Why should I report a violation?
The Honor Code's strength lies in the community's willingness to use it and report matters that are worthy of investigation. By reporting potential violations, the community is assured that situations in which our Code may have been violated are addressed in a fair and consistent manner.
Reporting a violation
- Demonstrates to other students that the Honor Code is working - While confidentiality prevents us from making it common knowledge that a particular student has broken the Code, the Council releases reports detailing the verdicts and sanctions to the student body at the end of the semester.
- Provides for peer review - The Honor Council is an organization elected by the student body and is student run with advising from the Dean of Students Office. From start to finish, the accused student and accusers are in contact with one of the 24 Honor Council members involved in each stage of our process.
- Provides consistency in judgments and, if necessary, sanctions - The Honor Council process provides the only venue where violations are reviewed for consistency. If, for instance, faculty members operate outside of the official process, one student may receive a completely different outcome from another for substantially similar conduct.
In addition, as the Dean of Students Office maintains records of all findings of violations, the System is the only place where repeated patterns of behavior can be discovered and addressed. If each faculty member acts on his/her own, there is no way to know whether a student's act is an isolated, one-time event or the product of a pattern of behavior.
How do I confront & report a violation?
If you have a student that you suspect of either lying, cheating or stealing:
- Approach the student and arrange a meeting with him or her. At the meeting, discuss your observations and request that the student provide you with an explanation. If the student offers an explanation that leads you to conclude that there is no violation, forget the matter (you cannot take punitive action outside of the honor process). If the student's explanation does not negate your concern about a potential violation, you must report the matter for investigation by the appropriate council. If you are unsure about whether a student may have violated the code (or the procedures for moving forward), please contact the Dean of Students Office.
- Inform the student that you must report the matter. Provide the student with 24 hours to report themselves to the Honor Council, and then complete a report on our online report form. On this form, you may upload documents--if you have documents or other information in addition to the online report you may bring them to the Office of Student Conduct (107 Campus Center), or we will be happy to pick the materials up at your office upon request. Please make and retain a copy of all documents you are submitting.
If a student comes to you to report an Honor Violation
Sometimes, students feel uncomfortable accusing a peer of an Honor Violation. If they come to you, encourage the student to confront the classmate and follow through with the accusation themselves. Feel free to direct them to this website if they have any questions on how to proceed. If the student still is uncomfortable, you may file the report yourself following the steps above. The student, however, must understand that the Honor Council will still need to interview him or her, and he or she will have a duty to cooperate with any investigation and/or hearing. The Code contains numerous protections against harassment, threats, and intimidation, and we will vigorously protect the student from any possible reprisal.
What happens after the report is submitted?
Shortly after submission, you will receive contact from the Chair of the Honor Council or the lead investigator. The investigator will contact you to identify a date and time that would be convenient for the investigating committee to interview you and receive additional relevant information.
If the case proceeds to a hearing, it is likely that you will be called as a witness. The Council will work to identify a date and time for the hearing that is convenient for all parties, although typically hearings occur on weekday evenings around 6:00 PM. If you cannot be present for the hearing, the Council can arrange to have you participate via phone or Skype. During the hearing, you will be asked to present your reasons for submitting the report, the situation surrounding the alleged violation, and any other relevant information. The panel and the student will have the opportunity to ask you questions. This is not a cross-examination, and you can expect to be treated with respect throughout the process. The round of questioning is an attempt to clarify any information that the panel needs to make an informed decision.
After questioning is over, you may make a final statement. You also have the option for remaining through the presentation of evidence, or you may leave after your testimony concludes (we recommend remaining if possible, as often additional information comes to light, and it is helpful to hear your perspective; you also have the opportunity to ask questions of the student in order to clarify any of the student's statements).
If the student is found guilty, the Honor Council will move into a sanctions hearing to determine the appropriate sanction. The Council may impose primary sanctions from a warning to permanent dismissal, and it may issue secondary sanctions such as community service, restitution, and counseling. If the student is found guilty of an academic violation in your course, the Council will make a grade recommendation (either a failing grade on the assignment or in the course); however, the ultimate grade determination is the purview of the faculty member. We encourage you to consider the Council's recommendation, as it is is informed by the outcomes of similar cases and ensures some level of consistency among cases.
What does the Honor Council consider for sanctions?
The Nature of the Violation and the Harm Created by the Act(s)
- What consequences or potential consequences were there? What was the harm (or potential harm) created by the act?
- How would this act, if repeated by others, affect our community and the trust we enjoy as students?
- What were the student's alternatives to the behavior?
- How much planning or thought did the student's act entail?
- What sanction would serve to deter others from a similar act?
- What sanction would discourage the student from engaging in similar behavior in the future?
Prior Violations/Previous Disciplinary History
- Does the student have any prior Honor or Disciplinary violations?
- Is this violation indicative of a pattern of behavior?
- What has the student learned from past incidents?
- Is this situation similar to past incidents in type or nature?
Mitigating Circumstances Surrounding the Violation
- Are there any compelling personal circumstances (death of family member, traumatic experience, etc.) that were present at the time of the violation?
- Mitigating circumstances should be documented
- If a student knew the consequences of the behavior at the time and chose to take part in the situation, then the Council does not generally consider the circumstances mitigating.
- Special interests (such as involvement in student organizations, athletics, etc.) are not considered to be mitigating.
Development and Educational Impact
- What developmental impact will proposed sanctions have on the student?
- Does the Council need to reinforce student learning through secondary sanctions (community service, assignment, research paper, apology, etc.)?