All alleged violations of academic integrity trigger a three-phase university response.
Determining whether an academic integrity violation occurred.
Deliberation and notification of consequences
Outlines the determination of the consequences and processes for notifying the student(s) involved.
Reporting an academic integrity violation
Involves how the department will report the violation to the college dean and how the dean will report the violation to Student Life. This phase includes:
- Examination of the student’s record for evidence of previous violations of integrity and/or student conduct
- Assessing consequences for any recurring problems.
The Dean of each college, the Dean of Students and the Vice President for Student Life may designate a person within her or his office to represent the respective office in the process.
Phase 1 - Investigation of an Academic Integrity Violation
If faculty, staff or a student suspects a violation of integrity related to a specific class, she or he should contact the faculty member teaching that class as soon as possible, and the faculty member will be responsible for following up on the matter.
If the suspected violation occurred in written work, the faculty member will ask at least two colleagues to review the situation, in so far as is possible, without revealing the name(s) of the student(s) involved. If the suspected violation involved observation of cheating, the faculty member will describe or document the situation in writing and move to the student meeting described in Phase 2.
Phase 2 - Deliberation and Notification of Consequences
There are three possible outcomes of deliberation:
1. If the colleagues respond unanimously that an integrity violation did not occur, the faculty member should visit with the student about the behavior or other evidence that led to the perception of academic dishonesty in order to educate the student about conduct and practices that clearly establish one’s integrity rather than creating suspicion. The matter is closed.
2. If the colleagues give a mixed response, some believing that an integrity violation occurred and others believing it did not occur, the faculty member will, in the presence of the department chair or a second faculty member, visit with the student(s) involved to gather additional information. When the case involves an online course, this visit may be conducted electronically, preferably as a video conference call, although an audio conference call will be acceptable when video is unavailable. The faculty members must, in a timely manner, conclude that the student did or did not violate the academic integrity policy.
3. If the colleagues respond unanimously that an integrity violation did occur, the faculty member will meet with the student in the presence of the department chair or a second faculty member. When the case involves an online course, such meeting may be by video (or if necessary, audio-only) conference call. If the student admits guilt or if the student denies guilt but the evidence indicates otherwise, then the faculty member will convey orally and in writing the consequence determined in accordance with university policy, departmental policy and/or the class syllabus.
Examples of consequences determined by the faculty member may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Lowering the grade on the assignment up to and including an F in the course for a first offense, based on policies included in the syllabus.
- Requiring the student to retake the exam or an alternate exam, resubmit the coursework, or complete an alternate assignment should the student be permitted to remain in the class after being found in violation of the academic integrity policy. Any such makeup work may be graded independently or averaged with the penalized grade for the original dishonest work. Failure to comply with such requirements constitutes a second violation.
- A second violation in a class will result in an F in the course and immediate referral to the Dean of Students.
Phase 3 - Reporting an Academic Integrity Violation
If it is determined that a violation occurred, the faculty member is responsible for forwarding paperwork describing the incident and penalty simultaneously to the department chair and the Dean of the college. The record of each incident should include a written description of the incident, investigation, and outcome, as well as a copy of the written notification to the student. The Dean or designee will hold the paperwork until the conclusion of the student’s appeal window and then forward the paperwork to the Dean of Students.
If the student accepts the finding of a violation and its consequence, then the university response is concluded; otherwise an appeal is available. The student must send any appeal to the Dean of the college within five business days of receiving written notification of the violation and its consequence.
The Dean of each college should report academic integrity violations to the Dean of Students after the student’s opportunity for appeal is exhausted. It is important to note that while the department may consider the consequences to be final, faculty may not be aware of previous integrity violations in other departments.
For a summary of the above information, reference the infographic at the button below.
The Appeals Process
ACU gives each student the right to a single appeal. Imposition of disciplinary responses will be deferred pending the review of the appeal. A student may appeal the finding of guilt or faculty member’s consequence for a class-related incident to the Dean of the college by filing a written appeal within five business days of receiving the written disciplinary action from the faculty member. Appeals will not be accepted after this deadline.
Appeal forms are available on the Provost’s website. The student should submit the form and any additional statements or documentation the student believes are relevant to the appeal. The faculty member and department chair will be notified of the appeal and will have three days from notification by the dean’s office to prepare statements to be included in the student’s record.
