Trinity University
Faculty and Contract Staff Handbook

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(6)    Instructional Policies, Responsibilities, and Guidelines

(6A)   STUDENT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

(6B)    FACULTY INSTRUCTIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES

(6C)    EVALUATION OF STUDENTS (GRADES)

(6D)    ACADEMIC INTEGRITY POLICY

(6E)    ADVISING

(6F)    STUDENT RECORDS

(6G)    EXCEPTIONS TO ACADEMIC POLICIES

(6H)    STUDENT EVALUATION OF COURSES AND FACULTY

(6I)     NONSEXIST LANGUAGE, EFFECTIVE WRITING, AND ORAL COMMUNICATION

(6J)     GUIDELINES FOR COMMON CURRICULUM COURSES

(6K)   THE ACADEMIC HONOR CODE


(6K) THE ACADEMIC HONOR CODE

(Approved by the Academic Faculty Assembly on February 21, 2003; revised by the Academic Faculty Assembly on May 2, 2008)

For a summary of recent changes to this chapter, see Chapter 9A: Summary of Recent Revisions to this Handbook.

(Note: The Academic Honor Code will be implemented at the beginning of the fall semester, 2004, and will apply to all new and future incoming students. As to such students, it will replace the existing Academic Integrity policy contained in Chapter 6D of the Handbook. The existing Academic Integrity policy will remain in effect as to students who have matriculated prior to the fall semester, 2004.

The values of honesty, scholarship and the pursuit of excellence are central to the mission of Trinity University.  The Academic Honor Code is the system through which Trinity students uphold these values by assuming individual responsibility for integrity. An environment that encourages personal responsibility facilitates one of the highest aims of education, the free pursuit of knowledge.

At its core the Academic Honor Code is based on trust. Because trust is the bond that forms among all members of the Trinity community, it cannot exist independently or in a vacuum. Thus, it is essential that all members of the Trinity community conduct themselves in such a way that exemplifies integrity. Trinity students are trusted and expected to be honest in their academic work. Any violation of the Academic Honor Code destroys the value of the work, erodes the spirit of trust, and negatively impacts the mission of the University.

Contents of this page: 

  1. The Pledge 

  2. Violations 

  3. Academic Honor Council (Function; Academic Honor Council Selection and Composition; Complaint, Notification and Investigation; Academic Honor Council Hearing Procedures; Sanctions for Academic Honor Code Violations; Procedures for Appealing a Decision) 

  4. Miscellaneous Guidelines in Response to Frequently Asked Questions

  5. Assessment Procedures 

  6. Amendments


I.  THE PLEDGE

Upon matriculation, students will sign an agreement that they will abide by the Academic Honor Code policy. The Academic Honor Code covers all academic work. Instructors will designate what, if any, type of collaboration or assistance is authorized for each assignment. Students are required to add the statement “On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unauthorized assistance on this work” and their signature to each assignment to reinforce and reaffirm their adherence to the Academic Honor Code. (Instructors may allow students to shorten this statement by simply writing “pledged” followed by a signature.)

II.  VIOLATIONS

It is a basic assumption that credit is awarded for the work of the individual student and judged according to its quality. Violations of the Academic Honor Code thus involve an infraction of that basic assumption. Such violations include but are not limited to:

A.       Using or giving unauthorized material or assistance in any academic exercise, ranging from a homework assignment to a paper or a final exam.

B.        Turning in someone else’s work as one’s own or allowing someone else to take an exam for you.

C.       Choosing to present words or ideas of another as one’s own, which is plagiarism. This is plagiarism. While it is often appropriate to use other’s work in one’s paper, it must be credited as such. Quotation marks should be used for exact quotations, and in all cases, whether paraphrasing or using another’s exact wording, footnotes or endnotes should clearly indicate the source and the extent of the borrowing of ideas.

