Chapter 2: The Honor System
Introduction / Statement of the Honor Code / Undergraduate Honor Code Pledge / General Information / Honor Code Violations / The Honor Code Applied to Preparation of Papers / Tests, Examinations, and Other Exercises / The Honor Code Applied to Group Work / Tips for Success / Responsibility of the Individual Student / Undergraduate Honor Council / Student Advisers / Faculty Advisers / Procedures of the Undergraduate Honor Council / Hearings / Penalties / After the Hearing / Completion of or Withdrawal from the Course Before Hearing / Withdrawal from the University Before Hearing
The Vanderbilt Honor System was instituted in 1875 with the first final examinations administered by the University. Dean Madison Sarratt summarized the system as follows, “Let every individual who contemplates entering Vanderbilt University ask himself [/herself/themselves] first this important question: ‘Am I strong enough to give my word of honor and then live up to it in spite of every temptation that may arise?’”
The purpose of the Honor Code is to preserve and promote academic integrity. Ideally, a student’s personal integrity is presumed to be sufficient assurance that in academic matters one does one’s own work without unauthorized help from any other source. The Undergraduate Honor Council and the graduate and professional school Honor Councils are organizations that seek to preserve the integrity of the Honor Code at Vanderbilt University. Each council aims to secure justice for any student under suspicion of dishonesty, to vindicate his/her/their name if innocent and, if guilty, to protect the honor and standing of the remaining students.
The Honor System is only one of the elements provided to Vanderbilt students to aid in the development of creative thinking, intellectual maturity, personal accountability, and respect for honesty, integrity, and truth. The goal of the Honor System is to have all students leave Vanderbilt not only as graduates, but also as citizens of integrity.
Vanderbilt University students pursue all academic endeavors with integrity. They conduct themselves honorably, professionally, and respectfully in all realms of their studies in order to promote and secure an atmosphere of dignity and trust. The keystone of the honor system is self-regulation, which requires cooperation and support from each member of the University community.
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Undergraduate Honor Code Pledge
I pledge to pursue all academic endeavors with honor and integrity. I understand the principles of the Honor System, and I promise to uphold these standards by adhering to the Honor Code in order to preserve the integrity of Vanderbilt University and its individual members.
A short-form version of the Undergraduate Honor Code Pledge, to be signed on all tests, quizzes, and similar work is: “I pledge on my honor that I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this examination.”
For information regarding additional Honor Code Statements and Pledges that may apply to graduate and professional students, please consult the individual school or college and its Honor Council.
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All students are required to acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Honor System through the information in this Handbook. Undergraduate students may obtain further information from the dean of each school, from the Undergraduate Honor Council at Vanderbilt University, PMB 351598, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37235-1598, telephone 615-322-7868, from the Honor Council website, from the Honor Council adviser or from Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity (Student Accountability). Graduate and professional students may obtain information from the office of the dean of their respective schools.
Undergraduate students are subject to the jurisdiction of the Undergraduate Honor Council. The policies and procedures of the undergraduate Honor System stated in this Student Handbook apply to all students enrolled in undergraduate courses—including those that involve, in whole or in part, online learning—of all the schools and the Division of Unclassified Studies, whether full-time or part-time, or whether regularly enrolled, transient, cross-registered from a neighboring institution, or studying abroad. The Undergraduate Honor Council Constitution and Undergraduate Honor Council Bylaws, in addition to the Student Handbook, provide both policy and procedural information pertinent to undergraduate students and the Honor Code.
Graduate and professional students are subject to the jurisdiction of the student body that implements the Honor System in the graduate and professional schools: Divinity School Honor Council, Graduate School Honor Council, Law School Honor Council, Owen Graduate School of Management Honor Council, Peabody Honor Council (for students in professional programs at Peabody College), School of Medicine Honor Council, and School of Nursing Honor Council. Graduate and professional students must check with their individual schools or advisers for further regulations beyond procedures cited in this Handbook, which may affect their studies and observances of the Honor Code. Student Accountability may investigate or consult on graduate and professional school Honor Council cases at the request of a school.
