Central to the purpose and pursuit of any academic community is academic integrity. All members of the Westminster community, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators, are expected to maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity, in keeping with the philosophy and mission of the College. The College’s expectation for strong integrity applies to all academic work, including work on campus, online, and at other locations where Westminster courses are offered. Academic dishonesty is a profound violation of this code of behavior. Outlined below are examples of and specific consequences for academic dishonesty at Westminster. The list of examples is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to provide an overview of the community’s common concerns. Students who are unsure as to whether specific behavior not listed here will constitute academic dishonesty should consult with their individual course instructors.
Violations of the Westminster College Academic Integrity Policy (AIP) include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Copying answers from another student during a quiz, test, or examination.
- Divulging answers or information to another student during a quiz, test, or examination, or accepting such aid.
- Using unauthorized aids (e.g., notes, books, or electronic devices) during a quiz, test, or examination.
- Collaborating improperly with another student on an open-book, take-home or online quiz, test, or examination.
- Exceeding the time limit, when one exists, on an open-book, take-home or online quiz, test, or examination.
- Aiding another student improperly on in- or out-of-class assignments.
- Leaving a physical or digital testing area to obtain answers or aid.
- Handing in another’s work or ideas as one’s own.
- Acting as or using a substitute online to submit work that is not your own.
- Taking a quiz, test, or examination with prior knowledge of its contents, when that knowledge has not been authorized or consented to by the instructor.
- Engaging in any activity which may give an unfair advantage to oneself or another.
- Engaging, during a class or testing session, in conduct that is so disruptive as to infringe upon the rights of the instructor or fellow students.
- Submitting the same work, including oral presentations, for different courses without the explicit consent of the instructors.
- Stealing or intentionally damaging or destroying notes, research data, laboratory projects, library materials, computer software (including the intentional passing of a computer virus), or any other work of another member of the Westminster community.
- Acting as or using a substitute in any academic evaluation procedures.
- Depriving others of necessary academic resources.
- Sabotaging the work of another member of the Westminster community
- Unethically obtaining answers or other information about a quiz, test, or examination before it is administered, even if not a member of the class in which the quiz, test, or examination is given
- Violating copyright restrictions, i.e., stealing the intellectual property of another.
“Derived from the Latin word for kidnapping, plagiarism is the theft of someone else’s ‘brainchild’ -that person’s language, ideas, or research-and the origin of the word conveys the seriousness of such offenses in the view of college teachers and administrators. The reason is that words, ideas, and research are the main forms of currency in academic life.”- Keith Hjortshoj, The Transition to College Writing (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001), 172.
- Quoting or paraphrasing, without proper citation and acknowledgment, the published words, ideas, or work of another (including anonymous publications and online publications).
- Submitting, as one’s own work, a paper, an oral presentation, or a visual presentation authored wholly or partially by someone else (including commercial services)
- Borrowing and appropriating, without proper citation and acknowledgement, facts that are not matters of general knowledge, including all statistics and translations, and/or the general idea or logic of another’s argument.
Providing False Information
- Furnishing false information to the College for the purpose of obtaining special consideration or privilege (e.g., postponement of an examination or a deadline)
- Misrepresenting source material or information or participating in the falsification or misrepresentation of citations
- Falsifying laboratory data, notes, or results, or research data of any type, and presenting it as one’s work.
- Providing false identification in an online course or using someone else’s account and password to access course or College materials.
Process and Consequences
If a course instructor suspects that a student has violated this policy, the instructor will speak with the student, review appropriate materials, and reach a conclusion. If the instructor determines that a violation has occurred, the following process will apply:
- The instructor will inform the student that he or she has violated the AIP and that the vice president for academic affairs (VPAA) will be notified. In the event that a violation occurs in graduate courses, the director of the graduate program (DGP) will be notified.
- The instructor will impose an academic penalty at his or her discretion (e.g., 0 for the assignment without possibility of revisions, failing grade for the course, or other appropriate academic sanctions).
- The instructor will send the VPAA (and the DGP for graduate courses) a concise written explanation of the violation and the penalty.
- After reviewing the instructor’s explanation of the violation and penalty, as well as the student’s record of previous offenses, the VPAA (and/or the DGP for graduate courses) will take the following additional action:
- For A First Offense, the VPAA and/or the DGP may supplement the instructor’s penalty with further action, up to and including suspension and permanent dismissal, after consultation with the instructor and the Academic Standards Committee. The VPAA may also meet with the student.
- For A Second Offense, the VPAA and/or the DGP will impose a one-semester suspension. The VPAA may take further action, up to and including permanent dismissal, after consultation with the instructor and the Academic Standards Committee.
