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Virginia Wesleyan Honor Code and Creed

Virginia Wesleyan Honor Code and Creed

As a liberal arts college, Virginia Wesleyan is committed to values of citizenship and social responsibility fundamental to a community of scholars. All students are expected to abide by the Virginia Wesleyan Creed and the Virginia Wesleyan Honor Code.

The purpose of the Honor Code at Virginia Wesleyan College is to foster an environment of learning based upon trustworthiness and willingness to assume personal responsibility for honorable behavior. First-year students sign a card acknowledging their commitment to the Honor Code during Honors Convocation.

Details of the Honor Code include: Violations Defined; Responsibilities and Rights; Procedures for Dealing with Violations; Penalties; and Procedure to Request A New Hearing or An Appeal.

The Honor Council and New Hearing and Appeals Committee are composed of faculty and students.

Creed

  • We accept and support the Virginia Wesleyan Honor Code:a commitment to trustworthiness and a willingness to assume personal responsibility for honorable behavior.
  • We seek experiences that enhance personal academic excellence and an integrated liberal arts perspective: a commitment to sustained achievement in the classroom.
  • We abide by and uphold the Virginia Wesleyan Community Standards: a commitment to good campus citizenship in all undertakings.
  • We value and respect diversity in all facets of our multicultural society:a commitment to recognize and to celebrate the importance of cultural differences within our campus community and to oppose all forms of discrimination.
  • We aspire to be a supportive community that respects the value of faith and religious freedom: a commitment to cultivate spiritual sensitivity and to foster personal commitment that leads to ethical conduct.
  • We respect the personal belongings of others and the property of the College: a commitment to oppose all forms of vandalism or theft of personal and College property.
  • We accept our role in protecting the environment: a commitment to stewardship through sustainable practices.
  • We embrace the importance of personal well being: a commitment to a healthy lifestyle in all its facets.
  • We engage in the civic life and activities of our community: a commitment to improve the quality of life of others.

Honor Code

Violations Defined

CHEATING is the deliberate submission of work for a grade or credit that is not one's own or that violates professors' implied or stated instructions concerning the type and amount of aid permitted. The student who gives prohibited aid shall be considered as responsible as the student who receives it.

  • Copying answers from a fellow student during a test is cheating.
  • The use of testing materials or papers from past semesters as study guides is cheating unless such practice is explicitly permitted by the professor.
  • The use of unauthorized notes or tapes during testing is cheating. Use of cellular telephones, MP3 or similar players, calculators, or laptop computers during an examination, unless expressly authorized by the faculty member, is prohibited.
  • Obtaining or giving unauthorized information about the content of a test is cheating.

PLAGIARISM is the oral and/or written presentation of words, facts, or ideas belonging to another source without proper acknowledgment.

LYING means making a statement that one knows is false with the intent to deceive a fellow member of the college community in relation to academic matters. Falsifying personal or college documents by mutilation, addition, or deletion is lying.

ACADEMIC THEFT is the removal, hiding, or mutilation of academic materials, including library resources, computer software, and laboratory equipment, thereby depriving others of opportunities to use such materials.

FALSIFYING DATA is the deliberate fabrication or misrepresentation of research data and results.

Responsibilities and Rights

A. Students

Every VWC student has the following responsibilities:

  • To request that a course instructor review a concern he/she has regarding an act he/she observed.
  • To request that a course instructor investigate a questionable action by another student.
  • To request that the Dean of the College investigate a questionable action by another student.
  • To confront another student observed violating the Honor Code.
  • To appear before the Honor Council if requested to do so.

A student accused of violating the Honor Code has the following rights and is responsible for exercising those rights:

  • To be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • To have a written statement of the charges.
  • To have written notice of the date, time, and place of his/her hearing.
  • To refer matters involving a violation of the Honor Code immediately to the Honor Council if the student feels that the situation cannot be resolved between the faculty member and him/her.*
  • To request in writing a continuance be granted for good cause.

