Preventing Violations

All members of the Mason community are instrumental in upholding the integrity of our institution by working to prevent violations of the Honor Code.  Students can avoid incidents of academic dishonesty by adhering to the following tips:

Failure to complete an assigned sanction in an academic integrity case will result in a registration hold being placed on your account.  The hold will not be lifted until we receive confirmation that you completed the sanction.  If you need extra time to complete a sanction, you should contact the Office of Academic Integrity at oai@gmu.edu in advance of the due date on the sanction.

Category: Student FAQ

Balancing school, work, and extra-curricular activities can be challenging for college students, particularly for those fresh out of high school where their schedule was managed by parents.  If you find yourself struggling with completing assignments due to time management, please reach out to the Learning Center on the 3rd Floor of Sub I.  The Learning Center is an outreach effort on the part of Counseling and Psychological Services to assist students in transitioning to the academic rigor of the university environment.

For your work, do not make up data to get desired results.  Use your own tables, illustrations, and statistics and properly cite all information from resources.

In the classroom, you should not look around during an exam, protect your work during an exam, turn off your phone and laptop when you are taking an exam, do not take your phone out of the room during an exam, and put your books and notes away during an exam.  Do not answer your phone during exams, no matter how important you believe the call to be.  This can be interpreted as using your phone to find answers.

You, as a student in our academic community, are responsible for:

  • Understanding what the syllabus gives as instructions for academic integrity, the honor code and originality of academic work. You should refer to those definitions throughout the semester.
  • Asking questions when instructions are not clear.
  • Be accountable for all submissions to your instructors and do not expect a second chance to remove the violation.
  • When in need of help, ask the appropriate source. This is almost always your faculty member, not your classmates .

There might be times that your faculty will require that you submit a product that was created by a group. This is a combination of many peoples’ ideas. You are responsible for checking everyone’s work to make certain if they properly cited work that came from other sources. Each member of your group could be in violation as a group if one member does not cite properly in their part of the project.

If you come from a culture that encourages you to share your work and help others, you should pay attention to how your faculty defines “unauthorized collaboration”. In the United States, we encourage individual work. When you work with others or use their work, we require that it is properly cited in your documents. If you work with others to complete your assignments, make certain the faculty member understands what you are submitting is the work of more than just you.

As an international student or someone that has difficulty putting their ideas into English,sometimes you may use work directly or slightly modified from another source. You believe this to be what you would have said if you had not found it elsewhere and you do not know a better way to state what you have “borrowed”. It is common for students to memorize passages because you are also learning the language, but this and “borrowing” passages are forms of plagiarism if you do not properly cite where you have taken the information. The Writing Center is a fantastic resource to help you properly paraphrase and cite.

In many cultures, “turning in” a classmate who cheats would be considered a more serious ethical violation than what the person who cheated has done. Part of Mason’s honor code is that you are responsible to report cheating when you see other students cheating . (Cultural Variations, p. 14)

Carnegie Mellon.. Recognizing and Addressing Cultural Variations in the Classroom. Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Intercultural Communication Center. Accessed 04 September 2013. http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/resources/PublicationsArchives/Internal Reports/culturalvariations.pdf

Intent is not taken into consideration when alleged cases of academic dishonesty are reported.  We firmly believe that our students do not necessarily set out to cheat, lie, steal, or plagiarize.  However, it is important that you take your time, review your work, and if necessary (and allowed by the professor), ask a 3rd party to check your work to ensure that you have completed your assignments properly.

The honor code places the responsibility on you to make sure the assignments you submit are your own work or properly cited.  Make certain the first submission is correct. You can work with your professor or the Writing Center before you submit to make sure you are submitting properly cited work.

