Honor Code Frequently Asked Questions

The hows, whys, and whens of reporting

Why should I report a violation?

The power of the Honor Code is derived from the academic community and its determination to apply the Code. All members of the academic community share a responsibility to uphold the Honor Code.

Reporting a violation
  • Demonstrates to other students that
    • The Code is effective.  Students desire a "level academic playing field" and reporting possible violations provides the protections students deserve so that those who conduct their work with integrity do not suffer a relative disadvantage to those who "cut corners."
    • The Code provides for peer review. The Honor Council is an organization comprised of students that is student run with advising from the Community Values & Restorative Practices staff. Students administer and maintain the Code, and students responding to violations can prove to be more powerful than responses from other "authority figures."
    • The Code provides consistency in judgments and, if necessary, sanctions.  The Honor Council process provides the only venue where violations are reviewed consistently. For instance, if faculty members were to operate outside of the official process, one student may receive a completely different outcome from another for substantially similar conduct. 
    • The Code guarantees fairness and Due Process.  Because the honor process is codified, students are assured that they will receive the process provided for them through the Student Handbook, our contract with students.
    • The process creates an official record.  Because Community Values & Restorative Practices maintains records of all findings of violations, the system is also the only place where we can discover and address repeated patterns of behavior.  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 and report a possible violation?

For suspected acts of cheating:

If you suspect cheating, the Code requires you first contact the Office of Student Conduct (221-2509) to inquire as to whether the student has had a prior violation and to determine if the matter is eligible for an Early Resolution (please consult Honor Code Section VIII. or this pdf diagram for more information)

If the matter is eligible for early resolution, arrange for a time to speak with/meet with the student.  During the meeting, ask the student for an explanation and evaluate the explanation.  If you remained concerned that a violation may have occurred, inform the student that it is your duty to address the matter. 

If the student acknowledges the violation, you may be able to resolve the matter via Early Resolution (contact Community Values & Restorative Practices first at 221-2509 to ensure the matter is eligible for early resolution--this option only is available for first-time, lower-level violations). 

  • In an early resolution, you impose a grade penalty and report officially Community Values & Restorative Practices through the online report form. Community Values & Restorative Practices then sends the student a letter, copying you, informing the student of the proposed resolution. The student gets one business day to decide if he/she wishes to accept the resolution or ask the Honor Council to conduct an investigation of the matter. 
  • You also should encourage the student to contact a Conduct and Honor Advisor (chap@wm.edu) to receive advice.

If the matter is not eligible for early resolution, or if you do not wish to pursue the early resolution option, arrange for a time to speak with/meet with the student, before the referring the matter to the Honor Council, as the Code requires that the student be provided the opportunity to explain the conduct prior to official reporting.  During the meeting, ask the student for an explanation and evaluate the explanation.  If you remain concerned that a violation may have occurred, inform the student that it is your duty to report the matter for review by the Honor Council.  Let the student know that he/she has 48 hours to contact the Honor Council via the student contact form.  Report the matter via the online report form.  Email the supporting documentation to cvrp@wm.edu, bring it to Community Values & Restorative Practices (109 Campus Center), or we will be happy to pick the materials up at your office upon request.

What happens after the report is submitted?

For matters not resolved via early resolution, the Chair of the Honor Council will contact you shortly after submission. The Chair will assign a member to begin an investigation, and the investigator will contact you to arrange a time to speak with you. 

If the case proceeds to a hearing, it is likely that you will be called as a witness unless the student agrees in advance not to challenge the matter. 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. 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 our members are trained to ask relevant and appropriate questions in a respectful fashion. 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 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 receive the faculty member's perspective).

Following the hearing, a Community Values staff member will notify you of the outcome and the Honor Council's recommendations. When it comes to the student's grade, the Honor Council will make recommendations (either a failing grade on the assignment or in the course overall), but the ultimate decision regarding any grade penalty is the instructor's.

What is the response to violations?

Not every case that goes through our process moves to the hearing phase, and, not every student who has a hearing is found in violation. If found in violation, however, the student will receive a sanction. They range from warnings to permanent dismissal. For a detailed look at all of our sanctions, see our Sanctions section (and consult the "Levels of Violations" Appendix in the Code) and our published Honor Code results.