Liberal Arts Policies and Procedures

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Statement of Policy

The University’s ability to achieve its mission depends upon the quality and integrity of the intellectual work performed by all of its faculty and students. All members of the University at all times must take full responsibility for the integrity and basic honesty of the expression and communication of their thoughts.

Accordingly, individual faculty and students are never permitted to take credit for or represent as one’s own work anything that in fact is the work of other persons, whether classmates, published authors, or anonymous contributors on the Internet. Academic dishonesty encompasses a wide range of activities, whether intentional or unintentional, that include, but are not limited to, all forms of fraud, plagiarism, and any failure to cite explicitly all materials and sources used in one’s work. Similarly, individual faculty and students are never permitted to pursue work by any means that unfairly disadvantage others. This prohibits activities that include, but are not limited to, cheating, copying, deception, lying, plagiarism, and unauthorized collaboration

The College of the Liberal Arts seeks to achieve compliance with its policy on academic integrity. The College does not tolerate violations of that policy, and, toward that end, the College supports appropriate sanctions consistent with University guidelines and with state and federal law. For students, these sanctions include, but are not limited to, failure for an assignment or in a course, failure in a course with an explanation in the permanent transcript of the cause for failure, or, for serious cases, removal from a degree program.

The College Academic Integrity Committee will review all contested cases (and uncontested repeat offenses) of academic integrity infractions in which academic sanctions are applied, and will be the final level of review for charges of academic dishonesty.  When an academic integrity committee recommends that a student receive a discipline sanction in addition to the academic sanction assigned by the faculty or academic integrity committee, then a Student Conduct Case Manager will manage that aspect of the case.  Consideration will be given to the sanction recommended by the committee.  The Case Manager will meet with the student in a disciplinary conference to discuss the additional discipline sanction

Committee Membership

The College Academic Integrity Committee consists of faculty members (three are required for a quorum), one of whom serves as chair, and undergraduate and graduate students. College staff assist and support the Committee, communicate with students and faculty involved in academic integrity cases, and serve as a liaison to the Office of Student Conduct.

The Charge and Sanction

In all cases, the charge and request for sanction(s) originates with the instructor. Before proposing a sanction the instructor should read the University's Sanctioning Guidelines and contact the coordinator with any questions. The instructor may withdraw the charge(s) of academic dishonesty any time prior to the Committee’s decision. Sanctions can take the form of academic and disciplinary sanctions or only academic sanctions.

If the Academic Integrity committee determines that disciplinary sanctions are warranted, the student is notified by the College that he/she has been found responsible for the charge, and that the academic sanction will be put into place. In addition, the student's case will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for consideration of a specific disciplinary sanction.  The committee typically recommends disciplinary sanctions (in addition to academic sanctions) when the violation is egregious or when the student has one or more prior academic integrity offenses on file.  The Office of Student Conduct will review the committee's recommendation, as well as precedent guidelines, in determining the appropriate disciplinary sanction to assign.

In the case of a recommendation of an academic sanction only, the committee reviews the case only when the student contests the charge(s) or has a prior offense on record.

Notification

When an instructor suspects academic dishonesty, s/he will inform the student of the specific alleged infraction(s) (place, time, and manner) as soon as practicable. Once a student has been informed that academic misconduct is suspected the student may not drop the course during the adjudication process. The instructor should discuss the situation with the student, inform the student of the academic and/or disciplinary sanction(s) requested, give the student an opportunity to respond, and, if the instructor still wishes to proceed with the charge(s), present the student with an Academic Integrity Form.

After receiving the form the student will have five days to respond. The student may choose to accept the charge(s) and/or assigned sanction(s), or contest the charge(s) and/or sanction(s) and request that the committee review the case. Both student and instructor will sign the Academic Integrity Form and forward it to the College’s Academic Integrity Coordinator. The student’s failure to respond or refusal to sign and return the form will be interpreted as acceptance of the charge(s) and sanction(s).

If the student does not contest the charge(s), no review will be initiated unless there are prior violations on record, the academic sanction will be applied, and the case will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct. If the student contests the charge(s) and/or sanction(s), the coordinator will forward copies of the signed form and documentation to the instructor, the student, and the College Academic Integrity Committee members.

In the event that the student cannot be reached (or if the course is administered online and the instructor is unable to deliver the form to the student), the coordinator will send the letter and a copy of the Academic Integrity Form to the student’s Penn State e-mail address. The letter will state the specific charge(s), the sanction(s), and the date (deadline) for the student’s reply.

Administrative Steps

The coordinator contacts the Office of Student Conduct to determine whether any other violations have been recorded.  A prior violation will affect the committee’s decision regarding the academic sanction and/or a recommendation for a disciplinary sanction.  In addition, the Registrar’s Office is notified and a dishonesty flag is set to prevent the student from dropping the course.  If the student is found not responsible, the dishonesty flag will be removed.

 

The Review

The minimum number of committee members to hear a case is five (four faculty, including the chair, and one student).

The committee will conduct a review of the submitted documentation. If a committee member is the instructor presenting the charge, s/he will not serve on the review Committee.

The review will occur at the next scheduled monthly meeting.  The committee chair directs the review, rules on procedures, and ensures that questioning is fair, evidence is relevant, standards are enforced, and confidentiality is maintained. The committee chair will maintain order and reasonable time limits.