D.       Turning in the same work to more than one class without the consent of the instructor(s) involved.

E.        Collaborating on an assignment unless specifically authorized to do so by the instructor.

F.        Knowingly helping another student violate the Academic Honor Code.  

G.       Changing or attempting to change grades that have been assigned by the instructor.

H.       Falsifying data, creating false data, or fabricating sources.

It is also a basic assumption that violations of Academic Integrity are not confined to courses taken for credit. Violations of the Academic Honor Code thus include but are not limited to:

A.  All of the violations enumerated above in A-H, when committed by a student who is not registered for credit in connection with the action in question.

B.  Falsification of academic records by knowingly and improperly changing grades, signatures, or documents related to transcripts, grade sheets, forms and academic reports.

III.  ACADEMIC HONOR COUNCIL

A.  Function

It shall be the responsibility of the Academic Honor Council to hear all cases involving infractions against the Academic Honor Code and to determine sanctions in those cases where a violation has occurred. It shall be the responsibility of the Academic Honor Council as well to orient all incoming students to the Academic Honor Code every fall. The responsibility for annual orientation of the faculty shall reside with the Council’s faculty advisors with the support of the Office of Academic Affairs. The Academic Honor Council shall provide an annual report to the University community, detailing the number of cases and sanctions levied. Finally, it shall be within the purview of the Academic Honor Council to review and improve procedures as needed.  Procedural changes may be amended by a majority vote of the membership of the Academic Honor Council providing the proposed amendment is distributed in writing to all members at least five (5) class days prior to the meeting at which the amendment is to be considered.

B.  Academic Honor Council Selection and Composition

1. The Philosophical Premises of Selection and Composition

a.       The composition of the Academic Honor Council is designed to promote diversity, mentoring for underclass members, and experienced leadership within the Council. Ownership of the entire process belongs to students.

b.      The Association of Student Representatives (ASR) shall recommend to the President the appointment of Academic Honor Council members in order to ensure a well-informed selection process and for the sake of efficiency.

c.       Faculty involvement exists in order to ensure procedural consistency and historical guidance but is limited so as not to infringe on student responsibility for the Academic Honor Code. 

2. The Academic Honor Council

a.  Selection Process

1)      Undergraduate students may apply through the ASR. Applicants must submit a written personal statement explaining their suitability as an Academic Honor Council member. Also, they must report whether or not they have any previous academic integrity/honor violations, to be verified by the Office of Academic Affairs.

2)   The Academic Honor Council shall consist of 23 members from the student body selected by ASR and appointed by the President. There shall be, at the time of service, two first years, at least three sophomores, at least three juniors, and at least three seniors.

3)      The term of office shall be one year. Academic Honor Council members may be reappointed with the approval of the President. They will be terminated if they are found in violation of either the Academic Honor Code or the University Standards of Conduct. In the event of a vacant seat, ASR shall recommend to the President a replacement in a timely fashion.

4)      Academic Honor Council members shall be appointed during the spring semester prior to their term of service (except for the two first-year members, who shall be appointed early in the fall). The Academic Honor Council shall be required to meet before the beginning of finals of the spring semester prior to its term of service to familiarize itself with procedure. At that time the internal and the external chairs shall be elected. The members shall swear to uphold the joint statement, rules, regulations, and policies of Trinity University, to serve the University loyally, and to make impartial decisions.

b.  Composition

1)      The Academic Honor Council includes two officer positions: the internal chair and the external chair. Both chairs require at least one year of Academic Honor Council experience (except during the transition period) and are elected from within and by the Council members.

2)      The internal chair assigns members to each case, coordinates the release of briefs, compiles annual reports, manages all Academic Honor Council records, and sends them to the Office of Academic Affairs.

3)   The external chair receives the written complaints of violation of the honor code, serves as a liaison with ASR and the Faculty Senate, coordinates public education forums and ethical development programs, and receives appeals.

4)      The external chair heads and appoints four (4) members into the external cabinet. This cabinet is responsible for all educational outreach and initiatives of the Academic Honor Council. Members of the external cabinet will not be assigned to any case during their term of office. The term of office for the members shall be one semester.

5)      Any member except the internal or external chairs may serve as an advisor in response to informal student inquiries about filing a complaint. If members feel this consultation compromises their ability to decide a given case fairly, they shall notify the internal chair that they are removing themselves from that specific case.