Your Appeal Packet should include the following:

  • Contact information (name, GMU email address, telephone number, G number, current address)
  • Relevant hearing information (date of hearing, name of referring party, charge, sanctions)
  • Grounds upon which the appeal is based, including:
    • Detailed and supported information for why you believe that your case meets the specific grounds on which you are appealing.
    • Copies or proof of any new evidence that has been discovered since the date of the hearing, including statements from any new witnesses. Please note that for witness statements to be considered new evidence, the knowledge or potential knowledge of the witnesses could not have been known prior to or at the time of the original hearing (e.g., asking a classmate who was sitting near you during the exam to write a statement on your behalf will not be considered as new evidence because it is presumable that you could have asked that person to be a witness or to write a statement for you at the time of your hearing.)

As a student in the process you have the right to appeal the decision of the Honor Committee in the full hearing, expedited review, and sanctions-only hearing process.  If you accept responsibility and the associated sanction during the Pre-hearing, you waive your right to appeal.

The Honor Committee Appellate Body consists of three Honor Committee members who did not hear the original case.  During the academic year, we anticipate that you will receive notification of the Appellate Body’s decision within 15 business days of submitting the appeal materials.

All appeals must be submitted in writing within 7 business days of your hearing. All materials intended for review must be submitted at the same time. Once the appeal packet is submitted, additional materials will not be accepted.

The Appellate Body conducts a thorough review of the appeal packet and case materials. In some circumstances, the Appellate Body may listen to the recording of the hearing if it is deemed necessary.

The Appellate Body does not hear from you in person. Based upon the evidence presented at the original hearing, the hearing report, and the appeal materials, the Appellate Body can decide to:

  1. Remand the case to a new hearing.
  2. Dismiss the case.
  3. Reduce the sanction.
  4. Deny the appeal.

If your appeal fails to meet the specified grounds for appeal, it will be denied.

You will be notified in writing (via your official GMU email account) of the decision of the Appellate Body.

Appeals of Honor Committee decisions must be submitted in writing within seven (7) business days of the hearing. Appeals can be granted on the basis of the following:

  • New information (this does not include an individual failing to show up for their hearing who wants to present evidence they would have presented had they appeared)
  • Procedural irregularity

The decision to accept or deny the appeal will be made by three (3) Honor Committee members who have had no prior contact with the case. These individuals will review the evidence and, if necessary, the audio transcript of the original hearing.

Faculty members do not have an appeal avenue. However, they may submit a new case against a student if they have new evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing.

In the event that a faculty member chooses not to follow the Honor Committee’s recommended sanction, specifically as it relates to a grade, students may appeal the faculty member’s action to the Academic Appeals Committee, via the Office of the Provost.  The decision of this committee is the final step in the Academic Integrity process.

If grades have been submitted, do not send any grade change until after 7 business days from the date of the resolution email sent by the Office of Academic Integrity to you.  If you do not hear from the Office of Academic Integrity by the end of the 7th business day, submit a grade change to your department.   Please record that the change is for the honor code on the grade-change form.

If the student(s) submits an appeal, the Office of Academic Integrity will notify you by the end of the 7th business day after the resolution email was sent.

You will be sent an additional email after the resolution of the appeal.  If the appeal is not granted, faculty will need to submit the grade change to your department and record the reason for change is for the honor code.

  • Introductory remarks by the Hearing Chairperson
  • Signing of the Honesty Statement by all parties
  • Accuser presents case (15-20 minutes)
  • Questions are asked of the accuser (by the accused and judges)
  • Witnesses for the accuser present testimony and are questioned
  • Accused student presents case (if more than one accused student, each student will present separately) (15-20 minutes)
  • Questions are asked of the accused student by accusing party and judges
  • Witnesses for the accused student present testimony and are questioned
  • Closing remarks/responses to student testimony are given by the accuser
  • Closing remarks are given by the student
  • Deliberation by the judges (all parties leave the hearing room)
  • The decision is announced by the judges
  • Notice of the result of the hearing is typically sent within one week of the hearing date.
  • Students have the right to appeal the decision and sanctions, within a specified time-frame.
  • All grade-related sanctions are recommendations to the course professor.
  • All suspension and expulsion sanction recommendations must be approved by the Dean of Students.
  • In cases in which the violation was witnessed by another person or reported to you, it is best if the witness can attend the hearing to provide testimony.
  • When the judges and the accused student have the ability to hear and question the witness(es), the judges are better able to determine the credibility of the testimony.
  • If a witness cannot be present, you should submit a written statement to be reviewed by the judges and the accused student as part of the hearing process.
  • If witnesses insist on remaining anonymous, the witness account can be heard by the judges, but it may not be given much weight during the deliberation process.
  • Other experts in your field may serve as witnesses regarding the nature of the work submitted by the student(s).

