Reporting a Violation
The JMU Honor System has jurisdiction over conduct that involves academic dishonesty. The Honor Council may not respond to a possible Honor Code violation reported more than 60 days after the occurrence of the event.
A student who is the subject of an honor investigation or who has been charged with an Honor Code violation may not graduate from the university until the case is dismissed, the charges are dropped, the student is found not responsible, or a responsible finding is reversed by an appeal body.
In addition to the online version, the entire Reporting a Violation guide is available for download as a PDF.
Options for Reporting an Honor Code Violation
Direct Report to the Instructor
A member of the JMU community should immediately refer the matter directly to the faculty member teaching the course in which the possible violation took place. The reporter should provide the faculty member with the following information:
- The name of the individual making the report
- The phone number or e-mail address of the individual making the report
- The conduct observed by the individual making the report
- The names of others who might have observed the conduct
An individual who makes a report directly to a faculty member may be subsequently asked to appear before an Honor Council hearing panel. Consequently, the Honor System cannot assure anyone reporting a possible Honor Code violation that his or her identity will remain confidential. Individuals who are not prepared to appear before an Honor Council hearing panel should not report possible violations to a faculty member. Once the faculty member receives information, the faculty member may resolve the matter using either the formal or informal resolution. Note: If the possible violation does not relate primarily to a specific course (e.g., a student is believed to be selling papers for use in several courses), the information should be immediately reported to the Honor Council Coordinator.
Direct Report to Honor Council
If the possible Honor Code violation does not involve a specific course, other members of the James Madison University Honor Council should report the possible Honor Code violation to an Honor Council investigator. For instance, the community member believes that a student is selling term papers to other students.
The Informal Process
Informal resolution procedures permit a faculty member to attempt a direct resolution of a possible Honor Code violation with a student. Informal resolution procedures permit faculty members to attempt to resolve possible Honor Code violations with accused students without having to refer incidents to the Honor Council for formal investigations.
If a faculty member suspects that a student has violated the Honor Code, he or she should complete the following steps.
- The faculty member should first review the Honor Code to make sure it prohibits the conduct in question.
- The faculty member is strongly encouraged to meet with the student whom the faculty member suspects of violating the Honor Code. If the violation deals with more than one student, then the faculty will need to meet with each student separately.
- The faculty member should inform the student of questions related to the student's work, which involve a possible violation of the Honor Code. At this point, the student is given the opportunity to explain the behavior that led the faculty member to suspect the student of violating the Honor Code. If the instructor determines that there has been no Honor Code violation, the matter is considered closed.
- The faculty member should explain to the student how informal resolution procedures operate. At this point, it is recommended that the faculty member have the informal resolution printed and filled out for the student to see. While any admission of responsibility is not necessary, a student and faculty member may enter into an Informal Resolution Agreement to resolve the matter. A student may agree to repeat an examination, resubmit an assignment or project, or complete an additional assignment.
- If the faculty member does not want to use informal resolution procedures or if the faculty member and student fail to reach an informal resolution agreement, then the faculty member has the following options:
- The faculty member may decide to take no further action; or
- The faculty member or accused student may refer the matter to the Honor Council for a formal investigation.
If the faculty member believes that the student has violated the Honor Code, he/she must forward the information to the Honor Council for a formal investigation of the possible Honor Code violation. It is inappropriate for a faculty member to handle an Honor Code violation and not report it to the Honor Council.
Informal Resolution Penalties
As part of an informal resolution, the maximum penalty a faculty member can assign is a grade of "F" in the course. Other penalties are to give a reduced or failing grade on the most applicable area of student evaluation in the course (e.g., an assignment, an exam, or class participation), resubmit an assignment and accept a grade reduction on that assignment, or receive a reduction in the student's final course grade. Along with a penalty, the faculty and student can agree to send the student to a Values in Action Workshop, through Judicial Affairs. A faculty member may not ask a student to agree to withdraw from the course or the university, nor may they request that a student stop attending class.
If a faculty member and student reach an agreement on a penalty for an Honor Code violation, the faculty member and student must complete an Informal Resolution Agreement Form. Both the faculty member and student must sign the form. The faculty member must then forward the form to the Honor Council Coordinator. Upon receipt of the form, the Honor Council Coordinator will confirm the agreement with the student. The Honor Council Coordinator will contact the reporting faculty member via e-mail to confirm receipt and processing of the informal resolution. The faculty member may then carry out the terms of the agreement after the date specified in the correspondence from the coordinator.
