Academic Integrity

Effective learning, teaching and research all depend upon the ability of members of the academic community to trust one another and to trust the integrity of work that is submitted for academic credit or conducted in the wider arena of scholarly research. Such an atmosphere of mutual trust fosters the free exchange of ideas and enables all members of the community to achieve their highest potential.

In all academic work, the ideas and contributions of others must be appropriately acknowledged and work that is presented as original must be, in fact, original. Faculty, students and administrative staff all share the responsibility of ensuring the honesty and fairness of the intellectual environment at Washington University in St. Louis.

All undergraduates are governed by the Undergraduate Student Academic Integrity Policy.  For information specific to the College of Arts & Sciences please see the sections below, or view our list of Frequently Asked Questions

A&S Academic Integrity Committee

If a student is alleged to have committed an act of academic misconduct in an undergraduate Arts & Sciences course, the case will be decided by the College’s Academic Integrity Committee (AIC). The AIC evaluates academic integrity complaints and renders decisions as to whether a student has violated the academic integrity policy. The members of the committee are students and faculty. The Academic Integrity Officer (AIO) for the College of Arts & Sciences coordinates the committee, works with the instructor and student throughout the process, chairs the hearing, and informs parties of the decision. The AIO does not have a vote—only the students and faculty decide the cases. A hearing panel is typically two faculty members and two students, though with the approval of both complainant and respondent a panel of one student and one faculty is acceptable. The role of the committee is to provide instructors and students an objective process to evaluate complaints, to ensure fairness and consistency regarding academic integrity complaints across departments, and to enable the university to document incidents of dishonesty in a central location (Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards) so that repeat offenders can be identified across schools.

Academic Integrity Complaint Procedures

These procedures apply to Arts & Sciences undergraduates as well as to undergraduate students from other schools and colleges who enroll in Arts & Sciences courses.

Any instructor may initiate and carry out the complaint process by following the guidelines outlined below.

Students should familiarize themselves with the process, so they can ensure fair proceedings, appeal findings if appropriate, and protect their right to privacy within the limits outlined below.

Students and instructors who have questions about academic integrity complaint procedure should contact the AIO:  MAYA GANAPATHY

Making a Complaint

Any member of the university community may file an academic integrity complaint. Students who observe an act of academic dishonesty are strongly advised to make the violation known to the course instructor or seek guidance from the AIO of the school in which the incident occurred. Teaching assistants who suspect academic dishonesty has occurred should report the incident to the supervising instructor.

Instructors report academic misconduct by bringing academic integrity complaints to the AIO. Instructors often consult with the AIO about the nature of the complaint, the quality and quantity of evidence in support of it, and the procedure. The most frequent types of complaints are plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration on assignments, changing exam answers and requesting a regrade, use of unauthorized materials or unauthorized collaboration during an exam, and misrepresentation of health issues or personal life circumstances to gain academic advantage. If the instructor seeks assistance with acquiring evidence, such as student records or other university records, then the AIO, as an officer of the university, may assist the instructor in that effort. If the incident occurs at the end of the semester, the instructor should not post a grade until the complaint is resolved.

An academic integrity complaint must include:

  • A summary of the complaint in letter or memo form explaining the basis for suspicion of academic dishonesty
  • Supporting evidence (e.g. source material, copies of original exam and resubmitted exam, other student’s work which resembles the exam/assignment in question, a list of witnesses)
  • A copy of the assignment or exam
  • The course syllabus

After review, the AIO will advise the instructor on whether the materials are substantial enough to support the complaint.

Notifying the Student

If the evidence supports the complaint, the AIO will notify the student by email and ask the student to meet to review the complaint and all available supporting materials. At this time, the student may ask the AIO questions about the academic integrity policy, hearing procedure, and the implications of sanctions (both immediate and long-term). Arrangements to speak over the phone can be made if the student is unable to meet with the AIO in person. If the student wishes to acknowledge responsibility and waive their right to a hearing, they may do so. The AIO will record the decision, notify the Office of Student Conduct, and inform the instructor of the outcome.

Preparing for a Hearing

If the student requests a hearing, the AIO will notify the instructor, schedule the hearing, and assemble a panel to hear the complaint. In order to substantiate their case and respond to the charges made against them, the student will provide the AIO with a written statement and any supporting evidence or list of witnesses at least 5 business days prior to the hearing date (e.g. if the hearing is scheduled for a Friday, the materials must be received by 5 pm on the Friday prior).  If the instructor wishes to provide additional materials or add witnesses, the same deadline applies. The AIO will exclude materials submitted after the deadline; the AIO may rule out of order any argument in the hearing that refers to materials not submitted by the deadline.

