Who is a "complainant"?

A complainant is the person who brought a suspicious situation to the Honor Council. This person is usually a professor or a student, but anyone in the L.U. community can present evidence to the council.

Who is a "respondent"?

The respondent is the student who is suspected of violating the Honor Code. He or she responds to the allegations.

What is a typical violation? What's the most common violation?

Violations range from copying someone else's exam to improper (or no) citation on a paper to reporting observation hours that didn't occur. The most common violation is plagiarism of some sort, usually with either incorrect or no citation of sources.

What if I think someone cheated?

You can call or talk to any of the Honor Council members or the advisor without any obligation to turn anyone in or to start proceedings for a hearing. You could also talk with the instructor of the course, who could act on your behalf or request. After discussing your questions or concerns, you can request that we pursue an investigation into the situation; if you're not comfortable or if there is not enough evidence, then the conversation will go no further.

If a professor thinks someone plagiarized a paper, what does he or she do?

When a professor suspects a student of breaking the Honor Code in any way (plagiarism, cheating, copying, etc.), he or she should obtain evidence. In the case of a copied paper, the original sources are usually located. In the case of cheating, the reasons for the suspicion are identified. Once sufficient evidence is found, the professor contacts the Honor Council advisor to request a review of the evidence by the Honor Council advisor and chair. If the evidence suggests that a possible violation has occurred, then the process of contacting the student to arrange for a hearing or sanctioning conference begins.

What if I didn't know about a rule/the Honor Code?

Everyone at Lawrence has to sign a pledge at the beginning of their first year; therefore, everyone should know of the Honor Code. Ignorance is not an excuse. Basically, the Honor Code is just following honest academic work, not special rules just for Lawrence work or something out of the ordinary. If you don't know how to cite something, or if you're not sure if you can use a particular source on that exam, ask! It'll keep you out of trouble and save you a bit of worrying.

To what extent is intent considered during hearings/conferences?

Intent is not considered. Hopefully, no one intends to cite their paper sources incorrectly or to deceive their professors. If you're not sure how to cite something, ask a writing tutor, or your professor; there are lots of on-campus resources. If you're not sure whether you can use a particular source on a test or if you're allowed to work with other people on an assignment, ask your professor.

Who is a "procedural advisor"?

When someone is accused of breaking the Honor Code, a procedural advisor is chosen or assigned for the respondent. Just as the title implies, this Honor Council member will answer any questions on how proceedings during a sanctioning conference or hearing will go. The procedural advisor does not speak for the respondent or act as a lawyer for them. This council member is a non-voting person during the hearing or sanctioning conference, acting as a resource and/or moral support for the respondent.

What's a hearing like?

This is not a trial—it is a formal investigation. A hearing is called when the evidence suggests a possible violation has occurred and the situation needs some clarification. Before the hearing, the respondent will have a procedural advisor for advice on options. The Honor Council chair acts as a non-voting convener for the proceedings. The respondent and complainant each present their sides of the story. Occasionally, witnesses are present to support the complainant or respondent. A panel of at least 5 council members listens to all information given and ask questions of the respondent, complainant, and the witnesses (this often takes several rounds of questioning). After the council is satisfied that all information has been given and clarified, each side has a chance to make a closing statement. The council then decides on whether a violation of the Code has occurred and, if so, what sanctions may be appropriate. If the student receives an unsatisfactory result, he or she can appeal the sanction to the president of the university.

What's a sanctioning conference?

If the respondent admits to the violation before the hearing, and it is the student's first violation, he or she can request a sanctioning conference. This proceeding essentially skips the whole questioning process of a hearing and assigns the sanction after a verbal confession is given. Fewer people are involved: two council members, the council advisor, the procedural advisor, the complainant, and a neutral convener. It is less formal in format than a hearing. This conference does not lessen the sanction, but is significantly shorter than the hearing process. Because the student and professor are given opportunities to debate or question the sanction during the proceedings, there is no option for appeal after the conference.

What are some possible sanctions?

Depending on the violation, a sanction can range from a warning (if no violation was found, but the respondent's actions were questionable) to a zero on the assignment, or from an F in the course to suspension or expulsion. Educational sanctions, such as sessions at the Center for Teaching and Learning to learn citation, are extensively assigned. The Council bases its sanctions on precedents (a list of sanctions given in previous cases) in order that the sanction will be consistent with others. Sanctions can be created or combined as necessary and are not limited to the list above.

Why does the council tape hearings and sanctioning conferences?

The tape recorder is used mostly for the record—we want to be sure who said exactly what and when they said it. During hearings and sanctioning conferences, we can use the tape to play back what was said during rounds of questioning. The tape can also be used by the president of the university in the event a case is appealed.

What about mitigating circumstances?

Mitigating circumstances, such as personal problems or lots of stress, might be raised in discussing a violation and can be a factor during a hearing or sanctioning conference. The sanction, however, will most likely not be affected by such situations.

Does a violation go on my record?

Violations of the Honor Code, depending on the sanction, could appear on your student record. The specific reason for the violation does not. For example, any grade penalties will show on your transcript as the penalized grade. (Note: We have debated whether there should be some sort of mark on a transcript when an Honor Council violation has occurred. University of Maryland at College Park uses a strict "XF" mark, for example.)

Who knows about the hearing or sanctioning conference?

Specific information is kept strictly behind closed doors. Only people directly involved with the case will know; this includes the respondent, the complainant, any witnesses involved in the proceedings, the council's faculty advisor, and the council members involved in the hearing or sanctioning conference. Council members who are not directly involved in the case do not even know the respondent's identity. The Dean of Students is notified of the pending hearing or sanctioning conference for any potential personal safety issues.

How can I get on the council?

What a great question! In the spring, the council will ask for nominations to fill the available openings. Faculty, staff, and students can recommend new members, and you can either nominate yourself or other people. The council will send applications to those people, who can fill them out if they so desire. The nominees will then be asked to participate in a "mock hearing" to get a better feel for what they may encounter. A selected group will be invited back for a short interview. The new members will be notified before the end of the year.

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