6)      The internal chair appoints two case presenters for each complaint filed: one on behalf of the accused student, and one on behalf of the Academic Honor Code. If case presenter member believes that he or she cannot fulfill the responsibilities of the position objectively, he or she shall remove himself or herself. First Year members may not serve as investigating members.

7)      The internal chair then appoints one presiding member and two additional members to each case. Any member with a conflict of interest shall decline a case with approval by the internal chair.

8)      Two faculty members and one alternate, designated by the Faculty Senate, serve staggered terms as Academic Honor Council advisors. During the first year of implementation, one faculty member is appointed to a three-year term and the other faculty member and an alternate are appointed to two-year terms. Thereafter, the faculty advisor shall be appointed to a three-year term, and the alternate to a two-year term. The primary roles of the Academic Honor Code Advisor are to provide continuity for the Academic Honor Council and to assist the Office of Academic Affairs with dissemination of information concerning the Academic Honor Council and implementation of the Academic Honor Code.

C.   Complaint, Notification and Investigation

1.  The Philosophical Premises of Filing and Investigation

a.       Students are more likely to abide by an honor code if they have ownership of the structure and process by which it is implemented.

b.      Guidance in understanding the Academic Honor Code and its implementation should be made available to all members of the university community (thus, inquiries regarding the process, available options, etc., are encouraged).

c.       Faculty must be supportive of the designated process and should not undermine the process by dealing directly with the alleged honor code violation.

d.      Timely implementation is important, particularly in situations involving alleged breaches of the Academic Honor Code near the end of a semester or by a graduating senior.

e.       All investigations should be conducted in such a manner as to bring to light all the relevant facts, including facts that may exonerate an alleged violator as well as facts that confirm the alleged violation.

f.        The division of case responsibilities provides an evenly distributed workload to cover many complaints; it allows members to remove themselves in cases that present a conflict of interest; and it builds consistent interpretations of the Academic Honor Code by giving each member the opportunity to serve in various aspects of the investigation and decision-making process.

2.   Procedure for Complaint to the Academic Honor Council

a.       The Academic Honor Council shall have jurisdiction over cases involving a student suspected of violation of the Trinity University Academic Honor Code. The process begins when the Academic Honor Council receives a written complaint stating the charges alleged.

b.      All consultation prior to formal filing of charges is confidential; records of such consultation shall not become part of the official record. Clarification of perceptions of alleged violations at this stage do not constitute formal accusations.

c.       A member of the Trinity community, whether student or faculty member, must file his or her allegation with the Academic Honor Council’s external chair through the Office of Academic Affairs.

d.      A student may turn himself or herself in for a violation of the honor code, following the same procedure.

e.       Allegations must be submitted in writing within ten (10) class days of the discovery of the alleged violation. If discovery of alleged violations occurs at times other than during fall or spring semester (as in the case of Incompletes, end of term, and summer school work), allegations must be submitted in writing no later than the tenth class day of the succeeding semester. They must include relevant details substantiating the charges, the names of any witnesses, and the signature of the person making the report. However, the person reporting the alleged incident may remain anonymous to the accused student until the Academic Honor Council decides to hear the case.

f.        All records shall be maintained by the Office of Academic Affairs and shall remain confidential.  

3.  Notification Procedure of the Academic Honor Council

a.       A presiding member of the Academic Honor Council, chosen by the internal chair, shall notify the accused student of the alleged violations in writing and provide the accused student with a written statement of rights.

b.      The presiding member informs the accused student at least seven (7) class days prior to the hearing date.

c.       If the accused student or the person reporting the alleged incident wishes to present witnesses, to inform the Council of any information relevant to the case, or to inform the Council of his/her inability to appear on the scheduled hearing date, s/he must submit a written request to the presiding member within five (5) class days prior to the date of the hearing. Cases are rescheduled because of conflict only for exceptional reasons.

d.      If the accused student desires witnesses, the Council shall notify a witness to appear for him or her, pending its approval of the witness as valuable to the case. If approved, the witness shall be sent a notice to appear at least three (3) class days prior to the hearing date. The date, time, and location of the hearing shall be included so as to assure his or her presence.

e.       If not called as a witness, the faculty member responsible for the course at issue may attend the hearing as an interested party and offer testimony.  

