Procedures of the Honor and Ethics Council

Honor Code Violations

Cheating, plagiarism, stealing, deception, academic misconduct, and contempt are considered violations of the Honor Code. These terms should be construed to have their ordinary, non-legal meaning.

  1. The term “cheating” includes:

(a) providing or receiving unauthorized assistance in academic endeavors (e.g., quizzes, tests, examinations, reports, term papers);

(b) use of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; or

(c) the use, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the University faculty or staff.

  1. “Plagiarism” is a type of cheating. It includes:

(a) the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without complete acknowledgment of the source;

(b) the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another agency or person providing term papers or other academic materials;

(c) the non-attributed use of any portion of a computer algorithm or data file; or

(d) the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of online material without complete acknowledgment of the source.

When faced with conflicting definitions of plagiarism during a case, the Honor and Ethics Council will adopt the definition established for use in the department/course by the department or professor involved in the case.

  1. The term “stealing” includes:

(a) the unauthorized taking, misappropriation, or possession of any property belonging to, owned by, or maintained by the University, an organization, or another individual, or

(b) the possession, retention, or disposal of stolen property.

  1. The term “deception” includes any false or deceiving representation. In the academic context, such representations include:

(a) any attempt to avoid meeting the stated course requirements, such as making false statements to avoid taking examinations at the scheduled times or to avoid turning in assignments at the scheduled times;

(b) listing sources in a bibliography not directly used in the academic exercise; or

(c) submitting falsified, invented, or fictitious data or evidence, or concealing or distorting the true nature, origin, or function of data or evidence.

In the social context, deceptive representations include:

(a) making a false statement to a University official, including Residence Advisors, or

(b) presenting a false identification.

  1. The term “academic misconduct” may be used as a generic designation for all honor code violations in the academic context. As a specific charge it includes:

(a) the violation of University policies by tampering with grades

(b) taking part in obtaining or distributing any part of an unadministered academic exercise;

(c) any attempt to gain access or to aid another in gaining access to any computer account other than one’s own without proper authorization; or

(d) any attempt to gain access or to aid another in gaining access, without proper authorization, to department offices, faculty offices, laboratories, or any other place where unadministered assignments are kept.

  1. The term “contempt” includes:

(a) instances of perjury (giving false testimony), or

(b) acts which otherwise obstruct the conduct process.

Note: Cheating, stealing, making false or deceiving statements, plagiarism, vandalism, and harassment are just as wrong when done in the context of computing as they are in all other aspects of University conduct.

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Reporting Accusations

  1. Violations of the Honor Code are reported to the Judicial Liaison (or to the Dean of Students Office in the case of non-academic matters) in writing within ten (10) business days from the date on which the alleged breach of the Honor Code comes to the attention of the student, faculty member, or University official reporting the incident. All reports should address four questions:

(a) What is the nature of the alleged violation?

(b) Who did it?

(c) When and where did it occur? And

(d) How did it come to the attention of the person reporting it?

  1. The accused student must be informed in writing of the accusations at least twenty-four (24) hours before the investigator begins the investigation. The student may waive this right and allow the investigation to begin immediately.

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Case Assignment and Investigation

  1. The Judicial Liaison will oversee cases in their pre-hearing phase.
  2. The normal steps between receipt of a case and a hearing are as follows:
    • The Judicial Liaison receives a case.
    • The Judicial Liaison does an initial review to determine whether the case is of a nature to be heard by the Honor and Ethics Council and whether the requisite materials are in hand.
    • If it is determined that the case should proceed, the Judicial Liaison informs the accused student that the student will be the subject of an investigation.
    • The Judicial Liaison contacts the BIA co-chair and arranges for an investigation; a BIA advisor will also be assigned. At least 24 hours must elapse between when the Judicial Liaison informs the accused student of the investigation and the beginning of the investigation (see “Reporting Accusations” above).
    • The BIA investigator conducts the investigation, under the supervision of the BIA co-chair, in a reasonable amount of time, writes a report, and submits the report to the Judicial Liaison.
    • The Judicial Liaison determines whether the matter should proceed to a hearing.
    • If the Judicial Liaison determines that the matter should proceed to a hearing, the Judicial Liaison issues formal charges to the student. No hearing will take place sooner than five (5) business days after the student is formally notified of the charges (see “Rights of the Accused Student” below). The Judicial Liaison will give a copy of the investigator’s report to the accused student. If a matter that is investigated does not proceed to a hearing, the Judicial Liaison will notify the student of this.
    • At the hearing, the BIA investigator presents the case to the HEC. The Judicial Liaison does not participate in the hearing.