Each party will be given 15-20 minutes to present his/her case.

Many cases can be determined by the documentary evidence alone, but some cases are less clear or contain complex and technical information. In these cases, your verbal testimony may be the most important piece of evidence at the hearing.

The judges will have reviewed the documents and narrative you submitted, but your testimony will bring that evidence to life. It is very important that you use your testimony to “connect the dots” for the judges. If the violation is not completely clear by the documentary evidence, this is your opportunity to help the judges understand how you came to the conclusion that the student(s) violated the Honor Code.

Your testimony also is your opportunity to convince the judges that your conclusions about the situation clearly indicate the accused student committed a violation.

Your testimony may reiterate much of what you stated in the accusation form, but it also allows you the opportunity to expand on that information.

      • Syllabus or other document containing a statement about the Honor Code and policies for the course (i.e., what specifically constitutes academic dishonesty in your course)
      • Instructions for the assignment/exam in question
      • Electronic examples of exams/assignments from students not accused, if seeing how other students responded to the questions/assignment will be helpful (all documents should have names and information of the students redacted)
      • Electronic copies of the material in question.  If plagiarism, you should have highlighted copies of the student’s work and the work that has been plagiarized.  If cheating on an exam, copies of the student’s exam and those from whom he cheated.  If collaboration, copies of the collaborated material, highlighted if the entire text is not in consideration.   If you have questions about what is needed, please contact the Office of Academic Integrity.
    • You likely submitted all of the documents that supported the accusation when you submitted the referral packet. However, if you feel that additional evidence will help prove that the violation occurred, you may present it at the hearing. However, the accused student has a right to review this evidence prior to the hearing; therefore, you will need to submit these documents a few days before the hearing.
  • There is no presumption of guilt on the part of the accused student(s).
  • The responsibility of “proving” the student committed the violation rests with the accusing party – to be accomplished through providing sufficient evidence to meet the standard of evidence.
  • The standard of evidence used in HC hearings is “clear and convincing.”
    • “Clear and convincing” is a higher standard than preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not) but a lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • The judges will ask themselves, “Are the facts clear?” “Is the evidence strong?” “Am I convinced?”
    • This standard allows for some ambiguity to be present and for judges to make determinations about credibility of the parties involved if there is contradictory information.
    • Four out of the five judges must agree that a student committed the violation for the student to be found In Violation of the Honor Code.
  • The role of the Honor Committee advisor (typically the Director of Academic Integrity) is to ensure that the hearing proceedings follow the stated guidelines, to answer procedural questions, to provide judges with background information when necessary, to ensure the proceedings and deliberations are free of bias, and to assist the judges in thinking through the evidence of the case when needed.
  • The advisor does not have a voice or vote.
  • The advisor does not offer an opinion with regard to students’ responsibility for the charges.
  • You will be contacted via email by the Office of Academic Integrity, regarding the date and time of the hearing (from the email address: oai@gmu.edu).
  • Hearings are held in room 4100 of SUB I (unless otherwise specified).
  • Full Honor Code hearings are heard by 5 student judges from the Honor Committee.
  • Hearings typically last about an hour, but they can last longer if the case involves several students, has several witnesses, or contains complex evidence. It is recommended that you bring something with you to pass the time during the deliberations.
  • The hearings are formal in nature, but they are not like criminal or legal proceedings.
  • All hearings are audio recorded

Please note, an offense is considered a second or repeat offense when the student had a case that was resolved prior to the date of the second or repeat violation. Multiple cases for the same student that occur at or near the same time may be considered to be repeat offenses based on the students’ intent and understanding in his or her actions.  Take in consideration when recommending a sanction for the second violation that the student has been counseled on the honor code and avoiding violations.

