By NATALIE DIGNAM
Ever taken a shortcut on your homework and make up a citation? Or copied a friend’s answers to a question? According to the Student Handbook, doing either of these is considered academic dishonesty, which can put you in danger of receiving a failing grade on an assignment, a lowered grade in a course, or even being expelled.
The Constitution of the Academic Honor Council states that the Academic Dean’s Office is obligated to provide to the campus community a summary report of the cases heard each semester, which will be publicized by Thelmo and the Hill News.
Last semester, the Academic Honesty Council heard 18 cases of student academic dishonesty. Faculty members reported an additional 12 cases, of which they independently decided the outcome. Although the Academic Honor Council decides guilt and recommends a punishment, Dr. Valerie Lehr, Vice President of the University and Dean of Academic Affairs, makes the ultimate decision on punishment.
Dr. Lehr said that students should be aware of the academic honesty code because they sign a pledge to follow the honor code at the beginning of freshmen year and are often reminded by professors to maintain academic honesty.
Still, academic honesty continues to be an issue at SLU. Thelmo President Robert J. Montgomery ’14 said, “Of all the things we do well as a student body, I see academic honesty as an area which needs much improvement. If nothing else, as graduates from an institution of higher learning we should leave here with a strong sense of integrity and the understanding of its importance in the realm of academics but also in our professional and personal lives.”
“If academic integrity does not take a bigger presence on this campus,” Rachel Yalowich ’12, President of the Academic Honor Council, said, “then our school could lose value as academic institution.” She said that cheating and plagiarism “diminish the value of all of our degrees here at SLU.”
Lia Pizzicato ’14, a member of the Academic Honor council, agreed that academic honesty is an issue at SLU and added that “many cases go unnoticed,” especially those involving cell phones.
Dr. Lehr said that most students cheat out laziness or because they have fallen behind in a course. She suggests that students talk to a faculty member if they are falling behind. “But in all cases,” Dr. Lehr said, “students should recognize that trust is crucial to the student –faculty relationship, and they should work hard to maintain trust be doing their own work and citing the work of others properly.”
Yalowich also felt that many students were unaware of the consequences of cheating or plagiarism. She said that there is no set penalty for academic dishonesty, so punishment could vary from a zero on an assignment to failing a course. “After a second offense,” Yalowich said, “it is precedence that the honor council recommends suspension for a semester.”
Bailey Airoldi ’13, recommended a mandatory ethics class for all first year students to raise awareness, but added that publishing results of each semester’s cases and having freshmen sign an agreement at matriculation are steps in the right direction.