Note: An accusation of misconduct does not constitute a “charge” such that a hearing is required. An investigation is required in order to determine whether a case should proceed to a hearing.  In order to assure that only those cases which have merit proceed to hearing, the student should endeavor to cooperate with the investigator in answering all questions pertaining to the investigation of the case.

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Rights of the Accused Student in Honor and Ethics Council Hearings

  1. The accused student has the right to assistance from a student advisor. An advisor will be assigned from the Board of Investigators and Advisors by its co-chair. If the student wishes, the student may instead choose any currently enrolled Wake Forest undergraduate student to serve as the student’s advisor. The student may always choose to proceed without the assistance of an advisor. It is recommended that students use their assigned advisors, though the decision to do otherwise will not be considered during the deliberative process.
  2. The student will not be compelled to testify and the failure to testify will not be held against the student. Neither the investigator nor any member of the hearing panel will comment on the student’s failure to testify.
  3. When it is determined that a case will be investigated, the student will be informed that the student will be the subject of an investigation.
  4. The student will be informed of the results of an investigation of which the student is the subject.
  5. No hearing will take place sooner than five (5) business days after the student is notified of the charges. The student may waive this right for purposes of expediency.
  6. The student has the right to choose between an open and a closed hearing.

Note: “Open hearing” is defined as a hearing at which the following are present: all necessary parties for a decision, one (1) or two (2) undergraduate student staff members of the Old Gold and Black newspaper, the chair of the Student Government Judiciary Committee, any member of the Judicial Council, and up to twelve (12) Wake Forest undergraduate students, six (6) of whom may be designated by the accused student and six (6) of whom by the complaining party(ies). The request for an open hearing must be presented in writing to the Judicial Liaison no less than five (5) business days before the scheduled hearing.

  1. The student has the right to be present at all times and at all phases of the hearing except deliberation.
  2. The student has the right to appeal any decision to the Judicial Council.

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The Hearing

  1. The hearing panel for each case consists of five (5) members of the Honor and Ethics Council. Each panel is composed of the Dean of the College (or the Dean’s designee), two (2) faculty members, and two (2) students.
  2. The Dean of the College or the Dean’s designee is the presiding officer at the hearing. The presiding officer may also participate freely in the questioning, the deliberations, and the voting. The hearing is held within a reasonable period of time, but not before five (5) days after the notification of charges. If a closed hearing is held, only the members of the Honor and Ethics Council, the investigator, the accused student, and the advisor, if any, may be present. As appropriate, the student’s advisor can speak on behalf of the student during the hearing­­. A witness may be present only during that witness’s testimony.
  3. In cases where more than one individual is charged with a violation arising out of a single incident, each student may request an individual hearing. The request should be presented to the Judicial Liaison at least five (5) days in advance of the hearing date. The Judicial Liaison will decide whether the petition is granted. In cases where there are several charges arising from a single incident and no requests for individual hearings are made, the Judicial Liaison determines whether the individuals are heard together or separately.
  4. The Honor and Ethics Council has the power to require the presence of the accused student and witnesses and to obtain articles and documents of evidence within the Wake Forest community. If a student who is requested to appear through direct oral or written communication from the Judicial Liaison or the Dean or the Dean’s designee or the investigator does not appear, the student may be found in contempt of the conduct process.
  5. Signed statements may be introduced as evidence, but only if the witness whose statement is submitted is unavailable for the hearing. The Judicial Liaison must approve the absence of a necessary witness in order for a statement from that person to be admissible. Such a statement should be provided to the Judicial Liaison at least twenty-four (24) hours before the hearing.

