Plagiarism and Cheating Policy

Academic Dishonesty Policy

Purpose: Independent thought, academic integrity and trust, and the honest exchange of ideas are essential to intellectual growth and at the core of the University’s educational mission.  The ideals of academic integrity are shared by scholars throughout time and across borders. They are held by the members of the Willamette University community and are reinforced by the Willamette Ethic, adopted by the Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU). Academic dishonesty, including plagiarism and cheating, violates academic integrity, undermines trust, and inhibits the honest exchange of ideas.

The Honor Council, consisting of both faculty and students, is charged with upholding academic integrity and adjudicating the Plagiarism and Cheating Policy. 

Definitions: Plagiarism, a form of cheating, consists of intentionally or unintentionally representing someone else's words, ideas, or work as one's own. Cheating is any form of intellectual dishonesty or misrepresentation of one's individual work or knowledge in the completion of assignments, quizzes, or examinations.  Knowingly helping other students cheat or plagiarize or presenting substantially similar work from other courses without authorization from the instructor are also considered academic dishonesty. 

All members of the Willamette University community are expected to be aware of the serious breach of principles involved in academic dishonesty. Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism or cheating shall not be considered a valid defense. If students are uncertain as to what constitutes plagiarism or cheating for a particular assignment, they should consult the instructor for clarification.

In accordance with Willamette University Standards of Conduct and the Willamette Ethic, students are entitled to notice of what constitutes plagiarism or cheating. [Links to examples of plagiarism: example1 & example2] When appropriate during the semester, such as in conjunction with assignment of a class project or review for an exam, faculty members are encouraged to discuss plagiarism or cheating and how to avoid them.

Procedures for Violations of Academic Integrity

Procedure for a single violation:

  1. An instructor who has reason to believe that plagiarism or cheating has occurred shall:
    1. Promptly meet with the student(s) involved, provide appropriate documentation of cheating or plagiarism, discuss the matter, determine whether an infraction has occurred, and decide on a penalty. An instructor may impose penalties for plagiarism or cheating ranging from a grade reduction on an assignment or exam to failure in the course.
    2. If the instructor suspects plagiarism or cheating during a final exam period, and timely resolution is not possible, the professor shall assign the student(s) involved a grade of "I" and provide the student(s) with a written explanation. Whenever possible, the faculty member shall offer to meet with the student(s) no later than the first week of classes the following semester to complete the steps outlined above.
    3. Within three working days of meeting with the student(s), the instructor shall turn in a report form to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences that details the incident and includes the documentation and penalty.
    4. The form and documentation will be placed in a confidential file.
  1. Upon receiving the form, the Dean's office shall arrange for a meeting with the student(s) in question and designated members of the Honor Council. Whenever possible, this meeting shall occur within five working days of receipt of the form. The meeting shall typically include the Dean (or Dean's representative) and the student co-chair of the Honor Council (or a designated student Honor Council member).
  2. If more than one student is accused of plagiarism or cheating, the Dean (or Dean’s representative) and student Honor Council co-chair (or representative) shall meet separately with each student.
  3. In the meeting, the Honor Council members and the Dean's representative shall:
    1. provide the student a copy of the form filed by the reporting instructor, noting on the form the date on which it was delivered to the student,
    2. convey to the student how academic dishonesty violates the Willamette Ethic and Code of Conduct, harms the community, and undermines the educational mission of the College,
    3. provide exercises or assignments that will educate the student on what constitutes plagiarism and cheating, and verify that the exercises or assignments have been completed,
    4. inform the student of the potential consequences of a second violation of plagiarism or cheating, and
    5. determine if the student contests the accusation or the severity of the penalty imposed by the instructor.
  1. If the student in question does not contest the accusation and accepts the penalty prescribed by the instructor, the process concludes. Honor Council proceedings are confidential.
  2. A student has the right to contest the accusation or the severity of the penalty imposed by the instructor. If the student contests the accusation or penalty, the Dean's office will refer the case to the Honor Council for a hearing and ruling. In adjudicating an appeal, the Honor Council shall observe the following procedures.
    1. The Honor Council hearing shall be confidential and, whenever possible, scheduled within five working days of referral by the Dean's office.
    2. The student and instructor may address the Honor Council and present documentation. Within two working days of the hearing, the Honor Council shall render a judgment as to the validity of the charge and the suitability of the penalty, and will provide written notification to the student and the instructor of their findings.
    3. Appeals of the Accusation of Plagiarism or Cheating: For adjudicating appeals of plagiarism or cheating, the Honor Council will apply a reasonable person standard. If the majority of members attending the hearing determine that a reasonable person may conclude that plagiarism or cheating occurred, then the appeal should be denied.
    4. If the Honor Council finds a reasonable person would not have concluded that plagiarism or cheating occurred and considers the plagiarism or cheating accusation to be invalid, it will recommend that the instructor accept Honor Council’s findings and reverse whatever penalty the instructor had imposed on the student. However, the instructor is not obligated to abide by the Honor Council ruling. If the instructor rescinds the charge of plagiarism or cheating based on the Honor Council's findings, the Dean's office shall expunge the student’s plagiarism and cheating file. If the instructor declines to rescind the accusation, the student can appeal to the Academic Status Committee. 
    5. Appeals of the Judgment or Penalty for Plagiarism or Cheating shall be brought before the Dean.  The ruling of the Dean shall be final.
    6. The Dean's office shall record on the form the final disposition of accusation and penalty, and provide written notification to the student, instructor, and Honor Council. The form will be placed in the student's confidential file.
  3. If a student has only one violation, upon the student’s graduation, the file will be expunged.
  4. The student cannot circumvent the plagiarism and cheating proceedings by withdrawing from the class. If the final penalty for the academic dishonesty is an "F" in the course, the student shall not be permitted to withdraw.

Procedure for prior or multiple violations:

  1. If the student's file contains a prior violation, the Dean's office shall promptly initiate a hearing by the Honor Council to determine if an additional sanction is appropriate. The hearing shall be confidential. The student may address the Honor Council on their own behalf. Sanctions for a second violation may include, but are not limited to, placing the student on probation, academic suspension for a period of time, or dismissal from the College. Within two working days of the hearing, the Honor Council shall communicate its findings in writing to the student and to the Dean of the College. If the Honor Council recommends dismissal, their recommendation shall also be communicated to the President. The Honor Council shall inform the student of their right of appeal.
  2. The accused student may appeal the Honor Council's recommendation to the Dean of the College. The appeal must be filed with the Dean's office within five days of the date of the letter providing official notification of the sanction. In reviewing the student's appeal, the Dean’s office shall seek input from the reporting instructor(s) and the Honor Council, who may provide comments or issues to be considered in the Dean's deliberations.
  3. Except for dismissal, the decision of the Dean of the College is final. Students can appeal dismissal to the President, or his/her designee, for final judgment.
  4. In the event that the final judgment is suspension or dismissal, a student will first be notified in person by the Dean (or Dean's representative) followed by written communication. Seven working days shall elapse before the suspension or dismissal of a student becomes effective after the appeal process is completed unless the President determines an otherwise appropriate period for the suspension or dismissal to take effect.


Status: Enacted
Effective Date: Currently in effect
Last Revision Date: 10-16-2018
Next Anticipated Review:
Responsible University Office: Dean’s Office
Responsible University Administrator: Associate Dean, Curriculum and Student Success
Primary Policy Contact: Cecily McCaffrey

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