Office of the Dean of Students

Information for Faculty

The effective functioning of the Oberlin College Honor System is the responsibility of the entire college community.

Are there ways that I can promote academic honesty in my classroom?

An "ounce of prevention!" As you prepare your syllabi for the coming semester, explain how the Honor Code applies to specific kinds of assignments in each of your courses.

Remind students that they are expected to write and sign the Honor Pledge on all academic exercises. The new pledge reads: "I have adhered to the Honor Code in this assignment."

Most importantly, during the semester, as students seek to familiarize themselves with your expectations related to papers, exams, performances, and other projects, please take the time in class to educate students about the need for academic honesty and how the Honor Code applies to their upcoming assignments in your course. Specifically, review the Honor Code and Pledge statements prior to any quiz or examination, and regularly review how these statements apply to specific assignments.

What sorts of behavior/activity constitute honor code violations?

Honor Code violations include cheating, plagiarism (failure to acknowledge via appropriate citation the sources for written, visual, on-line, and other sorts of material), fabrication, multiple submissions (e.g., submitting the same or substantially the same paper for two or more courses without prior approval of all instructors), and falsifying, forging, or destroying, hiding, improperly removing, or retaining library and other materials with the intent of denying access to others. The revised charter includes cocurricular work and exercises, as well as documents that affect the educational experience.

What if a student does not write and sign the pledge on an assignment?

If a student does not follow this procedure, the instructor has the option of withholding the grade until the student writes the Honor Pledge correctly; however, faculty members may not penalize students for this oversight.

What should I do if I suspect that a student has violated the honor code?

Professors suspecting a violation may consult with the departmental chair or a member of the Faculty Honor Committee to test the validity of the suspicion without revealing the identity of the student(s) involved. If the suspicion seems valid, the professor should contact the student in an effort to seek clarifying information. If, after the conversation, the faculty member continues to believe there is a potential violation, the faculty member is urged to ask the student to self-report within two business days. The faculty member should allow two business days for the student to self-report, then the faculty member must submit a standard reporting form to the Student Honor Committee by utilizing this form.

Is my suspicion of a student necessarily equated to "guilt"?

The authority to determine whether a violation of the Honor Code has occurred rests with the members of the Student Honor Committee, who gather information, investigate, hear cases, determine whether or not a student is in violation of the Honor Code and, if so, what sanctions are appropriate

Should I wait to grade the assignment/student performance in the overall course until the case is resolved?

The resolution of an Honor Code case and the faculty member's evaluation of a student's work are independent one of the other. The faculty member is free to:

  1. Accept (or not) the assignment in question;
  2. Allow (or not) the possibility of resubmission of the assignment done in an appropriate manner;
  3. and Assign the grade for the assignment in question.
How will I know that the case is resolved?

Upon resolution of a case, the relevant dean sends a letter to the student to inform them of the SHC decision. A separate letter is sent to the Faculty member regarding the decision. The faculty member may then contact the SHC hearing panel chair to seek an explanation of the decision.

If it is a minor infraction, may I settle it without reporting the incident to the student honor committee?

No, each suspected violation of the Honor Code must be reported to the Student Honor Committee; however there is an option to request an informal resolution. An informal resolution is appropriate if the situation is minor and the student accepts responsibility. This allows the committee to provide education without going through the hearing process. The request is subject to the review of the Student Honor Committee.

How long does it take to resolve a case?

Depending on the time of the semester or academic year that a case is reported, the complexity of the case, the number and availability of the people involved, and the caseload for SHC, cases may take up to a semester to be resolved. It is the aim of the SHC to handle cases as expeditiously as possible. If a professor requests the informal resolution option and the option is granted by the Student Honor Committee, the time required to resolve the case is likely to be shorter than typical.