Note: The absence of a witness does not necessarily compromise a fair hearing. Written statements can and should be used at hearings where a witness for good cause cannot attend the hearing.

  1. The investigator and the accused student may request witnesses to testify during the presentation of evidence in the case. The student and the investigator should submit to the Judicial Liaison a list of witnesses at least five (5) business days before the hearing. The Judicial Liaison will not permit the calling of witnesses whose presence appears unnecessary, repetitive, or irrelevant to deciding the case. During the hearing, witnesses may be questioned by the investigator, the accused student, and the members of the Honor and Ethics Council.
  2. The investigator and the accused student are permitted each to give an opening statement and a closing statement during the hearing. During those statement(s), the investigator and the accused student are entitled to summarize the facts as viewed from their perspective, suggest lines of inquiry which should be pursued by the hearing panel, make observations consistent with the testimony or anticipated testimony of witnesses, and advance a plausible theory of the case.
  3. The presiding officer keeps order during the hearing, rules on the relevance of evidence, and asks questions of the witnesses. In making a ruling, the presiding officer should be guided by principles of reasonableness and fairness, and not by technical rules of the civil or criminal law.
  4. The introduction or use of polygraph evidence in any conduct or honor hearing is prohibited.
  5. The presiding officer has the authority to declare a recess during the hearing.
  6. The hearing procedure is as follows:
    • Prior to the hearing, the panel reviews reports and documents concerning the case.
    • The presiding officer begins the hearing by informing the accused student of the student’s rights in the hearing and asking the student to acknowledge an understanding of those rights. The presiding officer then reads the charge(s) against the accused student and asks the student to make a statement of responsible or not responsible for each of the violations.
    • If the student makes a statement accepting responsibility for all of the violation(s), the hearing proceeds to the sanctioning phase (See “Sanctioning” below).
    • If the student makes a statement not accepting responsibility for some or all of the violation(s), first the investigator and then the student may each make an opening statement to the panel.
    • After the opening statements, the presiding officer calls witnesses.
    • Each witness is sworn in by an affirmative response to the following: “Do you solemnly (swear or affirm) that, to the best of your knowledge, the information you are about to give is the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
    • After a witness has been sworn in, under the direction of the presiding officer, the witness may be questioned by the investigator, by the accused student, and by members of the panel. The purpose of the questioning is to discover the truth. The presiding officer will encourage questions that tend toward that goal and will disallow questions that are irrelevant, unnecessary, or repetitious.
    • When questioning of a witness is complete, the presiding officer instructs the witness to remain available until the hearing is complete. A witness may be dismissed if all present agree that the witness will not need to be recalled.
    • After all witnesses have been questioned, the presiding officer recalls any witness requested by the panel. The presiding officer also recalls witnesses requested by the investigator or the accused student if the presiding officer determines that the questions to be asked are relevant and necessary.
    • When all witnesses have been questioned, first the investigator and then the student may each make a closing statement.
    • After the closing statements, the investigator, student, and advisor are excused from the hearing room.
    • The presiding officer reminds the panel of the charges; states that only evidence relevant to the subject of the hearing may be considered in establishing responsibility; and states that in order to reach a finding of responsible, a majority of the panel should have a settled conviction that the charges are true based on reasonable scrutiny of the evidence.
    • After the presiding officer has made the above statement, the panel deliberates in private on its finding. Voting is by secret ballot. The presiding officer ensures that the deliberations and voting proceed in an orderly and appropriate manner.
    • In cases involving the charge of deception, the hearing panel may rule that the charge is not worthy of an honor offense, in which case the student is found not responsible.
    • A majority of the hearing panel is required to reach a finding of responsible. After the panel has reached its decision, the presiding officer re-convenes the investigator, the student, the advisor, and the panel, and reports the decision to the student.