4.  Investigation (in preparation for the Hearing)

a.       The Academic Honor Council shall appoint one of its members to investigate the charges on behalf of the University. A second member from the Academic Honor Council shall be appointed to investigate the charges on behalf of the accused student.

b.      The Academic Honor Council member shall keep a written record in the designated case file of any communication (telephone, personal conversation, e-mail) between a member and the accused student or the person reporting the alleged incident.

c.       The investigating members shall report their findings to the Council in a manner and time required by the Council.  

D. Academic Honor Council Hearing Procedures

1.            Hearing Procedures (or Standard Operating Procedures)

a.       The Academic Honor Council shall have full authority to establish and define the rules of conduct and procedure that shall govern its hearings and deliberations.  Such rules shall become a matter of public record.  They may be altered by a majority vote of the full body of 23 members. This shall be called the Standard Operating Procedures.

b.      All Academic Honor Council hearings are closed sessions, open only to the accused student, witnesses, faculty member for the course, hearing members, investigating members, and Honor Council Advisor.

c.       The Academic Honor Council reserves the right to make a decision regarding any charge in absentia when a party to the case or witness fails to appear as directed. Individuals are warned that any mitigating factors on their behalf may not be considered if they are not present to supply the relevant information. 

d.      An Academic Honor Council Advisor attends all hearings and deliberations as a silent observer to ensure that procedures and due process are followed but should not intervene otherwise.

E.  Sanctions for Academic Honor Code Violations

1.  The Philosophical Premises of Sanctions for Academic Honor Code Violations

a.       Because violations of the Academic Honor Code constitute a violation against the entire University community, there should be significant consequences for individuals found in violation of the Academic Honor Code. The sanctions are designed to penalize the offender in relevant and proportional ways.

b.      Violations vary in severity, so a range of sanctions is available. Guidelines are offered to facilitate consistency across cases while allowing members the flexibility to consider circumstances unique to a particular incident.

c.       An ethical development seminar shall be designed to educate offenders about the importance of integrity, specifically in an academic setting.

d.      The most severe sanction, expulsion, is reserved for repeat offenders or very serious offenses.  

2.  Sanctioning Procedures for Academic Honor Code Violations

a.       All three hearing members assigned to the case shall vote on whether or not the accused student violated the Academic Honor Code based on the greater weight of the credible evidence presented by witnesses and investigating members. A majority of two shall decide a case.

b.      The presiding member is responsible for issuing the majority opinion to the internal chair. A dissenting hearing member may also issue an opinion. The presiding member provides all opinions to the accused student, both investigating members, and the professor(s) involved within five (5) class days of the hearing.

c.       If the accused student is not found in violation of the Academic Honor Code because there was not sufficient evidence, the presiding member may still issue a “Letter of Clarification,” stating that although the Academic Honor Code Council did not find the student in violation of the Academic Honor Code, the Council would like the student to keep in mind specific aspects of the Code. No entry would be made in the student’s file for such a letter.

d.      If a student is found in violation of the Academic Honor Code, the hearing members shall assign sanctions. Sentencing decisions shall be made by a majority of two out of three hearing members.  

3.  Sanctioning Guidelines

a.       Every student found in violation of the Academic Honor Code shall be given the following three sanctions:

1)           One of the following grade penalties:

        F (zero credit) on assignment:

        Lower course grade by 1or 2 letter grades;

        F in course.

2)            Required participation in a one- to two-hour seminar focusing on ethical principles as they apply to academic integrity

3)      Academic Honor Code probation.

b.      If a student is repeatedly found in violation of the Academic Honor Code, more severe sanctions shall be imposed. Suspension for a semester shall routinely be applied for second offenses.  Any further violation of the Academic Honor Code may result in expulsion from the university.

1) Suspension -- from classes and all other activities for remainder of semester with an F for the course in which the violation took place and Ws for all other courses in which the student is enrolled.

