dishonesty are lies. They degrade our shared search for understanding as a community of scholars, and they undermine the integrity of that community by injecting falsehood into our dialogue. As a historically Quaker college, Whittier honors the Friends’ testimonies of truth, community, and equality, where equality reflects our conviction that we are all worthy of equal respect. Thus, when members of our community commit acts of academic dishonesty, they are not committing victimless crimes. By violating – even in secret – the respect which they owe their colleagues, they tear the fabric of our community. Further, by shrinking from the self-defining work of scholarship, they hurt themselves.

General Policy on Academic Honesty

Because the preservation of academic honesty is as fundamental to our shared enterprise as the transmission of knowledge, the faculty and administration of the College regard educating students in academic integrity to be as important as inspiring them to rise to the challenge of learning. Students are expected to produce independent work and to cite sources of information and concepts. When these principles are breached and a student misrepresents his or her level of knowledge, the basic framework of scholarship is broken. In these instances, students will be held accountable and will face sanctions that range from a warning to expulsion from the College. Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism or cheating is not a valid defense. If students are uncertain of policies, they should consult the instructor for clarification. Adherence to the policies delineated below reflects the commitment of our community to a single standard of truth, a standard binding on students, faculty, and administrators alike.

These definitions do not represent a complete list of possible infractions; rather, they are intended to generally reveal the range of conduct which violates academic honesty.

1. Plagiarism

Submitted work should be one’s own work and it should properly acknowledge ideas and words from others: ideas from another source should be cited in both the body and the works cited section of the paper, and exact words from another source should be placed within quotes. Plagiarism is submitting work done by others as your own work, and it is the failure to properly and appropriately reference and acknowledge the ideas and words of others. This can include submitting an entire paper downloaded from a website or another source, copying and pasting parts of different papers to form your own paper, failure to put quotes around exact wording used from another source, and failure to appropriately reference ideas from another person. Citation guidelines can be found in any writing handbook. While incorrect citation format may not necessarily be defined as plagiarism, individual instructors may penalize students for using an incorrect citation format. Please be aware that different disciplines use different forms for citing work. While each department should make these citation styles available, one is ultimately responsible for finding out this information. Students will be instructed on when and how to appropriately cite other people's work in their own papers in the College Writing Seminar and in the Writing Intensive Courses. Departments are also strongly encouraged to instruct students on appropriate citation in their introductory courses;

2. Cheating

Honesty involves presenting one’s own level of knowledge as accurately as possible. Misrepresentation of one’s knowledge is considered cheating; examples include copying or sharing exam answers, presenting work done by others as one’s own, changing in any way work which may be reviewed in response to a grade consideration request, having a falsely identified person take an exam, or using notes, books and the like in closed-book examinations;

3. Misrepresentation of experience, ability, or effort

One is expected to accurately and fairly present one’s experience, ability, or effort for any purpose. Providing false information concerning academic achievement or background in an area of study is academically dishonest. Examples include falsely reporting the substance of an internship, falsely representing the content of prior coursework, or falsely representing effort on a group project;

4. Unauthorized collaboration

In many course activities, other than examinations, collaboration is permitted and encouraged. Course syllabi and in-class instructions will usually identify situations where collaboration is permitted, but the student shares responsibility for ascertaining whether collaboration is permitted. Collaboration on homework, take-home exams, or other assignments which the instructor has designated as “independent work” will be considered academically dishonest;

5. Submission of same work in two courses without explicit permission to do so

Presenting all or part of work done for one course in another course requires permission of the instructors of the involved courses. Connected or paired courses may require submission of the same work in the two associated courses; this will be explicitly stated for this type of assignment. Failure to gain permission from the instructors in submitting the same work will be considered academically dishonest;

6. Falsification of records

Records document a person’s past accomplishments and give one measure of assessing those accomplishments. Any attempt to change grades or written records pertaining to assessment of a student’s academic achievement will be considered academically dishonest;

7. Sabotage

Valuing community means that one should respect another person’s work and efforts. Destruction of or deliberate inhibition of progress of another person’s work related to a course is considered academically dishonest. This includes the destruction or hiding of shared resources such as library materials and computer software and hardware to tampering with another person’s laboratory experiments;

8. Complicity concerning any of the above

Valuing community also means that one is honest with respect to another person’s work as well as with one’s own work. Any act which facilitates or encourages academic dishonesty by another person is itself an act of academic dishonesty.

Various sanctions exist which may be applied in response to an act of academic dishonesty. The severity of sanctions will correlate to the severity of the offense. Judgment of the severity of an academic dishonesty offense is the responsibility of the faculty member. The faculty member is encouraged to seek counsel of faculty colleagues, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and/or the Dean of Students in gaining perspective concerning the severity of the offense.

All grade related sanctions shall be levied by the faculty member teaching the course within which the offense occurred. The Associate Dean of the Faculty and the Assistant Director of Conduct are available to provide guidance concerning appropriate sanctions. In addition, the following are some recommended sanctions for various degrees of academically dishonest acts.

  • Minor violation: Probation for 1 semester
  • 2 minor violations or 1 flagrant violation: Censure for 1 semester, Library course (or equivalent)
  • 1 flagrant violation and 1 minor violation: Censure for 1 year, DMS $100
  • 2 flagrant violations: Minimum of 1 semester suspension
  • Anything greater than 2 flagrant violations: Minimum 1 year suspension or referral to Student Conduct Review Hearing to discuss length of suspension or possible expulsion

For the purposes of this matrix, 2 minor violations are equivalent to 1 flagrant violation. This matrix is solely based on a disciplinary level. All professors decide the outcome of the violation for class purposes. Appeals for the disciplinary process only go to the Dean of Students.

Conduct Officer had the option to assign any combination of or additional sanctions depending on the F-A-C (Frequency-Attitude-Circumstances)

Faculty members must provide the student with a written account of the offense and the sanction. Faculty members must also report cases of academic dishonesty to the Office of the Dean of Students, including a brief written account of the offense and the sanction levied through an on-line form, and a copy of the plagiarized paper. The Dean of Students may take a student to the Student Conduct Review Hearing (SCRH) if the student has a minimum of two flagrant violations or three total violations. The Dean of Students has the discretion to take students to the SCHR for fewer violations if there are other outstanding circumstances. Also, the Dean of Students must communicate with involved faculty members if a student is scheduled to appear for a SCHR.

The SCHR considers whether any further action should be taken which may include suspension or expulsion from the College. The SCHR does not reconsider the grade/sanction given by the faculty member earlier in the process, but rather considers whether additional sanctions are merited. The SCHR will consider the entire student record of misconduct when making its decision and it will not limit itself just to acts of academic dishonesty.

There are two avenues of appeal, one applicable to grade sanctions, the other to suspension or expulsion decisions. The Grade Appeal Committee of the faculty will consider appeals of grade sanctions. The Associate Dean of the Faculty will hear appeals of suspension and expulsion sanctions. No further opportunities for appeal are available.