Academic Misconduct

Last Revised: 
July 2016
Review Date: 
July 2017
Policy Owner: 
Student Life
Contact Name: 
John Stein
Contact Title: 
VP, Student Life
Contact Email: 
john.stein@vpss.gatech.edu

Any Student accused of committing or attempting to commit one or more of the following acts of academic misconduct is subject to conduct procedures.

1. Unauthorized Access: Possessing, using, or exchanging improperly acquired written or verbal information in the preparation of a problem set, laboratory report, essay, examination, or other academic assignment.

2. Unauthorized Collaboration: Unauthorized interaction with another Student or Students in the fulfillment of academic requirements.

3. Plagiarism: Submission of material that is wholly or substantially identical to that created or published by another person or persons, without adequate credit notations indicating the authorship.

4. False Claims of Performance: False claims for work that has been submitted by a Student.

5. Grade Alteration: Alteration of any academic grade or rating so as to obtain unearned academic credit.

6. Deliberate Falsification: Deliberate falsification of a written or verbal statement of fact to a Faculty member and/or Institute Official, so as to obtain unearned academic credit.

7. Forgery: Forgery, alteration, or misuse of any Institute document relating to the academic status of the Student.

8. Distortion: Any act that distorts, or could distort grades or other academic records.

9. Intellectual Property: The unauthorized use of an instructor's intellectual property, including marketing and selling, is prohibited (such properties may include power point presentations, lecture notes (any media), examination questions, study guides, etc.).

PROCEDURES

1. Case Referrals
Any person may file a complaint against a Student for violations of this Code. The complaint shall be prepared in writing and directed to OSI or, in academic cases, the instructor of record may hold a Faculty Conference (see Section C.5.c.). The procedures for filing a complaint can be found on the OSI web site. The complaint should be submitted as soon as possible after the event takes place or when it is reasonably discovered, and no later than thirty (30) business days following the discovery of the incident. The Complainant should forward any supporting documentation to OSI within ten (10) business days of the original submission or OSI may process the case based solely on the original complaint. OSI may also initiate a complaint based upon information received.

2. Communication
All communication (requests for meetings, notifications, notice of hearings, etc.) will be provided via official Institute e-mail addresses, as defined by the Office of Information Technology. If the Respondent is not currently enrolled, the notification will be sent via U.S. Postal Service to the last known address on file with the Registrar.

3. Rights of the Respondent
Throughout the conduct process, the Respondent is granted the following rights:

a. to seek information from a Student Conduct Administrator about the Investigation and Resolution Process;
b. to be informed of the charge(s) and alleged misconduct upon which the charge is based;
c. to be informed of the Information upon which a charge is based and afforded an opportunity to offer a relevant response;
d. to be accompanied by an Advisor;
e. to remain silent with no inference of responsibility drawn;
f. to call and question relevant Witnesses;
g. to present Information in his/her behalf;
h. to be considered not responsible until proven responsible by a Preponderance of the Evidence;
i. to be informed of the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding in writing;
j. to appeal the decision;
k. to waive any of the above rights; and
l. to have resolution of the case within a reasonable time.

4. Investigation and Resolution Process
he Institute's conduct process utilizes an investigatory model, not an adversarial model, with the primary goal of uncovering the truth. The standard of proof shall be a Preponderance of the Evidence. The investigation and resolution process is as follows:

a. After OSI receives a complaint, the Student Conduct Administrator will review the complaint and any supporting Information to decide what, if any process to initiate. The Student Conduct Administrator will determine whether the facts as alleged in the complaint or report are sufficient to initiate a conduct process.