Students are responsible for obtaining from their professors an explanation of the freedom they may exercise in collaboration with other students or in use of outside sources, including:
- the student’s own work prepared and submitted for another course;
- assignments that permit students to discuss the assignment or to collaborate, including during group study sessions;
- all limitations placed on take-home or remote examinations, including use of class or outside materials or consulting with classmates or outside sources;
- use of examinations or other materials from previous sections of the class; and
- use of Internet or other electronic resources, including proper attribution.
In the event that a student does not obtain a clear explanation of the application of the Honor Code from an instructor in any class, the student must assume that the Honor Council will follow the strictest interpretation of the Honor Code with respect to that class. Ignorance of the Honor Code is not a valid excuse for violating it.
Cheating, plagiarizing, or otherwise falsifying results of study is prohibited. The System applies not only to examinations, but also to all work handed in (including drafts and submissions that are not graded), such as papers, reports, solutions to problems, tapes, films, and computer programs, unless excepted by the instructor. The System also applies to any act that is fraudulent or intended to mislead the instructor, including falsifying records of attendance for class, for events for which attendance is required or for which class credit is given, or for internships or other work service. Work in all courses—including those that involve, in whole or in part, online learning—is subject to the provisions of the System.
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Violations of the Honor Code are cause for disciplinary actions imposed by the appropriate Honor Council.
Possible violations include but are not limited to the following:
- Giving and/or receiving unauthorized aid or attempting to give and/or receive unauthorized aid on an assignment, report, paper, exercise, problem, test or examination, presentation, film, or computer program submitted by a student to meet course requirements. Such aid includes, but is not limited to,
- use or production of unauthorized aids, which may include cheat sheets, answer keys, or computer programs;
- use of texts, papers, computer programs, or other class work prepared by commercial or noncommercial agents and submitted as a student's own work;
- copying from another student’s work;
- unauthorized collaboration;
- unauthorized posting, sharing, taking, or distribution of past or present examinations or other course materials;
- unauthorized advance access to examinations or other assignments;
- compromising a testing environment or violating specified testing conditions;
- unauthorized use of books, notes, websites, phones, watches, calculators, or other outside materials or devices during an examination;
- soliciting, giving, and/or receiving unauthorized aid orally or in writing; or
- any other similar action that is contrary to the principles of academic honesty.
- Plagiarism on an assigned paper, theme, report, or other material submitted to meet course requirements. Plagiarism is defined as incorporating into one’s own work the work or ideas of another without properly indicating that source. A full discussion of plagiarism and proper citation is provided in the section below.
- Any action designed to deceive a member of the faculty, a staff member, or a fellow student regarding principles contained in the Honor Code, such as securing an answer to a problem for one course from a faculty member in another course when such assistance has not been authorized or providing false information in order to receive an extension on an assignment or to excuse an absence.
- Any falsification of class records or other materials submitted to demonstrate compliance with course requirements or to obtain class credit, including falsifying records of class attendance, attendance at required events or events for which credit is given, or attendance or hours spent at internships or other work service.
- Submission of work prepared for another course without specific prior authorization of the instructors in both courses.
- Falsification of results of study and research.
- Altering a previously graded examination or test for a regrade.
Note: Schools, departments, programs, and individual faculty members, speakers, and artists may have policies governing the creation, use, and/or distribution of recordings—video or audio—of lectures, virtual course sessions, speeches, performances, and other activities. Individuals must obtain authorization prior to recording such activities, and to abide by the various policies governing their being recorded, including, but not limited to, policies related to use and distribution of recordings. Failure to abide by recording policies may be an Honor Code violation or may result in corrective action through the University’s accountability process depending on the circumstances. In addition, examinations and the questions therein, as well as lectures, teaching notes, scholarly writings, course handouts, assignments, and other course materials are the property of the individual faculty member. Copying or distributing any such materials without the permission of the copyright owner may constitute an infringement violation, and may result in a referral to Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity for corrective action.
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- Papers are to express the original thoughts of the student. If a topic for a paper has been discussed fully among students prior to an assignment, then the students should consult the instructor about writing on that particular topic.
- Failure to indicate any outside source of ideas, expressions, phrases, or sentences constitutes plagiarism.
- A student may not submit papers substantially the same in content for credit in more than one course, without specific and prior permission of all instructors concerned.