* The Dean of the College notes the following clarification: In the case of a first offense for which a faculty member has imposed a Level 1 penalty, the right of a student to take a matter to the Honor Council is limited to the question of whether a violation of the Honor Code has occurred. The faculty member retains the right to impose whatever grade she or he deems appropriate for the assignment and the course. See also p. 7, "Level 1" Penalty.

  • To have an advocate from the college community.
  • To have a neutral body–the Honor Council–hear and consider the evidence.
  • To obtain witnesses in his/her behalf.
  • To question witnesses.
  • To testify in his/her behalf.
  • To have an explanation in writing of the reasons for the decision reached.
  • To be free from any penalty if exonerated.

B. Faculty

Every VWC faculty member has the following rights and responsibilities:

  • To resolve violations of the Honor Code by private discussion with the student(s) in question, after first contacting the Dean of the College to determine whether the student has a previous offense, and to report actions taken to the Dean of the College.
  • To refer matters involving a violation of the Honor Code immediately to the Honor Council if the faculty member feels the situation cannot be resolved between the student and the professor.
  • To provide a written statement of the charges for the Chairperson of the Honor Council.
  • To have a written notice of the date, time, and place of any hearing in which he/she has an official interest.
  • To testify before the Honor Council.
  • To request a continuance be granted for good cause.
Procedures for Dealing with Violations

Procedures Leading Up to Hearing

1) The charging party must submit a written statement of the charge identifying specifically how the Honor Code has been violated.

2) After a formal written charge has been received by the Chairperson of the Honor Council, the Chairperson and two Council members (faculty and student appointed by the Chairperson) may hold a pre-hearing review. This review determines if there is sufficient cause and evidence for a hearing. Alternatively, they may immediately determine that a hearing shall be held.

3) If it is determined that the case shall be heard, the meeting of the Honor Council will take place as soon as possible and in no case later than one week.

4) All individuals involved will be notified in writing about the time and place of the Honor Council meeting. This notice will also instruct these individuals that the meeting will occur in their presence or absence.

5) The Chairperson of the Council will preside and three faculty members and three student members must be present.

6) In any Honor Council hearing, neither strict rules of evidence nor any right to legal counsel shall apply. The proceedings shall be conducted so as to achieve fundamental fairness and prompt resolution.

7) At the Honor Council hearing only those persons (other than the charged student's college community advocate and the Council itself) directly involved in the incident may be present. A written record will be kept of all meetings.

Conduct of the Hearing

The Chairperson conducts the hearing as follows:

1) Chairperson asks parties to enter, seats them, and then explains details of the charge and the evidence presented so far.

2) Chairperson asks charging party to respond and to say what she/he wishes to say.

3) Chairperson asks accused party to respond and to say what she/he wishes to say. Accused party may make statements and/or ask questions.

4) Chairperson invites Honor Council to ask questions. Chairperson makes sure questions are in the form of a question, non-argumentative, and relevant.

5) Once everyone has had a chance to testify, ask questions, and hear all the evidence, the Chairperson asks the charging party and accused party to leave while the Council deliberates. The three students and three faculty members determine guilt or innocence, and if guilty, impose penalty. Chairperson votes only to break a tie.

6) Chairperson asks parties to return and explains the Council's findings.

7) Chairperson gives an explanation of the reasons for the Council's decision and adjourns meeting.

Within twenty-four hours after the Honor Council meeting, the Chairperson shall give a written report of the Council's decision to the plaintiff(s), defendant(s), the Dean of the College, and the Dean of Students. This written report shall include an explanation of the reasons for the decision reached. If a Level 2 or Level 3 penalty is imposed, the Dean of Students will be called upon to assist in the process of withdrawal from the college. Ordinarily this will occur within forty-eight hours of the decision.

If an individual is found guilty and is dismissed from the college, the evidence and records of the proceedings should be maintained permanently in the office of the Dean of the College.

