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Northwestern University

Procedures for Cases of Alleged Violations of Academic Integrity

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I. Initiation of a Complaint

  1. All cases of alleged violation of academic integrity by undergraduates in courses in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences must be referred to the Assistant Dean for Academic Integrity (ADAI). The ADAI consults with the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, to whom authority for making a determination of academic integrity violations has been delegated by the Weinberg Faculty. Cases should be referred within one month of the date of the alleged incident, or within one month of the date the reporting individual becomes aware of the alleged incident, whichever is later. However, no action will be taken on any case if more than one year has elapsed since the alleged incident. Once a matter has been referred to the ADAI, it may not be withdrawn without the ADAI's approval, nor may the referring faculty member resolve the case without the ADAI's approval.
  2. The ADAI shall review the facts of the alleged incident, including statements of the reporting individual, the instructor(s), and any supporting material. The review process may include electronic searches of plagiarism resources, web sites, and other databases. If, after the review, the ADAI determines that there is cause for further investigation, he or she shall notify the student by letter of the date of the incident (if known), the course and instructor, and the nature of the alleged violation. A copy of the current procedures will accompany the letter.

    The student will be asked to make an appointment with the ADAI to discuss the case within seven working days of the date of the letter, at which time the student may present any relevant material or statements on his or her behalf. The student will have the right, prior to meeting with the ADAI, to review relevant original materials in the Weinberg College Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising, to obtain copies of such materials if desired, and to discuss the matter with a faculty adviser or other individual. Review of original materials must take place by appointment during normal working hours at the Weinberg College Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising within seven working days of the date of the ADAI's letter.

    If the student does not schedule a meeting to take place within seven working days, the ADAI may make his/her determination on the basis of the evidence before him/her at that time. The ADAI may grant reasonable requests for an extension of this time deadline in his/her sole discretion.
  3. In certain cases where timely notification is important—as, for instance, if a student is about to leave campus for vacation—verbal notification of the alleged violation may be made, but such verbal notification will be followed by a letter.

II. Meeting with the Assistant Dean for Academic Integrity

  1. In meeting with the student, the ADAI will describe the charges made and detail the evidence supporting those charges. At this initial meeting, the student may decline to discuss the matter and/or request that the ADAI defer making a determination until after a subsequent meeting between the student and the ADAI, at which the student may present relevant information or evidence. This second meeting must be requested at the initial meeting and must be scheduled for a time within seven working days of the initial meeting.
  2. In consultation with the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, the ADAI has the authority to determine, based on a preponderance of the evidence available to the ADAI, whether a violation of academic integrity has occurred.
  3. After his/her review, the ADAI shall inform the student by letter of his or her decision and the sanction, if any, to be imposed. (If the student is not registered in WCAS, the sanction will be determined by the school in which the student is registered; see VI. below.)

III. Sanctions

  1. Sanctions which may be imposed by the ADAI include, but are not limited to: a letter of warning; a defined period of probation with the attachment of conditions; disqualification for academic honors; a defined period of suspension, with or without the attachment of conditions; permanent exclusion from the University; notation on the official record; revocation of an awarded degree; or any combination of the previously listed sanctions. In all cases of permanent exclusion from the University, a notation shall be entered on the student's official transcript.
  2. Any grade entered for a student in a course in which an allegation of violations of academic integrity is pending against him/her, whether for the course as a whole or for a piece of work submitted in the course, is subject to modification after all proceedings and appeals are concluded. Should the student be found to have violated academic integrity, the course instructor is empowered, in his/her sole discretion, to determine the effect this violation will have on the student's grade in the course. Possible actions range from disregarding the incident in calculating the grade to failing the student in the course.

IV. Appeals to the WCAS Committee on Appeals

  1. The ADAI’s decision and/or sanction may be appealed to the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals by filing a written notice of appeal within ten working days of the date of the letter of notification. The student’s written notice of appeal must state what is being appealed—the finding of a violation, the sanction imposed, or both—and must describe in detail the grounds for appeal. When the sanction is a suspension, the timing of the suspension cannot be appealed since the timing is determined as a consequence of when the decision is made by the ADAI. The intent of the appeals process is not to consider the technicalities but to assess whether misconduct occurred, and whether the sanction was commensurate with the finding.
  2. The student’s appeal will be considered by the chair of the appeals committee, at least three faculty members (one from each division—humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences), and at least one student. The committee as described will meet and, at this meeting, the student and the ADAI will be invited to appear in order to answer questions about the case.

