Plagiarism and Cheating Policy
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 Standards of Conduct and the Willamette Ethic, 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.
Examples of plagiarism and cheating, and penalties associated with them, shall appear in the student handbook. 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 intentionally or unintentionally 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.
An instructor may impose penalties for plagiarism and cheating ranging from a grade reduction on an assignment or exam to failure in the course.
Procedures for Accusations of Plagiarism or Cheating
An instructor who has reason to believe that plagiarism or cheating has occurred shall:
- Promptly meet with the student(s) involved, provide appropriate documentation of cheating or plagiarism, discuss the matter, determine whether an infraction has occurred, and decide on a penalty. If the instructor 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 “I” 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 three work days (excluding holidays) of meeting with the student or students place in a confidential file with the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts a form that details the incident, provides the documentation, and indicates the penalty. (Download Form)
Upon receiving the form the Dean’s office shall within five work days arrange for a meeting with the student or students in question. The meeting shall include the Dean (or Dean’s representative) and a student representative from the Honor Council. If more than one student is accused of plagiarism or cheating, the Dean’s representative and Honor Council member shall meet separately with each student. In the meeting the Honor Council members and the Dean’s representative shall:
- provide the student a copy of the form filed by the faculty member, noting on the form the date on which it was delivered to the student,
- convey to the student how academic dishonesty violates the Willamette Ethic, harms the community, and undermines the educational mission of the College,
- provide exercises or assignments that will educate the student on what constitutes plagiarism and cheating and verify that the exercises or assignments have been completed,
- inform the student of the potential consequences of a second violation of plagiarism or cheating, and
- determine if the student contests either the accusation of plagiarism or cheating or the severity of the penalty imposed by the instructor.
If the student does not contest the accusation of plagiarism or cheating and accepts the penalty prescribed by the instructor the process concludes and the confidential file is held in the Dean’s office. Except for those cases in which academic dishonesty constitutes part of the case for dismissal of a student, all forms in the student’s file shall be destroyed at graduation or after seven years of filing, whichever comes first.
A student has the right to contest the accusation of plagiarism or cheating or the severity of the penalty imposed by the instructor. If the student contests the accusation or penalty the Dean’s office will refer the case to the Honor Council for a hearing and ruling. The hearing shall be confidential and scheduled within five work days of referral by the Dean’s office. The student and instructor may address the Honor Council and present documentation. Within one work day of the hearing, the Honor Council shall render a judgment as to the validity of the charge and the suitability of the penalty and will provide written notification to the student and the instructor of their findings.
If the instructor rescinds the charge of plagiarism or cheating based on the Honor Council’s findings then the Dean’s office shall remove the Plagiarism and Cheating form from the student’s confidential file.
Within five working days of the Honor Council’s judgment, the student or instructor can appeal the judgment to the Academic Status Committee. The ruling of the Academic Status Committee is final.
The Dean’s office shall record on the form the final disposition of accusation and penalty and provide written notification to the student, instructor, and Honor Council. The form will be placed in the student’s confidential file. Except for those cases in which academic dishonesty constitutes part of the case for dismissal of a student, all forms in the student’s file shall be destroyed at graduation or after seven years of filing, whichever comes first.
After the accusation and penalty are finalized, the Dean’s office shall determine if there are any prior violations in the student’s confidential file.
The student cannot circumvent the plagiarism and cheating proceedings by withdrawing from the class. If the final penalty for the academic dishonesty is an “F” in the course, the student shall not be permitted to withdraw. If the final penalty is less than an “F” the student may withdraw from the course and a record of the transgression shall remain in the student’s confidential file.
Procedure for Multiple Violations
If the student’s file contains a prior violation, the Dean’s office shall promptly initiate a hearing by the Honor Council to determine if an additional sanction is appropriate. The hearing shall be confidential. The student may address the Honor Council on their own behalf. Additional sanctions may include, but are not limited to, placing the student on probation, academic suspension for a period of time, or dismissal from the College. Within two working days of the hearing, the Honor Council shall communicate its findings in writing to the student and to the Dean of the College. If the Honor Council recommends dismissal their recommendation shall be communicated to the President also. The Council shall inform the student of their right of appeal.
The accused student may appeal the Honor Council’s decision to the Academic Status Committee. The appeal must be filed with the Dean’s office within five days of the date of the letter providing official notification of the sanction. In reviewing the student’s appeal the Academic Status Committee shall seek input from the Dean of the College who may provide comments or issues to be considered in the Academic Status Committee’s deliberations.
Except for dismissal, the decision of the Academic Status Committee is final. Students can appeal dismissal to the President, or his/her designee, for final judgment.
In the event that the final judgment is suspension or dismissal the student will first be notified in person by the Dean (or Dean’s representative), followed by written communication. Seven work days shall elapse before the suspension or dismissal of a student becomes effective after the appeal process is complete unless the President determines an otherwise appropriate period for the suspension or dismissal to take effect.