If an individual is found guilty, is suspended, and is then readmitted to the college, the evidence and records of the proceedings should be kept in the office of the Dean of the College and then destroyed after the graduation of the person.
If an individual is found not guilty, the evidence and records of the proceedings shall be held for two weeks and then destroyed.

The student's name, the charge, the date, and the decision in each case should be kept permanently in the office of the Dean of the College.

Penalties

The Graduated Penalty System

Virginia Wesleyan College operates under a graduated penalty system. In this system there is no set penalty for each violation of the Honor Code. Once it is determined a student has violated the Honor Code, it is first the responsibility of the individual faculty member and then the Honor Council to determine what penalty is justified in a case. The penalties consist of the following:

Level 1: Faculty are able to implement Level 1 penalties for purely academic violations without referring the matter to the Honor Council.

  • Verbal reprimand
  • Written reprimand
  • Failure of assignment or test
  • Failure of course

Any other appropriate sanction short of suspension may be recommended at Level 1, but must be approved by the Honor Council following a hearing.

Faculty are urged to check with the Dean of the College to determine if a student has a previous offense of the Honor Code before taking action. If the student has committed a previous offense, the Dean of the College may recommend that the faculty member refer the new violation directly to the Honor Council. All punitive actions taken by faculty must be reported to the Dean of the College, who will keep a record of the actions taken.

Level 2: The presumptive sentence for the commission of a second honor offense is suspension from the college for a minimum of one semester, which, in the judgment of the Honor Council, may be the semester in which the offense occurs or the semester following the occurrence of the offense. The maximum Level 2 sentence may not exceed suspension for four semesters. A student may overcome the presumption in favor of suspension by showing mitigating circumstances, which may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Self-reporting of the offense prior to the charge;
  • Admission of, and remorse with regard to, the offense; and/or
  • Lack of understanding with respect to the nature of the offense.

In the event that the Honor Council chooses not to impose suspension for a Level 2 offense, it may impose an appropriate alternative penalty or penalties, which may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Completing a workshop on the topic related to the violation;
  • Writing a paper on a topic related to the violation, citing sources;
  • Completing community service hours related to the violation; and/or
  • Writing and presenting a speech on the Honor Code to various audiences.

A first Honor offense may constitute a Level 2 violation if, in the judgment of the Honor Council, there were aggravating circumstances, which may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The student knowingly engaged in a pattern of deception with regard to more than one assignment in the same class;
  • The student knowingly conspired with other students to compromise the integrity of an assignment or test; and/or
  • The student knowingly engaged in an act of dishonesty affecting more than one course or the campus generally.

Level 3: The commission of a third offense constitutes a Level 3 violation for which the mandatory sentence is separation from the college and loss of credit in all courses in which the student is enrolled at the time of the violation. A second Honor offense—or, in rare instances, a first Honor offense—may constitute a Level 3 violation if, in the judgment of the Honor Council, there were aggravating circumstances, which may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The student knowingly engaged in a pattern of deception with regard to more than one assignment in the same class;
  • The student knowingly conspired with other students to compromise the integrity of an assignment or test; and/or
  • The student knowingly engaged in an act of dishonesty affecting more than one course or the campus generally.
Procedure to Request A New Hearing or An Appeal

Procedure

The person requesting a new hearing or an appeal shall file a written notice with the Dean of the College within seven days following the original hearing (weekend and holidays excluded). In the case of new evidence, however, this time period may be extended by the Chairperson.

Requests shall be dated and contain a statement of the grounds for the new hearing or appeal and the signature of the person making the request. Requests shall specify whether an appeal or a new hearing is requested.

New Hearing

Grounds for a new hearing include the discovery of new facts that even in the exercise of due diligence were unavailable at the time of the hearing and which could alter the outcome.
Requests for a new hearing must include the following:

  • A statement of new evidence;
  • The names of those individuals who will present this evidence;
  • Reasons for omission of evidence from original hearing; and
  • Reasons that this evidence could contribute to a decision other than that which was originally made.

