Upholding Academic Integrity

Guidelines for CS Faculty


This document discusses how to deal with Academic Integrity (AI) in your course. The Department maintains an AI webpage.[1] In what follows, the “Hearing Board” refers to the College of Engineering’s Academic Integrity Hearing Board and  “The Code”  refers to the University’s Code of Academic Integrity. [2] Replace the word “student” with “team” if the infraction involves a group submission.




Develop a clear set of rules for what constitutes your course's AI policy. Course websites and assignment handouts should have appropriate AI links/reminders. Announce in class that you have prosecuted AI cases in the past and that if anyone is unclear about the rules, they MUST talk to you  BEFORE submitting an assignment. Make sure your TAs and graders understand the issues and protocols exactly.




If a course staffer suspects a violation, then they must report the matter to YOU.  Although it is not required, you are encouraged to contact  the student and schedule a meeting to have a “quiet chat” about your concerns. Email can be used for this communication. [3] If the student confesses and/or you want to prosecute, then you must stop the meeting and proceed to the formal “Primary Hearing” stage at a later date.  It is tempting to skip the Primary Hearing and go right to the penalty phase if there is a confession, but this is illegal.  If it is a borderline infraction and you decide not to prosecute, then turn the session into a wake-up call using strong unambiguous language to enlighten the student about what can happen when The Code is violated.


Preparing for the Primary Hearing


Have your administrative assistant contact the Chair Office. He/she will obtain the template of a letter that must completed and sent to the accused.  To produce this letter all that you need to do is specify the charge and offer a selection of possible times for the Primary Hearing. Thirty minutes for the hearing is usually enough. If it is a team infraction, all members of the group must come in together. At least one week’s notice is required, but it can be less by mutual consent. The letter advises the student of The Code and of the right to have a Judicial Codes Counselor, his/her faculty advisor, and supporting witnesses at the hearing. The student will also be informed about how to get a copy of the offending assignment. You must not discuss the case with the student once they receive the letter. Remind them that this process protects them from being arbitrarily penalized with no witness present. Also, if you feel the infraction deserves more than just an F in the course, then you can turn the whole matter over to the Hearing Board.


The Primary Hearing


1.       Ensure that the independent witness is present and ask the student if they have a judicial codes counselor, an advisor, and/or additional witnesses coming. Call the hearing to order and explain the function of the independent witness.  Explain the hearing process, the outcome options, the penalty process/criteria, and appeal options.   

2.      Show the material that generated the suspect violation.  Do not show the names of other students who might have been involved, since you might discover inconsistent stories.

3.      Ask if the student has something to say in defense of the charge.

4.      Ask further questions if necessary. Take notes if a story is involved.  Keep the hearing focused on the charge and events surrounding it.  Stay calm  if the student is emotional. 

5.      Ask if the student has anything else to say before ending the hearing. Announce that the hearing is over. Explain that you will be deciding on guilt or innocence, and a penalty if necessary, and that the student will be notified of the results by mail. Remind the student that it is possible to appeal the verdict before the Hearing Board. 


Penalties and Conclusion


If you find the student innocent then all you need to do is write a note to the student indicating just that the charges are dismissed.


If you reach a guilty verdict then you must write a (hard copy) letter to the record keeper of   Hearing Board  with a copy to the student. The letter should summarize the infraction, state the verdict, and specify the penalty. This way it is possible for the university to identify repeat offenders and to (possibly) expel a student after a second offense.  Penalties[4] that are customarily applied include


[1] http://www.cs.cornell.edu/ugrad/AcadInteg.html

[2] http://www.cornell.edu/Academic/AIC.html

[3] Note that if the case involves more than one party, say Student A and student B,  then you must proceed separately with each individual. Do not mention B’s name to A or A’s name to B. Usually, they will communicate between themselves  and decide to come in together, but they must take that step.

[4] There is considerable variation among the faculty about what is an appropriate penalty. The Chair office is able to discuss this matter if you need guidance.