If the offense is the student’s first offense and if the student accepts responsibility for the charge, he/she will have the opportunity to accept the recommended sanction(s) for a first violation.  Although the Honor Committee will take into account the professor’s recommended penalty, the Committee does have the authority to impose alternative penalties, including suspension or dismissal if the violation is not the first offense.

This form is to be completed by the course instructor only. Students filing charges should disregard this form; the Director of Academic Integrity will contact the instructor directly to secure this information.

The Sanction Recommendation Form lists typical sanctions based on a student’s class standing, type of offense, and previous record. If you feel that mitigating or aggravating factors exist for the case, please provide information pertaining to the mitigating or aggravating factors.

Provide a rationale for the sanction(s) you are recommending. This will be used to help the student understand the purpose of a sanction and by the Honor Committee judges when determining a sanction.

Please note that some departments/schools/colleges have guidelines or recommendations for sanctions in classes from that unit. You are encouraged to check with the course coordinator or department chair to see if these guidelines exist for your unit. If you have questions about appropriate sanction recommendations, you also are encouraged to contact the Director of Academic Integrity.

THIS PACKET SHOULD BE COMPLETED AND SUBMITTED  ONLINE  TO THE OFFICE OF ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

Please provide a copy of any evidence you may have (e.g., the test, paper, homework assignment) with all supporting materials (e.g., SafeAssign.com report, material from a website, witness statements, email messages, MOSS reports) and any relevant policies or instructions for your class/department (e.g., course syllabus, assignment instructions, departmental statements about the Honor Code). Keep all of the originals for your own records. In the supporting materials, highlight or indicate which portions are suspected of the violation. For plagiarism cases, highlight the suspected plagiarized passages on both the students’ assignments and in the supporting materials (i.e., original sources of the passages).

For electronic submissions, simply be sure to send the files from your Mason email account in lieu of signing.

If you are wanting a faster turn around, we advise you to submit all information through our on-line referral.

Complete the description of the violation in the space provided.  In your description of the violation, provide as much detail as possible about the incident itself and any other information relevant to the offense. Include the names of any witnesses to the incident, if relevant.

Include the Charges:

  • Under the Honor Code, the four possible charges are: Cheating, Plagiarism, Lying, and Stealing
  •  Use of unauthorized materials, unauthorized collaboration/sharing of work, and the like fall under the charge of cheating.
  •  If you are unsure what charge is appropriate, please leave this section blank, and the Director of Academic Integrity will assign the appropriate charge(s) upon review of the case information.
  •  If you suspect that two or more students worked together on an assignment and/or copied from one another, please check both cheating and plagiarism as the charges.

Be sure to include the date of realization of a violation of the Honor Code.

Complete this form as thoroughly as possible. It is critically important that the proper person be identified when an accusation is made. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, INCLUDE THE ACCUSED PERSON’S MASON G#.  This will not always be possible when a student is accused by another student, but faculty members are asked to take the G# from the class list.

In our efforts to maintain sustainable practices, electronic submission of the accusation materials is required. Complete the Accusation Form. If you are not able to submit the online form, please mail or bring the accusation packet to the Office of Academic Integrity, MSN 6C9, SUB I, Room 4100.

If you have any questions when filling out these forms, contact the Office of Academic Integrity at 703-993-6209 or oai@gmu.edu

The hearing panel can written reprimands and other non-academic requirements. Changes to a student’s grade are recommendations from the Honor Committee to the instructor. Suspension and expulsion recommendations are sent to the Dean of Student’s approval and implementation.

Category: Process

The referring party may request a status report on a case at any time by contacting the Office of Academic Integrity at 993-6209.

