Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students are encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable tenets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, on the campus and in the larger community. Students should exercise their freedom with responsibility.
The responsibility to secure and to respect general conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the academic community. The University has a duty to develop policies and procedures that provide and safeguard this freedom. Such policies and procedures should be developed within the framework of general standards with the broadest possible participation of the members of the academic community. The essential provisions for student freedom to learn include:
Freedom of access to higher education
While the University has the right and responsibility to set admissions policies based on the characteristics and expectations of the students it considers relevant to success in the institutional program, no student will be barred from admission on the basis of race, creed, sex, handicap, religion, ancestry or national origin. Thus, within the limits of its facilities, the University is open to all students who are qualified according to its admissions standards.
Freedom in the classroom
The professor in the classroom and in conference should encourage free discussion, inquiry and expression. Student performance should be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.
Protection of freedom of expression
Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion. They are nonetheless responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled.
Protection against improper academic evaluation
Students should have protection through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation. At the same time, they are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled.
Protection against improper disclosure
Information about student views, beliefs and political associations which professors acquire in the course of their work as instructors, advisors and counselors should be considered confidential. Protection against improper disclosure is a serious professional obligation. Judgments of ability and character may be provided under appropriate circumstances, normally with the knowledge and consent of the student.
The University has established procedures to certify that all classroom activities are conducted by individuals with sufficient proficiency in spoken and written English. Student complaints concerning the English proficiency of an individual with classroom responsibilities should follow grievance procedures.
Allegations and Reporting
Whether decided by a faculty-student conference or an honor court hearing, any allegation of academic misconduct requires a preponderance of evidence demonstrating the student’s responsibility in committing academic misconduct in order for sanctions to be applied. The burden of proof shall be on the faculty member making the allegation.
A faculty member who suspects an infraction of the Academic Code must first inform the student of their suspicions and offer the student an opportunity to respond.
- Within five calendar days of observing the suspected infraction, the faculty member must notify the student. This notification must include a description of the alleged infraction (including a reference to the specific policy in question), a summary of any evidence, a statement of penalties to be imposed or recommended if the student is found to be responsible for the infraction, and a request for a one-on-one conference to discuss the matter. See template letter of notification.
- The student must respond to this notification within 72 hours. If the student does not respond within 72 hours, then faculty member may proceed to file an official Academic Misconduct Report and notify the student of the faculty member’s intent to proceed with any faculty imposed sanctions the faculty member finds appropriate. Even if a student chooses not to respond within the 72 hour window, the student may still request an honor court hearing within 10 days of the original letter of notification to appeal these sanctions.
- The student or faculty member may request the presence of a representative from honor court to mediate the one-on-one conference.
- A conference can have four possible outcomes:
- The faculty member decides that there was no academic misconduct and the matter is dismissed.
- The student and faculty member agree that a misunderstanding has occurred that does not rise to the level of academic misconduct. The faculty member may offer the student an opportunity to redo the assignment or may offer an alternate assignment with or without an upper limit to the possible grade for that assignment.
- The student admits to an act of academic misconduct, the faculty member applies appropriate faculty-imposed sanctions (see Penalties and Sanctions, below) and fills out an Academic Misconduct Report.
- The faculty member and student are unable to come to an agreement. The faculty member applies appropriate faculty-imposed sanctions and fills out an Academic Misconduct Report. The student may request an honor court hearing to review the faculty member’s decision and make recommendations to the EVCAA.
After the EVCAA receives and accepts an Academic Misconduct Report, the EVCAA shall issue a letter of notification to the student. This letter will inform the student that the report has been filed and added to their record. It will also inform the student of the number of offenses on their record and what that record could mean in terms sanctions and penalties related to any subsequent offenses.
Honor Court Hearings
An Honor Court Hearing may be convened for one of the following reasons:
- Depending on the severity of the misconduct alleged in the report, the faculty member may request for the EVCAA to convene an honor court hearing or the EVCAA may convene an honor court at their discretion upon a first reported offense.
- Upon receiving a second or subsequent Academic Misconduct Report for a student, the EVCAA shall convene an honor court hearing.
- A student may request an honor court hearing to review any sanctions applied directly by faculty due to allegations of academic misconduct.
The Honor Court will be appointed by the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and will consist of three faculty members plus one alternate and two student members plus one alternate. The Honor Court will adjudicate the case and will recommend sanctions when necessary.
When an honor court is convened, the student will be sent a written notice to appear at a scheduled hearing. The notice will include:
- The general nature of the charge;
- The time and place of the hearing; and
- The right to be accompanied by an advisor throughout the hearing process. The advisor, with the written permission of the charged student(s) or student organization(s), may:
- Advise the accused regarding preparation for the hearing;
- Accompany the accused to all conduct proceedings;
- Have access to evidence to be introduced at the hearing.
