Code of Academic Conduct
Faculty members and students have mutual responsibility for establishing clear understanding about Oakton’s values—expressed in part in the Statement of Principles and in part in the Code of Academic Conduct—concerning academic evaluation activities.
The Code of Academic Conduct prohibits such violations of academic integrity as: cheating; plagiarism; falsification and fabrication; abuse of academic materials; complicity in academic dishonesty; falsification of records and official documents; personal misrepresentation and proxy; and bribes, favors and threats.
Violations and Penalties
Violations of the Code of Academic Conduct are activities (observed or reported) or materials whose character is deceitful and dishonest. Violations of the Code will be reported and determined in accordance with the processes described in the procedures relating to academic integrity (P6102, P5102). Penalties for violations of the Code will be based upon the nature of the violation and may include any of the sanctions described in the procedures relating to academic integrity (P6102, P5102).
Code of Academic Conduct Procedure
This document contains definitions and procedures relating to student academic integrity at Oakton Community College. As necessary, these definitions and procedures may from time to time be augmented or amended. Such augmentation or amendment will be directed by the president of the College.
Violations: Violations of the Code of Academic Conduct are activities (observed or reported) or materials whose character is deceitful and/or dishonest.
All College employees, including full- and part-time faculty members, administrators, and employees in the Library, Learning Center, Instructional Media Services, and Information Technology who are directly or indirectly involved in teaching or overseeing the academic work of students, are authorized—indeed, expected—to report violations of the Code of Academic Conduct. Students are also expected to report incidents of academic dishonesty that they witness to the appropriate faculty member, administrator, or other College employee and are encouraged to self-report any violations in which they have participated.
The Code of Academic Conduct prohibits violations of academic integrity, including, but not limited to:
Abuse of Academic Materials: Destroying, stealing, or making inaccessible library, laboratory, or other academic resource materials, or attempting to do so; stealing or otherwise obtaining advance copies of placement tests, examinations or other course materials or attempting to do so; duplicating copyrighted software without authorization or using such software on College computers; “hacking” on College computers or installing “virus” programs.
Bribes, Favors, Threats: Bribing or attempting to bribe, promising favors to, or making threats against any person, with the intention of affecting an evaluation of a student’s academic performance; conspire with another person who then performs one of these acts in one’s behalf.
Cheating: In any work submitted for evaluation (tests or assignments), copying or attempting to copy from another student’s work; using or attempting to use unauthorized2 information, notes, study aids, or other materials; any unauthorized collaboration with others, who may or may not be students, in work to be presented for a grade; altering graded work after it has been returned, then submitting the work to be re-graded; tampering with the academic work of other students.
Complicity in Academic Dishonesty: Helping another to commit an act of academic dishonesty, especially providing material or information to another person with knowledge that this material or information will be used deceitfully in an academic evaluation activity; permitting one’s own work to be submitted by another person as if it were that person’s original work.
Falsification and Fabrication: Altering, counterfeiting, or inventing information or material presented in an academic evaluation activity; “padding” a bibliography with made up titles or works not consulted, or providing false citations in footnotes; using inappropriate methods for collecting or generating data or including a substantially inaccurate account of the method by which the data were gathered or collected.
Falsification of Records and Official Documents: Altering transcripts, grade reports, or other documents affecting academic records; forging signature of authorization or falsifying information on any academic document, such as permission forms, petitions, or other documents.
Personal Misrepresentation and Proxy: Taking another person’s place in an exam, placement test, or other academic activity, either before or after enrollment; having another person participate in an academic evaluation activity or evaluation in place of oneself.
Plagiarism: Presenting the work of another as one’s own (i.e., without proper acknowledgment of the source or sources), or submitting material that is not entirely one’s own work without attributing the unoriginal portions to their correct sources. The sole exception to the requirement of acknowledging sources occurs when ideas or information are common knowledge.
II. COMMITTEE ON ACADEMIC CONDUCT
The Committee on Academic Conduct consists of 15 members: eight full-time faculty members including two from each academic division selected by the Faculty Senate; four administrators, including the director of the Learning Center and at least two academic deans, selected by the vice president for Student Affairs; and three students selected by the Student Government Association. In addition, the assistant vice president for Student Affairs will serve in a continuing capacity as an ex-officio member. Service of faculty and administrators will be for two years and will be staggered. Service of students will be for one year and may be renewed for one year at the discretion of the SGA.
The vice president for Student Affairs (or designee) will be responsible for supervising the activities and records of the Committee on Academic Integrity including its meetings as a committee of the whole for periodic updates and briefings, its meetings as hearing panels, and all forms, files and administrative activities related to its routine business.
