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 to the Office of Community Standards and Integrity. 

Consistent with the Academic Disciplinary Actions Procedures, the incident will also be reported to your associate dean and department head, your instructor's associate dean and department head, and your academic advisor.

Once the report has been filed, you can expect to be contacted by the Office of Community Standards and 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.

The 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 or department head who would like to have a more serious penalty beyond course failure imposed for the violation
  • By the university 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 Vice Provost for Education 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 Vice Provost of Education and may be appealed to the Provost.

The majority of cases that are heard by an Academic Review Board 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.

If you dispute that your actions violated the University Policy on Academic Integrity, 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 process will be coordinated by the Office of Community Standards and Integrity and will be discussed in your follow-up meeting with a member of the Office of Community Standards and Integrity staff. The initial step of that process is writing a letter to the Dean of Student Affairs requesting an appeal and you can find more information in the Appeals section of the Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview. Please note that requests for appeal are not granted automatically and the Dean of Student Affairs will determine whether the appeal will move forward to a second-level review.