University Academic Integrity Policy expects students to uphold standards

Marina McGowan

The university adopted a new Academic Integrity Policy this fall that defines violations of academic dishonesty including plagiarism, cheating and misrepresentation.
The main goal of the policy is to inform students, faculty and staff that there are five basic standards to uphold as part of the Quinnipiac University community: honesty, trust, responsibility, fairness and respect.
The start of this new policy began four years ago, with the collaboration of students, faculty and staff members acting as the judicial board. The purpose of the Academic Integrity Board is to investigate and adjudicate alleged student violations of the policy, including other offenses as fabrication, stealing and facilitation.
This board consists of twenty-two members, including twelve faculty members and administrative staff, three sophomores, three juniors and four seniors.
Kathleen McCourt, senior vice president of Academic Affairs, selected these student members last spring.
“I think that the integrity policy is very important to a university,” said McCourt. “It stands for a lot of values and they are values that we respect here.”
The focus of the policy is to educate the community that values are important, said McCourt, and that dishonesty and cheating is unaccectable behavior.
“The student board members are a great source to refer for comments and ideas regarding this policy,” said Catherine Meriano, director of Academic Integrity. “They provide the other members with great educational ideas on how to get in touch with the students.”
According to Meriano, previously the Academic Honesty Policy had no consistency with sanctions, while with this new policy, there is an impartial board making the decisions, which makes it less adversarial.
“If students know that this policy is in effect and that it will be enforced, hopefully students will not violate the policy,” said Meriano, also a professor of occupational therapy. “The more I can educate the students, the less cases we will have.”
The policy follows a specific procedure that consists of a report, case review, hearing and appeal. A student, faculty member or staff member may file a report form that goes directly to the director of Academic Integrity if they believe someone has violated the policy in any way. From there, judicial procedures are followed.
Records are kept of those students who violate the policy. Files will be destroyed three semesters upon leaving the institution or upon graduation. However, the files of those students who are expelled, suspended or dismissed from the institution are kept indefinitely.
If the form reports of a minor and unintentional violation, then the faculty from whom the report was filed can chose to resolve the incident for a first time incident.
However, according to Meriano, if it is a substantial violation, the student admits violation and has prior history of violation, the case goes to review. If there was already a prior integrity violation, then there will be stricter repercussions, she said.
If the student admits to the violation and has no prior history of violation, the board asks the student what the sanction should be, otherwise the case goes to a hearing.
“We try to get both parties to agree on a sanction,” said Meriano. “If they can’t agree, then the report goes to the board. The board will ask for input and will ask the students what their sanction should be.”
If the student denies violation, then the case goes to case review, where all individuals involved in the report or incident are interviewed. The hearing board then decides the outcome of the case.
If a student is found to have violated the policy, they can appeal to McCourt.
“We have no idea how many complaints there will be this year,” said Meriano. “However, the more education we have about this policy, the less violations there will be. [The students] may not realize it now, but in the long run they will be better researchers and better at their job.”
A pilot study consisting of adjunct professors, full-time professors and law professors, is testing different websites that help them to determine whether or not a student’s paper has been plagiarized. Once they see which one they like best, the faculty members are hoping to get a website license for the university, providing that the website is not already free of charge.
It is recommended that students, faculty and administration review the entire policy on the web page, (
It can also be located on the Quinnipiac website, found by clicking Current Students and then clicking Academic Policy under the Policy and Procedure section.
A summary of the Academic Integrity Policy can also be found in the student handbook.
Questions can be forwarded to the Academic Integrity Program at [email protected] Forms can be mailed to Box 180 or emailed as an attachment to the above mentioned email address.