Category: Process

Honor Committee hearings are scheduled at the convenience of the Honor Committee. In most cases, we do attempt to accommodate the student’s schedule. However, in some cases, the hearing must be set for a given date, and the appropriate parties are encouraged to attend.

Category: Process

If the student disputes the alleged violation, a more complex procedure is followed. Four members of the Honor Committee, a faculty advisor to the hearing panel, and the referring party or delegate  and the referred student participate in a hearing process.  The referred party outlines the case against the student, and the referred student then presents a response.  Witnesses may be called by either side. While the procedures are relatively informal and flexible, procedural due process is observed. To find the student responsible for an offense, the majority of the panel must determine that there is enough clear and convincing information that a student violated the honor code.

Category: Process

If the student accepts responsibility but disagrees with the professor’s recommended sanctions, the student can request that the Honor Committee convene to consider this request. This request is reserved for students facing suspension or expulsion from the institution.  The referring party not required to attend the hearing. The referred student is given an opportunity to present any extenuating circumstances, with documentation. If the committee determines that there are extenuating circumstances that exist, the sanction can be reduced.

Category: Process

If the student accepts responsibility for the violation and the recommended professor sanctions, the case concludes very quickly.  A plea of “in violation” can usually be processed within one week of the receiving of the case.

Category: Process

There must be enough clear and convincing information to indicate a violation has taken place.  Clear and convincingis defined as between the preponderance of evidence level of 51% and the 99+% proof required for beyond a reasonable doubt. If the student is found responsible for the violation, the referring party’s penalty recommendation is reviewed and a sanction imposed. The sanctions may or may not be identical to those recommended by the referring party.  This may be particularly true in cases where the violation is not the student’s first.

Category: Process

Once the referring party has submitted a completed information packet, a letter is sent via email to the referred student detailing the nature of the charges, the associated academic course, and the name of the referring party.  The referred student is directed to schedule a meeting with a representative of the Office of Academic Integrity discuss the referral and the procedures used to resolve the situation.

Category: Process

Please note: there has been a change in how to access the Fact and Testimony form. To increase access and security, the forms have been moved to Blackboard.

After accessing Blackboard with your Mason net ID and password, please click the tab for Organizations and search for the Honor Code Referral organization.   You will need to enroll in the organization.   At this site you will find a section for downloadable forms.    Please download the fact and testimony and sanctions recommendation forms to your computer.  The referring party must submit a completed Fact and Testimony Form with its evidence to the Office of Academic Integrity. Once done a copy of the uncompleted forms can remain on your computer for later submissions.   Complete the forms, then upload them under the section where it requests you to submit the forms.  To upload them, you will need to open the link called Fact and Testimony/Sanctions form (upper left hand section on that page).  On this new page there is a section where you can submit these forms and any other piece of evidence needed for the case.

There are instructions on the submission page for completing the forms.  Those instructions include which documents, in addition to the two forms, that should be uploaded to make a complete package.    If you have any questions, you can contact the Office of Academic Integrity at 703-993-6209.

Category: Process

No. You may not withdraw or change your course status to audit if a referral has been made and the process initiated.  If do you withdraw from the course, you will be re-enrolled.  There could be financial repercussions to withdrawing before the matter is settled, as well as academic repercussions.

Category: Student FAQ

Discuss your classroom expectations as well as your program/departmental expectations during the first class.  If you are teaching the same course in subsequent semesters, change the assignments to prevent the use of “study banks” as a method of accessing old material. Make yourself available for consultation during the academic semester to address student questions and concerns.

Gary Pavela from the Academic Integrity Seminar program published feedback from students regarding ways to avoid incidents of academic dishonesty.  That feedback can be found by clicking here.

Category: Faculty FAQ

Once notification is sent to the accused student, the student will be scheduled to meet with an OAI representative within one week.  The meeting is schedule around the student’s class schedule.

Following the initial meeting with the student, the process may take anywhere from one to four weeks to come to final resolution.  In cases where the student fails to appear, the office will proceed with the case by sending it forward for a panel review.