The AIO will provide access to all materials to both parties for their review.  If either party has an objection to any of the materials or witness that objection must be made no later than 3 business days prior to the hearing.  The AIO will provide a prompt ruling on objections unless significant consultation with the Office of General Counsel is required.  In rare cases, an objection of significant complexity may result in a delay or a rescheduling of the hearing.

The AIO will then provide the panel with access to the complaint materials at least one day prior to the hearing.

Hearing Procedure

Prior to the beginning of a hearing, the AIO will meet with the committee members to ask if there are any questions. Once questions are resolved, the AIO will bring the instructor and student into the hearing room together. Both the instructor and student are allowed to have a supporter at the hearing (e.g. four-year advisor, another student, relative, faculty or staff member). The supporter may not participate in the hearing.

After introductions are made, the AIO will describe the procedure, outlined below.

  • The instructor will summarize the complaint. The committee will ask the instructor questions. The student may ask the instructor questions.
  • The student will summarize their prepared response. The committee will ask the student questions. The instructor may ask the student questions.
  • Witnesses, if called, will be brought into the hearing at the appropriate time, and asked to leave once the committee determines that the witnesses have made their contribution to the hearing.

Once the committee determines that it has no more questions, the AIO will inform the instructor and student that their part in the hearing is concluded. The committee will deliberate after the instructor and student leave the hearing room. If the committee decides that the evidence more likely than not supports a finding that the student violated the academic integrity policy, the committee will then be asked to determine which penalties should be imposed.

If they find that the student has not violated the academic integrity policy, the hearing is concluded, and the AIO will notify the instructor, the student, and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards of the outcome.

Once the instructor receives notification of the outcome, they may enter the appropriate grade.

Appeals

If either the instructor or student wishes to appeal the committee’s decision, they must contact the Office of Student Conduct and Student Conduct in writing within 14 days of the decision. The chair of the SCB will review the appeal and may send the matter back to the AIC for re-hearingor convene the Student Conduct Board to hear the matter and make a determination. Appeals are governed by Section VII. C. of the University Judicial Code.

Penalties, Recordkeeping, and Privacy

Penalties for Academic Integrity Violations

If the student is found to have violated the academic integrity policy, the finding of the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) will be reported to the instructor, and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. If the student is not an Arts & Sciences undergraduate, the student’s school of enrollment will also be notified. The AIO will send the student a letter of finding, which will become part of the student’s file. If the AIC determines that the student’s behavior was especially egregious, it may place the student on disciplinary probation for a period of time. The minimum length of disciplinary probation is one semester. Any disciplinary probation must also be for a fixed length of time—it cannot be imposed indefinitely.

Withdrawing from the course will not prevent the Academic Integrity Officers (AIOs) or AIC from adjudicating the case and imposing sanctions.

If the student has prior violations of the academic integrity policy, then the AIO will notify the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC) members only after the hearing and if they find the student in violation of the policy. The AIO will then ask the AIC to refer the student for penalty to the University’s Student Conduct Board (SCB), the only body that may impose suspension or expulsion for an academic integrity violation. In such cases, the College is the complainant and the AIO will make the case to the SCB. The AIO may call the instructor as a witness.

Special note regarding grade penalties

The instructor has final determination regarding the grade penalty. The instructor may ask the AIO or department chair for guidance before they determine a penalty. If the student wishes to dispute the grade penalty, they may contact first, the department chair or program director, and second, the student ombudsperson. Please be aware that failures of the assignment or lowering of the final course grade are not atypical grade penalties and are well within university norms.

Recordkeeping

The Academic Integrity Officer (AIO), in conjunction with the Student Records Coordinator, maintains confidential records of complaints, hearings, and decisions. The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards keeps records of decisions made by the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC). These records are kept indefinitely.

Privacy

Records of the AIC are student records. They are closely held, available only to the AIOs, the Registrar and Assistant Registrar for the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Instructors are not informed of any prior violations a student may have when they make a complaint; the AIC panel does not know of any prior violations until after it renders a decision. Letters of finding, suspension, and expulsion are part of the student file, which may be seen by a student’s four-year advisor or any employee who has just cause to have access to a student’s record.

Please note that graduate and professional schools, professional organizations, and employers may ask the College to disclose a student’s record of academic violations.

Academic Integrity Data