At Carnegie MellonThe consequences of an academic integrity violation vary depending on the severity of the incident. However, there are several outcomes that impact students during their time on campus that are common to all cases regardless of the particular details of the offense.
Course Level Action
The first outcome of an academic integrity violation is a penalty that is assigned by the instructor of the course. Both the Undergraduate Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview and the Graduate Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview give instructors the ability to impose a penalty up to and including failure of the course. Because the policies allow individual instructors the freedom to assign these penalties, outcomes can range from the loss of points to failure of the assignment or exam or ultimately, failure of the course.
Additionally, both the undergraduate and graduate policies specifically prohibit the student from dropping the course in order to avoid the instructor’s penalty. In order to drop the course, students must receive permission from the instructor. If a student takes action to drop the course without the instructor’s permission, the student will be reenrolled in the course.
In addition to determining course level action, both the undergraduate and graduate policies require that instructors report the incident and outcome to the student’s associate dean and department head, the instructor’s associate dean and department head, and the Dean of Student Affairs. For graduate students, a disciplinary report could likely result in departmental or program-level action in addition to any course-level action but you should consult your department handbook for specific details. Common outcomes for graduate students at the departmental level range from being prohibited from serving as a teaching assistant (TA) to loss of funding.
Reports of both undergraduate and graduate cases are forwarded to the Dean of Student Affairs. The dean’s office is responsible for maintaining the centralized records of all academic integrity cases. Staff members in the office also coordinate the adjudication process for any undergraduate appeals or second-level reviews that are heard by an Academic Review Board (ARB). Undergraduate and graduate students who are reported for academic integrity violations can expect to be contacted by a staff member from the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs for a follow-up meeting to discuss their disciplinary record, the ability to appeal, and a second-level review if applicable.
A student’s disciplinary record consists of the official notification from the instructor, any supporting documentation, and any subsequent correspondence. Disciplinary records are protected by FERPA and are not released to parents, employers, or graduate schools without the written consent of the student. Records are maintained for three years after the student graduates or withdraws from the university at which point they are expunged. They may become part of a background check if the student provides the necessary permission to access the records.
Second level review
In addition to the course level action and the incident report, there are cases in which a report of an academic integrity violation may initiate a second level review. The reasons for initiating a second level review as well as the procedure vary for undergraduate and graduate students.
The Undergraduate Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview notes that second-level reviews can be initiated by the following sources:
- By a student who disputes that a policy violation occurred and is a seeking an appeal
- By an instructor who would like to have a more serious penalty beyond course failure imposed for the violation
- By the Dean of Student Affairs who initiates a second level review for any student with more than one incident report
In each of these circumstances, the case would be reviewed by an Academic Review Board (ARB) who will make a recommendation to the Dean of Student Affairs as to whether or not the student is responsible for the violation and if so, what an appropriate outcome might be. The final decision will come from the Dean of Student Affairs and may be appealed to the president of the university.
The majority of undergraduate cases that are heard before an academic review are second level reviews for students with more than one incident report. Although outcomes can range from academic skill building to suspension or expulsion, the most common outcome is a one-year suspension.
The Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview for Graduate Students notes that second-level reviews can be initiated by the following sources:
- By a student who disputes the appropriateness of the penalty or the procedure for handling the case
- By an instructor (or the home department or college) who would like to request that a student be expelled
- By the provost who can recommend a review of the case