Howard College values academic integrity in the educational process. The Academic Integrity and Disciplinary Process is established to foster and protect one of the core responsibilities of the college which is to assess and certify students’ academic achievements. When assignments and exams reflect honest efforts and valid accomplishments, credentials awarded to students can reliably and fully attest to their actual academic achievements.
Application of Policies and Procedures
The Academic Integrity and Disciplinary Process is part of the Student Standards of Conduct and Disciplinary Process that governs all students. These policies and procedures apply to students on campus, to students enrolled in distance learning courses, and to students participating in college-related experiences such as internships, clinical courses, field trips, special assignments outside of class, community service activities, etc. A student alleged to have engaged in acts of academic dishonesty/misconduct may not withdraw from a course or from the college until all allegations are resolved.
Students continue to be subject to federal, state, and local laws, and violations of those laws may also constitute violations of the Academic Integrity and Disciplinary Process. In such instances, the college may proceed with disciplinary measures independent of any legal proceeding that involves the same violation. The college may also impose sanctions independently of legal authorities, even if the legal proceedings are not resolved, or are resolved in the student’s favor.
Academic Rights of Students
Students have the right:
- to receive a detailed course syllabus within the first week of class;
- to receive a clear explanation of proper documentation in research assignments or projects; including, but not limited to, a definition of plagiarism;
- to timely academic evaluation that is fair and consistent;
- to engage respectfully and appropriately in the free and open expression of ideas and opinions;
- to due process in the resolution of allegations of academic dishonesty/misconduct.
Any student found to have engaged, or attempted to engage, in any of the following conduct shall be subject to disciplinary action as set forth in these policies and procedures. An attempted violation is defined as conduct that, if successful, would constitute or result in the prohibited conduct. Academic misconduct refers to any activity that compromises academic integrity or subverts the educational process, including but not limited to the following:
- Violation of rules contained in the course syllabus;
- Cheating on academic work, including but not limited to the following:
- Copying another student’s test paper in academic work;
- During a test, using materials that are not authorized by the test administrator;
- Failing to comply with instructions given by the person administering the test;
- Possession during a test of materials that are not authorized by the person giving the test, such as class notes, specifically designed “crib” notes, and/or the utilization of electronic devices to deliver and/or receive answers. The presence of textbooks constitutes a violation only if they have been specifically prohibited by the person administering the test;
- Using, buying, selling, stealing, transporting, or soliciting the contents of an un-administered test, test key, homework, solution or computer program;
- Collaborating with, seeking aid or receiving assistance from, another student or individual during a test or in conjunction with other assignments without authority;
- Discussing the contents of an examination with another student who will take the examination;
- Divulging the contents of an examination for the purpose of preserving questions for use by another when the instructor has designated that the examination is not to be removed from the examination room or not to be returned to or kept by the student;
- Substituting for another person, or permitting another person to substitute for oneself to take a course, a test or any course-related assignment;
- Having another person obtain an un-administered test, test key, homework solution or computer program, or information about an un-administered test, test key; homework solution or computer program;
- Falsifying research data, laboratory reports, class observations, verification forms and/or other academic work offered for credit;
- Taking, keeping, misplacing or damaging the property of the college, or of another, if the student knows or reasonably should know that an unfair academic advantage would be gained by such conduct;
- Possession at any time of current or previous test materials without the instructor’s permission.
- Plagiarism - includes, but is not limited to, the appropriation of buying, receiving as a gift or obtaining by any means, material that is attributable in whole, or in part, to another source, including words, ideas, illustrations, structure, computer code, other expression and media, and presenting the material as one’s own academic work being offered for credit.
- Collusion - the unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing written work for credit.
- Falsifying academic records - includes, but is not limited to, altering or assisting in th altering, of any official record of the college and/or submitting false information or omitting requested information that is required or related to, any academic record of the college. Academic records include, but are not limited to, applications for admission, the awarding of a degree and/or certificate, grade reports, test papers, registration materials, grade change forms, grade check forms, and reporting forms used by the Office of the Registrar.