Each allegation forwarded to the Committee via the vice president for Student Affairs will be adjudicated either through an informal hearing conducted by a designated administrator (ordinarily the assistant vice president for Student Affairs) or through a formal hearing conducted by a three-member hearing panel, selected from the Committee as a whole by the vice president or designee. Each hearing panel will consist of one administrator, one faculty member, and one student. In addition, the vice president will appoint a non-voting administrator (ordinarily the assistant vice president for Student Affairs) to chair the panel and moderate the hearing.
In addition to resolving student academic conduct allegations via hearing panels, the Committee on Academic Conduct, will (a) conduct periodic reviews of the Code of Academic Conduct and its associated procedures, and make recommendations to the vice president for Student Affairs regarding modifications, updates, and changes; (b) develop an outreach and informational plan to assist faculty in promoting academic integrity and preventing cheating among students; (c) participate in periodic professional development and training sessions; (d) recommend creative sanctioning options for use by hearing panels; (e) recommend and/or undertake research projects related to academic integrity issues; and (f) participate in the preparation and dissemination of an annual report of its activities including, in aggregate form, a synopsis of academic integrity complaints, cases, outcomes, and emerging trends and issues.
A. Discovery of Irregularity
As part of their responsibilities, faculty members must make judgments, with due regard for established standards of scholarship, about the academic performance and achievements of their students. During this process of judgment, a faculty member may discover that a student’s activity or the material that a student has submitted contains irregularities that appear to be violations of the Code of Academic Conduct. Discovery of irregularities may occur through a report made by a student or College employee to the faculty member directly involved. If no faculty member is directly involved, the person who discovers the irregularity will notify the administrator responsible for the unit in which the alleged activity took place, (e.g., the director of The Learning Center for irregularities during assessment or the director of Systems and Network Services for incidents in a computer lab). For the rest of the process, that administrator or another designated administrator will be responsible for executing those academic integrity duties normally assigned to the faculty member directly involved.
B. Notification of Discovery of Irregularity
When a discovery of an irregularity occurs, the faculty member will orally notify the student of the discovery as promptly as reasonably possible,3 and will by means of this notification to provide a timely opportunity to meet and discuss the irregularity.4 At this meeting, the faculty member5 will determine whether or not an irregularity actually occurred. If so, the faculty member will then determine whether the situation is appropriately resolved by further instruction, in which case it becomes a learning opportunity, or if the alleged violation requires further investigation and a possible sanction. At the conclusion of the meeting, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible, the faculty member will inform the student of the determination.
C. Informal Resolution of Complaint
1. Learning Opportunity
If determined that an irregularity has occurred but is unintended, e.g., the result of the student’s misunderstanding of the assignment or ignorance of research conventions, rather than invoke the Code of Academic Conduct, the faculty member might consider it appropriate to use the opportunity to advance the student’s learning by requiring a redo of the work in question. In such a case, the instructor may grade only the final product and may not impose any penalty.
Learning opportunities are to be settled between the faculty member and the student. No report to either the division dean or the vice president for Student Affairs is necessary. Students have the right to refuse the Learning Opportunity Procedure, in which case they must be informed that, in consequence, the instructor may choose to file a complaint alleging academic dishonesty with the vice president.
2. Faculty Resolution of Complaint
In instances where a Code violation has occurred that would result in a sanction no greater than failure in the assignment or test and for which the student accepts responsibility, the faculty member and student may choose to resolve the complaint between them. The procedure for doing so requires a meeting between the faculty member and the student to discuss the violation. If the faculty member is confident that the student understands and acknowledges the wrong doing, and affirms that there are no prior violations, and if the student is willing to accept the penalty considered appropriate by the faculty member (failure on the assignment, failure on the test, or the completion of an alternative assignment), then the faculty member and the student can resolve the complaint themselves. The faculty member then fills out the complaint resolution form that is signed by both the faculty member and the student and reviewed by the division dean. Copies of the form are given to the faculty member, the student, the division dean, and the Office of Student Affairs (where it will be kept for three years). If the Office of Student Affairs determines that the student has been responsible for prior violations, the matter may be referred for a formal hearing.
3. Administrative Resolution of Complaint
A student may choose to have an administrative hearing (when the student accepts responsibility for the violation, and affirms that there are no prior violations) and when the sanction applied would be no greater than course failure. In these cases, the division dean will normally serve as the hearing officer. The violation cited in the complaint will be reviewed and discussed with the student and the complainant. If the dean determines that the student is responsible for a violation, and if the student is willing to accept the penalty considered appropriate by the dean, the dean fills out the complaint resolution form that is signed by the dean, the faculty member, and the student. Copies of the form are given to the faculty member, the student, the dean, and the Office of Student Affairs (where it will be kept for three years). If the Office of Student Affairs determines that the student has been responsible for prior violations, the matter may be referred for a formal hearing.