If the agreement is reached after a student has received a grade for a course, the faculty member may submit a change of grade form if a change in the final grade of the student is necessary to implement the provisions of the agreement.
The Honor Council coordinator will keep a record of the agreement.
The Formal Process
Formal resolution procedures require that a faculty member allow the Honor Council to determine whether the student violated the Honor Code and what the appropriate penalty for the violation should be.
A faculty member must submit a completed Honor Code violation report form and forward the form to the Honor Council coordinator. The first step is an investigation to determination whether there is sufficient evidence to begin an investigation into the matter. The Honor Council investigator asks the faculty member and other potential witnesses to submit any evidence related to the possible Honor Code violation. The Honor Council investigator provides the student under investigation the opportunity to submit a written statement and the names of individuals from whom the student would like the investigator to obtain statements. If the Honor Council investigators and Honor Council Coordinator agree that there is insufficient evidence of an Honor Code violation, no further action is taken with respect to the report. The reporting faculty member and the involved student(s) will all be notified that the case is being dropped. If the Honor Council investigators and Honor Council Coordinator agree that there is sufficient evidence of a possible Honor Code violation, the Honor Council officially charges the student with an Honor Code violation, and a hearing is held before an Honor Council hearing board.
The Honor Council has 20 class days to complete the initial investigation and decide whether or not to officially charge the student with an Honor Code violation.
As part of the formal resolution process, the Honor Council Coordinator and investigators will conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether there is reason to believe a violation of the Honor Code has taken place. If the Honor Council Coordinator and investigators determine there is sufficient reason to believe an Honor Council violation has taken place, the student receives notification that he/she has been charged with an Honor Code violation.
Honor Council Hearings
Students charged with an Honor Code violation receive a hearing before an Honor Council hearing panel or special panel. A student charged with an Honor Code violation has the opportunity to plead responsible or not responsible. The Honor Council hearing board or special panel is given the task of determining the responsibility of the student and for determining the appropriate penalty for the Honor Code violation.
Formal Resolution Penalties
One of the following penalties will be assessed for a student's first Honor Code violation:
- Reduced or failing grade on the most applicable area of student evaluation in the course (e.g., an assignment, an examination, class participation, etc.);
- Reduced or failing grade in the course;
- For a first violation, the hearing panel has the option to assign either an "F" or an "F with a transcript notation" as a penalty. If the "F with a transcript notation" option is assigned as a penalty, the registrar will adjust the student's transcript to contain an "F" and a statement that the "F" is due to an Honor Code violation. The transcript notation shall remain on the official university transcript for one year from the date the student graduates or completion of the Site Experience administered by the Office of Judicial Affairs, which ever should occur first in time.
- Failing grade with a transcript notation in the course and suspension for the fall or spring semester including the preceding or following summer term upon conclusion of the final disposition of the matter. A student may not receive credit for work taken at another institution during this period of suspension. A hearing body may impose suspension for a student's first violation if it finds that the student intentionally tried to obtain an academic advantage for him/herself or another student. The transcript notation shall remain on the official university transcript for one year from the date the student graduates or completion of the Site Experience administered by the Office of Judicial Affairs, which ever should occur first in time.
- Failing grade with a transcript notation in the course and expulsion from the university. A hearing body may impose expulsion for a student's first or second violation if it finds (i) the student intentionally tried to obtain an academic advantage for him/herself or another student, and (ii) the violation involved aggravated circumstances (e.g., violation of another university policy in conjunction with the Honor Code violation). The transcript notation shall remain on the official university transcript permanently in the case of expulsion.
- The maximum penalty that may be assessed under Section IV (i.e., the penalty designated by the faculty or staff member is agreed to by the student) is "F" in the course.
- If an "F" or "F with a transcript notation" in the course is assessed for an Honor Code violation, the student will not be permitted to retake that course on a "repeat/forgiveness" basis.
- If a student commits more than one Honor Code violation, the informal resolution process is not an option. The following minimum penalties will apply: the minimum penalty for a second violation will be "F with a transcript notation" in the course and suspension for a semester. The minimum penalty for a third violation will be "F with a transcript notation" in the course and expulsion.
