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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Plagiarism and Cheating Policies

Plagiarism and cheating are offenses against the integrity of the courses in which they occur and against the College community as a whole. Plagiarism and cheating involve intellectual dishonesty, deception, and fraud, which inhibit the honest exchange of ideas. In accordance with Willamette University's Standards of Conduct, students are entitled to notice of what constitutes plagiarism and cheating and the right to appeal penalties. Plagiarism and cheating may be grounds for dismissal from the College.

When appropriate during the semester, such as in conjunction with assignment of a class project or review for an exam, faculty members are encouraged to discuss plagiarism and cheating and how to avoid them.

Definitions and Penalties

Cheating is any form of intellectual dishonesty or misrepresentation of one’s knowledge. Plagiarism, a form of cheating, consists of representing someone else’s work as one’s own. All members of the Willamette University community are expected to be aware of the serious breach of principles involved in plagiarism. Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism shall not be considered a valid defense. If students are uncertain as to what constitutes plagiarism for a particular assignment, they should consult the instructor for clarification. A faculty member may impose penalties for plagiarism and cheating ranging from a grade reduction on an assignment or an exam to failure in the course. A faculty member also may suggest that the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts initiate further action.

1. Initial Determination and Penalty

A faculty member who has reason to believe that plagiarism or cheating has occurred shall:
Immediately meet with the student(s) involved, provide evidence of cheating or plagiarism, discuss the matter, determine whether an infraction has occurred, and decide on a penalty. If the faculty member suspects plagiarism or cheating during a final exam period and timely resolution is not possible, the professor shall assign the student(s) involved a grade of T and provide the student(s) with a written explanation. The faculty member shall meet with the student(s) no later than the first week of classes the following semester to complete the steps outlined above.

Within five working days (excluding holidays) of meeting with the student or students, a confidential file will be submitted to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts with a form detailing the incident, providing documentation, and indicating the penalty. Upon receiving the form, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts:

  • Shall provide the student(s) a copy of the form filed by the faculty member, noting on the form the date on which it was delivered to the student. All forms in a student’s file shall be destroyed at graduation or after seven years of filing, whichever comes first.
  •  May initiate a hearing by the Academic Status Committee if the Dean believes the report of plagiarism or cheating sufficiently egregious to warrant a hearing on whether the student should be suspended or dismissed from the college.
  • Shall, after allowing time for an appeal, determine if there have been multiple violations. If the student’s file contains two forms, the Dean shall initiate a hearing by the Academic Status Committee to determine an appropriate penalty, which can include placing the student on academic suspension for a period of time or dismissing the student from the College.

2. Student Right to Appeal Initial Determination and Penalty

A student has the right to appeal the finding of plagiarism or cheating, or the severity of the penalty imposed by the faculty member, to the Academic Status Committee within five working days of the date on which a copy of the form was delivered by the Dean to the student.

3. Academic Status Committee Hearing

The Academic Status Committee shall hold a hearing on the appeal by a student or initiative from the Dean within five working days of receipt of the notice of appeal or initiative. The hearing shall be confidential; the student, Dean and faculty member, as appropriate, may testify and present evidence.

If, while hearing an appeal, the Academic Status Committee finds that plagiarism or cheating did not occur, then the Committee shall ask the Dean to remove the form filed by the faculty member from the student’s confidential file. If the Academic Status Committee finds that the penalty should be changed, then the Committee shall determine a procedure that is fair to the faculty member and the student for changing the penalty. If the Academic Status Committee upholds the decision of the faculty member, the chair will record the decision on the form and return it to the Dean to be placed in the student’s file.

If hearing an initiative, the Academic Status Committee shall determine an appropriate penalty.

The chair of the Academic Status Committee shall provide written notification of its action to the student, faculty member, and Dean. The decision of the Academic Status Committee shall be final.