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Academic Honor Code

5 Things Parents Should Know About Academic Honesty Codes

By September 5, 2018April 6th, 2022No Comments

As a parent, you want your child to live a happy and healthy life. This includes going off to college and succeeding in their studies. To ensure their success and fairness in school, it is important to know your child’s academic honesty codes. The academic honesty code outlines and explains what cheating qualifies as, and what is allowed for group or individual assignments. As a parent, you should read through the school’s honesty code and relate the importance of academic integrity to your student.

In academic honesty codes, a lot of schools will refer to academic integrity. Academic integrity is basically a broad term that includes all of the policies in keeping students honest and trustworthy. The term is an umbrella word that includes the school’s minimum standards of academia, definitions of the rights of students when charged with a violation, and procedures to address and resolve the violation.

Below are five helpful tips to relate to your student when completing their assignments that, if ignored, commonly result in accusations of cheating.

  1. Understand what qualifies as a cheating violation. Look through your student’s handbook, specifically the section that says “Conduct Code” and “Cheating/Plagiarism,” understand what the school qualifies as cheating and relate this to your student. If your student knows what to avoid during an assignment, they will less likely be accused of accidentally cheating. Unfortunately, accidental violations have the same consequences as intentional violations do. It is important to review these policies before each semester to reduce the likelihood of accidental cheating.

  2. It is equally important to understand each professor’s definition of cheating. The professor is the first line of defense in cheating accusations. Therefore, when receiving the syllabus, it is important to note any differences in their individual policy versus the school’s policy. It is additionally important to instruct them to pay close attention to assignment instructions. Often professors want papers written a specific way, and the student can get into trouble if not properly executed, especially in the case of citations.

  3. Instruct your student to not write papers the night before the due date. Writing papers last minute increases their chances of plagiarizing accidentally because the citations could be wrong if not carefully thought through. Therefore, make sure your student plans out their papers and cites the entire writing process.

  4. A student can get tripped up on citing their sources. Before your student goes off to college, sit down with them and explain the importance and process for citation. When citing the author’s source, make sure to relate to the reader that the statistic or quote is not in the students own words, therefore giving credit to the original author. This is extremely important to do in the correct style and on everything that is not in the students own words. Whether that citation is in Chicago or MLA style is important to keep consistency and with the style the teacher prefers. If your child goes to college knowing this information, they will be ahead of the class before it starts!

  5. Lastly, tell your student that before embarking on a group assignment to make sure to get explicit instructions from the professor on what they are allowed to collaborate on. For example, are you allowed to collaborate on the research but not the evaluation? Are you allowed to collaborate on the evaluation but have different outcomes? What are the guidelines? Bottom line, if the students do not know, they should ask before they submit.

    1. An example of not understanding exam or paper instructions is the Harvard 2012 Cheating Scandal, where the students believed group collaboration was allowed. However, no one checked with the professor and as a result, 125 students were placed under a cheating investigation.

If your student does become accused of cheating, parents, first off, take a breath. Do not make rash decisions and do NOT reach out right away to the professor or an administrator. Secondly, call an attorney who specializes in university procedures right away. It is much easier to get a victory case first, then to have to appeal.

The DC Student Defense is an excellent organization who has dealt with many cases involving the university academic honesty codes. It is way easier to get an accusation dismissed or dropped before there is a decision made thereafter. Getting a lawyer involved as counsel is to your benefit and peace of mind.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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