This week, as Academic Honesty Awareness Week gears up to run March 17–21, events are being held across campus to remind faculty, staff and students about the university’s academic honesty policy and expectations.
UGA’s system for dealing with academic dishonesty is designed to allow for possible violations to be handled quickly in a non-confrontational and educational manner.
“Most instructors who get in touch with me and are hesitant about going through the process later provide positive feedback about their experience,” said Debbie Bell, coordinator for academic honesty.
The current system consists of a discussion among the instructor, student and a trained facilitator in which the parties involved assess the situation and decide on a sanction (or lack of one). In the rare situation that the matter is not resolved, a panel of faculty and students determines the outcome. Only about 6 percent of all cases move to the panel.
“Academic honesty is an integral part of the intellectual life of the campus. I appreciate the extraordinary work that the Office of Academic Honesty, the faculty, and students are doing to promote honest and ethical practices with respect to academic work completed on this campus,” said Jere Morehead, vice president for instruction and Meigs Professor of Legal Studies. “Academic dishonesty obviously is a national problem, and I am pleased that UGA is at the forefront of this issue working in a proactive and constructive way.”
Academic Honesty Awareness Week is a student-run affair handled by the Student Academic Honesty Council. The main event is a student and faculty forum scheduled for 6–8 p.m. March 20 in Room 213 of the Student Learning Center. In the forum, top administrators, faculty and students will each speak on academic honesty and take questions.
“I think it’s very important for students to know about,” said Meredith Stewart, a chairperson of the SAHC’s executive committee and fourth-year student. “Once you know about the policy, you realize that certain things you thought weren’t really fair, like when you do group projects and one person doesn’t do as much work and gets the same grade, that it’s a violation of the policy. Knowing the policy helps ensure a level playing field for everybody. Making sure that the policy is uniformly enforced helps people to know that UGA is a great school. It’s tough, but you come out knowing something and knowing that you’ve earned your degree yourself.”
In the 2006-07 academic year, 419 students were accused of academic dishonesty, with about two-thirds found in violation of the academic honesty policy. While each case is handled individually, common consequences included a grade of 0 on the assignment and failing the course.
“I always encourage instructors who contact me to utilize the approved process for dealing with possible violators,” Bell said. “It is efficient and fair and because this policy is approved by the University Council, it protects the interests of the instructor and the student.”
With the exception of the School of Law and the College of Veterinary Medicine which have different guidelines, A Culture of Honesty, the university’s academic honesty policy, applies to all courses, including study-abroad programs and the Graduate School, and at UGAs satellite campuses in Tifton, Griffin and Gwinnett.