All meetings and hearings are scheduled around the student’s availability.  In order to observe a timely process, we will reschedule once, and then proceed with the information at hand regardless of the ability of the professor or student to appear.  The exception to this are extenuating circumstances that prevent parties from appearing.

Please note, that near the end of each academic semester, these timelines will be significantly longer.  The same is true during the summer.

In all cases, the OAI will send an email to both parties after the hearing to confirm the results.

Category: Faculty FAQ

Every student has the right to have the Honor Committee evaluate his/her case.  If the student disputes the charge(s), a panel  comprised of Honor Committee members is formed.  In cases where no panel is available and there is a pending graduation or tuition deadline, the case may be assigned to a trained hearing officer for review.  The student has rights of appeal to decisions where they are found in violation of the Honor Code.  Faculty do not have the right to determine the disposition of the case.

Category: Faculty FAQ

As soon as your completed accusation packet is received by the Office for Academic Integrity, an email is sent to the student’s Mason account which outlines the charge.  Once a case has been submitted for review by the Office for Academic Integrity, we ask that you not discuss the case with the student.  Students are also advised not to discuss the case with others.

All students who are referred for a violation of the Honor Code are required to meet with a member of the Academic Integrity staff to review the details of the accusation.  At this meeting, the student has the opportunity to review all materials in the referral packet.  His/her options are explained in terms of taking the case to the Honor Committee for review or opting to accept responsibility (and the professor’s recommended sanctions) if the violation is acknowledged.

Typically, cases can be resolved within 10 days if the student accepts responsibility at the pre-hearing meeting.

Category: Faculty FAQ

It is best to consult your department in case there are program specific implications for honor code cases outcomes that may result in a failing grade in a course.  As a general rule, second violations usually result in suspension from the institution for a semester along with a failing grade in the course.

Category: Faculty FAQ

Faculty and Staff have the authority to recommend sanctions for Honor Code violations. Sanctions vary due to the manner in which the violations occur. Some recommendations may result in an educational sanction to an F in the course.

Typical sanctions are:
1) Grade Reduction on the assignment
2) A rewrite of a paper with a grade reduction
3) Zero on the assignment
4) A grade reduction in the course
3) F in the course

Educational Sanctions can also be included. These sanctions may be:

1) Writing Center Visits (no more than three sessions)
2) Academic Integrity Seminar

Graduate students can face dismissal on a first violation.  Consult your department chair to find out what the requirements for remaining in your program are.

In general, recommended sanctions for a first violation will also be impacted by the undergraduate student’s class standing.  For example, it is common for professors of freshmen to recommend a zero on an assignment if found to be responsible.  Alternatively, it is common for professors who teach upper division classes to recommend an F in the course if there is a violation.  As indicated above, Graduate students may face dismissal after even one violation.  The Honor Committee appreciates the recommendations of the professors and will consider them carefully when making its own determinations.

Please note that the Honor Committee will not consider suspension or dismissal for a first violation of an undergraduate unless the act is especially egregious.  In these cases, the Honor Committee believes that a first violation should serve as an educational experience for the students so that future temptations can be avoided.  Our internal statistics show that more than 95% of undergraduate students who incur a first violation never return for a second violation.

Category: Faculty FAQ

On your grade sheet record a HC (honor code) for the student.  The student will see a NR (not recorded) on their transcript.  Do not give the student a grade until you have a resolution to your accusation.  When you receive the results for the student’s hearing, you will be given instructions in that email on how and when to submit a grade change form to your department.  Please note if you are an adjunct and might not be returning for the next semester, leave information with your department about the accusation and how to determine the grades once the case has been resolved.

If the NR designation on a student’s transcript will prevent the student from continuing in class, we ask that you work with the department to see if they can continue until the process is resolved.

Category: Faculty FAQ

As soon as you become aware of a possible Honor Code violation, you should fill out and submit the accusation forms.  The completed forms should be submitted through our on-line referral system via Blackboard.  Instructions on how to access the referral site can be found here.

