Academic Integrity Policy

Effective August 31, 2009

This policy and its procedural guidelines are effective February 9, 2009, replacing all previously existing policies and procedures. The policy statement applies to all Union Institute & University students and employees, however, the procedural guidelines section is specific to incidents of academic dishonesty of students; procedures for employee academic dishonesty are provided in the Personnel Policy Manual.

Policy Statement

Union Institute & University is committed to ensuring the highest level of academic integrity. Violations of academic integrity of any kind are strictly prohibited. Violations of academic integrity include but are not limited to plagiarism, cheating, and dishonesty.

Definitions

Academic Integrity is characterized by honesty and responsibility in scholarship, based on the following assumptions about academic work at Union Institute & University:

  • Students attend UI&U in order to learn and grow, and academic assignments exist for the sake of this goal.
  • All academic work must be met through a student’s own effort to learn and grow—academic work completed any other way is unacceptable, and any grades and credits awarded as a result are fraudulent.

Academic integrity means understanding and respecting these basic truths, without which no university can exist. Academic dishonesty is not just "against the rules," but violates the assumptions that are at the heart of all learning. Violations of academic integrity destroy the mutual trust and respect that should exist among students and faculty, as well as being unfair to students who operate with integrity and honesty¹.

Plagiarism 

is the practice of claiming or implying authorship of another person’s written or creative work, ideas, and/or words through incorporation, in whole or in part, into one’s own without adequately acknowledging or crediting the source. Plagiarism usually takes the form of submitting the work or ideas of another (written, artistic, technical, etc.) as one’s own. Commonly plagiarized sources include books and articles (published and unpublished), Internet sites, and other students’ work. Plagiarism may be unintentional or intentional; this policy and related procedures apply regardless of intentionality.

Cheating

is the use of deception, tricks, or other devices in an effort to obtain credit for a learning activity. There are other forms of academic dishonesty, which include, but are not limited to: providing false or inaccurate information about one’s academic and/or professional background, such as claiming a degree one has not earned or submitting false letters of recommendation; submitting the same work for credit more than one time, or violating any protocols and/or procedures specified in a course syllabus.

¹Adapted from “A Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity,” University of Oklahoma.

Identification of Plagiarism

Assignments submitted by students as part of any undergraduate or graduate course or as a component of any student’s academic program are regularly reviewed for plagiarism, which may include use of plagiarism identification software.  Each enrolled student agrees that, by registering for learning activities, he or she consents to the submission of her or his work for textual similarity review to identify possible plagiarism.

Procedural Guidelines: Violations of Academic Integrity

The procedural guidelines detailed herein are to be followed in all cases where a Union Institute & University student is suspected of violating academic integrity. These guidelines are to be followed for any case that arises on or after the effective date of this policy. While concerns about violations of academic integrity are most typically raised by faculty, they may also be raised by another student, a graduate, or a non-instructional employee, Concerns of non-faculty regarding student violations should be reported to the dean responsible for the student’s program: the dean (not the person raising the concern) is responsible for ensuring that all applicable steps of this procedure are then followed.

Consequences for violations of the policy on academic integrity will vary, depending on the severity of the infraction and the extent to which the student was aware of university and external standards. Graduate students are expected to be better informed regarding what constitutes plagiarism, cheating, and dishonesty than are undergraduate students, especially those undergraduate students who have had no or little previous postsecondary education.

The scope of the violation will be considered in determining consequences, including, the consequences for student work that is substantially or entirely the work of another will have more serious consequences than will a case where there is either a single or small number of non-accredited citations.

  • Academic dishonesty related to a dissertation, thesis, culminating study, capstone project, or other substantive work will have more severe consequences than will plagiarism on a single paper or test that constitutes one learning activity within a course or seminar. The consequences for student dissemination/use of exam questions and/or answers will be more severe if payment is involved.

Regardless of the student’s degree level and the extent/scope of the action, Union Institute & University takes all alleged violations of academic integrity seriously. Accordingly, all initial warnings and informal resolutions and all formal incidents and resolutions must be reported to the dean. Reports may be submitted to the program director, but he/she is required to relay them to the responsible dean.

Procedures

Stage 1. Informal review and resolution (faculty and student or dean and student):

If a violation of the policy on academic integrity is suspected, the faculty member (or the dean, if the concern was raised by someone other than faculty) will contact the student, explain the university’s policy on academic integrity, and discuss the alleged infraction. In this process, the faculty member or dean will orally warn the student and instruct him or her in the appropriate conventions of citation or academic practice. As part of that conversation, the student must be given a copy of this policy and procedural guidelines. The faculty member has the right to consult with another faculty member and/or the dean at any point during this stage. There are three potential outcomes of stage 1. The first two outcomes result in the conclusion of the incident review process, the third moves the incident review to stage 2.

