Carnegie Mellon University

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

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 Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview for Graduate Students, 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 your department for a follow-up meeting to review the implications of this and any future violations as well as your options for appeal. You should review your departmental handbook for the process that is specific to your department. The department may choose to impose additional penalties which can range from academic probation to loss of funding to suspension or even dismissal from the program. You will also be contacted by the Office of Community Standards and Integrity for a follow-up meeting to discuss protocols for record keeping.

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
When it is determined that a second-level review is warranted, subsequent action will be determined at the discretion of the provost. If the provost elects to have the case heard by a review board, the members of the board will review the case and make an outcome recommendation to the provost. The final decision will come from the provost and may be appealed to the president of the university.
If you dispute that your actions violated the University Policy on Academic Integrity or believe that your department did not follow the proper procedure for investigating or reporting a violation, the university has a formal appeal process in place that provides you with the ability to have your case heard before an Academic Review Board. The initial step of that process is writing a letter to the Provost requesting an appeal and you can find more information in the Student Appeals section of the Graduate Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview. Please note that requests for appeal are not granted automatically and the Provost will determine whether the appeal will move forward to a second-level review.