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Facts and Myths at WPI

Myth:

Academic honesty is not given much attention at WPI and students are rarely brought up on academic dishonesty charges.

Fact:

WPI takes the academic integrity of our students very seriously and all cases of academic dishonesty are rigorously adjudicated. Since 1998, 113 cases of academic dishonesty have been reported. Of that number, 110 students were found guilty and 3 were found not guilty. Five students were suspended or expelled for repeat violations of the academic honesty policy.

Myth:

I've been told that I should accept responsibility for cheating and take an NR for the course even though I know I did not cheat because, if I don't, the Campus Hearing Board will impose something far worse.

Fact:

While it is true that the Campus Hearing Board can impose more serious sanctions, the WPI Campus Hearing Board is not something to be feared. The Hearing Board was established to protect students' rights and provide them with an opportunity for an unbiased board of their peers to hear the facts of the case and decide whether a violation of WPI's Code of Conduct occurred. Information about the Campus Hearing Board and your rights under the WPI Judicial System is available in the Campus Planner and Resource Guide and from the Student Life Office.

Myth:

All faculty members are in agreement about what level of student collaboration on homework or projects constitutes academic dishonesty.

Fact:

Each faculty member establishes his or her own rules and limits regarding collaboration. A student may erroneously assume that what was allowed in one course applies to another course as well. Students should listen carefully to their professors' expectations at the beginning of the course to eliminate erroneous assumptions. Students should ask if they are unsure about the limits on collaboration on group work.

Myth:

Unless a faculty member catches me in the act of cheating there is no way to prove that I cheated, so no disciplinary action can be taken against me.

Fact:

The standard used in campus judicial hearings is "preponderance of evidence," not "beyond a shadow of doubt." Also, hearsay and circumstantial evidence is considered by the hearing board. An example of circumstantial evidence might be for a faculty member to present to the Board that it would be impossible for two students to do the same work on an assignment without cheating.

Myth:

My professor can lower my grade or give me an "NR" on an assignment (or an "F' for a graduate student) if she/he suspects that I have committed academic dishonesty.

Fact:

Faculty may only impose punitive action only if the student has admitted guilt and agreed to the professor's sanction. WPI's policy limits the sanction imposed by the faculty to an "NR" for the course or lesser action and only with the student's admission and no past record. If a student has a past record or the student claims innocence, the case must be referred to the Campus Hearing Board. If the Campus Hearing Board finds the student guilty, the Board can recommend a grade action to the professor. The Campus Hearing Board also has a greater range of sanctions, up to and including expulsion from WPI.

Myth:

If I admit to academic dishonesty and accept an agreed upon sanction, my professor has the option to retain all records for the case without reporting the case to anyone.

Fact:

All cases must be reported in writing to the Student Life Office citing the student's name, facts of the case, and sanction imposed. The student and faculty member must sign the report before it is sent. This is the only way that the Student Life Office can accurately report to another faculty member if a student has a past record and insure that a student does not have multiple violations in different courses that go unreported.

Myth:

My academic dishonesty record will remain confidential and will not be shared with anyone.

Fact:

Judicial records are available to prospective employers and other establishments (i.e. graduate schools, law and medical schools, Bar Association) in accordance with federal regulations that require written permission by the student involved. In keeping with the WPI Academic Honesty Policy, and Article XI of the Constitution of the WPI Campus Judicial System, a student's judicial record may be shared internally to determine if a past record exists on a particular student or on a "need to know" basis.

Myth:

International students will be deported if they are found guilty of academic dishonesty.

Fact:

Academic honesty violations are not reported to the INS for action against an International student. If a student is in the United States on a visa and is suspended or expelled from the university, the college must report that the student is no longer registered as a full-time student. Unless that student becomes accepted and enrolled as a full-time student at another institution, the INS may begin the deportation process because the student is no longer "in status."

Myth:

A student's judicial record is destroyed or sealed upon graduation or withdrawal from the university.

Fact:

It is the policy of WPI that judicial records shall be kept by the Student Life Office for a period of two years from the date of graduation or withdrawal from WPI except when the sanction includes suspension or expulsion. In those cases, disciplinary records are kept in perpetuity. Judicial records are kept separate from a student's academic record.

Myth:

Students found guilty of academic dishonesty are always suspended from the university.

Fact:

WPI does not subscribe to an automatic sanction for violation of its Academic Honesty Policy. Rather, each violation is reviewed individually and sanctioning takes into consideration the unique situation surrounding the incident. Having said that, reviewing past precedent, most faculty who adjudicate cases within the department impose either a "0" for the assignment or an "NR" for the course. In cases where the student has a prior record of academic dishonesty, the Campus Hearing Board most often imposes a sanction of suspension or expulsion.

 
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