  1. If the student is able to prove (through explanation or exculpatory evidence) to the satisfaction of the faculty member or dean that no violation occurred, either intentional or unintentional, the matter will be considered to be resolved. Such a case would not count as a first incident, and no record need be made in the student’s academic record. The faculty member must report the incident to the dean.
  2. If the student acknowledges a violation, and the student and faculty member and/or dean come to a mutually satisfactory resolution, then the process ends at this stage. A satisfactory resolution must include (1) student recognition of the issues regarding her/his actions, (2) evidence that he/she has learned from the experience, (3) student cooperation in the resolution of the concern, and (4) satisfactory assurances that the practice will not happen again. A report of the incident and its resolution must be provided to the dean and a record of the occurrence will be placed in the student’s permanent academic record. A consequence may be determined by the faculty, considering the appropriate action for the seriousness of the incident and the academic level of the student (i.e., undergraduate or graduate level). Possible consequences include: requiring the student to revise the work and resubmit it (least serious); reduction of the grade awarded for the work, or assignment of a failing grade for a course or learning activity (most serious).
  3. If there is no satisfactory conclusion to the informal resolution stage, such as if the student denies the allegation, is not able to prove to the satisfaction of the faculty member or dean that plagiarism has not occurred, or is noncompliant with the informal process, the case moves to the formal program-level review process (Stage 2).
  4. If an initial incident review concludes stage 1 (i.e., no violation occurred or a mutually satisfactory resolution is achieved), but there is later evidence that the behavior continues or has reoccurred, the faculty member or dean will prepare a formal incident report, providing all relevant evidence related to the occurrence. The report is submitted to the dean, who will move the case to the formal program-level incident review process (Stage 2). The dean will also initiate Stage 2 for cases where there has been more than one report of concern about an individual student’s violations of the policy on academic integrity.

When a case is moved to Stage 2, all documentation will be placed and retained in the student’s permanent academic record; the student must be given a copy of the report and advised that it is part of her or his permanent record.

In all procedural stages the dean may assign another faculty member or administrator as his or her designee.

Stage 2. Formal program-level review and resolution (student, faculty and/or dean)

Whenever an incident reaches stage 2, a formal written report of the incident, including a complete description of the allegation must be prepared by the faculty member or the dean involved in the stage 1 process. The report should include: attempts at informal resolution and any and all interactions and responses between the faculty member, dean and the student. The dean must provide this report to the student and place a copy of the report in the student's permanent record.

The dean will invite the student to respond to the allegations and to supply any relevant evidence he or she wishes to make part of the discussion. That invitation will include a thirty (30) day deadline for the student to submit her or his response. (The student may request an extension.) The student’s response must be in writing, signed by the student and dated: an email response is not appropriate. 

The dean will review the formal report and any response from the student, in consultation with the faculty member. The dean will make a determination regarding an appropriate consequence based on the seriousness of the incident and the academic level of the student (i.e., undergraduate or graduate level). Possible consequences include: requiring the student to revise the work and resubmit it (least serious); reduction of the grade awarded for the work, or assignment of a failing grade for a course or learning activity (most serious). There must be some consequence at the conclusion of the stage 2 process; one consequence might be moving the incident to stage 3. There are two possible outcomes of stage 2: resolution or non-resolution:

  1. Stage 2 resolution results in the student’s acceptance of the report, the resolution and the consequences.
  2. Non-resolution occurs If the faculty member and dean are not satisfied that the student recognizes the issues regarding violation of the policy on academic integrity, if the student refuses to cooperate in their resolution, and/or fails to provide appropriate assurances that the practice will not happen again. If resolution cannot be reached, the faculty member or dean prepares a formal incident report, to be retained in the student’s permanent academic record. The case automatically moves to the formal institutional-level review and resolution process (stage 3).
  3. If a resolution is reached at stage 2, but there is later evidence that the behavior continues or has reoccurred, the faculty member or dean will prepare a formal incident report, providing all relevant evidence related to the first occurrence and the immediate situation. This report is submitted to the dean and is placed and retained in the student’s permanent academic record. The case moves automatically to stage 3.

Stage 3. Formal institutional-level review and resolution (student, provost, and Academic Integrity Committee)

Once a formal incident report of student violation of the academic integrity policy has been filed with or written by the dean, the incident moves to a formal institutional-level review and resolution. When the formal incident report is received, the dean will immediately notify the provost, forwarding the report and all related documentation to the provost. All formal institutional level reviews are conducted by the university’s Academic Integrity Committee (AIC), a standing university committee appointed by the provost. The AIC is recommendatory to the provost, whose decision is final.

On receipt of the formal incident report, the provost will inform the student, in writing, that the case is to be considered by the AIC. To ensure due process, the provost will send a letter to the student, inviting the student to respond to the allegations and to supply any relevant evidence he or she wishes to make part of the discussion. The letter will include a thirty (30) day deadline for submission of the response. (The student may request an extension.) The student’s response must be in writing, signed by the student and dated: an email response is not appropriate.

  • The provost will forward the formal incident report and the student’s written response to the AIC for consideration. (If the student does not respond, the AIC will receive only the formal incident report.) The provost will advise the AIC of the expected deadline for completion of the process. In most cases this will be 60 days; in some cases, however, the provost will require an expedited review.
  • None of the parties involved in the incident are entitled to participate in the AIC’s deliberation. If questions arise during committee deliberations, the committee may request the provost to contact any involved party for additional information or clarification—the committee shall not make such contact directly.
  • The AIC will evaluate the contents of the formal incident report and the student’s response (if applicable), submitting a written response and recommendation for resolution to the provost. The recommended resolution will be either for exoneration of the student or for a consequence appropriate to the situation. The recommended consequence can range from denial of academic credit (i.e., assignment of a failing grade) for the learning activity (assignment or course), to academic probation, to suspension (i.e., dismissal for a short, fixed period of time), to complete dismissal from the university, to rescission of the degree. (Rescission of a degree will occur only in cases where academic dishonesty is discovered after a degree has been awarded; degrees may be rescinded only under the authority of the university’s Board of Trustees.)
  • The provost will consider the AIC’s recommendation and make a final determination. If the provost should decide on a penalty other than that recommended by the AIC, he or she will inform the committee of that decision, and the rationale for it.
  • The provost will inform the student in writing of the formal resolution.

Student Appeal

A student may appeal the outcome of the formal institutional-level review process (Stage 3) to the president.