- Misrepresenting facts to the college or an agent of the college - includes, but is not limited to, providing false grades or resumes; providing false or misleading information in an effort to receive a postponement or an extension on a test, quiz, or other assignment for the purpose of obtaining an academic or financial benefit for oneself or another individual; or providing false or misleading information in an effort to injure another student academically or financially.
- Engaging in activities that unfairly place other students at a disadvantage, such as taking, hiding, or altering resource materials.
Disciplinary Actions and Due Process for Academic Dishonesty/Misconduct
All members of the college community are ethically bound to report suspected violations of academic dishonesty/misconduct. Cases should be reported to one or more of the following college officials:
- the instructor
- the Dean of Students
- the Instructional Dean
- the judicial officer
If the report is received by an official other than the instructor, the official who receives the report should forward the information to the instructor as soon as possible.
When an instructor suspects or witnesses a violation of academic integrity, or receives a report of an alleged violation, the instructor shall notify the instructional dean, and meet privately and individually with the accused student(s) to discuss the allegations and review supporting evidence. The student may not withdraw from the course or from the college during the disciplinary review process. If the suspected misconduct involves a final exam, the instructor should withhold the course grade until an attempt can be made to contact the student(s) as soon as reasonably possible.
Resolution and Penalties
In consultation with the dean, the instructor may resolve the matter in one or more of the following ways:
- Dismissing the allegation;
- Issuing a written warning that further violations may result in additional penalties;
- Requiring the student to revise or replace the work in which the violation occurred;
- A grade reduction on the work in question;
- A failing grade on the work in question;
- A failing grade in the course;
- Recommending disciplinary sanctions to the judicial officer.
Within 5 (five) business days of the meeting with the student, the instructor shall provide written notification of the resolution to the student, the instructional dean for informational purposes, and to the judicial officer, for possible disciplinary action.
Due process will not be delayed because a faculty member is off-contract. In the event that the accusing faculty member is unable to participate in the investigation and/or the appeal, the dean will represent the interests of the faculty member.
Multiple offenses of academic dishonesty will result in progressively more severe disciplinary sanctions, up to and including expulsion from the college.
Appealing Sanctions for Academic Dishonesty/Misconduct
A student found to be in violation of academic integrity has the right to appeal the instructor’s decision(s) or the decision(s) made by the judicial officer. Failure of the student to continue the appeal at the appropriate level and/or to comply with procedures outlined in this handbook will result in dismissal of the student’s case.
Appeals must be made in writing to the chair of the academic integrity review panel of the student’s campus or the college president’s designee. Appeals must be made within ten (10) business days following notification of the instructor’s decision(s). The appeal must state the specific grounds for appeal and should include all supporting documentation. Students have the right to appeal only once for each academic integrity violation. Students are encouraged to meet with the chair to explore options prior to submitting the appeal.
Academic Integrity Review Panel
Within ten (10) college business days of receipt of a student’s written appeal, the chair will convene the Academic Integrity Review Panel. The chair will communicate the following in writing to the student and to the instructor (at least five (5) college business days prior to the hearing):
- Date, time, and location of the review
- Procedures to be followed during the review
- Deadline for submitting documentary evidence and/or list of witnesses (two (2) business days prior to the review)
The student may request in writing that the hearing be expedited as quickly as possible, waiving the minimum notification requirements.
Academic Integrity Review Panel Hearing Procedures
The Academic Integrity Review Panel will be composed of seven members, appointed by the President, as follows:
- The chair of the academic integrity review panel of the student’s campus who will serve as chair (or designee)
- One staff member
- Three faculty members, including at least one from a different division than the faculty member involved
- Two students
Members of the Academic Integrity Review Panel cannot be involved in, nor have direct knowledge of, the case or the accused.
The Academic Integrity Review Panel hearing is closed to the public. The chair will introduce panel members, outline hearing procedures, and review the details of the case. The student and the instructor will each present evidence to support their respective positions. Witnesses may be invited by the student and the instructor. Panel members will be allowed to ask questions of the student, instructor, and witnesses. The student and the instructor may ask each other questions as well as question witnesses. Prospective witnesses, other than the student and the instructor, will be excluded from the hearing during the testimony of other witnesses. Witnesses may be charged with Student Standards of Conduct violations if it is found that they intentionally provided false information to the college. The Academic Integrity Review Panel has the authority to summon witnesses. Refusal to obey the summons may subject the student witness, if so recommended by the panel, to disciplinary action by the judicial officer.
