Academic Integrity and Ethics
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.
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's paper 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 or books) during a quiz, test, or examination.
- Collaborating improperly with another student on an open-book or take-home quiz, test, or examination
- Exceeding the time limit, when one exists, on an open-book or take-home quiz, test, or examination
- Aiding another student improperly on in- or out-of-class assignments
- Leaving a testing area to obtain answers or aid
- Handing in another's work or ideas as one's 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 academic 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 resourcesiii
- 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.
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 director of the graduate program (DGP) and the vice-president for academic affairs (VPAA) 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 DGP 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 DGP and/or VPAA will take the following additional action:
- FOR A FIRST OFFENSE, the DGP and/or VPAA 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 DGP and/or VPAA may also meet with the student.
- FOR A SECOND OFFENSE, the DGP and/or VPAA will impose a one-semester suspension. The DGP and/or 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 DGP and/or VPAA will impose a penalty of permanent dismissal from the College.
- The DGP and/or VPAA 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 DGP and/or VPAA'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 DGP and/or VPAA'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.
- The student will send the DGP and/or VPAA written notification that he or she intends to appeal either the finding of a violation or the penalty for the violation.
- The VPAA will ask the chair of the Academic Standards Committee to convene an Academic Integrity Review Board (AIRB), made up of the following:
- two members of the Academic Standards Committee, chosen by the committee
- the chair of the department or program in which the violation took place
- one other faculty member nominated by the student
- the VPAA, in cases in which his or her decision is not being appealed.
- One of the two participating members of the Academic Standards Committee will chair the AIRB.
- When appearing before the AIRB, the student may bring an adviser who is a member of the campus community but who is not a member of the student's family. The adviser may consult with the student during questioning by the AIRB, but the adviser may not participate in that questioning herself or himself.
- The AIRB's decision will be reached by majority (3/4 or 3/5) vote, using the standard of "more likely than not."
- Within 48 hours of the student's appearance before the AIRB, the chair will send the student and the instructor official notification of the board's decision.
- 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, a department chair, 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 Academic Standards Committee a monthly report on the number and nature of violations of the policy.