Standards of Academic Honesty and Disciplinary Procedures

School of Public Health Policy

1. Rationale

Students in the School of Public Health are expected to adhere to the highest standards of academic honesty. Academic honesty is essential for students to attain the competencies the School expects of its graduates and to enable the faculty to adequately assess student performance. Any action by a student that subverts these goals seriously undermines the integrity of the educational programs of the School.

This document addresses actions that may be taken by the School against students who commit academic misconduct.

2. Definition of Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is any intentional act or omission by a student which misrepresents his or her academic achievements, or any attempt to misrepresent his or her academic achievements.  The following acts constitute academic misconduct. This is not an exhaustive list.

a. Cheating on examinations: The use or attempted use of any unauthorized books, notes or other materials in order to enhance the student’s performance in the examination, copying or attempting to copy from another student’s examination, permitting another student to copy from an examination or otherwise assisting another student during an examination, or any other violation of the examination’s stated or commonly understood ground rules.

b. Plagiarism: Any representation of the work of another as one’s own constitutes plagiarism. This includes copying or substantially restating the work of another person without the use of quotation marks or other indication that the words of another have been copied, the use of any written or oral work from which the student has obtained ideas or data without citing the source, or collaborating with another person in an academic endeavor without acknowledging that person’s contribution.

c. Submitting the same work in more than one course without the consent of all the instructors

d. Misrepresentation or falsification of data

e. Allowing another student to represent your work as his or her own

f. Violating the rules of an examination or assignment

3. Procedures

a. Initiation of Charge
If a faculty member suspects that a student in his or her class has committed an act of academic misconduct, the faculty member will meet with the student to inform them of the concern and to obtain the student’s response. Based on this meeting the faculty member will make determination about whether or not to forward the case to the Associate Dean for Education, for further review.

Any student, staff, or faculty member who has reason to believe that a student has committed an act of academic misconduct may bring this matter to the attention of the Associate Dean for Education. The Associate Dean for Education will review the allegation and the information on which it is based, and will determine whether to proceed with an investigation of the charge.

b. Investigation of Charge
The Associate Dean for Education will review the information related to the charge and may interview witnesses. If the Associate Dean for Education concludes that there is evidence of academic misconduct, s/he will notify the student in writing that the student is charged with academic misconduct and must meet with the Associate Dean for Education and the Registrar of the School of Public Health. In this notice, the Associate Dean for Education will advise the student that he or she may be accompanied to this meeting by a faculty advisor. At this meeting the student will be informed of the evidence that appears to support the charge of misconduct. The student will be given an opportunity to rebut the charges and to provide evidence in his or her defense. At this meeting, the Associate Dean for Education will typically determine whether or not academic misconduct occurred, and decide upon a sanction or sanctions, as specified below.

If the Associate Dean for Education recuses herself or himself from the case, then the case is referred directly to the Faculty/Student Committee.
c. Sanctions
A student who is found guilty of academic misconduct is subject to any of the following sanctions:

  • Expulsion from the School.
  • Suspension from the School for a specified period of time.
  • Denial of credit for the course in which the misconduct took place, or grade, or honors, or denial of a degree; imposition of a failing grade in a course; revocation and withdrawal of credit, grade, honors or a degree previously credited, awarded or conferred.
  • Disciplinary probation. Disciplinary probation may involve counseling with faculty or staff; restrictions of student privileges; prohibition in participation on School or University activities or events; prohibitions against holding office in or participation in student or School organizations and activities.
  • Instruction to faculty to give a zero grade on the assignment in question.
  • Instruction to faculty to provide a written summary of the charge to the SPH Registrar in a sealed envelope. This envelope will be placed in the student’s academic file. Should another incident of academic dishonesty occur with the same student, the first envelope will be opened and the information within considered with the new information. In this instance, documentation from both incidents will remain open and in the student’s file.
  • Letter of warning, to be placed in the student’s file.

If the Associate Dean for Education imposes a sanction, such sanction will be stayed pending the result of a hearing before a Faculty/ Student Committee or an appeal to the Dean unless, in the judgment of the Associate Dean for Education, the health, safety or welfare of the School or the preservation of academic integrity requires the immediate imposition of sanctions. Both the suspected student and the individual who initiated the charge of academic misconduct shall be notified of the decision of the Associate Dean for Education in writing.

4. Appeal

If the Associate Dean for Education determines that the student has committed academic misconduct, the student may appeal for a hearing by the Faculty/Student Committee. The student’s written request must specify the grounds for the appeal and whether s/he is appealing the finding of academic misconduct, the sanction or both. The request for a hearing must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Education within ten (10) calendar days after notification of the Associate Dean for Education’s decision via e-mail. Failure to submit a request for an appeal hearing within the ten (10)-day timeframe will constitute a waiver of such rights.

a. Appeal to a Faculty/Student Committee
If a student appeals the Associate Dean for Education’s decision or sanctions, the appeal will be heard by a Faculty/Student committee. The committee shall be appointed by the Dean of the School of Public Health and be composed of two faculty members and one student. The Dean shall appoint one of the faculty members as the Chair of the Committee. The Associate Dean for Education will provide the student with written notice of the time and place of the hearing and of the student’s right to be accompanied to hearing by an advisor of his or her choice; however, except to the extent permitted by the Chair, the advisor may not participate directly in the hearing.

