It is a known fact that cheating occurs at UR, but the way it is handled remains unclear. The academic honesty policy is vague, both in terms of widespread knowledge of the policy and the reporting of violations.
Most students are not entirely aware of the rules. Part of the process is supposed to include a signed acknowledgment of the policy during freshman orientation, but not many remember being lectured on UR’s academic honesty policy at all. UR needs to be more strongly consistent in enforcing the rules to students.
The policy’s interpretation is also left to the discretion of professors, which can be effective, provided each professor makes his or her own specific rules clear. If they want students to adhere to the rules, they should set down clear guidelines and students should follow them. Students should know the consequences, and professors should enforce them evenly.
All members of the college should be working together to uphold the policy. Students should be aware of the rules and how to report violations. Some students should not be able to get away with dishonest academic behavior because there is a lack of clarity for procedures for reporting infractions. It is not fair to those who do their work honestly. As stated in the policy, “Ignorance of these standards will not be considered a valid excuse or defense.” More efforts should be made to ensure students are informed of the rules. Academic honesty is one of the responsibilities students are entrusted with while at the university, and they should be able to follow the policy.
Other schools such as the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary have the academic honesty policy posted in every classroom, and UVA has retracted a former student’s diploma because of proven academic dishonesty. This may be an extreme measure, but it seems the policy is not given due attention here at UR. We should not wait until a major infraction occurs for a more careful look at student integrity. UR should note these examples and set down consistent guidelines both for making the policy known through professors, as well as increasing student awareness of its importance.