Students should understand that sources of common knowledge can be plagiarized. Generally, an idea is often considered common knowledge if it is encountered at least five times in separate sources during one's research into a particular subject. (Reprints of one source do not constitute separate sources.) Copying or close paraphrasing of the wording or presentation of a source of common knowledge constitutes plagiarism. What constitutes common knowledge may also vary by discipline so students should consult their instructors to determine whether a citation is needed.
Students should realize that an act of plagiarism may include some degree of premeditation or may be the result of carelessness or ignorance of acceptable forms for citation. Regardless of intent or premeditation, the act is plagiarism and is a violation of the Honor Code. Students, therefore, must be conscious of their responsibilities as scholars under the Honor System, to learn to discern what is included in plagiarism as well as in other breaches of the Honor Code, and must know and practice the specifications for citations in scholarly work. The following examples illustrate the kinds of problems that can arise.
A student turned in a paper with the following paragraph:
“The characters in Othello are both allegorical and realistic at once. Characters like Iago and Desdemona are recognizable both as persons and at the same time devils, demigods and forces in nature. It is Shakespeare’s achievement as an artist that he is capable of creating visions of life as people live it at the same time that he is able to understand life in terms of social and cosmic symbols. In this paper I will discuss the allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas and actions with which the characters give meaning to the play.”
The instructor gave the paper to the Honor Council, citing this paragraph as evidence of plagiarism. The instructor presented the following paragraph from Introduction to “The Tragedy of Othello” by William Shakespeare, edited by Alvin Kernan. Copyright © 1963 by Alvin Kernan.
“Here is the essence of Shakespeare’s art, an ability to create immediate, full and total life as men actually live and experience it; and yet at the same time to arrange this reality so that it gives substance to and derives shape from a formal vision of all life that comprehends and reaches back from man and nature through society and history to cosmic powers that operate through all time and space. His plays are both allegorical and realistic at once; his characters both recognizable men and at the same time devils, demigods and forces in nature. I have discussed only the more allegorical elements in Othello, the skeleton of ideas and formal patterns within which the characters must necessarily be understood. But it is equally true that the exact qualities of the abstract moral value and ideas, their full reality, exist only in the characters.”
The instructor delineated four examples of plagiarism:
(1) A change in wording:
STUDENT: The characters in Othello are both allegorical and realistic at once. Characters like Iago and Desdemona are recognizable both as persons and at the same time, demigods, devils and forces in nature.
KERNAN: His plays are both allegorical and realistic at once; his characters both recognizable as men and at the same time devils, demigods and forces in nature.
The instructor explained this is plagiarism because the ideas presented in both cases are the same, with the student adding only a few of his own words to alter Kernan’s original phrasing, and there is no in-text citation referring to Kernan’s work. The instructor noted that to avoid plagiarism in this instance, a student should have synthesized information, made novel points in addition to Kernan’s arguments, and significantly altered the structure of the sentence and word choice, in addition to using an in-text citation.
(2) Use of a catchy word or phrase:
STUDENT: In this paper I will discuss the allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas and actions with which the characters give meaning to the play.
KERNAN: I have discussed only the more allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas and formal patterns within which the characters must necessarily be understood.
The instructor stated this sentence constitutes plagiarism because the student used the catchy phrase “the skeleton of ideas.” Again, the student retains Kernan’s phrase and his ideas, changing only some of the wording. The instructor concluded that to avoid plagiarism in this instance, the student should have used quotation marks around the catchy phrase and added an in-text citation.
(3) Undocumented paraphrasing:
STUDENT: It is Shakespeare’s achievement as an artist that he is capable of creating visions of life as people live it at the same time that he is able to understand life in terms of social and cosmic symbols.
KERNAN: Here is the essence of Shakespeare’s art, an ability to create immediate, full and total life as men actually live and experience it; and yet at the same time to arrange this reality so that it gives substance to and derives shape from a formal vision of all life that comprehends and reaches back from man and nature through society and history to cosmic powers that operate through all time and space.
This, the instructor said, was paraphrasing, and unless acknowledged, it is also an act of plagiarism. Students must clearly indicate each use of paraphrasing with a citation suitable to the instructor.
