Common Concerns

We often get questions that are asked frequently by various members of the campus community.  There are also times we receive questions that may not seem common, but that other individuals can learn from.  You can find some of those concerns and questions addressed on this page.

Common Student Questions

  • How will I know if I've been referred to the Office of Academic Integrity?
    • You will receive a letter via email to your Mason email account (Mason's official form of communication) that a referral has been received.  You will need to schedule and keep a meeting with a staff member in the Office of Academic Integrity within seven days of the letter to review the case materials and decide the next course of action.  The meeting is NOT A HEARING.  It is a chance to review all the materials received by the referring party and determine how you (the student) would like to resolve the case. 
  • Who can attend the meeting with me?
    • You can bring anyone with you.  Some students come alone, some students bring a trusted advisor, and some students bring their parents. Anyone in the room during the pre-hearing meeting can ask questions.  The student will need to complete a FERPA waiver prior to the meeting taking place given our office permission to discuss the case in the presence of the student's advisor/parents.
  • Can I contest the referral?
    • Yes.  You have the option of asking for the Honor Committee to review your case.  The form that review takes depends on the recommended sanction sent over by the referring party.  If the referring party recommends suspension, program dismissal, or permanent dismissal from Mason, you are eligible for a full in person hearing.  If not, your case will be turned over to the committee for an expedited review which requires you to submit a written statement with any additional supporting documentation.  More details around this process can be found in the full reading of the honor code.
  • Can I just drop out of the course if I am referred since I may not be doing well in it anyway?
    • No.  Once a referral is in progress, the student may not drop or withdraw unless they are found to be not in violation of the Honor Code.  If the student drops the course, they will be re-enrolled.
  • I've been reported-should I continue going to class?
    • Absolutely!  Some sanction outcomes if you are found responsible will not impact your ability to complete the class with a passing grade.  Even if a sanction outcome would, it is not a forgone conclusion that you will be found responsible.  If you are contesting the allegation, continue to go to class so you don't miss critical work.
  • There is a hold on my account for failure to complete a sanction.  Can it be lifted temporarily so I can register for classes?
    • No.  We provide ample time for students to complete educational sanctions.  Failure to complete sanctions will result in a registration hold being placed on the student's account.  The hold is only lifted upon confirmation that the student completed the sanction.
  • I feel this entire situation is a big misunderstanding and I made a mistake.  Why is this case continuing forward?
    • The Honor Committee does not take into account intent with regard to Honor Code cases.  They look at whether or not a violation took place.
  • I received an unexpected grade on an assignment.  When I spoke to the professor they told me it was because they believe I cheated.  I did not receive a letter or meet with your office.  What should I do?
    • Contact our office and the department chair.   Professors should not adjudicate cases on their own and you have a right to contest an allegation.

 

 

Common Referring Party Questions

  • What should I do if a I suspect a student has violated the Honor code?
    • It is expected that faculty refer students suspected of violating the Honor Code to the Office of Academic Integrity.  The process is designed to protect the faculty member from false accusations of bias and to protect the student's due process rights. Keep in mind that this requirement should not be confused with the professor's autonomy to determine what situations are simple grading issues, and which are actual attempts at academic dishonesty. If you are not sure, please feel free to contact our office to consult with a staff member.  Additionally, refrain from submitting a grade for the assignment in question or the course until after the conclusion of the case.
  • What about the student's grade?
    • If a student is referred and the outcome is grade related, the professor should not grade the assignment in question until a determination is made with regard to the alleged integrity violation.  If a decision has not been rendered prior to the point in the semester where grades are due, the professor should submit a grade notation of HC in Patriot web. This will generate an NR designation on the student's transcript until the case has concluded. The NR designation does not impact the student's G.P.A. It is merely an indicator that the professor has not yet recorded a grade for the course.  Unlike an incomplete, an NR is not time sensitive and does not expire and automatically convert to a grade of F on the transcript.  The NR designation can remain indefinitely.
  • What all do I need to include with my submission packet?
    • Faculty members should submit an Academic Integrity Referral Form, a Professor Sanction Recommendation form, the syllabus for the course, and all materials relevant to the case that they deem necessary to show that an alleged violation took place.  These materials can include Safe Assign reports, copies of documents the student is alleged to have used in their materials, photos, witness statements, or other information they deem relevant. If it appears a document referenced in your referral form is missing, our staff will contact you to ask if you plan to include it, but will not ask with regard to information you fail to reference or provide.   Please note a failure to do so may result in your case being dismissed against the student.
  • What are typical sanction recommendations?
    • Sanctions vary due to the manner in which the violations occur. Some recommendations are department specific. You will need to consult your department to determine if there is a departmental matrix around academic integrity cases. Typical sanctions for a first time offense include a zero on the assignment, a reduced grade on the assignment and/or in the class, an option to rewrite/redo the assignment, an F in the course, referral to the online Academic Integrity Seminar (values and ethics driven), and/or a referral to the writing center. Suspension may be warranted in first violations depending on the circumstances and nature of the violation.
      Typical sanctions for a second offense usually include an F in the course and suspension from the institution. A third offense usually results in permanent dismissal from Mason.

  • Can I just give a failing grade without going through this process?
    • No. All matters involving academic integrity and violations of the University Honor Code must be submitted tot he Office of Academic Integrity. Handling such matters without allowing the student's right to due process is against university policy. If legal action were to be taken, you would not be protected by the Office of University Counsel.
  • What does the resolution process look like?
    • Every student has the right to have the their case heard through the Academic Integrity process. If the student disputes the charge(s), their case will be heard in accordance with the Office of Academic Integrity policies as spelled out in the Honor Code. If the case requires an in-person panel, it is scheduled around the student's class schedule. In order to observe a timely process, referring parties are asked to make arrangements to be present at the hearing. If you are unable to appear in person, we can arrange for you to phone in or participate via Skype. If you are unable to appear at all, please note that we may have to proceed with the supporting information you have provided, especially in cases where the process is preventing a student from graduating or proceeding forward in their course of study. The hearing panel will consider all written documentation and all oral presentations from both parties. They will then deliberate in private and make a decision based on the facts of the case.
  • If a case is concluded and a student is found responsible, will the Office of Academic Integrity inform the Registrar of the grade change?
    • No.  Upon resolution of the case, faculty are responsible for updating grades with the registrar.  To do so, access a grade change form and obtain the required signatures and submit it to the Registrar.  If a case results in a program dismissal for the student, it is up to the referring faculty member to process that paperwork. The Office of Academic Integrity processes educational sanction materials as well as suspension and permanent dismissal paper work with the Registrar.