2) Expulsion – from the University with no option to re-enroll.

c.     If a student not enrolled in a course knowingly gives significant unauthorized help on an assignment or an examination completed by another student, s/he will be subject to the following sanctions:

1) Academic Honor Code Probation.

2) Required participation in a one- to two-hour seminar focusing on ethical principles as they apply to academic integrity.

3) If a student is found in violation of the Academic Honor Code in the above way for a second time, a more severe sanction may be imposed that may include suspension from all classes for the remainder of the semester.

d.   If a student is found in violation of the Academic Honor Code for an activity that is not involved with coursework, s/he will be subject to the following sanctions:

1) Academic Honor Code probation

2) Required completion of a CD-ROM program focusing on ethical principles as they apply to academic integrity.

3) No gain from the action that was found in violation.

4) Other sanctions that would be appropriate to the violation given the circumstances of the violation.

F.  Procedures for Appealing a Decision  

1.  Philosophical Premises for the Appeals Process

a.       An appeal must have merit and must be sufficiently justified.

b.      The appeals process shall be operated by students in keeping with every other aspect of administration of the Academic Honor Code. An Academic Honor Council faculty advisor shall again be present in order to ensure due process.

             2.  Composition

a.   The Appeals Board shall be made up of nine (9) members of the Academic Honor Council selected by the internal chair.

b.    Among these nine (9) members, there shall be one of the three (3) original hearing members (one who voted with the majority) in order to offer insight into the rationale for the original decision without having sufficient power to uphold that decision should the majority of the Appeals Board disagree with it.  

3.  Basis for Appeal of an Academic Honor Council Decision

a.       After the judgment of the Academic Honor Council has been rendered, the accused student or the professor of the course in which the violation occurred may appeal on the following grounds:

1)      The Academic Honor Council procedure was improperly followed during the adjudication process.

2)      New evidence relevant to the case comes to light.

3)      The faculty member responsible for the course at issue appeals on the grounds that the sanction is inappropriate.

b.      The letter of appeal shall include the basis for appeal, substantiation of such assertions, and the names of any pertinent witnesses. 

4.   Procedures for Appeal Process

a.       Professors or accused students who wish to appeal the Academic Honor Council’s decision shall submit their request in writing to the external chair within five (5) class days following receipt of the Academic Honor Council's opinion or the discovery of new information.

b.      Any sanctions imposed by the Academic Honor Council shall be delayed during the appeals process.

c.       A majority of five (5) members of the Appeals Board must concur on the viability of the basis for appeal in order for the Council to rehear a case. In this event, the case shall be reheard as soon as possible.

d.      The Appeals hearing shall follow the same procedures as the original hearing.

e.       A majority of the Appeals Board members may reverse the original decision or change the sanction according to the merits of the case.

5.  Procedure for Appealing Suspension or Expulsion

If a student is suspended or expelled by the Academic Honor Council, an automatic appeal will be registered with the President of Trinity University for a final decision. The dispositive authority of the Council shall not prejudice the executive powers of the President of the University including executive privilege of granting pardon or clemency. 

 

IV.  Miscellaneous Guidelines In Response to Frequently Asked Questions

(from the Academic Honor Code Committee)

General guidelines for maintaining consistency in assigning sanctions for violations

-         F (zero credit) on assignment.  

-         Lower course grade by 1or 2 letter grades.

-         F in the course.

The Rights and Responsibilities of Faculty Members in Relation to the Academic Honor Code

 Reporting of Violations
All complaints, whether originating with a student or a faculty member, should go directly to the Academic Honor Council. Students are discouraged from reporting a violation to the professor for two reasons: first, to protect the reputation of the student reporting the violation; and second, to protect the impartiality of the professor toward the accused student should the accusation be found to be false.

Proctoring of Exams
It is entirely within the instructor’s discretion whether to proctor an exam. Unproctored exams shall be an option.

 

Maintenance of “Test Files” by Student Organizations

Keeping records of tests, papers, or other assignments belonging to former students, even for the sake of consultation, violates the spirit of academic honesty. Organizations keeping such files should no longer do so and should dispose of the files they have accumulated.

