Three cases were heard by the College Academic Honesty Board at the end of the spring 2001 semester without the presence of an undergraduate student, breaking the rules set forth by the 2000-2001 Handbook of Student Discipline.
The handbook specifies that a hearing board for cases involving academy honesty are to be comprised of three faculty members and one undergraduate student ? either an All-Campus Judicial Council justice or someone appointed by ACJC.
“We wanted to get ACJC participation,” said Chair of the College Academic Honesty Board and professor of physics and optics Nicholas Bigelow. “Last year, at the end of the final period, we tried to contact justices to see who could possibly hear a case. Ultimately, we could not find a time when the faculty, ACJC member and the students [involved in the case] were available.”
ACJC justices, however, said they were never contacted. “I was on campus until graduation and no one ever contacted me,” said junior and Associate Chief Justice Rachel Morrissey. Four of the five active and returning ACJC justices from the spring semester also said that they were not contacted. The fifth had no comment.
Bigelow explained that in the three cases that were heard, the students wanted the matter resolved immediately. Furthermore, in all of the cases, the students in the hearing were found not guilty, so no sanctions were issued.
Morrissey said that to the best of her knowledge ACJC had not been contacted by the honesty board for any academic honesty hearing during last school year.
Senior and current ACJC Chief Justice Ryan Walters confirmed Morrissey’s account. “As far as I know, there were not any cases heard last year,” he said.
Walters spent the semester in Washington, D.C., but maintained contact with then Chief Justice Alana Golazeski to keep informed of the proceedings of ACJC.
The handbook of discipline from 2000-2001 states the ACJC may select a pool of undergraduates who could serve on the hearing board.
Dean of Students at The College Mary-Beth Cooper expressed concern about the lack of student presence on the board.
“Administration should follow the handbook closely because it is a guidebook of community standards and expected behavior,” she said. “If we do nothing else, we have to follow our policies and give them due process.”
Associate Dean of Students at The College and Chief Disciplinary Officer Ken Rockensies agreed with Cooper.
“A good thumb of rule is to follow your procedure,” he said. “But it’s not atypical to make judgement calls in a case.”
Rockensies said he could understand Bigelow’s difficulty in organizing a hearing at the end of the year.
“I had an equally difficult time getting [disciplinary] hearings together,” Rockensies said.
In addition to the cases heard, seven other cases from exam period and three pending cases from earlier in the year were carried over to this semester.
“We were slower in acting on cases than we would have liked,” Bigelow said.
The delay in the functions of the honesty board was at least partially a result of the illness and the eventual death of the three-year board secretary Donna Stevens last year. Stevens did the gathering, the paperwork and organizing for all board hearings. The secretary of the board is chosen by the Dean of the College’s Office and is usually a secretary in the dean’s office.
The job that she left vacant took some time to fill as a result of several occurrences.
Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Suzanne O’Brien said that one problem was a new secretary appointed to the board last fall, Adrienne Dyer, left UR in January, after about six months. The interview process to fill her position in the dean’s office took until March, O’Brien said.
“The new secretary was appointed to the honesty board in late March and at that point we had no time to train her,” Bigelow said.
The following is the procedure as stated by the handbook of student discipline:
When cases of suspected academic dishonesty are related to a specific course the instructor is instructed to contact a member of the honesty board to see how similar cases were handled in the past.
It is recommended that there is a discussion of the matter between the instructor and the student in a confidential setting. The instructor can choose to resolve the matter directly with the student or pass it, unresolved, to the board.
According to the discipline handbook, in the first situation, the instructor confronts the student with the evidence, suggests the appropriate penalty and provides the student with a copy of the Academic Honesty Policy. The student then has 48 hours to decide whether or not to admit guilt and accept the penalty.
If the student admits guilt then an Academic Dishonesty Incident Report is completed by the student and instructor. The board is informed by a copy that is forwarded to the chair of the board.
If the instructor chooses not to pursue the matter directly with the student or if the student declines to admit guilt and accept the penalty, then the written report and all pertinent information is forwarded to the chair of the board.
When cases are reviewed by the College Academic Honesty Board, the board determines if academic misconduct has occurred and makes a recommendation of a penalty to the Dean of The College William Scott Green.
If there is an appeal of the decision, the matter is handled by Provost Charles Phelps.
Desai can be reached at email@example.com.