Mar 302008
 
Authors: By Katie McLaughlin, Robert Drost

Imagine you are a freshman in a 100 level class.

Your first major assignment is a research paper. Without much experience in college level writing, you write the essay to the best of your ability using the writing skills you developed in high school.

A few weeks after you turn in your paper, you get an e-mail from your professor asking you to meet with her after class. You agree, assuming that maybe you didn’t do too hot on the paper.

When you meet with the professor, though, it is much worse. She tells you that you engaged in plagiarism and academic dishonesty for not properly citing your sources.

In your essay, you cited direct quotes but not ideas from the sources you used. You have done this all through high school without penalty and never imagined that this could potentially be a problem.

However, this particular professor does not take academic dishonesty lightly. She then tells you that she has no choice but to fail you for the course. You are absolutely stunned at what is happening, and can’t understand why this professor is doing this to you.

Unfortunately, this situation happens more often than you would think. Fortunately, if you find yourself in this situation, there are options. Initially when a professor thinks someone has committed academic dishonesty, the first thing they need to do is confront the student.

Academic dishonesty can be one of many different things. Cheating in the classroom, plagiarism and unauthorized possession of academic materials can all lead to a hearing on the grounds of academic dishonesty.

After confronting the student, the professor can do one of three things: assign a grading penalty and simply document it with Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services, assign a grading penalty and request that the student has a hearing with CRSCS, or simply to request a hearing in front of a CRSCS staff member.

If at any point students believes that they have been wrongly accused of academic dishonesty by a professor, they too can request a hearing with CRSCS.

After the hearing, if the student is found in violation of the Student Conduct Code Academic Dishonesty policy, they can still seek an appeal of the hearing officer’s decision.

There are multiple conditions for which an appeal can be granted, all of which can be found in the Student Conduct Code. These include reasons such as whether a hearing was held in a fair fashion given the information presented, if the sanctions imposed on the student were appropriate for the violation, or if there is new substantial evidence.

Any of these reasons, if valid, could be grounds for the case to go before an appeals board. This board consists of five members, two of which are students — either from the Associated Students of CSU Supreme Court or the vice presidents of the Greek Standards and Values Alignment Board — and three faculty members.

The appeals process is a good way to have a few extra eyes review the case and possibly get new perspective.

According to Paul Osincup, Assistant Director of CRSCS, “Generally students who have engaged in academic dishonesty feel extremely remorseful and are able to learn from their mistake.”

One of the most common forms of academic dishonesty at CSU is the use of unauthorized materials into the PACE center for testing. Even if you had something written on your hand — whether you used it to cheat or not — it could be considered academic dishonesty.

These seemingly trivial mistakes can lead to some substantial sanctions, so it is wise to think about the potential consequences before engaging in activities that could be easily misconstrued as academic dishonesty.

However, if you do, or are falsely charged with doing so, hopefully you will feel comfortable knowing your rights and coming into the CRSCS office or the ASCSU office and asking about what you can do.

Justices of the ASCSU Supreme Court are here for you, as is CRSCS. If you have any other questions, please visit the ASCSU Supreme Court Web site at www.ascsu.colostate.edu/supremecourt.aspx or the CRSCS Web site at http://www.conflictresolution.colostate.edu/.

Katie McLaughlin is a junior political science major and Robert Drost is a senior history major. Both are Associate Justices of the ASCSU Supreme Court. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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