- For A Third Offense, the VPAA and/or the DGP will impose a penalty of permanent dismissal from the College.
- The VPAA and/or the DGP will send the student official notification of the penalty for the violation (even if the penalty is solely that imposed by the instructor). The VPAA will send copies of this notification to the instructor and the student’s academic adviser.
- A copy of the VPAA and/or the DGP’s official notification to the student will be kept in the student’s academic file. If there is no second offense, this letter will be removed upon the student’s graduation. If there is a second offense, the letter will become part of the student’s permanent academic record.
- Within 15 calendar days of the VPAA or DGP’s sending official notification of the penalty for the violation, the student may decide to appeal either the finding of a violation or the penalty for the violation.
- Within 15 calendar days of the VPAA’s sending official notification of the violation, the student will send the VPAA written notification that he or she intends to appeal the finding of a violation. Letters of appeal should include:
- The course for which the violation was reported.
- The name of the instructor reporting the violation.
- The semester when the report occurred.
- The penalty imposed for the violation.
- Whether you are appealing the finding of the violation or the penalty for the violation, or both.
- The grounds on which the student is appealing.
- A detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the incident which led to the report.
- The names of the faculty member that the student chooses to serve on the AIRB (see 2. below) and the adviser that the student selects, if applicable (see 4. below).
- The VPAA will ask the chair of the Committee on Academic Standards to convene an Academic Integrity Review Board (AIRB), made up of the following:
- two members of the Committee on Academic Standards, chosen by the committee.
- the chair of the division or school in which the violation took place, when he or she is not the instructor reporting the violation. In cases of the chair’s recusal, the VPAA will appoint another faculty member from the division or school in which the violation took place to serve on the AIRB.
- one other full-time faculty member nominated by the student.
- the VPAA, when he or she is not the instructor reporting the violation or when he or she has not imposed a penalty greater than the minimum required by the Academic Integrity Policy. In cases of the VPAA’s recusal, he or she will be replaced on the AIRB by the Chair of the Faculty. When neither the VPAA nor Chair of the Faculty can serve, the hair of the Academic Standards Committee will secure the services of a tenured faculty member to serve on the AIRB.
- One of the two participating members of the Committee on Academic Standards will chair the AIRB.
- The student may also select an adviser who is a member of the campus community but who is not a member of the student’s family or a student. This adviser may accompany the student to the Appeals review but may not participate in the questioning herself or himself. The adviser will not be present at the deliberations of the AIRB, and is not a voting member of the AIRB.
- Copies of all materials pertaining to the violation will be maintained in the Office of Academic Affairs. The student has the right to review these materials, but must do so in the presence of either the faculty member he or she nominated to the AIRB or his/her adviser.
- The AIRB will convene as soon as possible, normally within 30 days, or within 30 days of the beginning of the semester following if the report occurs late in a semester.
- In conducting its review, the AIRB will interview the student and the instructor separately. In the event that the student or instructor is not available to attend the review in person, the student or instructor may participate via conference call or video chat service.
- If multiple students are involved in a violation, a single AIRB may be convened to consider their appeals. Each student will nominate a full-time faculty member to serve on the Board and may be accompanied by an adviser of their choosing.
- The AIRB’s decision to uphold or overturn the finding of a violation will be reached by majority vote held during a meeting of the AIRB with all members in attendance. Other than the interviews with the student and instructor, all discussions and deliberations of the AIRB must be conducted face-to-face and not by email, phone or other electronic means. The standard for overturning a finding of a violation is “more likely than not.”
- Within 48 hours of the student’s appearance before the AIRB, the chair of the AIRB will send the student and the instructor official notification of its decision on the finding of a violation. In the event that the finding of a violation is overturned by the AIRB, all records of the violation will be removed from the student’s file.
- If the student wishes to appeal the decision of the AIRB, he or she must do so within seven calendar days of the AIRB’s sending official notification of its decision. This appeal must be made in writing to the President of the College, whose decision will be final.
A student may not withdraw from a class in which he or she has been charged with violating the College’s Academic Integrity Policy, unless he or she successfully appeals the finding that a violation has occurred. Charges of violating this policy may be brought by an instructor against a student who is not enrolled in the class affected by the violation. Any member of the Westminster community, including students, staff members, faculty members, and administrators, may bring a charge for a violation of the College’s Academic Integrity Policy. If someone other than a course instructor wishes to bring a charge, he or she can initiate the process by contacting the course instructor, the Chair of the division or school in which the violation took place, or the VPAA. Copies of all materials pertaining to violations, penalties, and appeals will be kept in the Office of Academic Affairs. The VPAA will send to the Committee on Academic Standards a monthly report on the number and nature of violations of the policy.