By Isabella Futchi
Academic dishonesty has been a problem in education since its inception.
Article V in Youngstown State University’s student code of conduct defines academic dishonesty as “cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty,” and it can be a very serious violation of a students’ academic integrity and university policy.
Jennifer Pintar, associate provost for academic administration, said she believes academic dishonesty is no longer just traditional plagiarism or cheating.
“Academic dishonesty is a wide range of different items. … With technology today there are so many other avenues,” Pintar said.
Pintar said a YSU academic dishonesty policy came into effect three years ago, and it strongly encourages faculty to report academic dishonesty, especially if they lower a student’s grade.
There is a process for a student who gets accused of academic dishonesty.
Pintar said faculty should first notify the student during the accused cheating, set up a one-on-one meeting with the student to discuss the accusation and fill out an academic dishonesty form.
Pintar said the student has up to three days to consider the accusation and can either agree to the charge and the sanction, agree to the charge but not the sanction or disagree with both the charge and the sanction.
The sanction is the punishment that the faculty believes fits the severity of the academic dishonesty.
If the student agrees to both charge and sanction, the offense will be filed into the student’s permanent record in the Office of Student Conduct.
However, if the student does not fully agree to either the charge or the sanction, there is a hearing with a panel of six undergraduate or graduate students and six faculty from six colleges, depending on the student’s status.
The student outcomes from the hearing can range from the charges being dismissed to the student being expelled from the university depending on the severity and frequency that academic dishonesty has occurred.
One violation is usually not taken as serious as two in the eyes of the university.
“After two violations, we reach out to the student. We reach out to say, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be doing this.’ But we are also reaching out to see if we can assist the student,” Pintar said. “It’s not just a negative when reaching out to the student. We want to help them as well.”
A student who wishes to remain anonymous, due to a cheating accusation, said they and other classmates were accused of cheating in spring 2019 after a miscommunication between the professor and students about collaborating for an online exam outside of class.
The student said the professor was very disappointed and wanted a single letter of apology. They had to take the final exam in order to replace their grade.
The student said the professor did not report the situation to the Office of Student Conduct.
“I was very accepting of how he handled it because it could have happened worse than it did. I think he realized that the students involved genuinely made a mistake and looked at the students who were a part of it. It was not common for us to cheat,” the student said.
Michael Hanni, coordinator for the Office of Student Conduct, works with students who have broken the student code of conduct. He said it is up to the faculty to decide how to handle academic dishonesty.
“Each situation is judged on a case-by-case basis and there is not a set-in-stone way of doing things, and we mostly go off of what the professor deems appropriate,” Hanni said.
Hanni said the Office of Student Conduct is a liaison between faculty and Provost’s Office when it comes to academic dishonesty.
“Whether it be inside or outside the classroom, just make sure you are doing your own work,” Hanni said.