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Honor system

As members of the Bluffton University community, we commit to being honest, trustworthy and honorable in our actions and relationships with each other both in and out of the classroom.

We agree to commit to learning and living in an environment where the values of honor, honesty and integrity are fundamental to the way we choose to live and learn. These foundational concepts have been an integral part of the university community since 1918. Subsequent generations of students, faculty and staff have continued to support and value this culture of mutual respect and trust. The Honor System places responsibility of honesty and integrity on each member of the community. Everyone has responsibility for ensuring that all academic work, by self and others, is conducted in ways that are reflective of these values.

Common understanding of our mutual commitment as a community is informed by a desire to live and learn in an environment based upon respect and trust. As a demonstration of this commitment as it relates to academic work, students are not proctored while taking examinations and write and sign the following pledge: “I am unaware of any inappropriate aid having been given or received for this exam.” The commitment to academic integrity is also extended to written work and is demonstrated through students writing and signing this pledge: “I attest that that this work is my own and that the ideas of others are cited.” It is expected that students will act honorably and will report any known or suspected violations of the honor system by themselves or others in all academic work.

In all cases, if a student cannot in good conscience sign the pledge, the student should notify the course instructor. In the event that the pledge is left unsigned and the student has not contacted the instructor, the course instructor will contact the student.

Cheating, plagiarism, fabricating, facilitating (intentionally providing inappropriate assistance to others), and misrepresentation are considered serious violations of the honor system. Each of these forms of dishonesty work against our community commitment to be honest, trustworthy and honorable in our actions and relationships with each other. Resolution of violations may take place within the context of the course or through the campus conduct system. Sanctions beyond the grade for the second offense could be resolved through the restorative justice process, which is part of the campus conduct system. 

The honor system not only describes our expectations related to academic integrity; it is understood that the spirit of the honor system is meant to pervade all aspects of campus life. This ideal environment of mutual trust and respect for one another in all aspects of our community life is central to our desire to be a community of respect and is reflected in the Bluffton University Community of Respect Statement:

Community of Respect

Bluffton strives to be a community of respect where everyone is held in mutual high regard. Our belief that every human being is created in the image of God demands that we recognize in each human being that divine spark, and that all of us welcome and celebrate the diversity in which we have been created as children of God. As members of the Bluffton University community, we strive to treat with respect each member of the community. Our standards of campus conduct are based on the mutual respect we believe we are committed to extend to each other.

Plagiarism statement

Bluffton University defines plagiarism as the intentional or unintentional use of the intellectual or creative property of another without permission and/or attribution.


For a more in depth explanation of plagiarism, this link may prove helpful:
http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/litweb10/tutorials/plagiarism-whatis.aspx

Reasons for giving credit for the work of others:

1) Respect and fairness: The obvious one is that not to do so is dishonest, at odds with the Honor system under Bluffton University operates and in a broader sense out of harmony with what we believe are the laws of God and people as well.
2) Valuing knowledge and readers: Identifying sources enables your readers to follow the material you used if they want more detailed information.
3) Valuing ongoing conversations: Learning to be part of the ongoing conversations of humanity means learning to use, synthesize, evaluate and critique the prior work of others.

Examples of citation formats are available in the composition handbook, Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker, and online through the Purdue University Online Writing Lab, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html .

Approved by UAPC October 29, 2018

Procedures and practices relating to the Honor System
In order to fulfill our commitment to the Honor System, faculty members are to do the following:

1. Place the exam pledge at the end of exams, rather than at the beginning.

2. Specify what materials and devices, other than the exam and a writing implement, are needed by students for an examination.

3. Withdraw from the classroom once the examinations are distributed unless the nature of the exam requires the presence of the faculty member. Faculty members are encouraged to return to the exam room periodically to respond to students' questions or for other legitimate purposes.

4. Include the assignment pledge as part of the requirement for student papers and lab reports. Wording may be adapted to a particular assignment as desired.

5. Follow the procedures outlined in the section titled “Processing of Honor System Violations."

Faculty members are asked to consider practices such as the following that decrease the opportunities for cooperative cheating and make it easier for students to see when cheating occurs.

1. Ensure that students are spread throughout the classroom.

2. Produce an exam in two or more versions that can be distributed alternately through the room.

3. Request a larger room for examinations if needed.

Processing of Honor System violations
Dishonest behavior during an examination: Dishonest behavior can be detected by a student or by a faculty member. If a student knows of or suspects dishonest behavior on an examination, s/he should not sign the honor pledge and should contact the course instructor. If a faculty member receives an examination in which the pledge is not signed, the faculty member should follow the procedures outlined below. If the faculty member is the one who suspects dishonest behavior, s/he should follow the relevant steps.

