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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Officials propose midyear changes to Code of Academic Integrity

Hatchet File Photo
Christy Anthony, the director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities

Officials plan to implement changes to the Code of Academic Integrity in March to combat student conduct panel scheduling delays and address a rising number of academic integrity violations.

Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities staff will request approval from the Faculty Senate and Student Government Association to alter the Code of Academic Integrity on or around March 1 to help staff resolve cases more quickly for students who need the course credit to graduate or register for their next semester. Christy Anthony, the office’s director, said at an SGA meeting Jan. 22 that proposed changes include reducing the size of student conduct panels and dropping the requirement that the panels convene for low-level sanctions.

“To implement a change on or around March 1 is unusual, but I think that that would allow us to really minimize the impact on students who are awaiting graduation in particular,” Anthony said at the meeting.

Anthony said the proposed changes are in response to SRR’s report of a 313 percent increase in academic integrity violations from fall 2021 to fall 2023. She said in an email that cases of cheating increased by 476 percent in fall 2023 as compared to fall 2021 and fall 2022.

Anthony said artificial intelligence misuse, which is typically categorized as a cheating violation under the code, has contributed to the rise because faculty are checking for AI use and reporting more students.

“I do think it is largely attributable to faculty attempting to assess and detect for that,” Anthony said at the meeting.

Anthony declined to comment on when SRR staff will ask for approval from the Faculty Senate and SGA to implement changes to the code. SRR did not ask for approval to change the code at the senate meeting Friday. The next senate meeting is scheduled for March 1.

“At this time, we are consolidating feedback from the Faculty Senate committee and SGA Senate into a proposal to present at upcoming meetings,” Anthony said in an email.

Students who challenge academic integrity violations are required to attend a student conduct panel — consisting of two volunteer faculty members and three students who hear and adjudicate the case — unless they receive a warning, according to the code. She said that as of fall 2023, 65 percent of cases were resolved without seeing a panel.

“We have students who may have their graduation held up not because they haven’t completed courses but because we haven’t been able to adjudicate a case to assign a grade,” Anthony said at the meeting.

Anthony said reducing the number of required panelists will help combat the low faculty participation rate that delays the hearing process. She said students need a quicker response time at the end of the year to make sure they receive the necessary class credits before graduation and registration.

Anthony said in the meeting that SRR reported a 53 percent drop in faculty panelists from fall 2021 to fall 2023. She said SRR would need more than 74 additional faculty volunteers to meet the demand for panels.

Anthony declined to comment on how many faculty members currently volunteer.

“We could say that a panel is simply one student and one faculty member or one student and two faculty members,” Anthony said in the meeting.

Anthony said another potential change is to drop the student conduct panel requirement for cases where the proposed sanction is below suspension. An individual SRR staff member would resolve the cases in the same format as the panels and rule whether a violation had occurred, which would then go to the dean of the school for approval.

Anthony said if SRR were to implement this strategy, she would recommend adding a panel to the appeals process for cases that were originally addressed by an SRR staff member so that it can be reviewed by other community members. She said the panel would include a student, faculty or staff member that reviews and provides a recommendation to the provost who makes the final decision.

“This gives significant scheduling flexibility, it provides the decision to people who are regularly practiced in hearing cases, we would still get that community participation during an appeals panel,” Anthony said in the meeting.

In March 2021, the senate and SBA approved changes to the code to treat cheating violations on smaller assignments less harshly and increase the consequences for severe academic integrity violations. The code was also changed to allow deans to review findings from the hearings instead of the provost to help the quicken the process.

Anthony said SRR is also considering removing the requirement that the faculty member who reported the student attend the panel. She said this would help SRR schedule panels more flexibly, but faculty and students may think cases are handled differently when the reporting faculty member is not present.

“I do think you would start to see a perception of bias or different impact depending upon whether or not a faculty member attended to make their case,” Anthony said in the meeting.

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