(4) Word-for-word copying:
STUDENT: . . . are both allegorical and realistic at once . . . recognizable . . . devils, demigods and forces in nature . . . the allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas . . .
KERNAN: . . . are both allegorical and realistic at once . . . recognizable . . . devils, demigods and forces in nature . . . the allegorical elements . . . the skeleton of ideas . . .
The instructor noted that had the student put Kernan’s words in quotation marks and properly cited them, there would have been no offense.
Plagiarism extends to preparation materials as well. For example, should the student forget to note on research cards the source of material and then fail to cite the source when the paper or report is prepared, the student is still committing a plagiaristic act. Not knowing how or when to cite is not considered a sufficient excuse.
Students are expected to follow the general rules of citation for each discipline. One citation is not sufficient if additional material from the same source is included in a student’s work. Citations should express the extent of ideas or expressions of others that are used. All direct quotes must be in quotation marks or in block quote format. Simply providing a citation without using quotation marks or block quote format is a violation.
Material found on websites or other Internet sources can–and should be–cited. Students should consult a citation manual for the discipline in which they are writing or the course instructor for the appropriate format.
For further information about citation styles, refer to the Jean and Alexander Heard Library’s online guide to Plagiarism, Citation, Copyright, and Fair Use.
Any student who is uncertain about the application of the plagiarism and citation rules should consult the instructor. A student who plagiarizes out of ignorance is still guilty of an Honor Code violation.
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Students are on their honor not to ask for or give information pertaining to any portion of an examination before or after they have taken it, in such a way as to gain or give an advantage over other students. Additionally, students are required to comply with specified testing conditions or the outlined requirements related to the testing environment.
The written pledge (see also “Undergraduate Honor Code Pledge”) signifies that the work submitted is the student’s own and that it has been completed in accordance with the requirements of the course as specified by the instructor.
Any student uncertain about the application of the pledge to a particular course requirement should always consult the instructor. The Undergraduate Honor Code Pledge, or an abbreviation thereof, should be included in all written work completed by the student and submitted for a grade. Any work handed in for credit, however, will be considered “pledged” unless otherwise stated by the instructor.
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The Honor Code Application to Group Work
- Students should be accountable for any group work submitted in their names for the fulfillment of a course, program, or assignment and may be responsible for Honor Code violations within the work.
- Students should ask their instructors before collaborating on any assignment.
- Students should ask their instructors if a tutor or other individual may help you with any assignment.
- The guidelines for appropriate collaboration and task division pertaining to group work vary among classes and instructors. It is therefore the student’s responsibility to obtain a clear understanding of appropriate collaboration from the instructor.
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- Students should read the course syllabus, and follow all policies, guidelines, or instructions outlined therein.
- Students should make sure that they are aware of any guidelines or restrictions on specific class assignments or examinations. Students should get any instructions from the instructor if they miss a class.
- Students should ask their instructors before collaborating on any assignment with a classmate.
- Students should ask their instructors if a tutor or other individual may help with any assignment.
- When unsure whether or not to cite a phrase or fact, students should cite.
- Students should ask their instructors or consult a relevant citation manual to learn how to cite all sources.
- If an instructor tells students not to use outside sources, students should not (nor should they take the instruction as an excuse not to cite sources if they are used).
- Students should ask their instructors before sharing lab reports, results, or other data with classmates or a lab partner.
- Students should ask their instructors before reviewing tests administered for the same course in a previous semester.
- Students should not turn in an assignment from a previous course without the permission of both instructors involved.
- Students should not assume that whatever they are doing is okay. If they cannot say with complete certainty that any particular conduct is permissible, they need to consult the course instructor.
- If permitted by the instructor, students should check over group members’ work before it is submitted; this includes labs, data, and other reports.
- Students should keep copies of original data used for group projects and assignments.
- When in doubt, ask the instructor.
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Without the support and cooperation of the entire student body, the Honor System will not work. Students must insist on the absolute integrity of themselves and their fellow students. It is the obligation of every student who suspects an honor violation to take action in one of the following ways, determining the choice of action by the flagrancy and/or certainty of the violation.
