Academic Honor Code

Academic Honor Code

The Academic Honor Code, enacted more than a century ago, is a code of personal responsibility accepted by the students of Rockford College (now University), which demands absolute integrity in all academic relationships. It attempts to prevent students from gaining an unfair advantage in classes and to guarantee students that they will have an equal opportunity with others in completing requirements for any course.

It is important for students to realize that the primary responsibility for making the Honor Code work is in their hands. Although a faculty member may initiate an action against a student who is suspected of violating the Honor Code, the main responsibility for enforcing the Honor Code rests with the students.

A student’s matriculation at Rockford University implies understanding and mandates acceptance of the Academic Honor Code. No formal written agreement is required, and this acceptance is binding. In most instances, students take examinations without the supervision of a faculty member. If the faculty member remains in the room during an examination, it is solely for the convenience of students who may wish to ask questions.

It is understood that any assignments students present to instructors are their own work and that they will not permit their work to be copied by others. The materials, methods, and permissible extent of collaboration vary from course to course; consequently, instructors are expected to provide explanations in all courses, and students should be guided by these interpretations. Adherence to the principles of academic honesty does not mean that students may not help one another, as long as the help is constructive; it does mean that they should not do others’ work for them.

If students or faculty members observe what they believe to be violations of the Academic Honor Code, it is their responsibility to confront the alleged violator(s) immediately. The faculty member (or professor of record) should attempt to resolve the incident and report the incident and outcomes to the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students. If both parties (the professor of record and alleged student) are unable to mutually agree on a resolution, the matter should be referred to the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students for student conduct adjudication. If the alleged violator is referred by the faculty member to meet with the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students to discuss the situation and does not do so after a reasonable amount of time (usually about 24 hours), it is the responsibility of the students or faculty member observing the suspected violations to report them to the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students.  Additional information regarding reporting allegations can be found at the conclusion of this section.

The Academic Honor Code applies to plagiarism, cheating, and the academic regulations of Computer Labs and Library services. Academic dishonesty shall include but not be limited to:

  1. cheating, plagiarism, or other forms of academic;
  2. theft, destruction, or severe mutilation of University academic material which leads to denying their use to other members of the University constituency;
  3. any form of cheating on examinations, including but not limited to:
    1. use of “crib” (defined as any device for carrying answers into an examination);
    2. oral transmission of information either given or received during an exam period;
    3. reading the answers of others;
    4. hiding pertinent information at another location to study during ostensible fountain or washroom breaks;
    5. intent observation of others’ work for hints on materials or technique during a laboratory test without the consent of the instructor;
    6. obtaining part or whole copies of the exam without consent of the instructor;
    7. buying or procuring previous exams given in the course without the consent of the instructor;
  1. presentation of material which has been prepared by another person or organization as one’s own material;
  2. fraudulent processing of one’s attendance at required University functions (e. g. Forum Series);
  3. furnishing false information to any University official, faculty member or office;
  4. forgery, alteration, or misuse of any University document, record, or instrument of identification;
  5. tampering with the election on any University-recognized student organization.
The Importance of Understanding both Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

One of the most important and valuable practices in academia is drawing on the work of others and giving proper credit when doing so. Thus, it is paramount that all students at Rockford University uphold standards of academic integrity, ensuring readers, such as professors, that the student-author is trustworthy, honest in her or his representation of ideas, and dedicated to the tradition of honor at Rockford University. All students are expected to know the information below and could face negative consequences if they do not.

What is Plagiarism?

The Council of Writing Program Administrators explains that “in an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source.” The Council goes on to explain that this definition “applies to texts published in print or on-line, to manuscripts, and to the work of other student writers.” In simplest terms, plagiarism is representing another person’s language or ideas as your own.

Plagiarism might include a student deliberately lifting another writer’s words and failing to give proper credit or a student inadequately or improperly citing sources in a research assignment.

Related Matters

Obviously, it is a violation of the most fundamental rules of academic honesty for students to hand in as their own work what has been done for them by another individual, by a company that sells papers, or by an online database of “free” college essays. Also, the rules of academic honesty require that students never destroy or make unauthorized use of information or data stored in a computer or other educational machine. Students should also refrain from using the same works for two or more courses without securing in advance the permission of their instructors.

It is important that all members of the RU community share the responsibility for maintaining a reputable University committed to academic excellence. Faculty are encouraged to promote academic honesty among students by including a statement in the course syllabus and by discussing issues such as cheating and plagiarism. Similarly, students should protect themselves by thoroughly studying and preparing for tests and assignments and by discouraging dishonesty among other students.

Procedures for Faculty to Report Allegations of Academic Misconduct

If a faculty member (or professor of record) has reason to suspect that one of his/her students has engaged in academic dishonesty, the faculty member may take one of the following steps:

  1. Confront the student regarding the matter and attempt to resolve the situation directly with the student. However, the student may request that the matter be referred directly to the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students for resolution, in which case the faculty member must do so; or
  2. Refer the matter directly to the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students within five school days of the occurrence.

If the student and the faculty member reach a mutual decision, written notification must be given to the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students regarding the infraction and the resolution/outcome.

If the faculty member attempts to handle the matter and is unable to agree on a mutually acceptable resolution, the faculty member must refer the matter to the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students within 10 school days of the occurrence.

Note: In cases of academic misconduct, the Student Conduct Board and/or Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students may only recommend to the faculty member (professor of record) a reduced or failing grade for the assignment or course. The faculty member (professor of record) makes final decisions regarding all academic grades. Students have the right to appeal the grade via the grade appeal process that appears in the academic catalog.

Procedures for Students to Report Allegations of Academic Misconduct

If a student observes what has been described as academic dishonesty, the observing student must report the violation to the professor of the class in which the alleged violation occurred as soon as possible or within five school days of the incident.

The faculty member (professor of record) will meet with the accused student. If the professor is unable to reach a mutual decision with the student accused of violating the honor code, either the faculty member or the student who observed the alleged violation needs to bring the matter to the attention of the Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students.

Although the observing student does not need to confront the alleged student at the time the violation occurs, the identity of the accuser must become known before a hearing can be scheduled.

Note: In cases of academic misconduct, the Student Conduct Board and/or Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students may only recommend to the faculty member (professor of record) a reduced or failing grade for the assignment or course. The faculty member (professor of record) makes final decisions regarding all academic grades. Students have the right to appeal the grade via the grade appeal process that appears in the academic catalog.