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Graduate Honor System reports actions

By Dan Waddill, chief justice, Graduate Honor System

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 08 - October 12, 1995

During the past academic year, the Graduate Honor System (GHS) handled 14 cases. Six cases involved cheating, five involved plagiarism, and three involved falsification of research data or academic credentials. As a result, six graduate students were placed on GHS probation, one was suspended for a semester, and three were permanently dismissed from the university. One case was not investigated because it was referred anonymously, and accused students have the right to face their accuser.

This case load reflects several trends that have developed over the last few years. First, the number of cases that are referred from the Northern Virginia campus is increasing, while the number of referrals from the Blacksburg campus is constant or decreasing. Second, the number of cases involving computer assignments is increasing. When using a shared computer, graduate students are urged to protect their files from unauthorized copying. Third, honor cases often deal with assignments that involve group work. For example, a lab experiment may be assigned to groups, but the write-up is assigned to individuals. Graduate students should always be certain where group work ends and individual work begins.

Honor violations may occur when students are under stress due to a heavy work load, serious illness, or personal crisis. Professors who refer these cases are often quite sympathetic with the student. Nevertheless, once a violation has occurred, it is too late for the student to make a deal with the professor. Thus, students are urged to talk with their professors if special problems arise. It may be possible to take an incomplete and finish the course work when other problems have been resolved.

In accepting enrollment at Virginia Tech, every graduate student has agreed to follow the principles of the Graduate Honor Code. These principles are explained fully in the "Constitution of the Graduate Honor System," which can be found in Appendix III (pp. 224 to 237) of the 1995-1997 Graduate Policies and Procedures and Course Catalog. The constitution can also be found on the Internet at http://milieu.grads.vt.edu. All graduate students are expected to read and know this document.

Furthermore, graduate students should be aware that the Graduate Honor System applies to all of their academic pursuits while they are actively pursuing a degree. These pursuits include course work, research, extension, and teaching. If you have questions, please consult your major professor, department head, the International Students Office, or the Graduate School.

The goal of the Graduate Honor System is to establish and maintain a standard of academic integrity at Virginia Tech. Therefore it is the duty of all members of the academic community to report suspected violations of the honor code. Other ways of participating in the honor system include serving on the Investigative Board, the Judicial Panel, or as an investigator. Any graduate student or faculty member who is interested in serving with the honor system should contact the Graduate School.