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New study done on academic integrity violations at RC

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Madeline Hooker, Staff writer

RC strives to create a learning environment rich in academic freedom that allows students to experience both intellectual and personal growth. Academic Integrity holds a strong influence in this environment. However, when the integrity is violated, much concern arises and certain action must take place for both students and faculty.

The AI system at RC has been in place for quite some time and was first implemented by its faculty members. The system is held together by rigorous standards and includes many violations and penalties.

One of the most common offenses that students commit is cheating. According to the “Academic Integrity at Roanoke College Booklet,” cheating is described as the “practice, or attempt
to practice, dishonesty or deception in the taking of tests or in the preparation or submission of academic work purported to be one’s own.” Most of the time, cheating is a spur of the moment occurrence when a genuinely good student panics under pressure and makes a poor decision.

Another major offense is plagiarism that is committed.

“Over half of the [academic integrity] cases are plagiarism cases,” said Jennifer Berenson, associate dean of Academic Affairs & Administration.

In a recent survey on AI, both freshman and transfer students were asked how many college students they believed to have plagiarized at one point or another during their college career, the result was a staggering 70 percent. Many of these students shared the attitude that plagiarism did not concern them as long as their grade was not affected.

“We have a good system in place here [at RC],” Berenson said.

Although it is a strict system, professors often do not wish to bring charge on their students. However, if a student is caught in violation of academic integrity, they will either meet with the professor who suspected it, or go in front of the academic integrity panel. The panel generally consists of a few faculty members and students. Depending on the severity of the case, the student will meet with the academic integrity board. Within these meetings is a packet of evidence and questions. The academic integrity hearings are very confidential.

“I believe that it is also a very fair system,” Berenson said. “We really exercise critical investigation and strong evidence.”

The most common AI penalties involve the student receiving either an F or an XF in the course, academic probation, or academic suspension.

To allow a smooth transition into the academic integrity system, incoming RC freshmen are familiarized with it through an AI session held during the Spring Into Maroon event. They are expected to learn the basics of the system through a written quiz, an online pledge form, and throughout their first semester in an INQ 110 course.

To promote academic integrity, faculty members place “Got Integrity?” stickers and posters in their classrooms. These are meant to serve as friendly reminders for students while telling them that Maroons do not cheat or plagiarize.

AI is incredibly important to uphold so RC students can exercise and experience a morally just and intellectually free learning environment.