If students have reason to suspect that a breach of the Honor Code has been committed, they must:
- Issue a personal warning to the suspected student, or
- Report the incident online to the Honor Council, or
- Inform the instructor in the course of the suspicions and identify, if possible, the person(s) suspected.
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Undergraduate Honor Council
The Undergraduate Honor Council is an organization of students that seeks to preserve the integrity of the Honor Code at Vanderbilt University. It aims to secure justice for any student under suspicion of dishonesty, to vindicate his/her/their name if innocent, and, if guilty, to protect the honor and standing of the remaining students by his/her/their punishment as set forth in the bylaws.
The members of the Honor Council are selected from all classes and all undergraduate schools. Members are chosen through a system that includes a written application, interview, and election. Applicants must be full-time students and must not be on academic or disciplinary probation. All Honor Council members must have and maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA to remain in good standing.
The Honor Council elects its own officers during a general body meeting in the fall semester. The officers include a president, who must be either a junior or senior and who must have previously served a minimum of one year as a member of the Honor Council; three vice-presidents; and up to three recording secretaries.
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Every accused student will be assigned a student adviser from the body of the Undergraduate Honor Council. A list of all possible student advisers will be made available on the Honor Council website, and the accused student may select an adviser from it for the investigation and the hearing. In the alternative, the accused may select an adviser from the University community: faculty, staff, or student. However, persons who have substantial interest in the case, or in a related case as a student facing potential corrective action, or persons related to the accused or who have formal legal training are not eligible to serve as advisers. Advisers may not be paid for their services nor should any person hold themselves out as an expert adviser. If at any time the University determines an adviser does not meet the qualifications and expectations outlined above, the adviser will be barred from further participation in the process.
An adviser accompanies the accused student to investigative meetings and the hearing and explains the procedures of the Honor Council regarding investigations, hearings, and the penalties that may be assigned. In addition, an adviser may confer with the accused during the investigation and hearing, but may not speak directly with the investigator during an interview or with Honor Council members on the panel during the hearing.
An accused may separately obtain professional legal representation, advice, and counsel. However, an attorney may not participate in or be present during an Honor Council interview or hearing. The Honor Council is a student tribunal untrained in the law. An attorney representing an accused may work directly with the Office of the General Counsel.
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The Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee appoints faculty advisers to the Honor Council. The president of the Honor Council, or the Honor Council adviser, assigns one faculty adviser to attend every hearing. Faculty advisers may ask questions and participate in the discussion. In a full panel hearing, the faculty adviser does not have a vote in the outcome, but the faculty adviser does have a vote in the outcome of a small panel hearing.
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Proceedings of the Honor Council—investigations, interviews with potential witnesses, hearings, etc.—may be recorded by the University. Recordings not authorized by the Honor Council adviser or the Honor Council officers hearing a case, or by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee, are prohibited.
The procedures of the Undergraduate Honor Council aim to resolve reported matters within ninety (90) business days absent extenuating circumstances. Investigations and hearings (Resolution Process) may be paused over University breaks, holidays, and any recess taken by the Honor Council. Involved parties may waive procedural waiting or review periods to expedite the Resolution Process with notice in writing to Student Accountability. With notice in writing to the involved parties, Student Accountability may waive procedural waiting or review periods to expedite the Resolution Process for incidents that potentially impact Commencement.
- When an alleged violation of the Honor Code is reported, a staff member from Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic integrity will be assigned to investigate the incident.
- After each meeting, the investigator will provide a written summary to the party for review and allow two (2) business days after the written summary is provided for the submission of suggested revisions.
- The assigned investigator will interview the accuser and collect any available information or documentation related to the alleged violation. Upon notice of the investigation proceeding, the accuser has up to seven (7) business days to meet with an investigator. After completing the initial meeting with an investigator, the accuser has seven (7) business days to provide relevant information as well as any additional witnesses. Requests for extensions must be made to the investigator in writing. If the accuser does not meet with the investigator and no extension is granted, Student Accountability will determine if the matter should be closed due to a lack of information. If the matter is closed, the accuser will be notified that the faculty of record may still issue a warning consistent with the Faculty Manual.
