Academic integrity is a commitment to honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility within an academic community. An academic community of integrity advances the quest for truth and knowledge by requiring intellectual and personal honesty in learning, teaching, research, and service. Honesty begins with oneself and extends to others. Such a community also fosters a climate of mutual trust, encourages the free exchange of ideas, and enables all to reach their highest potential.
A college community of integrity upholds personal accountability and shared responsibility, and ensures fairness in all academic interactions of students, faculty, and administrators. While we recognize the participatory and collaborative nature of the learning process, faculty and students alike must show respect for the work of others by adhering to the clear standards, practices, and procedures contained in the policy described below.
Academic integrity is essential to St. Thomas Aquinas College’s mission to educate in an atmosphere of mutual understanding, concern, cooperation, and respect. All members of the College community are expected to possess and embrace academic integrity.
Academic dishonesty is defined as any behavior that violates the principles outlined above. St. Thomas Aquinas College strictly prohibits academic dishonesty. Any violation of academic integrity policies that constitutes academic dishonesty will be subject to harsh penalties, ranging up to and including dismissal from the College.
Examples of Academic Dishonesty
- Giving unauthorized help on a test or other academic exercise.
- Accepting unauthorized help on a test or other academic exercise.
- Attempting to obtain unauthorized help from another student on a test or other academic exercise.
- Copying from another student’s work.
- Allowing another student to copy from your work.
- Using unauthorized materials during a test or other academic exercise, such as a textbook, notebook, or calculator; use of electronic devices such as computers or phones; use of specifically prepared items, such as notes written on paper, clothing, furniture, or oneself.
- Fraudulently obtaining copies of tests, such as from offices, waste receptacles, or from students who have previously taken the test.
- Giving test questions or test answers to other students who have not yet taken that test.
- Obtaining test questions or test answers from other students who have already taken that test.
Plagiarism is representing someone else’s work or ideas as one’s own, and occurs when appropriate credit is not given to the original source. Note that plagiarism can be intentional as well as unintentional, and information sources refer to both print and electronic media. Examples of plagiarism include the following:
- Failing to indicate direct quotations.
- Failing to indicate the source of direct quotations.
- Failing to indicate the source of paraphrased material.
- Copying another’s lab reports, data files, or computer programs and presenting them as one’s own.
- Submitting work that was written or prepared, in whole or in part, by another person either on campus or off-campus, including Internet sites.
- Purchasing or attempting to purchase work written or prepared by another. (Section
- 213-b of the NYS Education Law prohibits the sale of term papers, essays, and research reports to college students.)
- Borrowing or attempting to borrow work written or prepared by another and presenting it as one’s own without permission.
- Signing a name other than one’s own on any document, such as a registration form or letter of recommendation.
- Intentionally presenting false information on any document, such as a registration form or letter of recommendation.
- Taking or attempting to take a test for another person.
- Allowing another person to take a test in one’s place.
- Falsifying data for labs, experiments, and research projects.
- Listing reference sources that have not been used.
- Inventing reference sources.
- Unauthorized multiple submissions of papers and other academic exercises (submitting the same paper in two different classes without the permission of all instructors involved).
- Lying to an instructor or other College official (e.g., intentionally misrepresenting the reason why one has missed an examination).
- Aiding another student in academic misconduct.
Faculty Procedures for Academic Dishonesty
Because all faculty members have authority and jurisdiction within their classes, when they discover an instance of academic dishonesty, they make the decision about how to handle it. For example, the faculty member can fail the student on the essay, test or quiz, or even for the course as a whole, as seems appropriate to the offense in the judgment of the faculty member. Other academic penalties may be imposed, such as repeating a test or revising an essay, as the faculty member sees fit. Therefore, in most cases, the faculty member makes this decision on his or her own, and that decision turns out to be the final one.
However, for all Academic Dishonesty offenses, faculty must file a Student Conduct Academic Dishonesty Report with the appropriate Academic Dean and the Office of the Provost, indicating whether it is a matter for further investigation or not by indicating one of the following on the form:
- Report to Dean and Provost only; complaint requires no further action
- Request for further action and investigation to be taken by the Dean and/or Office of the Provost
Therefore, the Office of the Provost will maintain records of all reported incidents. The Provost will determine whether the student in question has on file any previous cases of academic dishonesty and impose any sanctions that may be warranted. If deemed necessary, a student’s record of previous offenses may be shared with faculty at the discretion of the Provost.
