Faculty seeks academic dishonesty policy clarification

The existing policy is open to interpretation across departments.
Faculty Council is looking to adjust MU's academic dishonesty policy to make it more consistent. The policy allows for different interpretations among various schools and colleges.

Faculty Council has dismissed a proposed rewrite of the MU academic policy.

The revised policy will be sent back to the Intercampus Faculty Council for review. Council members agreed the language used in the academic integrity policy was confusing.

"The primary concern is that the proposed language is open to interpretation and is unclear," said Bill Wiebold, Faculty Council member and professor.

The revisions to the academic conduct policy aimed to create a consistent campus wide policy.

"In general, the four campuses are trying to write a policy that is uniform across the four campuses in terms of how students are treated if there is thought to be cheating going on in the class," Wiebold said.

Another goal of the rewritten policy is to have the same ethical standards for each department, said Harry Tyrer, Faculty Council member and professor.

"There is one university policy, but different professions may have different ethical standards," Tyrer said. "One teacher teaching a course cannot have a more punitive outcome than another teacher teaching that same course. That is where the problem lies."

Some faculty members are apprehensive about the policy revisions.

"There is a concern that (the policy) limits what a professor can do if he or she expects cheating going on in the course," Wiebold said.

MU policy on academic integrity allows faculty to decide between two courses of disciplinary action, Associate Vice Provost Michael Prewitt said.

"A faculty member can decide to take care of it locally between the faculty member and the student," Prewitt said. "In this situation, the only consequence would be a grade sanction. MU policy says the faculty could also award a failing grade in the class. With option B, the faculty member would refer the incident to the provost office."

There are four disciplinary sanctions: a warning, disciplinary probation, suspension and permanent expulsion, Prewitt said. If the student appeals the sanctions, the Student Conduct Committee will conduct a hearing.

"The idea is that the instructor evaluates on the academics whereas the provost provides punishment if it is needed," Tyrer said.

Tyrer said there have been a number of national court cases in which a student has taken a faculty member to court and won.

"As a result of winning (the court cases) it has become necessary for us to adjust our policies," Tyrer said. "For example, if you have two faculty members teaching the same course but they have different levels of threshold for cheating, then students get confused. It needs to be brought up to the same level."

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