- The accused student(s) will be notified in writing that a report has been filed, and that they are required to meet with an investigator no later than seven (7) business days from the date of the notice. Requests for extensions must be made to the investigator in writing. If the accused does not meet with the investigator and no extension is granted, the investigation will proceed in the accused’s absence. Additionally, the Honor Council may send a notice to the Office of the University Registrar to enter an Incomplete and add a notation to the accused’s academic record stating "Honor Council Investigation Pending," including if the accused is not compliant or if the investigation or hearing will continue beyond the end of the semester (i.e., becomes a “holdover case”).
- During the initial meeting, the investigator will meet with the accused to present in-person a written Statement of Charge(s), a brief description of the alleged violation, and an explanation of the possible consequences if the accused student is found guilty of a breach of the Vanderbilt Honor Code. During the initial meeting, the accused will also be informed of the procedures that will be followed. The accused may choose not to make any statement at the time of the initial meeting, and may instead request a three-day wait period before making a statement. .
- During the meeting where the accused will make a statement, the investigator will ask the accused to explain his/her/their own account of the events surrounding the alleged violation. The accused will also be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges at the conclusion of the first investigative meeting. The accused may also provide relevant documentation or information to support his/her/their account of events at the time of the meeting. Alternatively, the accused has seven (7) business days after completing the meeting to provide any supporting evidence, material witnesses, or other relevant materials for review.
- Any investigative meeting held with a student may be recorded. Recordings are personal notes solely for the use of the investigator to prepare the investigative report. Recordings will not be kept as part of the formal record and will not be shared with any other individuals involved in the resolution of the incident or any accused student(s).
- If the accused provides material witnesses, the investigator may contact the witness(es) if it is determined they have relevant information. Material witnesses have seven (7) business days to meet with an investigator after receiving notice. Failure to meet with an investigator within that period will be treated as declining to participate, and the accused will be notified.
- Given the nature of University judicial proceedings (including the proceedings of University Honor Councils), the testimony of, and information derived from, experts, such as the reports of handwriting experts, are not admissible and will not be considered, except in rare circumstances. In those rare cases, determinations as to the admissibility of testimony of or evidence derived from an expert will be made in the sole discretion of the Director of Student Accountability. The Honor Council president may appoint a faculty member as an expert witness. Under no circumstances, however, will the use of polygraph examinations be permitted.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will assemble the relevant evidence and testimony in an investigative report that contains the notice of charges, summaries of material information from investigative meetings, and relevant course or assignment materials. The investigator will provide the investigative report to the president of the Honor Council, who will determine whether sufficient evidence exists to warrant a hearing by the Council. If the president determines that a hearing is necessary, the president will also determine whether the charges will be heard by a full panel or a small panel.
- At least three (3) business days before the hearing, the accuser and the accused student(s) will be presented with a copy of the investigative report so that he/she/they may comment at the hearing on any corrections or clarifications the accused student feels are necessary or appropriate.
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If after an investigation, the Honor Council president determines there is sufficient evidence to warrant a hearing, then a hearing will be scheduled. The investigator will arrange any details necessary for conducting the hearing and will inform the accused of the date, time, and location of the hearing. The hearing should not be held earlier than three (3) business days after the investigator has initially met with the accused in order for the accused to review the investigative report.
Attendance at the Hearing by the Accused Student
All students, including the accused student, are required to cooperate with investigations and hearings conducted by the Honor Council. In the event an accused student refuses to participate in, or cooperate with, an Honor Council investigation or hearing, the hearing may take place without the participation of the accused student. Reasonable efforts will be made to inform the accused student of the time and place of the hearing and the findings of the proceeding. In addition, the accused student may inform the Council that he/she/they will not attend the hearing and submit a written statement regarding the charges. Students pleading guilty may request a small panel hearing be held without their participation. The request will be reviewed by the Honor Council president to determine it meets the requirements for a small panel hearing before proceeding.
Full Panel Hearing
A six-member hearing panel (consisting of a presiding officer and five members) will hear the evidence in the case. A faculty adviser will also be present. (For training purposes, observers may be allowed to be present, but may not speak or take part in the proceedings.)
1. Presentation of the investigative report.
a. The investigator is sworn in by the recording secretary.
b. The recording secretary receives verbal confirmation from each panelist that evidence presented in the investigative report has been reviewed.
c. The Honor Council may question the investigator. At no time does the investigator express an opinion as to whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.