Within five business days of receiving the appeal, the Dean of the college will review the appeal notice and may decide to meet with the student to further discuss his or her grounds for appeal. The student may not have a representative present for the meeting with the Dean; however, he or she may bring a companion who is neither a witness nor representative. Prior to this meeting and in order to reach a decision, the Dean of the college will, in consultation with the involved faculty member, review the appeal and support materials (for example, plagiarized sources, tests from which answers were copied, etc.).
The Dean of the college may also confer with the student in the process of coming to a final decision. The Dean of the college will consider the appeal and uphold, reverse or otherwise modify the previous decision. The decision of the Dean of the college may not be appealed. The Dean of the college will convey in writing the final decision to the student, faculty member, and department chair. In an appeal, the student’s appeal form and documentation, faculty member’s response, and written decision of the Dean are added to the record for the case. The college Dean will send all documentation to the Dean of Students at the conclusion of an appeal.
Appealing a Student Life Decision
Should the Dean of Students impose an additional consequence as the result of academic integrity violations, the student has the right to appeal the additional consequence to the Vice President for Student Life (VPSL). A written appeal within five business days of receiving the written disciplinary action from the Dean of Students or designee is required. Appeals will not be accepted after this deadline.
Within five business days after receiving the appeal, the VPSL will review the appeal notice and may decide to meet with the student (electronically, if a face-to-face meeting is impractical) to further discuss his or her grounds for appeal. The student may not have a representative present for the meeting with the VPSL; however, he or she may bring a companion who is neither a witness nor representative. Prior to this meeting and in order to reach a decision, the VPSL will, in consultation with the involved faculty member, college Dean and/or the Dean of Students, review the appeal, the student’s discipline file, and support materials (for example, plagiarized sources, tests from which answers were copied, etc.). The VPSL may also confer with the student in the process of coming to a final decision.
The VPSL will consider the appeal and uphold, reverse or otherwise modify the decision of the Dean of Students. The appeal decision of the VPSL may not be appealed. The VPSL will convey in writing the final decision to the student, the faculty member involved, and the Dean of Students.
More Information to Consider
If the student is a student-athlete, the college Dean should also send the record to the Director of Academics and SWA for Athletics at the same time the Dean notifies the Dean of Students. Athletics may have an internal process for the student-athlete that is separate and in addition to the process outlined in this document.
Role of Student Life in Responding to Academic Integrity Violations
In many cases, Student Life may have a more holistic picture of the student’s conduct and behavior throughout the campus. Incidents of academic integrity violations in other departments, chapel integrity violations, disrespectful behavior towards others, and providing misleading information to other university authorities are typically located in the discipline file and document a pattern of behavior not otherwise expected from an ACU student. Once the college Dean has forwarded the academic integrity violation to Student Life, the Dean of Students or designee reserves the right to further investigate, deliberate, and sanction a student if it is determined the student has a documented pattern of misconduct.
Multiple Violations of Academic Integrity
Once the written findings are forwarded to the Dean of Students, he/she or designee will review the records of each student found in violation of the academic integrity policy and determine if previous integrity violations or related student conduct violations have occurred. As is the case with all university disciplinary responses, a student’s entire disciplinary record will be considered when making decisions regarding appropriate sanctions.
The Dean of Students or designee will determine whether additional consequences are appropriate. The Dean of Students may choose to consult with the Dean of the student’s college. The Dean of Students should convey the disciplinary action in writing and may choose to meet with the student to convey orally as well.
Disciplinary actions sanctioned by Student Life may include, but are not limited to: a formal warning, conduct probation, suspension or dismissal. Refer to the Student Conduct section of the Student Handbook for a full description of each sanction.
Any sanction given to a student may be documented in the student’s discipline file in the Office of Student Life. It is recommended that each Dean of the college, department chair and/or faculty members maintain copies of the records as well. Matters involving testing organizations or local, state, or national legal issues may be reported to the appropriate authorities.
According to the Student Handbook, “The Dean of Students retains responsibility for the maintenance, storage and release of student records related to disciplinary proceedings in keeping with FERPA. In most cases, student disciplinary records may be kept for a period of five years upon separation from the university, at which time minimal statistics may be retained and the full document may be destroyed.” For a full description of FERPA policy, refer to the university catalog.