If the Student Conduct Administrator determines that the facts of the complaint or report, even if true, would not constitute a violation of policy, no further action will be taken. Otherwise, the Student Conduct Administrator may (1) attempt to resolve the situation through an informal resolution process including, but not limited to, mediation or a meeting between the Respondent and a Student Conduct Administrator or a third party; or (2) initiate a conduct process.

b. If OSI receives multiple complaints involving the same Student, each complaint will be considered separately in determining whether a conduct process should be initiated. Multiple charges against the same Respondent will generally be investigated and adjudicated separately; however, multiple charges may be investigated and adjudicated together under appropriate circumstances, which may include, but are not limited to, consent of the parties, similar or related conduct, and the administrative burden of considering the charges separately.

c. If the Student Conduct Administrator initiates a conduct process, the Respondent is notified and is requested to contact the Student Conduct Administrator within five (5) business days of the notification to schedule an Administrative Conference. During the conduct process, the Respondent should continue to attend class and required Institute functions unless otherwise instructed by the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students or OSI. Should the Respondent fail to contact the Student Conduct Administrator within five (5) business days, or fail to attend the Administrative Conference, the Student Conduct Administrator may resolve the case in the Student’s absence, or may refer the case to a Student Conduct Panel.

d. At the Administrative Conference, the Respondent is presented with the alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct, supporting Information, and an explanation of his/her rights. The Respondent may bring an Advisor. However, if the Advisor disrupts the investigation and resolution process, he/she may be asked to leave. The Respondent will be provided the opportunity to present his/her version of the reported incident.

e. The case will be adjudicated by the Student Conduct Administrator or a Student Conduct Panel. The Respondent may state a preference for a decision to be rendered by the Student Conduct Administrator or by a Student Conduct Panel. The Respondent may also request that the case be adjudicated by a different Student Conduct Administrator than that initially authorized to hear the case in the event of perceived bias of the initially authorized official. The Student’s reasons for his/her preference must be conveyed to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, in writing, before the investigation begins. Ordinarily, the Student’s preference will be honored; however, the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students will make the final decision in his/her sole discretion. If the Student’s preference is not honored, the rationale for the decision will be provided to the Student in writing. The Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students reserves the right to determine the process to be used based on the relevant facts and circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  • imminent graduation of the Student;
  • end of the semester; or
  • extraordinary circumstances.

f. If the case is to be adjudicated by the Student Conduct Administrator, the Respondent shall provide his/her statement regarding the alleged misconduct, supporting Information, and names of Witnesses no later than 48 hours following the conclusion of the Administrative Conference. The Student Conduct Administrator shall continue the investigation as necessary by meeting with the Complainant(s) and Witnesses and gathering additional Information. If the Student Conduct Administrator determines that a Witness (including faculty or staff) may have relevant Information, s/he will make a good faith effort to contact such Witness to obtain a statement from the Witness. Before rendering a decision, the Student Conduct Administrator will communicate with the Respondent and share with the Respondent the Information collected. The Student Conduct Administrator will then render a final decision, which will be communicated to the Respondent via the Respondent’s Institute e-mail address.

g. If the case is to be adjudicated by the Student Conduct Panel, the case shall be referred to the Student Conduct Panel and follow the procedures outlined in Section D.5.b.

h. Resolution of the case should be made within thirty (30) business days of the Administrative Conference. If resolution cannot be reached in thirty (30) business days, OSI will inform the Respondent and Complainant. OSI may waive this timeline for good cause.

5. Forms of Case Resolution

a. Administrative Resolution
The Student Conduct Administrator renders a decision of 1) Not Responsible, which closes the case, or 2) Responsible for one or more violations with an appropriate Sanction, and, as warranted, one or more from among the Supplementary Requirements. The Respondent, after being notified of the Student Conduct Administrator’s decision, may submit an appeal to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students according to the appeal procedures described in Section F.

b. Student Conduct Panel
The Student Conduct Panel is convened only when either the Student Conduct Administrator or the Respondent elects this form of resolution.

1. Decisions and Sanctions for Academic Cases
The Student Conduct Panel, after convening a hearing, makes a recommendation of 1) Not Responsible, which closes the case, or 2) Responsible for one or more violations of the Student Code of Conduct with an appropriate Sanction and, as warranted, one or more from among the Supplementary Requirements. The Respondent, after being notified of the decision, may submit an appeal to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students according to appeal procedures described in Section F. The Student Conduct Panel, at the request of the Respondent, may also conduct a hearing solely to determine appropriate sanctions in cases where the Respondent accepts responsibility for a violation of this Code.