2. Testimony. The accused student and the accuser, if present, are allowed to be present during the presentation of all testimony. Any material witnesses called by the Council will appear separately and await their appearances alone.
a. Accuser. If the accuser testifies in person, the presiding officer will invite the accuser to provide clarifying or supplemental information about the investigative report. The Honor Council may then direct its questions to the accuser. Upon conclusion of questions by the Council, the presiding officer will ask the investigator if they have any questions for the accuser. The accused may also direct questions to the accuser via the presiding officer, who will determine relevance, once the Honor Council and the investigator have concluded their questioning. In the case of the accuser's absence, the Honor Council will proceed to the testimony of the witness(es) and/or the accused student.
b. Material Witnesses.The presiding officer may call material witnesses to participate in the hearing when it is determined the Council may have additional questions not covered by the investigative report. Only material witnesses who met with an investigator will be allowed to testify at the hearing. First, the presiding officer invites a general account of the events in question. The Honor Council may then direct its questions to the witness. Upon conclusion of questions by the Council, the presiding officer will ask the investigator if they have any questions for the material witnesses. The accuser and the accused may also direct questions to the material witnesses via the presiding officer, who will determine relevance, once the Honor Council and the investigator have concluded their questioning.
c. Accused Student. The presiding officer presents to the accused the charges and asks if he/she/they is familiar with the charges, the evidence, and the possible penalties if found guilty. The accused student enters his/her/their plea of guilty or not guilty. The presiding officer invites the accused to provide clarifying or supplemental information about the investigative report. The Honor Council may then direct its questions to the accused. Upon conclusion of questions by the Council, the presiding officer will ask the investigator if they have any questions for the accused. The accuser may also direct questions to the accused via the presiding officer, who will determine relevance, once the Honor Council and the investigator have concluded their questioning.
Small Panel Hearing
During the course of an investigation, an accused student who wishes to plead guilty may request a small panel hearing of his/her/their case. A case may proceed to a small panel hearing only if no facts surrounding the violation are in dispute and if the president determines that the likely penalty involves no more than one semester suspension. A guilty plea does not guarantee that the case will proceed to a small panel or that a request for a small panel will be granted. If there are two or more students involved in a single case, all must plead guilty and request a small panel hearing in order for one to be conducted. If one of the accused students requests a small panel hearing and others do not, or any individual’s request cannot be granted for any reason, a full hearing must be conducted for all the students involved. In addition, if a student has been previously found guilty by the Honor Council, a full panel hearing is required. Following the review of the Honor Council president, if a small panel would be appropriate, a date, time, and location will be chosen for the hearing.
A small panel hearing shall consist of a faculty adviser, a presiding officer of the Honor Council, and one additional Honor Council member.
The procedures employed during a small panel hearing will be the same as those outlined above for full panel hearings.
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When the Honor Council is satisfied that all pertinent testimony has been received, the accused student, the student adviser, and the investigator exit so that the panel may deliberate. The panel will proceed to discuss and decide the question of guilt. The proof that a person is guilty of a charge must satisfy a “preponderance of the evidence” (or, more likely than not) standard. A majority of the six members of a full panel must vote "guilty" to find the accused guilty. All of the members of a small panel must vote “guilty” to find the accused guilty.
1. If the accused is found guilty, the Honor Council determines a fitting penalty based upon
(a) the flagrancy of the violation,
(b) premeditation involved in the offense, and
(c) the truthfulness of the accused throughout the investigation and the hearing
These three factors are ranked on a scale of low, medium low, medium, medium high, or high.
- The presumptive penalty for a first offense is failure in the course. In certain circumstances, after reviewing the flagrancy of the violation, the degree of premeditation, and the truthfulness of the accused throughout the hearing and investigation, the Honor Council may, at its discretion, reduce the penalty on a first offense to include an Honor Council reprimand, with a recommendation for failure on the assignment, or increase the penalty to suspension for one or more semesters, or expulsion.
- The minimum penalty for a second offense is failure in the course and suspension for not less than a semester, and depending upon the severity of the violation, the penalty may be suspension for multiple semesters or expulsion. The penalty for a third offense is expulsion. A small panel may assign a penalty no greater than failure in the course and suspension for one semester. Each penalty requires a unanimous vote of the small panel.
