Academic Integrity

(2014-2016 Rensselaer Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities, August 2014)

Intellectual integrity and credibility are the foundation of all academic work. A violation of Academic Integrity policy is, by definition, considered a flagrant offense to the educational process. It is taken seriously by students, faculty, and Rensselaer and will be addressed in an effective manner.

If found responsible for committing academic dishonesty, a student may be subject to one or both types of penalties: an academic (grade) penalty administered by the professor and/or disciplinary action through the Rensselaer judicial process described in this handbook.

Academic dishonesty is a violation of the Grounds for Disciplinary Action as described in this handbook. A student may be subject to any of the following types of disciplinary action should disciplinary action be pursued by the professor: disciplinary warning, disciplinary probation, disciplinary suspension, expulsion and/or alternative actions as agreed on by the student and hearing officer. It should be noted that no student who allegedly commits academic dishonesty will be able to drop or change the grade option for the course in question. A record of disciplinary action is permanently maintained by the Institute as noted below:

The definitions and examples presented below are a sampling of types of academic dishonesty and are not to be construed as an exhaustive or exclusive list. The academic integrity policy applies to all students, undergraduate and graduate, and to scholarly pursuits and research. Additionally, attempts to commit academic dishonesty or to assist in the commission or attempt of such an act are also violations of this policy.

FACULTY PROCEDURES FOR RESPONDING TO ACADEMIC DISHONESTY (as stated in the Rensselaer Faculty Handbook)
If there is reason to believe a student in a course may have been involved in academic dishonesty, then contact the student(s) and schedule a meeting to discuss the allegations. This meeting should occur within ten (10) Institute business days of having discovered the possible dishonesty..

When meeting with the student, review the circumstances and evidence related to the suspicion of academic dishonesty and allow him or her the opportunity to provide his or her perspective on the situation. Take notes during the meeting to document important information. After reviewing the situation, including speaking with others who might be involved or have knowledge of the situation, make a determination as to the nature and extent of the violation, if any, by the accused student. If it is concluded that a student has violated the Institute academic dishonesty policy, it is the faculty member?s responsibility to determine the academic (grade) penalty (i.e., failure of the course, significant reduction of the final grade, etc.) and to communicate this decision to the student in writing. This communication should occur within five (5) Institute business days of having met with the student. Included in this written notification should be information regarding the student?s option to appeal the grade decision and of the procedure/time limit in which to do so.

Faculty who choose to apply an academic sanction to a student found responsible for committing academic dishonesty must complete the Academic Integrity Violation Case Summary and Report Form. Documentation should be submitted with the report that includes exams/assignments involving the cheating, crib sheets, witness statements, or other materials deemed relevant to the case. The incident of academic dishonesty will be kept on file in the Dean of Students Office as a record of the incident and a way to track repeat/multiple offenses by the same student(s). The incident shall remain on record until said student graduates except where disciplinary action is taken. If disciplinary action is taken, the incident remains on record permanently.

In addition to the academic penalty, the faculty member can request that judicial action be taken against a student for violating Grounds for Disciplinary Action, specifically academic dishonesty. Such requests should be made in writing to the Senior Judicial Administrator or Dean of Students. The documentation will be reviewed, assigned to a hearing officer, and proceed in accordance with Institute protocol.

APPEAL PROCESS FOR ACADEMIC PENALTY FOR ACADEMIC DISHONESTY (as stated in the Rensselaer Faculty Handbook)

Decisions regarding grades are initially the responsibility and jurisdiction of the course professor, and the school in which the academic dishonesty occurred, as there is no one in a better position to make this determination. Any appeal of a grade or academic penalty for academic dishonesty falls under the same authority. Therefore, a student can submit a written appeal of an academic penalty to the Department Chair within five (5) Institute business days of being notified of the faculty member’s decision. If the course professor is the Department Chair or Dean of the school or there are other circumstances that could create the perception of bias, steps must be taken to use other appropriate individuals for the appeal process.

The Department Chair (or designee) will then make a determination based on the facts/circumstances of the case and the appropriateness of the original sanction. This determination should be made and communicated to the student and the professor within ten (10) Institute business days of receiving the appeal. Included in this written notification should be information regarding the student’s option to appeal the grade decision and of the procedure/time limit in which to do so.

If the student or professor believes he or she has grounds for appealing the decision of the Department Chair (e.g., new evidence), both parties have the option to submit a written appeal to the Dean of the School within five (5) business days of receiving the decision. The Dean will then render a decision based on the facts/circumstance of the case and the appropriateness of the sanction. This determination should be made and communicated to the student and the professor within ten (10) Institute business days of receiving the appeal.

The decision of the Dean of the School may be subject to final determination by the Provost (or designee), with good cause and at the written request of either party involved, within five (5) Institute business days of notification of the Dean of the School’s decision. The Provost is unconstrained in the procedure he or she chooses to employ in the context of such a review. The Provost is the final level of appeal and his/her decision stands as final for both the student(s) and professor involved. The Provost will render a decision based on the circumstances of the case and the appropriateness of the sanction. This determination should be made and communicated to the student and the professor within ten (10) Institute business days of receiving the appeal.

Students found in violation of the academic integrity policy are prohibited from dropping a course in order to avoid the academic penalty.

PREVENTION OF ACADEMIC DISHONESTY

For those courses or academic exercises in which either the instructor or student considers proper definition of academic dishonesty to be open to interpretation, the instructor is expected to outline his or her particular standards. An example for which such definition seems particularly necessary would be collaboration on out-of-class assignments.

Course supervisors are expected to provide adequate and conscientious proctoring for exams. Faculty and proctors may ask a student for identification during an exam or exercise, and take reasonable precautions to lessen probability of academic dishonesty occurring, such as requiring that all personal belongings, texts, etc., be placed away from desks in the exam room.

Last modified: Jul 22, 2015