Sanctions that may be imposed through an administrative hearing for violations involving course work are limited to failure on the assignment(s) or test(s) involved, completion of an alternative assignment, or failure in the course. For violations associated with placement testing in the Testing Center, sanctions are limited to supervised placement testing, and/or registration limitations specifying into which courses the student may enroll.
D. Formal Resolution of Complaint
Any student may choose to participate in a Formal Hearing rather than a Learning Opportunity, Faculty Resolution, or Administrative Resolution, and any student who denies complicity in an act of academic dishonesty must be afforded the due process of a Formal Hearing.
1. Filing a Complaint If after talking with the involved student, the faculty member determines that the situation involves an apparent Code violation for which the student denies responsibility, or for which a sanction greater than 1) failure in an assignment, 2) failure on a test, 3) completion of an alternative assignment, or 4) failure in the course may be warranted, the faculty member will confer with his or her dean. If it is determined that a formal hearing is appropriate, a complaint to initiate the formal process must be filed with the Office of Student Affairs that specifies
a. the person filing the complaint;
b. the student against whom the complaint is filed;
c. a description of the alleged violation (including the date(s) of the incident(s) or discoveries, time(s), place(s), circumstances(s) of the assignment(s) and of events involved in the irregularity); and
d. a description of the meeting with the student.
The vice president for Student Affairs, or designee, will 1) review the student’s file to determine if this is a first complaint; 2) notify the student by mail that the complaint has been filed (enclosing copies of the complaint and the Code of Academic Conduct) and invite the student to an initial meeting with the vice president or a designated administrator to discuss the situation; 3) deny access to transcripts; and 4) place the student’s registration on temporary hold, thereby prohibiting a withdrawal from the course in question or registering for future courses until the current question is settled. If the process cannot be completed before the end of the term, the instructor will be directed to assign the student an Incomplete (I) in place of a grade for the course, to be changed when the matter is resolved.
2. Initial Meeting
At the Initial Meeting with the student, the administrator will review both the complaint and the Code of Academic Conduct procedures with the student to be sure the student understands them clearly and is aware of the possible consequences. If the student now agrees that there is a violation of the academic conduct code, the administrator may use the Informal Resolution process as an appropriate means of settling the matter. In the event the student has been found at fault in an earlier incident involving academic dishonesty, the administrator will determine whether an informal resolution is appropriate or whether a formal hearing must be scheduled. The student should understand that, in either case, a record of the procedures will be kept in the permanent record file for a period of three years.
If a student fails to respond to the vice president’s letter or to appear at a scheduled Initial Meeting, and makes no alternative arrangement, the administrator shall recommend to the vice president that a formal hearing be scheduled.
3. Formal Hearing Procedures
The vice president for Student Affairs will designate a three-member hearing panel and a non-voting chair, and will notify the student, by the best means possible, with a letter worded to the effect that “On (date) at (time) at (place) a Committee on Academic Conduct Hearing Panel will convene a hearing on the matter of the allegation forwarded by (faculty member). The date, time, and place of the hearing will accord with the student’s class schedule as much as possible. The letter will also inform the student that witnesses may be invited to testify at the hearing and an advisor may be present.
The student will have an opportunity at this hearing to present evidence and/or make personal statements. Student attendance at the hearing is regarded as mandatory. If the student does not appear (or in the event of absence, does not submit a written statement), the hearing panel may reach a finding on the case solely on the basis of the evidence provided by the individual who made the allegation. The individual making the allegation or designee must appear as well and present evidence about the allegation.
Findings will be based upon analysis of evidence and testimony and upon the exercise of reasonable judgment by hearing panel members.
If the hearing panel finds that the student has violated the Code of Academic Conduct, the chair will inform the panel if the student has been found to have committed other violations in the past.6 In that event, assessment of penalties will ordinarily include extended disciplinary suspension.
Subsequent to the hearing, all records of the hearing panel will be forwarded to the vice president for Student Affairs for retention in the “Violations of the Code of Academic Conduct” file. The vice president or designee will supervise implementation of sanctions and written notification to the parties involved—the student(s) and faculty member(s)—of the outcome of the hearing, by the best means possible.
If the hearing panel determines that a violation of the Code has occurred, the panel will direct that one or more of the following sanctions be administered, based upon its judgment concerning the nature of the violation.
a. Sanction Definitions
Disciplinary Probation: A reprimand for violation of specified regulations. Probation is for a designated period of time and includes the probability of more severe disciplinary sanctions if the student is found to be in violation of the Code of Academic Conduct during the probationary period.