2. If, after review by, and at the discretion of, the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, mitigating circumstances exist with regard to the commission of the violation in question, then the presiding officer will be provided relevant information and may introduce those circumstances to be considered in the discussion of penalty. Such circumstances may not relate to the possible ramifications of the panel's decision.
3. Expulsion must be approved by a vote of at least five of the six panel members. (Note that for a third offense, a vote of guilty by five of the six panelists imposes a penalty of expulsion automatically.) All other penalties require only a simple majority vote of the six members.
4. Decision. The accused will meet with the investigator or another Student Accountability staff member to receive their outcome letter the next business day. The investigator will share both the Honor Council’s decision as well as the grounds for appeal.
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1. At the conclusion of the hearing, the presiding officer and investigator will gather all the material evidence, investigative reports, notes, and other records of the investigation and hearing and submit them to be filed in the Student Accountability.
2. If the accused student is found guilty, written notice of the decision is sent to the following parties: (a) the accused student, (b) the accuser, if an instructor, or the relevant instructor(s) (in cases in which the accuser is not an instructor) (c) the dean of the school in which the student enrolled or their designee, (d) staff in the Office of the University Registrar, (e) other relevant University personnel and, in cases resulting in suspension or expulsion, (f) the parents of the accused student. A copy of the notice must also be kept in the files of the Honor Council.
3. Following a full panel hearing, a member of the Honor Council Executive Board will then prepare a summary of the proceedings.
4. The accused student may file an appeal from a full or small panel decision with the Appellate Review Board, but must do so within ten (10) days of the date the student is formally notified of the panel’s decision. Detailed information may be found in the Appeals and the Appellate Review Board section of the Student Accountability Chapter of the Student Handbook.
5. Records of Honor Council proceedings and investigations are maintained in Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity in accordance with the office’s document retention policy. Records will not be released outside the University absent a written release from the student or unless otherwise required by law in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). However, students should be aware that they may be required to sign a waiver when applying to graduate or professional schools or in the course of any employment or governmental background check. An Honor Council reprimand is considered an educational sanction, and is not reported to agencies outside the University unless to confirm information provided by the student. Failure in the course, suspension for one or more semesters, and expulsion are entered upon the student’s permanent disciplinary record (which is maintained in accordance with the document retention policy), and are reported to agencies beyond the University, as needed.
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Completion of or Withdrawal from the Course Before Hearing
If a student who has been reported for a suspected violation of the Honor Code completes or withdraws from the course in question prior to the Honor Council’s receipt of the report or before a hearing has been held, a letter will be sent to the accused stating that he/she/they is suspected of an Honor Code violation, that an investigation has been or will be conducted, and that a hearing may be held.
During the time prior to the hearing, a notation will be placed on the accused’s academic record stating that an Honor Council case is pending and an Incomplete will be reflected on the record for the course in question. A letter will also be sent to the Office of the University Registrar, the dean of the school in which the accused is enrolled or their designee, and other relevant University personnel, indicating that an Honor Council case is pending.
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Withdrawal from the University Before Hearing
If a student who has been reported for a suspected violation of the Honor Code withdraws from the University before a hearing has been conducted a letter will be sent to the accused stating that he/she/they is suspected of an Honor Code violation, that an investigation has been or will be conducted, and that a hearing may be held.
The accused may respond in one of three ways: participate in an investigation and hearing; waive the right to give testimony personally, thereby acknowledging that the hearing may proceed in his/her/their absence; or waive the right to appear and send a written, signed statement to be presented on his/her/their behalf at the hearing. Failure by the accused to respond will be considered a waiver of the right to appear.
During the time prior to the hearing, a notation will be placed on the accused's academic record stating that an Honor Council case is pending and an Incomplete will be reflected on the record for the course in question. A letter will also be sent to the Office of the University Registrar the dean of the school in which the accused was enrolled, and other relevant University personnel, indicating that an Honor Council case is pending. If the accused attempts to re-enroll before the case is heard, the registrar will notify Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity. The case must be resolved before the accused may re-enroll.
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