2. Scheduling of Student Conduct Panel Hearing
After the case is forwarded to a Student Conduct Panel, the Complainant and the Respondent will be notified of available dates and times for a hearing. The Respondent may indicate preferences from among the available dates and times. These preferences will be considered by OSI if received within three (3) business days of the date the options were presented to the Respondent.

This official notice will be provided at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing and will include the time, date, and location of the hearing. In addition, the notice will specify the Complainant(s), Witnesses(s), and nature of the alleged misconduct. The Accused may waive the notification timeline in order to expedite the hearing process. Upon request, the Respondent may meet with a Student Conduct Administrator to review Information and hearing procedures.

6. Hearing Participants and Attendees

  • Student Conduct Panel hearings shall ordinarily be closed except for the Respondent(s), the Complainant(s), Advisor(s), and Witnesses. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the Chairperson. Witnesses are allowed at the discretion of the Chairperson. The Chairperson may exclude any person, including the Respondent, who disrupts a hearing.
  • A Respondent who fails to appear after proper notice will be deemed to have responded "Not Responsible" to the charges against him/her and to have exercised the right to remain silent without prejudice. At the discretion of the Chairperson the hearing may be conducted in the absence of the Student(s) and all the Information regarding the alleged misconduct shall be presented and considered.
  • The Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) have the right to be accompanied by an Advisor. The Complainant(s) and/or Respondent(s) should select an Advisor who can attend the hearing at the scheduled date and time. Delays are not usually granted due to scheduling conflicts of an Advisor.
  • Subject to the Chairperson’s control of the hearing, the Complainant(s), Respondent(s), and their Advisor(s), shall be allowed to attend the Student Conduct Panel hearing, but not Panel deliberations.
  • In Student Conduct Panel hearings involving more than one Respondent, OSI may permit the Student Conduct Panel hearings concerning each Student to be conducted either separately or jointly.
  • A maximum of two (2) character Witnesses will be allowed in a hearing.

7. Hearing Procedures

  • The Chairperson shall exercise control over the proceedings to achieve orderly completion of the hearing.
  • Advisors are restricted to private communications with their advisee(s). However, if the Advisor disrupts the investigation and resolution process, he/she may be asked to leave.
  • All questions by the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) must be directed to the Chairperson, rather than to the Witness directly. Questions of whether potential Information will be received shall be resolved at the discretion of the Chairperson.
  • In addition to the Information provided by OSI, the Student Conduct Panel, at the discretion of the Chairperson, may accept additional pertinent Information and testimony (including impact statements). Any letters of recommendation submitted by the Respondent will be admitted for consideration at the discretion of the Chairperson and, if admitted, will be viewed only during Panel deliberations.
  • All procedural questions arising during the hearing are subject to the final decision of the Chairperson.
  • The Student Conduct Panel’s standard of proof shall be a Preponderance of the Evidence.
  • The Student Conduct Panel in consultation with OSI, may reasonably accommodate concerns for the personal safety, well-being, and/or fears of confrontation of the Complainant(s), Respondent(s), and/or Witnesses during the hearing.
  • The Student Conduct Panel shall make a recording and/or summary transcription of the proceeding, which will serve as the official record of the hearing. No other recording will be permitted. The Respondent or the Complainant may request a copy of the Institute's recording upon payment of the cost to reproduce the recording, or may listen to the original recording in a location designated by OSI at no charge. The record shall be the property of the Institute, and is subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 USC §1232g.

c. Faculty Conference (optional academic case resolution)

A faculty conference is an optional way in which an alleged act of academic misconduct can be resolved.

1. Initiation of Complaint
The Faculty Conference is initiated by the instructor of record, who requests the meeting with the

Respondent to discuss the alleged misconduct. Should the Respondent not choose to participate in a Faculty Conference, the instructor should forward the case to OSI for investigation.

2. Participants
The Faculty Conference involves the instructor of record and the Respondent. The Faculty Conference may also involve Witnesses and a representative from OSI if requested by either the instructor or the Respondent.

3. Process
During the Faculty Conference, the instructor of record explains the alleged misconduct, supporting Information, and the Rights of the Respondent. The Respondent has the opportunity to provide 1) his/her response to alleged misconduct, 2) supporting Information, and 3) Witnesses.