    • Once the decision has been reported, if the student has been found responsible (or has accepted responsibility) for a violation, the hearing moves to the sanctioning phase.
  1. Sanctioning.
    • If the student accepts responsibility or is found responsible, evidence may be presented by both the investigator and accused student that may be relevant regarding an appropriate sanction(s).
    • After hearing any evidence and witness testimony relevant to sanctions, the panel deliberates in private. The panel considers an appropriate sanction and will adhere to any presumptive sanction authorized by University policy unless the panel finds the presence of unusual circumstances that warrant deviation from the presumptive sanction. Panels not imposing presumptive sanctions should be prepared to defend their decision.
    • Possible Sanctions.
      • In all academic cases with a plea or finding of responsible, a grade of F for the course will be assigned. The Honor and Ethics Council advances this as a recommendation to the Committee on Academic Affairs, and the Committee on Academic Affairs, on behalf of the faculty, assigns the grade. The recommendation will normally be for an irreplaceable F (that is, the F remains on the student’s record and figures in the GPA even if the course involved is repeated for credit). The Council should consider recommending a replaceable F only when exceptionally mitigating factors are present.
      • Additionally the Honor and Ethics Council may assign penalties ranging from community service hours and disciplinary probation to expulsion, depending on the nature and severity of the offense. A one-semester suspension will be the normal sanction for serious violations of academic integrity, such as knowingly submitting another person’s paper or writing as one’s own or premeditated cheating. (When assigning a one-semester suspension the suspension will take place during the fall or spring semester. A suspension may also include summer session as well.  But a one-semester suspension would not be satisfied by separation from the university solely for summer session.)
      • Offenses that do not rise to that level may receive a sanction of community service; the expected range is 10 to 50 hours. Normally this sanction will be accompanied by a sanction of Disciplinary Probation. The probationary period will normally last for about one semester. It should begin immediately after the hearing and may be extended by the Honor and Ethics Council into the following semester.
      • In cases where a student has been sanctioned for an academic honor code offense and then commits another academic honor code offense, expulsion is the normal sanction.
      • Activities Suspension is also available to the Honor and Ethics Council as a penalty.
    • In all conduct actions where suspension is the penalty, the presumptive semester for the suspension is the one following that in which the decision is rendered (omitting summer sessions): a spring decision expects a fall suspension, a fall decision expects a spring suspension. This policy does not apply to seniors in their final term. For these persons the presumptive semester of suspension is the term in which the decision is rendered.
    • The panel reaches its decision about sanctioning by a majority vote. When a decision has been reached, the presiding officer re-convenes the investigator, the student, the advisor, and the panel and reports the decision to the accused student. The sanction is final unless the student appeals to the Judicial Council.

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Appeals

  1. All appeals are made to the Judicial Council by the accused student.
  2. The student must present the request for an appeal to the Judicial Council within fourteen (14) calendar days following the decision of the Honor and Ethics Council. The appeal should be directed to the Secretary of the Judicial Council.
  3. Grounds for appeal from a decision of the Honor and Ethics Council are:

(1.) Sufficiency of the evidence to support the decision,
(2.) The appropriateness of the sanction,
(3.) Germane new evidence,
(4.) Procedural errors that significantly impact the outcome.

  1. When an appeal hearing is held by the Judicial Council, the presiding officer from the Honor and Ethics Council hearing panel (or the presiding officer’s designee) will appear at the appeal hearing as spokesperson for the panel.

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Records and Reporting

  1. Recordings and records of academic cases are maintained in the Office of the Dean of the College. Audio recordings will be maintained for the academic year coincident with the incident. Records for qualifying cases will be expunged upon a student’s graduation.
  2. No member of the Honor and Ethics Council or the Board of Investigators and Advisors may make any statement, public or private, pertaining to a student conduct case.

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