 

Rights of Students in Academic Honor Council Hearings

         To seek advice from an Academic Honor Council member in confidence before alleging a case against someone.

         To claim that you are responsible or not responsible for the charges.

         To have an appointed Academic Honor Council member serve as a case presenter on your behalf.

         To call pertinent witnesses to a hearing, pending approval.

         To have a confidential investigation and judicial process as well as a closed hearing.

         To appeal any decisions to the Academic Honor Council, and as a last resort, in cases where a student has been suspended or expelled, the President of Trinity University.

 

Responsibilities of Students Involved in an Academic Honor Council Hearing

         To attend the hearing, unless you have an academic conflict.

         To represent your case honestly and respectfully.

 

Period of Transition between the Academic Integrity Policy and the Academic Honor Code

        A period of transition shall be necessary so that students matriculating before the implementation of the Code shall not be considered bound by it.

        A dual system, the Academic Integrity Committee and the Academic Honor Council, shall be in operation until all classes of students not bound by the Code have graduated.

        The Academic Integrity Committee shall hear appeals of accusations of violation of academic integrity made against students not bound by the Code.

 

Glossary

         External Chair: the Academic Honor Council officer primarily in charge of communicating with the University community, for receiving complaints, and for promoting education about the Academic Honor Code.

         Internal Chair: the Academic Honor Council officer who manages internal assignments and documents.

       Case- Presenters: those assigned to help the complainant and the accused student in the presentation of their case -- One member investigating charges on behalf of the University and one member investigating charges on behalf of the accused student.

         Hearing Members: the panel of three members assigned to adjudicate a given case.

         Appeals Board: the panel of nine members, including hearing members, assigned to rehear a case.

         Academic Honor Code Advisor: a faculty member with up to a three-year term responsible for aiding the Academic Honor Council with procedural consistency and for assisting the Office of Academic Affairs with faculty communications.

 

V.  ASSESSMENT PROCEDURES

 

A.                 Implementation of the Academic Honor Code at Trinity University will begin for newly matriculated students in the fall semester, 2004. For the next four years the Academic Honor Code Council will submit an annual report to the Faculty Senate, the Association of Student Representatives, and the Vice President for Faculty & Student Affairs so that the implementation of this Code may be assessed and any necessary changes recommended.

B.                 A formal review of the Academic Honor Code will be conducted no later than the end of the fifth year after the last review by a review committee to determine how well the honor code system is operating and to recommend any necessary changes. The review committee will be appointed by the Vice President for Faculty & Student Affairs and will consist of two faculty members nominated by the Faculty Senate, two students nominated by the Association of Student Representatives, and one member of the Administration. If the Faculty Senate, the Association of Student Representatives, or the Administration believes that a change to the Academic Honor Code is necessary, the amendment procedures outlined in Chapter 6K, Article VI (Amendments) will be followed.

 VI.  AMENDMENTS

The following procedure will be followed if at any time the faculty, Association of Student Representatives, or the Vice President for Faculty & Student Affairs believes that an amendment to the Academic Honor Code is necessary.

A.        Whichever group wishes to propose an amendment must present it in writing to the Faculty Senate, along with a statement outlining the reasons for the amendment.

B.       When the Faculty Senate has approved an amendment to the Academic Honor Code, the Faculty Senate will submit the amendment as a motion for consideration at a stated meeting of the Academic Faculty Assembly; the Faculty Senate will circulate the proposed amendment in writing to the Academic Faculty at least fourteen (14) days prior to the meeting at which it will be considered. The Academic Faculty Assembly must approve the amendment by a majority vote.

C.        The Association of Student Representatives must pass a Resolution of Adoption of the amendment by a majority vote.

D.        The administration must approve the amendment.

E.        If the amendment receives a favorable vote from the Academic Faculty Assembly, the Association of Student Representatives, and the administration, it shall become a part of the Academic Honor Code.

F.         The Board of Trustees will be advised of any amendment to the Academic Honor Code.


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