    If the student decides to be present, he or she will be granted an opportunity to appear to present his or her case to the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals and to hear and respond to any testimony provided by the ADAI or witnesses appearing before the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals. Likewise, the ADAI may be present to hear and respond to testimony of the accused student or any witnesses appearing before the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals. If the student wishes to present witnesses before the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals, s/he must inform the Secretary to the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals at least seven working days before the appeal is to be heard of the names of the proposed witnesses and of the nature of the evidence they are prepared to present. However, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals has sole discretion to determine what witnesses other than the accused student and the ADAI it will hear, if any. The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals shall review the appeal as soon as practical after it has been filed.
  3. Following its review, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals may sustain or reverse the finding of a violation, if that portion of the ADAI's decision was appealed, and may, if a finding of a violation stands, sustain or modify (but not increase) the sanction, if that portion of the decision was appealed. The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals shall inform the student by letter of its decision.

V. Appeal to the Provost

  1. The student may appeal the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals's decision, (either that of the smaller committee consisting of the chair, three faculty, and student, or the whole committee) within ten working days to the Provost of the University. Such appeals must be in writing and include a detailed statement setting forth the grounds for the appeal. Appeals to the Provost will be limited to alleged errors in procedures, interpretation of regulations, or alleged manifest discrepancies between the evidence and a school finding and/or sanction. The Provost will receive appeals only after a sanction has been specified for the alleged violation (see III. above); an appeal to the Provost may concern the finding and/or the proposed sanction.

VI. Cross-school cases

  1. In instances where a student registered in another school is alleged to have committed an act of violation of academic integrity in a Weinberg College course, the authority of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences will extend only to determining whether or not the alleged action constitutes a violation and, if so, to the imposition of any grade penalty by the instructor in the course (see IIIB.). If the finding is affirmative and all appeals have been exhausted or the time for appeals has expired in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the case will be formally referred to the appropriate authority of the school in which the student is registered for whatever further sanction that school deems appropriate.
  2. In instances where a student registered in Weinberg College has been found to have committed violation of academic integrity in a course offered by another school, the ADAI will notify the student in writing of the formal referral of the matter to Weinberg College for determination of a Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences sanction, if any. Such notification will inform the student that he/she should schedule an appointment with the ADAI, to take place within seven working days, to present any evidence of mitigating circumstances, but not on the underlying question of guilt or innocence. If the student does not schedule an appointment within the allotted time, or within such extension of time as the ADAI may grant in his/her sole discretion, the ADAI will make a decision regarding any sanction based on the available information. 
  3. The ADAI will inform the student in writing of any sanction imposed and of the student's right to appeal that sanction (but not issues of guilt or innocence) to the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals.

VII. General Considerations

  1. Once a suspicion of a violation has been reported to the ADAI, the student may not change his or her registration in the course(s). Nor may such students receive a University degree while a charge of an academic integrity violation is pending or a suspension imposed pursuant to a finding of a violation is in effect.
  2. At any stage of the proceedings described above, the student may be accompanied by a fellow student, a faculty member, or another individual of the student's choosing, but not by an attorney. This person may not, however, take part in the proceedings; the student must speak on his or her own behalf.
  3. Sanctions specified by the ADAI, as modified by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Appeals or the Provost (if an appeal has been filed), shall take effect at the expiration of the period for appeal of a decision if an appeal has not been filed, and after a decision has been reached by the WCAS Committee on Appeals or the Provost if an appeal has been filed. If the appeal is not granted, the sanction will be applied retroactively to the date specified by the ADAI, and, if necessary, current registrations may be canceled.
  4. All materials relating to an allegation of academic violations of academic integrity will be kept in the Weinberg College Undergraduate Studies and Advising for up to ten years after the incident.
  5. All references to the ADAI in these procedures include the ADAI's designee if circumstances prevent the ADAI from participating.
  6. If circumstances (e.g., departure of a visiting instructor) prevent the instructor of the course in which the violation is alleged to have occurred from participating at any stage of these procedures, the relevant department chairperson or program director may act on the instructor's behalf.

March 12, 2009; Assistant Dean for Advising and Academic Integrity (ADAAI) changed to Assistant Dean for Academic Integrity (ADAI) on August 12, 2014.

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