Disciplinary Loss of Privileges: Denial of access to privileges commonly available to applicants, students, and alumni of Oakton. These privileges may include, but are not limited to, access to particular student employee positions on campus, access to libraries, access to computer facilities, access to counseling services, access to academic advising services, access to career and placement services, access to scholarships, access to academic honors, and so on; this denial may stand alone, it may accompany suspension, and it normally accompanies extended suspension.
Withdrawal from Class: Administrative withdrawal from a class or classes in which a student is enrolled for the current and/or subsequent semester. Administrative withdrawals do not provide for the refund of tuition and fees.
Disciplinary Suspension: Denial of permission to register for academic work at Oakton for a designated period of time, usually not more than one year. Conditions for readmission may be specified by the hearing panel.
Extended Disciplinary Suspension: Dismissal from Oakton for a designated period of up to five years; students under the sanction of extended disciplinary suspension must petition the vice president for Student Affairs for readmission to Oakton.
b. For Course Violations
In the case of a violation occurring in a College course, in most cases, a student will be placed on disciplinary probation7 and may be assigned one or more of the following:
1) An “F” grade for the activity in which the violation occurred;
2) An “F” grade for the course in which the violation occurred and be immediately dismissed from the course;
3) A course grade of F that is not subject to the College’s Forgiveness Policy (allowing for the removal of Fs) and have attached to the transcript a letter indicating that the student has been found to have violated the Code of Academic Conduct. This letter will remain in the student’s file for a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years, as determined by the hearing panel;
4) Placement on disciplinary suspension for at least one semester, either:
a) the semester in which the violation occurred, or
b) the semester following the violation;
5) Placement on extended disciplinary suspension from the College with a letter attached to the transcript indicating that the student has been found to have violated the Code of Academic Conduct. This letter will remain in the student’s file for up to five years, as determined by the hearing panel; the student must petition the vice president for Student Affairs in order to be re-admitted;
6) Disciplinary Loss of Privileges;
7) A project to help make reparation to the community and demonstrate that learning has occurred.
c. For Assessment Test Violations
In the case of a violation occurring during an assessment test, in most cases, the student or student applicant will be placed on disciplinary probation, will be required to take all future assessment tests under supervision in the Testing Center, and may:
1) Be limited in registering for the next term to only the course(s) indicated by the new placement score(s);
2) Be required to take the course(s) indicated by the new placement test score(s) in addition to any others in the next term’s schedule;
3) Be restricted from registering for any Oakton courses for a semester or longer, as determined by the hearing panel;
4) Be immediately withdrawn from any courses in which the student might be enrolled currently, without refund of tuition or fees;
5) Be immediately withdrawn from any courses in which the student might be enrolled currently, with a letter attached to the transcript indicating that the student has been found to have violated the Code of Academic Conduct. This letter will remain in the student’s file for a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years, as determined by the hearing panel;
6) Be placed on extended disciplinary suspension with a letter attached to the transcript indicating that the student has been found to have violated the Code of Academic Conduct. This letter will remain in the student’s file for up to five years, as determined by the hearing panel; the student must petition the vice president for Student Affairs in order to be re-admitted;
7) If not a student at the time of the violation, be prevented from taking classes at Oakton for up to five years, and required to petition the vice president for Student Affairs in order to be admitted or re-admitted;
8) In addition to or instead of any of the above, be subject to Disciplinary Loss of Privileges.
The hearing panel may elect to impose more than one of the sanctions listed above for any single violation.
d. Other Violations
Integrity violations which occur independent of a course or testing situation may have any of the preceding sanctions applied.
6. Discipline Records
Except as specified above, disciplinary sanctions will not be made part of the student’s permanent academic record, but will become part of the special file on “Violations of the Code of Academic Conduct” and the student’s confidential record maintained by the Office of Student Affairs. Ordinarily cases involving the imposition of sanctions will be expunged automatically from the student’s confidential record three years after final disposition of the case, except when the hearing panel has stipulated otherwise or the student has been placed on extended disciplinary probation for up to five years.
IV. APPEAL RIGHTS AND PROCESS
If the hearing reveals that a student has violated the Code and had sanctions imposed, that student has the right to appeal the finding or the sanctions, or both. A student who wishes to appeal the outcome of the hearing should do so within two weeks of the date of the notification letter received from the vice president for Student Affairs or designee. Addressed to the vice president for Academic Affairs, the appeal must be in writing, and must state the grounds for appeal. A student wishing to appear in person before the vice president for Academic Affairs, should say so in the written appeal, and the vice president will arrange a meeting convenient to both parties.
In the event of appeal, the decision(s) of the vice president for Academic Affairs will be final. In the event the student does not appeal within the required two week period, the decision(s) of the hearing for the Committee on Academic Conduct will be final.