New Drop Policy in Cheating Cases

    Originally, students who dropped a course after being accused of academic misconduct could be re-enrolled by the professor, who could then issue ‘F’ grades before the charges were proven, Committee on Educational Policy Chair Bill Griswold said.

    “The purpose of that is to permit the administration to hold the student accountable for their performance in the course,” Griswold said. “The problem with this is that the student may have dropped the course for reasons unrelated to the academic misconduct.”

    According to Griswold, students who dropped a class during Week 3 could be re-enrolled if the professor discovered a problem (based on the student’s original performance) a few weeks later in the quarter, at which point the student would be unable to pass.

    “[Under the old policy], if you had cheated in a class or been accused of it, if you tried to drop once charges were filed, you would be automatically re-enrolled,” Committee on Educational Policy undergraduate representative Mac Zilber said.

    Under the proposed policy, students cannot receive a grade until they have been found guilty of academic misconduct.
    “If a student doesn’t want to deal with academic consequences, they can drop the class and the professor wouldn’t be able to give them an ‘F’,” Zilber said.
     
    However, students can still receive administrative consequences that can be detrimental to their careers, Griswold said.
    “Medical schools and law schools frequently request [dean] certification [to ensure] there was no misconduct on the student’s record,” Griswold said. “The conduct code includes both academic and nonacademic infractions. If you’re caught stealing or vandalizing, it all goes on your record.”
     
    Griswold said that “administrative consequences” can range from educating people on academic integrity to dismissal. First-time offenses can result in suspension for a quarter, which can delay a student’s graduation, Griswold said.
    If the student drops the class before charges are filed, she cannot be given an ‘F.’ (though the student can still receive an ‘F’ if she drops the class after the charges are filed).
     
    According to Griswold, if a student is found guilty of academic misconduct, his or her grade is subject to the professor’s guidelines.

    “Usually [academic consequences] aren’t very severe,” Griswold said. “If you fail the class, you can retake it and it doesn’t count on your GPA.”

    Under the proposal, there are two ways a professor can file charges if he thinks a student has cheated. Professors can meet with the student before submitting a formal charge to the Office of the Academic Integrity Coordinator. They can also submit formal charges directly to the Academic Integrity Committee. Griswold said that the committee advises faculty members to file a complaint with the administration before meeting with the student.
     
    According to Zilber, the new policy developed after a two-year process during which the Academic Senate gathered input from other campus committees.
     
    The Committee on Educational Policy weighed in on the issue during its 2011 session, debating whether professors should give students a ‘W’ as academic punishment if they plan on dropping instead of an ‘F,’ Zilber said.
     
    The CEP proposed the change to this academic misconduct policy after questioning the policy’s consistency with other existing academic integrity guidelines.

    CEP passed the proposal at its Feb. 13 meeting. According to Griswold, the proposal must go through the university Rules and Jurisdictions Committee and be voted on by the Academic Senate Representative Assembly before the current policy can be officially changed.
     
    According to Senior Senate Analyst for UCSD Academic Senate Miky Ramirez, the CEP last met on March 19.

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