2019-2020
Honor System

History

The Georgetown College strategic plan titled “Strategic Initiative Plan Georgetown College 1998‐2003: Moving to Higher Ground” directed a study as to whether or not a campus‐wide honor system should be initiated. An eighteen‐month study that included the study of student survey data, faculty input, student focus groups, and study of the benefits of an honor system at comparable institutions concluded the need to develop a College‐wide Honor System. The study indicated a need to develop an honor system that emphasizes faculty involvement, student participation, and administrative management focused upon consistency. As a result, this Honor System document was developed. The intention of the creators of the Georgetown College Honor System was that the Honor System would become an important tradition toward the maintenance of a truly scholarly environment that highlights the ideals of honor, responsibility, consistency, student/faculty involvement, and fairness. The Georgetown College Honor System was initiated during the fall semester 2000.

Meaning

The mission of Georgetown College is to prepare students to engage in their life’s pursuits with thoughtfulness and skill by providing an exceptional educational experience in a vibrant Christian community. Distinguished by its emphasis on outstanding teaching and mentoring, the College offers excellent academic programs in the liberal arts, sciences, and professions. In a truly academic community, honor must be expected. Honor is an ideal that is evident in the lives of ethical scholars. Primarily, the function of the Honor System is to educate and instill a common purpose within the campus’ student community. The Honor System is an educational tool to assist the process of teaching morality and ethics. The Honor system helps create an environment that will assist in the development of the whole person by insisting upon honorable traits and behavior. Further, the process assists in the establishment of precedent, consistency, and fairness with regard to questions of academic integrity. An effective honor system requires students and faculty to understand and abide by the system’s expectations.

Process

All students are expected to sign an understanding of the Honor System. Record of this understanding, for undergraduates, is kept on file in the Office of the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students. Further, an introduction to the Honor System will occur during the undergraduate new student orientation program each year. Additional Honor System orientation programs will be scheduled as needed.

Guidelines

The strength of the Honor System is in the creation of an atmosphere in which students can act with individual responsibility. This includes the personal decision to act honorably and to not tolerate others who choose to violate the conditions of the Honor System. Therefore, an important aspect of the College’s Honor System is that all students are expected to report violations of the Honor System by their peers. Faculty and Staff must also understand the spirit of the system and do everything possible to abide by the guidelines.

Infractions

Infractions of the Honor System include cheating, stealing, and lying related to academic matters. These infractions are defined as follows:

  • Cheating. Fabricating written assignments; giving aid to any student or receiving aid without the consent of the professor on tests, quizzes, assignments, or examinations; consulting unauthorized work with the intent of subverting the purpose of the exercise. (An assignment shall be defined as any work, required or voluntary, submitted to an instructor for review or grade.)
  • Plagiarism. The act of presenting the information, ideas, or phrasing of another as if they were one’s own. Such an act is plagiarism whether by ignorance of proper scholarly procedures, failure to observe them, or deliberate intent to deceive.
  • Stealing. The act of appropriating that which belongs to another with intent to the College or another individual with intent to achieve an unfair advantage in academic matters, whether or not the advantage is a personal one, and/or assisting others in such acts. (Examples include theft of library materials, computer software/equipment, or instructor’s examinations, etc.)
  • Lying (in academic matters). The intentional statement of an untruth made with deliberate intent to mislead another.  Forgery is considered an act of lying and thus an honor offense. Therefore, the unauthorized signing or false representation on a college document is considered an honor offense. Note: It will be considered in an individual’s favor in determining penalty, if an individual tells an untruth concerning a matter but later, on his/her own initiative tells the truth concerning the same matter before he/she is confronted with the untruth. Lying during the process of resolving an alleged honor offense is considered a breach of the Honor System.
  • Double Assignments. The use of one assignment (e.g. paper) to fulfill the requirements of more than one course will be considered a violation of the Honor System, unless the student has received proper permission from the appropriate instructor(s). 

Honor Code Infraction Procedure

If a faculty member believes that a student may have violated the Georgetown College honor code:

  1. The faculty member will raise a Potential Honor Code Infraction flag on Connect.
    1. The flag will e‐mail the student directly and let him or her know that they must meet with the faculty member within three days of receiving the notification to discuss the potential infraction.
    2. If the student fails to meet with the faculty member during this time frame, the infraction will automatically become an Honor Code Violation.
  2. Once the faculty member raises the Potential Honor Code Infraction flag, he or she will also reach out to the student directly. An automatic notification will be sent to the Registrar that a possible honor code violation has occurred.
    1. The Registrar will then place a hold on the student’s schedule so that he or she cannot drop the course in question. No further details will be given to the Registrar.
    2. At this point in the process, the only people aware that a violation may have occurred will be the student, the faculty member, and the Registrar.

After the student and faculty member meet to discuss the potential violation:

  1. If the faculty member determines that no violation has taken place:
    1. The faculty member will clear the Potential Honor Code Infraction flag that he or she raised on Connect.
    2. An automatic notification will notify the Registrar that the flag has been cleared.    The registrar will remove the hold on the student’s account.
  2. If the faculty member determines that a violation has taken place:
    1. The faculty member will leave the Potential Honor Code Infraction flag open on Connect.
    2. The faculty member will also raise the Honor Code Violation flag on Connect. This will notify the student, the Administrative Assistant/Academic Operations Coordinator, and the Director of Academic Success that a violation has been filed against the student.
    3. The wording of the Honor Code Violation flag will link to the online student handbook. This will allow the student to review his or her rights under the Honor Council process.