The Committee shall hold a hearing at which it will hear evidence regarding the charge of academic misconduct. The Associate Dean for Education will present the charges and the evidence to the Committee. The Registrar will attend and keep minutes of the appeal proceedings. The hearing will be recorded; however, the proceedings will not be invalidated by reason of a defective recording. The course instructor(s) will be present at the hearing if the Associate Dean for Education, the student, or the Committee requests such presence.

The accused student may provide evidence on his or her behalf. The Committee may ask questions of any person and request additional information or witnesses. The student shall normally be allowed, as deemed appropriate in the discretion of the chair, to ask questions of a witness present at the hearing. The Chair may limit or exclude testimony that is repetitive or irrelevant to determining the accused student’s guilt or innocence. Inclusion or exclusion of evidence or testimony will not be determined by rules of evidence as used in courts. A student will be found guilty of academic misconduct if a majority of the Committee determines that the preponderance of the evidence supports a finding that the student has committed acts, which constitute academic misconduct.

The Committee will deliberate and will typically present its findings within five working days. If the Committee finds the student is not guilty of academic misconduct, the case shall be dismissed. If a student is found guilty of academic misconduct, the Committee shall determine a sanction. The sanction imposed by the Committee may be more lenient or more severe than the sanction imposed by the Associate Dean for Education. The decision and findings will be sent to the Associate Dean for Education in writing that will provide the student with a copy of the Committee’s findings.

Except for good cause shown, failure of the student to appear at the Committee’s hearing shall be deemed a withdrawal of a request for a hearing, and a waiver of any right to be heard by a Faculty/Student Committee.

b. Appeal to the Dean of the School of Public Health
A student who is found guilty of academic misconduct by a Faculty/Student Committee may appeal the finding and/or the sanction to the Dean, who may affirm, reverse, or increase the sanctions. The appeal must be in writing, set forth the grounds upon which the student believes the findings or sanctions should be reversed or modified, and be delivered to the Dean not more than ten (10) calendar days after receiving notice of findings and sanctions by the Faculty/Student Committee. The student must deliver a copy of the appeal to the Associate Dean for Education. The filing of an appeal with the Dean will not operate to stay the effect of the sanctions imposed. The appeal may request that the sanctions be stayed or modified pending determination of the appeal, and the Dean may act on such request at his or her discretion.

The Dean, or his or her designee, will review the record of the prior proceedings. The Dean’s decision will be in writing and sent via e-mail to the student. Copies will be provided to the student, the Associate Dean for Education and the members of the Faculty/Student Committee.

The Dean, or his or her designee, may:

  1. Affirm, modify, or reverse the findings of guilt.
  2. Affirm or modify the sanctions imposed. The severity of the sanctions may be increased or decreased.
  3. Remand the matter to the Associate Dean for Education or the Faculty/Student Committee for additional investigation or a new hearing. If the case is remanded, the Dean must specify whether the sanctions will be maintained or modified pending the completion of the matter on remand.
  4. Take such other action as the Dean deems appropriate.

c. Appeal to the Medical Campus Provost
A student who is found guilty of academic misconduct and who has already appealed to the Dean of the School of Public Health may further appeal the finding and/or the sanctions imposed by the Dean to the Medical Campus Provost. The appeal must be in writing, set forth the grounds upon which the student believes the findings or sanctions should be reversed or modified, and be delivered to the Provost not more than ten (10) calendar days after receiving the notice of findings and sanctions from the Dean. The student must also deliver a copy of the appeal to the Dean.

Filing an appeal with the Provost will not operate to stay the effect of the sanctions imposed. The appeal may request that sanctions be stayed or modified pending determination of the appeal, and the Provost may act on such request at his or her discretion.

5. Records

A sanction imposed as a result of a finding of academic misconduct will be entered on the student’s permanent record, unless this provision is waived by the Associate Dean for Education or the Dean of the School of Public Health. If a student is found to be not guilty of academic misconduct, no record will be made of the charge in the student’s permanent record.

If a student withdraws from the School while charges against him or her are pending, or as part of a negotiated settlement of such charges, this fact will be communicated to the Registrar and the student will not be allowed to re-enroll unless s/he presents evidence that permission for re-enrollment has been granted by the Associate Dean for Education. If the student withdrew while charges were pending, permission for re-enrollment will be granted only after the charges have been resolved. The School may continue the process of investigating and resolving charges of academic misconduct made against a student even if a student withdraws from the School while the charges of academic misconduct are pending.

6. Violations by Students Not Enrolled in a School of Public Health Degree Program

These policies apply to students who are enrolled in another School or College within Boston University, who are enrolled at another School or College outside the University, or who are non-degree students charged with academic misconduct in regard to academic work performed in the School of Public Health.

If such a student is found guilty of academic misconduct, in addition to any sanctions that may be imposed, such a student may be prohibited from taking additional courses at the School of Public Health, and any findings of academic misconduct will be reported to the School at which the student is enrolled.

7. Applicability of Other Codes of Conduct

Students at the School are also subject to the University’s Code of Student Responsibilities which is administered by the University’s Dean of Students. These documents does not in any way limit or supersede that Code or the jurisdiction of the University’s Dean of Students, nor does it limit the ability of any other School or College in which a student of the School of Public Health may be enrolled to institute proceedings pursuant to its own disciplinary code.

Approved by SPH Governing Council
July 17, 2008