Responding to Violations
Promoting academic integrity is the responsibility of the entire Carnegie Mellon community. Because we seek to maintain the highest possible standards at Carnegie Mellon, the urge to get ahead can sometimes tempt students to use questionable or inappropriate methods - especially when the stakes seem to be high. Under stress or time pressure people may rationalize that no one is hurt if a student “takes a shortcut” or if an instructor does not report a suspected violation. But each person's attitudes and actions contribute to our individual and community standards. Bit by bit, what may seem like small ethical compromises sacrifice the integrity of our academic community.
To preserve the integrity of our community, it is essential that the proper action is taken if instructors or students suspect that a violation of academic integrity has occurred. Likewise, if a student is accused of an academic integrity violation, the willingness to learn and move forward from the situation signals a desire to return to good standing within the community
1st Violation - What to Expect
You should begin by speaking with your instructor in order to explain your perspective and try to understand theirs as well. You might also request to meet with the department head if your conversation with your instructor is not productive. If the faculty member and department head feel certain that a violation of the course policy has occurred, they will pursue course level action and submit a report.
Consistent with the Undergraduate Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview, the incident will also be reported to your associate dean and department head, your instructor's associate dean and department head, and the dean of student affairs.
Once the report has been filed, you can expect to be contacted by the Office of Community Standards & Integrity for a follow-up meeting to discuss the implications of this and any future violations and protocols for record keeping as well as your options for appeal.
2nd Level Review
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.
Both instructors and students can consider steps to enhance academic integrity in the Carnegie Mellon community. These suggestions are drawn from ongoing conversations with students and faculty over the years and from the literature on academic integrity. The steps below include ways students can more effectively manage their own learning with the help of university resources.
Although these strategies will not eliminate all instances of cheating, they can significantly alter the circumstances that often leading to cheating, thereby mitigating a student's perceived need to resort to decision making that compromises his or her integrity.