The committee will examine all evidence and decide by majority vote whether the student is in violation of the University’s policy. The standard of proof employed is “a preponderance of the evidence.” The instructor bears the burden of proof.  If the student has a prior violation, the coordinator will then present the committee with this information ONLY after they have decided if the student is responsible for the current charge.  If the student is found not responsible, this information is not shared.

 The coordinator will report the committee’s decision to the student and the instructor.  The completion of the case and the documentation will be sent to the Office of Student Conduct in a timely manner.

The Hearing

The minimum number of committee members to hear a case is five (four faculty, including the chair, and one student).

A hearing will be considered only when there may be a significant educational loss resulting from the sanction (i.e., removal from the degree program, delayed graduation, loss of good standing with the University) or if the committee deems a hearing necessary for other reasons. If a committee member is the instructor presenting the charge, s/he will not serve on the hearing Committee.

In the event of a hearing, the student will be allowed to present relevant evidence. The instructor will articulate his/her accusations and the rationale(s) for the assigned sanction. The committee may question both parties and witnesses. Both the student and faculty member may question witnesses and comment on the evidence. To assure confidentiality, any and all witnesses will be present at the hearing only during the time they are questioned. The committee will make a recording or transcript of the hearing.

Following the hearing, the committee will examine all evidence/testimony and decide by majority vote whether the student is in violation of the University’s policy. The standard of proof employed is “a preponderance of the evidence” to the committee. The instructor bears the burden of proof. The coordinator will prepare a brief summary of the committee’s decision accompanied by the documentation and will send the report to the student, the instructor, and the Office of Student Conduct in a timely manner.

At a hearing, the student can present evidence, be accompanied by an adviser, either University personnel or a currently enrolled student, have adequate time to prepare for a hearing, and question witnesses and evidence at a hearing.  The student can withdraw the appeal at any time prior to the College Committee’s decision.  Neither parents nor attorneys may attend the hearing.

DISCIPLINARY SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT AND REGULATIONS

The range of official action that may be imposed for violation of the Code of Conduct and regulations shall comprise the following disciplinary sanctions:

DISCIPLINARY WARNING: A disciplinary warning is a warning to a student that his/her conduct was questionable and/or inappropriate and that further misconduct will result in more severe disciplinary action. The warning is maintained as part of a student’s disciplinary record.

DISCIPLINARY PROBATION:Disciplinary probation is assigned for a specified period of time and is intended to foster reflection, responsibility, and improved decision-making. Additional conditions and/or educational programs may be assigned as a component of the probation. Future established misconduct, failure to comply with any conditions or to complete any assignments may lead to a more severe disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion.

Disciplinary probation may be recorded on the official University transcript when, either due to the serious nature of the offense or when a student’s disciplinary history is significant, the Office of Student Conduct determines a notation is merited.

RESTITUTION: Restitution requires a student to pay for damages or misappropriation of property. Restitution may be imposed separately or in addition to other sanctions.

LOSS OF PRIVILEGE:Loss of Privilege involves the withdrawal of the use of service, participation in an activity, or withdrawal of privileges consistent with offense(s). Loss of privilege may be imposed separately or in addition to other sanctions.

DISCIPLINARY SUSPENSION: Disciplinary suspension from the University is assigned for a specified period of time. A suspended student is precluded from registration, class attendance, residence on campus, and use of University facilities. In addition, the student is prohibited from using or visiting University facilities unless special permission is obtained from the Senior Director of Office of Student Conduct or designee. During the period of the suspension, a notation will appear on the student’s official University transcript.

INDEFINITE EXPULSION:Indefinite expulsion from the University is for a period of not less than one calendar year, and re-enrollment must be approved by the Vice President for Student Affairs at University Park or by the Chancellor at other campus locations. During a period of indefinite expulsion, a student is prohibited from using or visiting University facilities unless special permission is obtained from the Senior Director of Office of Student Conduct or designee. If a student wishes to return to the University after the period of his or her indefinite expulsion, he/she must request re-enrollment (in writing) from the Senior Director of Office of Student Conduct or designee. During the period of the expulsion, a notation will appear on the student’s official University transcript.

INTERIM SUSPENSION: Interim suspension requires a student to immediately leave campus pending disciplinary proceedings (or medical evaluation). During a period of the interim suspension, a student is prohibited from using or visiting University facilities unless special permission is obtained from the Senior Director of Office of Student Conduct or designee. Any student who returns to campus during his or her interim suspension shall be subject to an Indefinite Expulsion or Permanent Expulsion.

EXPULSION:Expulsion of a student from the University is permanent. An expelled student is prohibited from using or visiting University facilities unless special permission is obtained from the Senior Director of Office of Student Conduct or designee. Expulsion requires administrative review and approval by the President. The sanction of expulsion is permanently noted on a student’s official University

The XF Sanction

An "XF" grade is a formal University disciplinary sanction. XF sanctions are awarded only with the concurrence of the instructor, the College Academic Integrity Committee, and Student Conduct. Assigning an "XF" should be a rare occurrence and is reserved for the most serious breaches of academic integrity.

In any instance in which the instructor believes an XF sanction is warranted (whether or not the student has admitted responsibility) the case is forwarded to the College Academic Integrity Committee for review and, if the committee agrees that an XF is warranted, to the Office of Student Conduct for further review. An XF sanction may be expunged from the student’s record at the time of graduation or shortly thereafter in accordance with University policy and the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Reporting and Record Keeping

All records and files are maintained by the Office of Student Conduct.

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