If the potential violation is the student’s first Honor Code offense:

  1. If the student accepts responsibility:
    1. The professor may impose a penalty appropriate to the violation (see SANCTIONS below)
    2. The Administrative Assistant/Academic Operations Coordinator clears the flag.
  2. If the student admits responsibility for the action but disputes the penalty, the student may appeal the penalty to the Honor Council.
    1. The Director of Academic Success contacts the student to see if he or she has any questions regarding their rights under the Honor Council
    2. The Administrative Assistant/Academic Operations Coordinator notifies the chair of the Honor Council of the need for a hearing.
    3. The hearing is held and the penalty is assessed.
  3. If the student does not accept responsibility:
    1. The Director of Academic Success contacts the student to see if he or she has any questions regarding their rights under the Honor Council
    2. The Administrative Assistant/Academic Operations Coordinator notifies the Chair of the Honor Council that an incident will be adjudicated at the next regularly scheduled session of the Honor Council (held at 11 a.m. on the first Tuesday of every month during the academic year‐‐see Hearing Process below).
    3. The Provost’s Office will forward a complete listing of the charges and the appropriate rights and procedure information to the accused by 5 p.m. on the Friday before the next scheduled Honor Council meeting
    4. The hearing is held and the student is found responsible or not responsible for the violation.
  4. If the violation is the student’s second Honor Code offense, the violation will proceed to the Honor Council regardless of whether or not the student accepts responsibility for the violation. The student will be notified that the Honor Council will hold a hearing at its next regularly scheduled meeting.
    1. If the student has accepted responsibility for this second violation, the Honor Council will review the sanction and the details of the violations for which the student has been found responsible in order to determine if the automatic penalty of F for the course should be enhanced.
    2. If the student has not accepted responsibility, the Honor Council will first hold a hearing to determine if the student should be held responsible; during that deliberation, only the Chair will know that the hearing is for a second offense.
    3. If a student is then found responsible for a second offense, the Chair will inform the Honor Council of the details of previous offenses during the penalty phase of its deliberation.

If the student is found responsible for the violation:

  1. The student can appeal the finding to the Provost. The notice and specific reasons for the appeal must be made in writing to the Provost/Dean of the College within five days of the student receiving written notice of the Honor Council’s decision. The appeal letter must state specifically the basis for the appeal, for example misinterpretation of a policy or new information that was not made available during the Honor Council hearing. The decision of the Provost/Dean of the College will be the final decision regarding honor violations.
    1. The Provost makes a decision to uphold the Honor Council or to reject their findings.
    2. The Administrative Assistant/Academic Operations Coordinator clears the flag, which notifies the student and the faculty member of the Provost’s decision.
  2. The student can choose to accept the Honor Council’s decision.
    1. The Administrative Assistant/Academic Operations Coordinator clears the flag, which notifies the student and the faculty member of the Honor Council’s decision.

If the student is not found responsible for the violation:

  1. The Administrative Assistant/Academic Operations Coordinator clears the flag, which notifies the student and the faculty member of the Honor Council’s decision.

Note: If the charged student is a graduate student, the Dean of Education will participate in the communication.

Sanctions

A sanction used in the resolution of an honor offense should be based on precedent, prior record, attitude, and severity of the offense. The following are the most commonly recognized sanctions. Particular incidents may require the use of one or more of these sanctions.

  • Written reprimand/Warning
  • Financial Restitution
  • F on specific assignment
  • F in pertinent course
  • Suspension for a period of time with a right to reapply for admission following the suspension period
  • Expulsion (no right to reapply)

Faculty, Provost/Dean of the College, and Honor Council members have a responsibility to work together to make sanctions as fair and consistent as possible. Though due respect will be given to a faculty member’s recommendation on the nature of the penalty, faculty members should also respect that it is desirable to have consistent and fair sanctions across campus.

Penalty for a second offence: A second honor offense will result in at least an automatic “F” in the course. The Honor Council may not assign a lesser sanction, but the Provost (on appeal) has the discretion to deviate from this firm expectation. The Honor Council may, if appropriate, apply a greater penalty such as suspension or expulsion.

Rights of the Accused

Students accused of a violation of the Georgetown College Honor System are assured of the following rights:

  • The College may act as the accuser.
  • The accused has the right to confront the accuser.
  • If the accused decides to have the suspected honor violation resolved by a hearing, the following rights are implied:
    • The right to have specific charges outlined in a letter that will be delivered at least 48 hours in advance of scheduled hearing procedures
    • The right to call any material witnesses deemed necessary by the accused during the hearing procedures
    • The right to call no more than two character witnesses during the penalty phase of the hearing
    • The right to have the outcome of the hearing discussed in a face‐to‐face meeting with the Director for Academic Success
    • The right to an appeal with the Provost/Dean of the College

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