- Values in Action Workshop: The option to require the student to attend the Values in Action Workshop facilitated in conjunction with the Office of Judicial Affairs is available for both formal and informal resolutions. This penalty should only be assigned in addition to another appropriate penalty unless the violation occurred outside of an enrolled class or an appropriate penalty is unavailable. This penalty is assigned based on the judgment of the professor if it is an informal violation or the judgment of the hearing board if it is a formal violation that the student will benefit from the class. If the Values in Action Workshop does not seem appropriate for the student then it should not be assigned. This penalty can only be imposed once per student.
- Each student assigned the Values in Action Workshop must contact the Office of Judicial Affairs within three class days of the final disposition of the matter. Failure to contact the Office of Judicial Affairs will be treated as a judicial violation and will be handled as such. The Values in Action Workshop may not be assigned to seniors in their final term of enrollment or in conjunction with the transcript notation sanction.
- Students must be enrolled at JMU to be eligible to participate in the Site Experience. Removal of the transcript notation will occur following the completion of the program and notification of the Honor Council Coordinator by the student. Students in their final term of enrollment or those not currently enrolled due to suspension will have the opportunity to remove the transcript notation upon the completion of 30 hours of community service, certified by the Honor Council Coordinator, if they are not eligible for the Site Experience.
- If these penalties are assigned to a student who has also been assigned the penalty of suspension, he or she will be required to contact the Office of Judicial Affairs upon re-enrollment during the first week of the semester back at JMU. Failure to contact the Office of Judicial Affairs will be treated as a judicial violation and will be handled as such. Any cost associated with the Values in Action Workshop shall be the responsibility of the student.
Summary of Procedures
Academic integrity is crucial to the educational mission of James Madison University. The James Madison University Honor System seeks to promote a university community in which all members of the community accept their responsibility for protecting the academic integrity of the institution. The JMU Honor System promotes a university community of truth, trust, responsibility, and fairness with the goals of academic and personal achievement.
The success of the Honor Code depends upon the willingness of students to comply voluntarily with the provisions of the code. The Honor Council urges students:
- To read the Honor Code and Honor System procedures.
- To refrain from working with others on homework assignments, take-home tests or quizzes, and papers or any other type of out-of-class assignments without the specific approval of the instructor.
- To learn what constitutes plagiarism. Those who use the words or ideas of another person must provide the source of the words or ideas with any work they submit for academic credit.
- To avoid engaging in conduct that might lead someone to believe they are engaging in academic misconduct. Students must refrain from talking to other students during a quiz or examination. They should not allow their eyes to wander during a quiz or examination.
- Not to provide false information to a faculty member regarding an academic matter, including reasons for missing a class or examination.
- Not to take unfair advantage of other students. Unless they first receive permission from the instructor, they should not ask another student for help on a project, paper, homework, or other class assignment.
- Not to submit the same work in more than one class without permission of the instructors. Work completed for one class may not be used to satisfy the same requirements for another class.
- Not to purchase term papers from other students or from commercial term paper providers.
- Not to ask another student to sign their name to a class attendance roll.
- Not to falsify data used to complete a lab assignment or experiment.
- Know the rules; ignorance is not a defense. Those who violate the Honor Code are suspect to penalties including suspension and expulsion.
The Honor Council strongly encourages faculty to make reference to the Honor Code in their syllabi and to discuss its application to their specific courses and assignments. Each examination, paper, and other written or electronically submitted assignment shall contain a pledge that the student submitted the work in compliance with the Honor Code. The pledge shall be signed by the student unless submitted by electronic means. "On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unauthorized assistance on this academic work" is an example of a pledge that satisfies the pledging requirement.
The Honor Council also urges faculty:
- To familiarize oneself with informal and formal Honor Code violation resolution procedures.
- To establish a collaboration policy for each of their courses. The policy should set the guidelines for students working together on all types of take home projects, assignments, and examinations.
- To discuss what constitutes plagiarism at the beginning of each semester and how the plagiarism rule applies to work submitted for academic credit in each course taught by the faculty member.
- To take prescribed steps to discourage academic misconduct during examinations. Alternate seating should be provided when possible. Student identification should be checked in large sections. Students should be required to submit drafts of research papers written during the semester.
- To monitor examinations. Faculty members are not required to monitor exams; however, monitoring exams constitutes the most effective way to deter cheating during an exam.
- To refrain from punishing students for academic misconduct without following the prescribed informal or formal resolution procedures.
- To volunteer to serve on Honor Council hearing boards, special panels, and appeal boards.
You are encouraged to consult with the Honor Council Coordinator with any questions or concerns regarding the Honor Systems at JMU.