NOTE: Advisors are not permitted to participate directly in the hearing process, or to speak for the charged student(s) or student organization(s).
A student who has violated or who has been charged with the violation of any regulation of the University may not be permitted to withdraw from the University without the permission of the Chancellor. A notation of circumstances under which the accused student was permitted to withdraw shall be entered in the minutes of the Honor Court. The withdrawal of a student with or without approval shall not deprive the Honor Court of the power to hear charges against the student.
The student charged with infractions and the faculty member alleging the infraction shall have the following rights at an honor court hearing:
- The right to be present (either in person or through video conferencing software for all testimony)
- The right to call witnesses
- The right to question witnesses
- The right to testify on his or her own behalf
- The right to enter into the record statements bearing on the matter under consideration
The Honor Court Chair will introduce the case, calling first on the individual making the charge, then on the student charged with the violation. The court members may question all parties who may decline to answer any or all questions. After both sides have presented their cases and all testimony has been given, the court will deliberate the case. All other participants will be requested to leave. The court will reach a decision by a majority vote. Should a tie vote occur, it will be considered as favoring the student charged. If the decision is unfavorable to the student, the court will recommend sanctions according to the regulations below.
Once the court has reached a decision and recommended sanctions (if necessary), the student will be informed both in person (immediately after the decision) and in writing. The results of the hearing will be forwarded to the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
The chair of the Honor Court must make a recording of all judicial hearings. The charged party or parties and their advisor shall have the right, upon request, to listen to the recording in the presence of a staff member of the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. The charged student may request a duplicate copy of the recording at his/her own expense within a period of six months from the date of the hearing.
After the hearing, the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs shall be responsible for forwarding the written decision of the University Honor Court to the charged party or parties. The letter from the Honor Court shall consist of a statement of charges; findings of the hearing authority and the rationale for the findings; sanction(s) and the rationale for the sanction(s); and a statement regarding the right to appeal and the appeal procedures.
Students found responsible shall have five class days from the date the decision letter is sent to submit a written request for an appeal. If there is no appeal within this time limit, the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs shall implement the decision.
The request for appeal shall be by memorandum addressed to the faculty chair of the Honor Court through the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. The memo must state the reason(s) for believing the decision of the original hearing authority to be improper.
SANCTIONS AND PENALTIES
In the interest of consistency, sanctions and penalties must be imposed as follows:
Faculty Imposed Sanctions
Following the required faculty-student conference, if faculty still believes the student has committed an infraction of the academic code, the faculty member may assign a failing grade for the assignment or the course and submit an Academic Misconduct Report. If the faculty member assigns a failing grade due to academic misconduct, they must submit a report. A student may still request an honor court hearing after the assignment of a failing grade and submission of an Academic Misconduct Report.
All other sanctions and penalties may only be imposed by the EVCAA at the recommendation of Honor Court as described below.
Circumstances and the severity of the violation will determine the sanction. Any or all of the following may be imposed for a first offense:
- Withdrawal from the course with a failing grade – an extraordinary step and only by specific direction of the Honor Court.
- A period of review and observation during which a student is under an official warning that subsequent violations of the Honor Code are likely to result in a more severe sanction including suspension or expulsion from the University. Students on probation may be barred from participating in any or all extra- or co-curricular activities.
- “X” on the transcript before a grade denoting an Honor Code Violation.
- Research Project. This sanction can be assigned for the educational benefit of the student and should be related to academic integrity or ethics on the whole or in the discipline in which the offense occurred. The report is submitted to the Chair of the Honor Court.
- Suspension from the University for a period of no less than one semester.
- Expulsion from the University.
- A combination of the above sanctions.
Either of the following sanctions may be imposed, effective immediately:
- Suspension (for up to one academic year); or
- Permanent suspension.
In either case, the student will receive a failing grade in the course in which the violations occurred and a “W” or “"WF" in all other courses. The suspension period will begin immediately following the conclusion of the case. Although a student will not be allowed to enroll in summer school during the suspension period, summer sessions will not count as suspension periods.
A third violation necessitates permanent suspension from USCB.
All statements, information, or comments given during hearings will be held in strictest confidence by members of the USCB faculty, staff and witnesses before, during and after deliberation. Only duly authorized persons or faculty and staff with an educational need to know will be informed of the proceedings and outcome.
The initial phase of the student appeal must take the form of a written appeal within five class days of the Honor Court decision. Within twenty class days of the receipt of the student’s request, the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs will re-examine all materials pertaining to the case and arrive at a decision. The Executive Vice Chancellor may either approve or reverse the decision of the court, or may change the sanction.
The Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs will be responsible for implementing any imposed sanctions. The Executive Vice Chancellor will also inform the Registrar if the sanctions require any restrictions on the student’s future enrollment or actions to be officially noted on the student’s transcript. The Executive Vice Chancellor will keep records of all foregoing procedures in a confidential file.