1. If a faculty member receives an examination without a signed pledge, the faculty member should contact the student who did not sign the pledge as soon as possible. The student should be contacted privately rather than publicly to protect the student's anonymity. The student and the faculty member should discuss the reason for not signing the pledge. If there is suspicion of dishonest behavior, the student should be assured that his/her name will not be revealed without his/her consent. The student's identity would only be revealed if there is reason for campus conduct procedures and the student wants to be further involved.

2. The faculty member should then contact the student who is suspected of having engaged in dishonest behavior to discuss the concern.
a. If the student agrees that s/he engaged in dishonest behavior, the faculty member should decide on the grade for examination that is appropriate within the context of the course. The faculty member should notify the student in writing of this determination and that the faculty member has provided this information, as well as the details regarding the violation, to the associate dean of academic affairs or designee. A period of disciplinary probation will be assigned by the associate dean or designee for all honor code violations. Following a determination of any prior campus conduct violations by the student, through consultation with the dean of students, the associate dean of academic affairs will notify the student, in writing, of the reported violation, the outcomes of the grade assigned by the faculty member, timeframe of disciplinary probation, additional outcomes if they have previous violations, as well as the appeal procedure offered to students. 

b. If the student claims that s/he did not violate the honor system and the faculty member has reason to suspect that the honor system was violated, the faculty member will not make a determination but will report the alleged violation to the assoicate dean of academic affairs. The associate dean of academic affairs or designee will meet with the student to discuss the report. If the student still does not agree that the honor system was violated, the associate dean of academic affairs will investigate and make a final determination if a violation occurred using the campus conduct process (see campus conduct system in student handbook). If the associate dean of academic affairs or designee determines the student is in violation of the honor code, the student will be notified in writing of the reported violation, the outcomes of the grade assigned by the faculty member, timeframe of disciplinary probation, additional outcomes if the student has previous violations, as well as the appeal procedure offered to students. The associate dean of academic affairs will notify the faculty memberand all students involved, in writing, when the case is resolved.

c. If the student claims s/he did not violate the honor system and the faculty member does not suspect that s/he violated the honor system, the faculty member should report the incident to the associate dean of academic affairs or designee and inform, in writing, the student reporting the violation that s/he may report the concern directly to the associate dean of academic affairs.

Dishonest behavior on assignments: If a student knows of or suspects dishonest behavior in completing class assignments, s/he should not sign the assignment pledge. The faculty member and student should discuss the concern and then follow the procedures outlined above. If a faculty member suspects dishonest behavior in completing class assignments, s/he should proceed with the relevant steps outlined above.

Plagiarism: If a student knows of or suspects plagiarism, s/he should report this to the faculty member. The faculty member should then investigate the case. More frequently, the faculty member will discover the plagiarism him/herself. In either case, the faculty member should contact the student and explain to the student how s/he has violated the honor system by plagiarizing. Because plagiarism is still so widely misunderstood, it is important that the faculty member communicate with the student the seriousness of the offense. The faculty member should decide on the grade for the plagiarized assignment that is appropriate within the context of the course. The faculty member should notify the student in writing of this determination and that the faculty member has provided this information, as well as the details regarding the violation, to the associate dean of academic affairs or designee. The associate dean of academic affairs will have a conversation with the student regarding the offense. A period of disciplinary probation will be assigned by the associate dean or designee for all honor code violations. Following a determination of any prior campus conduct violations by the student, through consultation with the dean of students, the associate dean of academic affairs will notify the student in writing of the reported violation, the outcomes of the grade assigned, timeframe of disciplinary probation, additional outcomes if they have previous violations, as well as the appeal procedure offered to students.

Approved by faculty November 7, 2011
Revised March 5, 2018 and November 5, 2018

Dean of students notification: The dean of students, in cooperation with the associate dean of academic affairs, will keep a record of violations of the honor system in the student's conduct file. Honor system violations carry the same weight as violations of standards of conduct.  

Appeal procedure for academic dishonesty (Plagiarism and cheating) 
A decision of responsibility and/or the decision on outcomes for an Honor System Violation reached by the professor and/or associate dean of academic affairs may be appealed to the Campus Conduct Board of the university. An appeal must be submitted in writing to the Chair of the Campus Conduct Board (Melissa Green, greenm@bluffton.edu) within five business days of receiving the decision of the associate dean of academic affairs.

An appeal will only be considered if it falls within one of the following categories:

  • A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the decision of the administrator.
  • Sanction(s) imposed were substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation of the policy which the responding party was found to have committed.
  • To consider new information, sufficient to alter a decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original investigation, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of the original investigation.
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