The Academic Integrity and Standards committee will regularly review reports submitted by the faculty. For serious offenses and repeat offenses the committee may recommend further action. If a faculty member decides that no additional action is required from the Provost, the form will remain on file while the student is enrolled at the College. On the other hand, if the faculty member requests that further action and investigation be taken, then the Provost may review possible sanctions by:
- Meeting with the faculty member making the request
- Meeting with the student being charged
- Meeting with the Dean of the appropriate School
- Meeting with the Academic Integrity and Standards Committee
Sanctions for specific violations of the College’s Academic Integrity Policy will be discussed with the relevant instructor, the Dean, and the Academic Integrity and Standards Committee if necessary. In the case of repeat offenses, students must meet with the relevant Dean. Violations fall into two categories, Level One and Level Two, as defined below.
Level One Violations
Level One violations are less serious examples of academic integrity. These may often be attributable to a student’s academic inexperience or lack of understanding of the specific details regarding academic integrity. Such violations are often accidental or are less intentional than Level Two versions. Level One violations may often occur on a minor assignment or quiz, something that contributes to a small percentage of the total course work. Below are a few common examples of violations that might be considered as Level One:
- Improper citation due to lack of awareness regarding academic citation
- A small occurrence of plagiarism
- Cheating on a quiz or minor test
- Unauthorized collaboration on a homework assignment
- Making up a reference source for a minor assignment
- Falsifying or creating a small number of data points on a lab exercise
- Falsifying the signature of another student for an attendance sheet
Note: an alleged second Level One violation may be treated as an alleged Level Two violation.
Sanctions for Level One violations may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following at the discretion of the faculty member, Dean, or Provost:
- No penalty
- Required participation in a workshop on academic integrity at the Center for Academic Excellence or Lougheed Library
- An assigned paper or project related to academic integrity
- A make-up assignment at the discretion of the faculty member
- A grade of no credit for the original assignment
- A failing grade on the assignment
- A failing grade for the course
Level Two Violations
Level Two offenses are very serious violations of our academic integrity policy that involve a significant portion of course work relative to Level One violations. Level Two violations are typically deliberate, and the intent to violate the policy is clearer in the way in which the offense is manifested. Below are some examples of violations that can be considered as Level Two:
- Numerous repeated Level One violations
- Substantial evidence of plagiarism on a major assignment
- Clearly evident copying or use of unauthorized materials, devices, or clear evidence of collaboration on a major exam
- Having someone take an examination in a student’s place
- Having someone perform coursework for an online or hybrid class.
- Creating false evidence or data or any other source material for a major assignment or project
- Facilitating the dishonesty of another student on a major exam or assignment
- Intentionally destroying or altering another student’s work.
- Knowingly violating research ethics
Sanctions for Level Two violations may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
- A failing grade for the course
- Disqualification from Honors Societies
- Dismissal from a departmental or school honors program
- Denial of access to internships or research opportunities
- Removal of fellowship or assistantship support
- Disciplinary probation
- Suspension for one or more semesters
These recommendations for sanctions at each level are intended as guidelines for the College community. For both Level One and Level Two violations, the sanction imposed should ideally be proportional to the nature of the violation committed. Prior to assigning a penalty to the student, the faculty member may wish to meet with his or her Dean and, if necessary, the Provost to determine an appropriate penalty for the student. If a Level Two offense is particularly egregious, the Provost will refer the case to the Academic Integrity and Standards Committee (AISC), which will determine the appropriate penalty.
Pending the resolution of the case, should it be necessary to report a grade, the faculty member will record an Incomplete for the student as a final grade for the relevant course. No final grade in the course will be reported for the student until a final decision has been rendered. After any resolution to the case, the AISC will consult with the faculty member regarding the appropriate grade to be granted.
Appealing a Determination of Academic Dishonesty
Appealing a First Offense
A student accused of his or her first violation of the Academic Integrity Policy, and who receives a penalty from the faculty member, may appeal the decision to the faculty member and then to the Dean of the relevant School. Once the faculty member notifies the student of the violation, the student shall have ten (10) business days to submit an appeal in writing to the Dean with a clear explanation of his or her response to the charge.
Appealing when there are Repeat Offenses
A student accused of multiple infractions of the Academic Integrity Policy, and who receives a penalty from the AISC, may appeal the decision to the President of the College. Upon official notification of a decision by the AISC, the student shall have five (5) business days to submit an appeal in writing to the President. Appeals at this level must be based on one or more of the following grounds:
- New evidence is available which was not reasonably available at or before the time of the student’s last presentation to the AISC.
- A procedural error occurred which can be shown to have had a detrimental effect on the decision of the AISC.
- The decision of the AISC is clearly in error when viewed in light of the information presented to the AISC or the decision imposes inappropriate sanction(s) having no reasonable relationship to the offense(s) committed.
In arriving at a decision, the President will meet with the student in question, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and, if appropriate, the Vice President for Student Development. The President shall notify the student of her decision within five (5) business days of the last meeting, unless special circumstances make that impracticable.
Note: The President of the College shall notify the Provost of appeals that originate through the President’s office.