Please do not delay your submission for any reason.  If you have questions, contact the Office for Academic Integrity at 993-6209.  Timely submissions of alleged Honor Code violations are important.

Category: Faculty FAQ

No! All matters involving academic integrity and violation of the University’s Honor Code must be submitted to the Office of Academic Integrity.  Handling such matters without allowing the student’s right to the due process is against university policy.  If legal action were to be taken, you would not be protected by the Office of University Counsel.

Category: Faculty FAQ

If you have questions about whether or not you should file an Honor Code case, you are welcome to contact the Office for Academic Integrity at OAI@gmu.edu or at 993-6209.

If you do not have any particular questions but you would simply like to file a case, you will need to fill out an accusation form.  The form can be found by clicking on “Reporting violations”  on the navigation bar and then clicking on “Accusation Form.” Due to Mason’s commitment to sustainability, we ask that you use our on line referral system.  We anticipate this will result in a quicker response time.

If you would prefer to write your accusation as a statement, please be sure to include all of the required information as reflected on the forms.

Please remember that honor code violations and judicial cases are handled by two different offices.  If your case involves academic misconduct that affects a grade, it should be referred to the Honor Committee. If, however, the case has to do with behavioral or legal issues, it should be referred to the Office of Student Conduct through their online portal at studentconduct.gmu.edu.

Category: Faculty FAQ

The Honor Code states that all students “pledge not to cheat, plagiarize, steal, or lie in matters related to academic work.”

Category: Faculty FAQ

The pre-hearing and hearings are strictly confidential. None of the information discussed may be discussed outside of the hearing room unless there is an educational need to know as specified by federal law (known as the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) formerly known as the Buckley Amendment).

Category: Student FAQ

At this point of time, there is no notification on the transcript that indicates you have had an Honor Code Violation. If found responsible, the only sanctions that would appear on your transcript are suspension and expulsion from the institution.  They will be designated as “nonacademic suspension/nonacademic expulsion for a violation of the Mason honor Code”  However, your Honor Code charge is transparent through an institutional records check. An institutional records check is primarily conducted when one applies to graduate schools and/or when one applies for clearance check with the federal government.  Information is released to the parties requesting it only upon verification that the student has authorized the release.

Category: Student FAQ

Students have the option to submit an appeal of the decision made by the Honor Committee under the three following circumstances:

1) If there were procedural irregularities associated with the case.

2) If there is new information available that was not available to the original hearing panel.  (this does not include an individual failing to show up for their hearing who wants to present evidence they would have presented had they appeared)

If you believe that one or both of these circumstances have been met, you have five business days to submit a written appeal (including new documentation if necessary) from the date you received the hearing outcome notification.  These materials must be submitted to SUB I, room 4100 or via email at oai@gmu.edu no later than the close of business (5:00 p.m.) on the 5th day.  At that point, an appeals panel will review the written materials and determine whether a new hearing is warranted.

Failure to meet the deadline for any reason will result in the forfeiture of the appeals process.

Category: Student FAQ

You will receive verbal notification of the decision the same day following the deliberations.  A followup letter will be emailed to your Mason account reiterating the decision.

Category: Student FAQ

Both the referring party and the referred student will have an opportunity to come and present their side of the issue.  Each party will have an opportunity to question the other if they are present for the hearing.  The Honor Committee members will take time to ask questions of both parties.  Any witnesses produced by either party will have a chance to speak and be questioned.  Following all testimony, the involved parties will be escorted to a waiting area where they will await the decision of the Honor Committee.

If one party or the other is not present, the committee will use the information provided at the time of the hearing, including information from the referral form submitted by the referring party.

Despite it’s formal name, the hearing process is not adversarial. It is a fact finding mission to determine if a violation occurred, and if so, to what extent.

Category: Student FAQ

The Honor Committee at Mason is comprised of faculty members and students.  Faculty and/or Administrative faculty typical serve on committees involving graduate students.  All Honor Committee members are trained prior to serving at a hearing and are bound by confidentiality.  For any given hearing, we ensure that the referred student does not know any of the panel members (or vice versa) so that a fair and impartial proceeding can take place.

