Cracking down on cheaters

Following the recent Harvard cheating scandal, a survey was conducted of over 14,000 undergraduates regarding cheating and academic dishonesty. The survey found that two-thirds of undergraduates admitted to cheating, according to an interview with National Public Radio.

Academic dishonesty covers two categories: cheating and plagiarism, according to the university code of conduct.

“The policies are across the board,” said Kim Greenway, director of student conduct. “But if you violate the policy, you violate the policy. It’s as simple as that.”

Greenway said the academic dishonesty policy has been revised and perked over the years, and the most recent adjustments were made within the last couple of years.

“It was really just clarified,” Greenway said. “We wanted to be sure to really cover cheating in any form, specifically plagiarism.”

Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, the use of paraphrasing or direct quotations of published or unpublished works of another individual without full and clear acknowledgement. Plagiarism also includes the unacknowledged use of materials produced by a different individual or agency involved in the selling of term papers or other academic materials, according to the university code of conduct.

Jim Riser, professor of English, advocated heavily for the English department to adopt a plagiarism policy and awareness form all students must sign before beginning coursework in English courses.

“We were beginning to see a lot of problems with intentional and unintentional plagiarism,” Riser said. “We wanted and needed to bring that under control.”

The English department has utilized the form for approximately four years, Riser said.

“Personally, I’ve seen fewer instances of plagiarism since we adopted the form,” Riser said. “It tells students that we take it seriously in our department.”

The distance learning program also requires students to follow the academic honesty policy of the university, according to the distance learning website.

Students enrolled in distance learning courses and testing on campus will utilize the Remote Proctor Now software, according to the distance learning website. RPNow requires students to show via webcam a photo ID to confirm identity, as well as the room they are in, as to prove that cheating is not taking place.

The number of academic dishonesty cases reported is different each semester, Greenway said.

“The numbers fluctuate,” she said. “I don’t doubt that we meet the statistics, but it’s not a huge number.”

Greenway said the conduct process for students found in violation of the academic dishonesty policy could be either informal or formal.

“There are a couple of different ways to handle academic dishonesty,” Greenway said. “Informally, a student would meet with the course instructor, and the instructor could choose to fail them for the assignment or the course, or they could decide on a different plan of action.

“Formally, the student would go in front of a university student conduct board, consisting of one staff member, one academic instructor, and three students.”

Greenway said consequences can vary.

“Sanctions range from required educational programs to suspension for varied amounts of time,” she said. “We handle it very seriously. Part of it is that academic dishonesty affects the integrity of the institution.”