4. Conclusion

  • If the instructor finds the Respondent not responsible, the case is closed.
     
  • If the instructor finds the Respondent responsible, but the Respondent does not admit responsibility, the instructor forwards the case to OSI for investigation.
     
  • If the instructor finds the Respondent responsible, and the Respondent acknowledges responsibility, the instructor proposes a Faculty Resolution including 1) a Sanction of DisciplinaryWarning, or Disciplinary Probation, 2) a grade penalty, and 3) an educational component.
     
  • If the Respondent agrees to the Faculty Resolution, the FacultyMember forwards the resolution to OSI for consideration. OSI will determine if the Respondent has prior disciplinary history. If so, in the case will be investigated by OSI, in accordance with Section D.4.
     
  • If the Respondent does not agree to the Faculty Resolution, the FacultyMember forwards the case to OSI.

 

5. Implementation

  • The Respondent is formally notified of the proposed Faculty Resolution by OSI, according to the communication guidelines in Section D.2.
     
  • The Faculty resolution goes into effect upon delivery unless the Respondent requests within five (5) business days that the case be forwarded to OSI for investigation.

SANCTIONS
Sanctions are imposed only when the Respondent is found responsible for one (1) or more violations of the Student Code of Conduct. All Sanctions are officially recorded. Sanctions are determined by the severity of the case and the disciplinary history of the Respondent(s). A Respondent who is found responsible must be given one of the four (4) Sanctions, listed in Section E1 in ascending order of severity. In addition the Respondent may be subject to one or more Supplementary Requirements. There is no requirement that a Student receive less severe sanctions before more severe sanctions; some conduct may warrant immediate expulsion.

  1. Sanction Descriptions

a. Disciplinary Warning
A DisciplinaryWarning means that the Student has been found responsible for violating the Institute’s Code of Conduct. Any further disciplinary violation may result in disciplinary action up to and including Expulsion.

b. Disciplinary Probation
Disciplinary Probation means that the Student has been found responsible for violating the Institute’s Code of Conduct. Disciplinary Probation is for a specified period of time. Any further disciplinary violation may result in disciplinary action up to, and including Expulsion.

c. Suspension
Suspension means that the Student has been found responsible for violating the Institute’s Code of Conduct. Suspension is separation of the Student from the Institute for a specified period of time, after which the Student is eligible to return. Conditions for readmission may be specified by OSI or the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students. A suspended Student shall immediately leave campus and may not re-enter campus without prior approval from OSI. Students on suspension are not permitted to enroll in classes at the Institute during their suspension. The Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students will determine when the Respondent has met the requirements for readmission. Any further disciplinary violation may result in disciplinary action up to and including Expulsion.

d. Expulsion
Expulsion means that the Student has been found responsible for violating the Institute’s Code of Conduct. Expulsion is permanent separation and termination of the Respondent’s status as a Georgia Tech Student, and exclusion from Institute Premises, privileges, and activities

  1. Supplementary Requirements

a. Restitution: Payment to the Institute or to an affected party for damages resulting from a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

b. Fine: A monetary penalty paid to the Institute.

c. Grade Change: Change of grade for the course and/or coursework in which the academic misconduct occurred.

d. Programmatic Requirements: Required completion of designated educational programs

(e.g., alcohol, community issues, anger management, assessments, etc.).

e. Restrictions: Exclusion from participation in specified services and activities.

f. Revocation of Admission and/or Degree: Admission to, or a degree awarded from the Institute may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, or other violation of Institute standards in obtaining the degree, or for other serious violations committed by a Student prior to graduation.

g. Withholding Degree: The Institute may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the process set forth in this Student Code of Conduct, including the completion of all Sanctions and Supplementary Requirements, if any.

h. Other Requirements: Other Requirements may be imposed.

APPEAL PROCEDURES

1. Reasons for Appeal
The appeal process is not intended to grant a new hearing at a higher level. An appeal shall be limited to a review of the record of the initial hearing, supporting documents, and the Respondent’s written appeal. The Respondent must explicitly state why he or she believes an appeal is warranted. Appeals will be considered only for the following reasons:

a. To determine whether the original hearing was conducted fairly and in conformity with prescribed procedures;

b. To determine whether there was sufficient evidence to support the decision;

c. To determine whether the Sanctions and Supplementary Requirements imposed were appropriate for the violation for which the Student was found responsible; and/or

d. To determine whether new Information, not available at the time of the hearing, is relevant to the final decision.