Category: Student FAQ

The time it takes to schedule a hearing depends on the ability to coordinate the student’s class schedule with the professor’s availability as well as the availability of the committee.  Ideally, the hearing is scheduled when all  parties are available to attend.  Some cases that are submitted to the Office for Academic Integrity at the end of the spring semester cannot be adjudicated until the following fall semester. The Honor Committee has set hearing times for each semester.

Category: Student FAQ

As a student, there are times when you have read, written, and rewritten your work so much that it is difficult to catch errors.  It is important that students are good stewards of their own work.  This includes checking it carefully prior to submission.  If allowed by your professor/department, have someone peer review your work and provide feedback.  Failure to submit assignments as specified by the professor may result in a loss of credit for your work.

Category: Student FAQ

The purpose of the meeting is to go over the materials in the file.  After you review them, your options will be explained.  Your options include the following:

  • To make arrangements for an expedited review of your case.  This option is typically for cases that can be determined through an administrative review of the information provided and do not require you to appear in person.  Instead, you would submit a written statement along with any information you feel shows that you did not commit the act of dishonesty.
  • To make arrangements for an in person full hearing to present your plea of not in violation to a 3 member Honor committee board.  In person full hearings are reserved for students whose recommended sanction includes program dismissal, suspension, permanent dismissal from Mason, or whose case is referred based solely on eyewitness testimony.
  • To make arrangements for an abbreviated Honor Committee hearing;  this is a “sanctions-only” hearing in which a student accepts responsibility but would like to have a sanction(s) considered that is/are different from that identified by the professor. You would present your sanction recommendation to a three-member Honor Committee Board.
  • To accept responsibility and accept the sanction(s) recommended by the professor.

Category: Student FAQ

All students agree to abide by the Honor Code when they sign their application for admission.  If you have forgotten these policies, please visit here.  It is the responsibility of the student to read through the syllabus for each course to determine what are acceptable practices for the courses they are enrolled in.

Category: Student FAQ

Yes, continue to go to your class even if you have been referred until the case has concluded.  Some resolutions will not have an impact on your ability to successfully complete the course.

Category: Student FAQ

If a professor sends a referral to the Office of Academic Integrity (OAI), you will receive an email about the charge at your official GMU email address.  The letter will list the alleged violations, request that you schedule a meeting, and list the procedural assurances students need to be aware of in the process.  The purpose of the meeting is to review with you the information submitted by the professor and discuss your options in the Honor Code process.

Category: Student FAQ

Academic integrity is a trait that must be practiced all the time.  It requires constant attention, and it should hold a place of importance in the minds of all people.  George Mason University’s Honor Code is an agreement made by all members of our community to not  “cheat, steal, plagiarize, or lie in matters related to your academic work.”   Having an Honor Code allows us to ensure that every student does his/her own work.  It is here to protect all students from others who may want to gain an inappropriate academic advantage over them.

Category: Student FAQ

Faculty can help prevent incidents of academic dishonesty by adhering to the following tips:

  • Include a statement about the Honor Code on your syllabus.
  • Take time during your first class meeting to discuss your class expectations and what behaviors are allowed.  For example, in some courses, students are not allowed to collaborate on assignments.  In others, students are expected to submit original work for each new course.  Make your expectations clear.
  • If you are teaching the same course in subsequent semesters, change the assignments to avoid the potential use of “study banks” as a method of accessing old material.
  • Inform students of the potential consequences of committing an act of academic dishonesty.
  • Make yourself available for consultation during the academic semester to help answer student questions.
  • Discuss with students for whom English is a second language how the use of translation software may inadvertently cause them to be accused of a honor code violation.  Provide resources for these students to assist in their transition to Mason.

Donald McCabe and Gary Pavela (2004) wrote an excellent piece entitled Ten principles for academic integrity for faculty that can be accessed here.  For more information about cultural variations and academic integrity, please check here.