Suffolk University expects all students to be responsible individuals with high standards of conduct. Students are expected to practice ethical behavior in all learning environments and scenarios, including classrooms and laboratories, internships and practica, and study groups and academic teams. Cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, use of unauthorized electronic devices, self-plagiarism, fabrication or falsification of data, and other types of academic misconduct are treated as serious offenses that initiate a formal process of inquiry, one that may lead to disciplinary sanctions. Some cases of academic misconduct may be reviewed and resolved at the academic departmental level; other more egregious forms of academic misconduct necessitate a full review by the Academic Misconduct Committee (AMC).
Resolving Incidents of Academic Misconduct
A faculty member suspecting academic misconduct will contact the student using the Suffolk email address to schedule a meeting and will make all effort to do so within five business days of detecting the incident. During the meeting, the faculty member will present the documentation that led to suspected academic misconduct. If the faculty member reaches the conclusion that academic misconduct has occurred, he or she may impose limited sanctions that are meant to acknowledge the behavior in the context of providing remediation and addressing skill development. These sanctions involve grade reductions to student work that constitutes up to 25% of the course grade (e.g., homework; short papers; quizzes) and frequently include some form of remediation.
When the suspected academic misconduct involves student work that constitutes more than 25% of the course grade, or if an F grade (0 credit) on the assignment is recommended as a sanction, the faculty member will consult with the department chair (or program director) prior to imposing the sanction. If the faculty member and chair agree on a determination of academic misconduct, the sanction may be imposed.
If a determination of academic misconduct is made and a sanction is imposed, the faculty member must complete the Academic Misconduct Incident Form (available online) and submit it electronically to the AMC coordinator who will document the incident, along with the written documentation of misconduct, in the AMC internal record. A student may appeal the determination of academic misconduct, but not the sanction, by requesting a hearing before the full AMC. Appeals should be filed with the AMC coordinator within ten business days of receiving the sanction.
If the suspected academic misconduct involves actions that the faculty member and chair believe warrant an F grade in the course, or if there is disagreement between the faculty member and chair on the appropriate sanction, then the incident must be forwarded directly to the AMC for committee review. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: cheating on exams; group cheating; submitting purchased term papers or term papers with extensive copying or use of external sources without citation; and fabrication or falsification of research data. If the faculty member and chair suspect an incident of this type, they must file an incident report form with the AMC coordinator to initiate a full committee review. The AMC coordinator will schedule a hearing at the next standing meeting of the AMC, generally within ten business days of receipt of the incident form. The faculty member will submit all documentation to the AMC coordinator who will email the student (using Suffolk email) a notice to appear for a hearing. At the hearing, a determination is made by the committee, regardless of whether or not the student is in attendance; imposition of sanctions is made by committee vote. A determination letter is then sent to the student, the faculty member, and the chair.
A full review by the AMC, as described above, will also occur if multiple incident reports for a single student are detected in the AMC internal record.
AMC hearings are not open to the public. Therefore, members of the Suffolk University community who are not directly involved in the allegation and friends, parents, partners, siblings, legal counsel, and others are not permitted in the room where the AMC hearing takes place but may wait nearby for support purposes. Formal rules of process, procedure, or evidence such as those applied in civil or criminal courts are not used in the AMC. Members of the AMC will recuse themselves from a case when appropriate. Student conduct that warrants sanctions may result in forfeiture of all Suffolk scholarships, financial aid, or monies paid.
Sanctions imposed by the AMC may include but are not limited to a reprimand; a remediation plan; a grade of F in a course; probation; and/or dismissal. A sanction grade of F in a course will be factored into the overall grade point average regardless of whether or not the course is successfully repeated. A student found responsible for academic misconduct and sanctioned by the AMC may file one appeal to the provost (or designee) by sending a written letter of appeal within ten business days. (A graduating student must initiate the appeal process no later than three days prior to commencement.) Appeals are considered only if there is additional information not available at the time of the hearing or a procedural error that calls into question the determination of academic misconduct. Students must include a statement of why the additional information should be considered and why it was not presented at the time of the original hearing. The decision of the provost is final.
Grading Students under Review for Academic Misconduct
Faculty, department chairs, program directors, and the AMC will work diligently to ensure timely review and closure of cases of academic misconduct. In some cases, however, it may not be possible to reach a determination or impose a sanction prior to the deadline for submitting course grades. In this case, the faculty member will not submit a grade for the student, but will leave the grade field blank. Once a determination has been made, the faculty member will complete a change of grade form, with an explanation of the grade change that includes a brief statement of how the sanction impacted the final course grade.
Membership of the Academic Misconduct Committee
The AMC hears cases of alleged academic misconduct involving students in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Sawyer Business School (SBS). The committee consists of two CAS faculty members, appointed by the CAS dean; two SBS faculty members, appointed by the SBS dean; the CAS and SBS assistant deans who convene the Academic Standing Committees in their respective schools; and a non-voting dean from Student Affairs. At the start of the academic year, AMC members elect a committee chair; the chair casts the deciding vote in the case of a tie.
All full-time CAS and SBS faculty are eligible to serve on the committee with the exception of non-tenured, tenure-track faculty. Associate deans from the two schools may be asked to attend as ex officio members when particular background or expertise is requested by the committee.
From Barbara Gross Davis, Tools for Teaching, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993, pp. 299-311.
Did you know .... Between 40 and 70 percent of all college students have reported cheating sometime during their academic careers (Aiken, 1991; Davis, Grover, Becker, and McGregor, 1992). There are specific steps you can take to prevent academic dishonesty:
The following ideas are designed to help you impart to your students the values of academic honesty and to help you set policies that encourage academic integrity.
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Barnett, D. C., and Dalton, J. C. "Why College Students Cheat." Journal of College Student Personnel, 1981, 22, 545-551.
Davis, S. F., Grover, C. A., Becker, A. H., and McGregor, L. N. "Academic Dishonesty: Prevalence, Determinants, Techniques, and Punishments." Teaching of Psychology, 1992, 19(1), 16-20.
McCabe, D., Trevino, L., Butterfield. "Cheating in Academic Institutions: A Decade of Research." Ethics and Behavior, 2001, 11(3), 219-232.
Roberts, D., and Rabinowitz, W. "An Investigation of Student Perceptions of Cheating in Academic Situations." Review of Higher Education, 1992, 15(2), 179-190.