2. Process 
If a case is appealed, sanctions are not imposed while the appeal is pending unless the welfare of a person or the community is threatened.

Sanctions will be imposed if an appeal is not filed, the deadline for an appeal passes, or when an appeal decision has been finalized.

The appeal must be addressed to the appropriate Appellate Officer and delivered to the Office of Student Integrity within five (5) business days of the delivery of the decision. Appeal decisions will normally be rendered within ten (10) business days either in person, or in accordance with the communication guidelines. Extension of these deadlines may be granted for extenuating circumstances. At the discretion of the Appellate Officer, a designee may be selected to determine the outcome of the appeal.

For all decisions made by the Office of Student Integrity, the Appellate Officer shall be the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students.

For all academic cases where the sanction includes suspension or expulsion, Undergraduate Students may, after an appeal to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, appeal to the Institute President, via the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. The Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education will review and make a recommendation to the Institute President. The Institute President’s decision will be the final decision of the Institute.

For all academic cases where the sanction includes suspension or expulsion, Graduate Students may, after an appeal to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, appeal to the Institute President, via the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Affairs. The Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Affairs will review and make a recommendation to the Institute President. The Institute President’s decision will be the final decision of the Institute.

 

3. Appeal Decisions
Decisions of the Appellate Officer go into effect immediately. The Appellate Officer is authorized to take one of the following actions:

a. dismiss the appeal for failure to state valid reasons;
b. find no error and uphold the original decision;
c. uphold the original decision, but modify Sanctions and/or Supplementary Requirements;
d. remand the case to a Student Conduct Administrator or Student Conduct Panel; or
e. reverse the original decision.

4. Board of Regents
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (the "Board") is the final appellate authority for all cases of suspension or expulsion that have been reviewed by the Institute President. Should the Respondent be dissatisfied with the decision of the Institute President, he/she may apply to the Board for a review of the decision. The application for review shall be submitted in writing to the executive secretary of the Board within the period specified by the Board of Regents.

RECORD KEEPING AND RELEASE OF INFORMATION

1. Maintenance of Disciplinary Files 
A case referral results in the creation of a disciplinary file in the name of the Respondent. Disciplinary files of Students found responsible of any charges against them will be retained for five (5) years after graduation or date of last attendance. Disciplinary records containing records of Suspension and Expulsion will be permanently retained. This file shall be destroyed if the Student is found not responsible for the charges.

2. Release of Information 
Student disciplinary records shall be governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 20 U.S.C. § 1232g.

a. Academic or non-academic misconduct resulting in expulsion may be released to third parties indefinitely.
b. Academic misconduct that resulted in suspension may be released to third parties for five years after sanction completion.
c. Any non-academic misconduct that resulted in suspension where a potential threat to the campus community exists (including but not limited to illegal drug distribution, endangering or harming any person, or jeopardizing the safety of any person) may be released to third parties for five years after sanction completion. In instances of suspension where no threat to the community is identified, the suspension may be reported until the sanction is complete.
d. Any academic or non-academic misconduct that did not result in suspension or expulsion is not released to third parties.
e. The Institute requires a specific written request from the student to release the entire disciplinary record to third parties.

4. Transcript Encumbrances 
In pending cases that could result in Suspension or Expulsion, the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students will normally place a temporary encumbrance (hold) on a Respondent’s records. The Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students will also place a hold on a Respondent’s records if the Respondent fails to respond to an official request to meet or if the Respondent fails to complete assigned Sanctions

REFERENCES
Academic Honor Code: www.honor.gatech.edu
Board of Regents: www.usg.edu/policymanual/
Computer Use and Network Policy: www.security.gatech.edu
Faculty Senate: www.Facultysenate.gatech.edu
Office of the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students:
www.studentlife.gatech.edu/
Office of Student Integrity: www.osi.gatech.edu

 

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