The hearing will be conducted in a manner that is fair to all. The chair will provide reasonable time for cases to be presented, questions to be asked, and witnesses to be heard. The chair will exercise discretion in leading the hearing. The chair may exclude irrelevant, immaterial, and unduly repetitious evidence and may stop discussion that is not relevant and/or productive to the hearing. The chair may remove any person who becomes disruptive during the hearing, including the student.
A student will be found by the hearing panel in violation if the evidence presented in the hearing supports the charge(s). If, after exhaustive deliberations, the panel cannot reach a majority decision, the student will be found not in violation. A written notice of the decision will be provided to the student and to the instructor within five (5) college business days of the Academic Integrity Review Panel Hearing.
Sanctions Imposed by the Academic Integrity Review Panel
The Academic Integrity Review Panel may uphold the sanctions imposed by the instructor or by the judicial officer if the student is found to be in violation of academic misconduct. They may also recommend that the judicial officer impose one or more of the following sanctions:
- Denial or revocation of degree or other credential
Record of Proceedings
A single record consisting of written notes, electronic recordings, or other method selected by the panel chair, will be made of all hearings. Such record will remain the property of the college but will be made available to the accused for review during any appeal period. It is the responsibility of the panel chair to send written notification to the student, the faculty member, and the registrar of any grade change resulting from the panel’s decision.
Attendance and Postponement of Academic Integrity Review Panel Hearing
The student who has been charged with a violation may request postponement of the hearing for reasonable cause. The most accurate and fair review of the facts can best be accomplished when both parties (student and instructor) are present. For this reason, the student is expected to attend and to participate. If the student chooses not to attend the hearing, the charges will be reviewed as scheduled on the basis of the information available, and a decision will be made. Although no inference may be drawn against a student for failing to attend, or for remaining silent, the hearing will proceed and the conclusion will be based on the evidence presented. No decision will be based solely on the failure of the student to attend or participate.
Confidentiality and Records Retention
Student records of violations of academic integrity may be shared with college officials who have legitimate interest in the case. Except in cases of legally sanctioned requests, student records may be disclosed outside the college only with the student’s signed consent.
If the outcome of the hearing with the Academic Integrity Review Panel is not to the student’s or instructor’s satisfaction, the dissatisfied party (appellant) has five (5) college working days to submit an appeal, in writing, to the chief academic officer, chair of the Appeal Panel. The Appeal Panel will hold a conference within seven (7) college working days of the request.
The chief academic officer serves as chair of the Appeal Panel. The panel consists of three members, including the chair. The Vice President will select faculty and/or staff members according to the case.
In general, appeals must be based on the issue of substantive or procedural errors which are prejudicial and which were committed during the Academic Integrity Review Panel hearing. Specific questions for the review, which should be addressed in the written appeal, are the following:
- Were procedures outlined in the Student Handbook followed?
- If a procedural error was committed, were the rights of either party materially violated?
- Was the hearing conducted in a way that permitted both parties an adequate opportunity to present their case?
- Was evidence presented at the hearing substantial enough to justify the decision reached?
The Appeal Panel’s consideration must be based on the information developed by the Academic Integrity Review Panel, and no new evidence shall be received by the panel. The decision will be reviewed upon the basis of the transcript or summary of the hearing. Both parties may, at the discretion of the Appeal Panel, submit oral and/or written statements to support their position. The chair will exercise discretion regarding meeting procedures.
The Appeal Panel may uphold, reject, or modify the sanctions imposed by the Academic Integrity Review Panel or may require that the original hearing be reopened for the presentation of additional evidence and reconsideration of the decision. The chair will notify, in writing, both parties and the chair of the Academic Integrity Review Panel of the decision.
Appeal to College President
If the decision made by the Appeal Panel is not to the student’s or instructor’s satisfaction, the appellant has five (5) college working days to request, in writing, a review by the college President, who will render a final opinion within five (5) college working days.