Duties of the New Hearing and Appeals Committee in response to Request for New Hearing. This committee will review the request and determine if the request has merit. If the committee finds the request has merit, it has the power to call for a new hearing. If a new hearing is indicated then the full Honor Council procedure will be repeated, this time to include the new evidence.

Appeal

There are two grounds for appeal: excessive sanctions or material violation(s) of the hearing procedure.

Excessive Sanctions. If the appeal is based on excessive sanction, specific information must be cited indicating why the sanction is unreasonable in light of the charges.

Duties of the New Hearing and Appeals Committee in response to a request for an appeal based on excessive sanction. This committee will review the request for appeal and determine if the request has merit. If the New Hearing and Appeals Committee decides to consider the appeal, it has the power to:

  • Uphold the original decision;
  • Uphold the original decision but alter part or all of a previously imposed penalty; and/or
  • Exonerate the student.

Material Violation(s) of Procedure. If the appeal is based on a violation(s) of hearing procedure it must include:

  • Citation of specific procedures in the Honor Code that were omitted or improperly followed;
  • Reason(s) why procedural error was not mentioned in the original hearing; and
  • Reason(s) why correction of error can contribute to a decision other than that which was originally made.

Duties of the New Hearing and Appeals Committee in response to a request for an appeal based on a material violation(s) of hearing procedure. This committee will review the request to determine if the request has merit. If the New Hearing and Appeals Committee decides to consider the appeal, it has the power to:

  • Determine that no material violation(s) of procedure occurred and uphold the original decision; or
  • Find that material violation(s) of procedure occurred and declare the original decision void due to procedural error. In such case, the committee may, but shall not be obligated to, remand the case to the Honor Council with directions to correct violation(s) of the procedure.
Membership of The Honor Council and of The New Hearing and Appeals Committee

A. Honor Council

Chairperson: The Honor Council Chairperson shall be a faculty member appointed for a two-year term by the Dean of the College in consultation with the divisional chairs and the student body president. The Chairperson shall convene and preside over all meetings of the Council. The Chairperson shall decide the outcome of all Council determinations which result in a tie.

Faculty: The faculty members of the Honor Council shall consist of three members and three alternates. One member and one alternate will be elected from each division of the college. Each member and each alternate shall serve a three-year term. Membership shall be staggered so that two or more faculty members do not rotate off the Council on the same year.

Students: The student members of the Honor Council shall consist of three members and three alternates, to be appointed by the student body president and the president of the college. Each member will serve a one- year term. The Dean of Students may appoint interim student members when necessary, if regular members and alternates are unavailable to serve.

In addition to conducting hearings, the Honor Council is responsible for educating faculty, staff, and students on a yearly basis on matters regarding the Honor Code.

Members of the 2014-2015 Honor Council

Chairperson:

Dr. Benjamin Dobrin (2nd year of two-year term)

Faculty:

Dr. Carol Johnson (third year of three-year term)
Dr. Doug Kennedy (second year of three-year term)
Dr. Garry Noe (first year of three-year term)

Faculty Alternates:

Dr. Elizabeth Malcolm (third year of three-year term)
Dr. Cheul Kang (second year of three-year term)
Dr.  Lisa Lyon Payne (first year of three-year term)

Students:

Kasey Hostetler
Andrew Petrey
Britney Stevens  

Student Alternates:

Kayla Brown
Dakota Grizzle
Nancy Kelly

B. Members of the New Hearing and Appeals Committee

The New Hearing and Appeals Committee will consist of the Dean of the College, one faculty member to be elected in the spring semester, and the Student Government Association president.

Members of the 2014-2015 New Hearing and Appeals Committee

Dr. Timothy O'Rourke, Dean of the College
Dr. Elizabeth Malcolm, Faculty Representative
Ms. Imani West, SGA President

Honor Code Violations for Academic Year 2013-2014: 24 documented violations in the categories of
Plagiarism, Academic Theft, and Cheating.

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