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Academic Honor Code

Updated 7/22/2014

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

FIT prepares students for professional excellence in design, fashion, and business by providing a premier educational experience that fosters creativity, career focus, and a global perspective.

Students who imitate or copy another personís idea or written work and claim it as original, fail to master the knowledge and skills that they need for successful careers in their chosen fields. Students must also comply with the policy on collaboration established for each course, as set forth in the course syllabus or on the course website. Conduct that evidences any form of disrespect for the intellectual efforts of oneself or others or violates established collaboration policies will subject students to serious penalties.

DISHONESTY

As recognized by the college, the term ďacademic dishonestyĒ is intended to include all forms of imitation, deception, fraud, falsification, plagiarism, cheating, misrepresentation, collusion or any other conduct that might reasonably be considered as wrongfully taking another personís idea or work claiming it as original. Knowingly aiding or abetting a student in engaging in dishonesty is also academic dishonesty. It is expected that all homework assignments, projects, lab reports, papers, theses, and examinations and any other work submitted for academic credit will be the studentís own. Students should always take great care to distinguish their own ideas and knowledge from information derived from sources. The term ďsourcesĒ includes not only primary and secondary material published in print or online, but also information and opinions gained directly from other people.

COLLABORATION

Policies vary among the many majors and courses in the college, and may even vary for particular assignments within a course. Generally, while several students may have the same source material, the analysis, interpretation, and reporting of the data must be each individualís independent work. Unless otherwise stated on the syllabus or website, when collaboration is permitted within a course, students must acknowledge any collaboration and its extent in all submitted work. However, students need not acknowledge discussion with others of general approaches to the assignment or assistance with proofreading. If the syllabus or website does not include a policy on collaboration, collaboration in the completion of assignments is not permitted. Collaboration in the completion of examinations is prohibited absent written instructions to the contrary.

PENALTIES

Students who are found to have committed academic dishonesty or fail to adhere to established collaboration policies will be subject to penalties for breach of academic integrity.

If an instructor believes that a student has committed a breach of academic integrity, the instructor will notify the student and the department chair. The instructor will discuss the misconduct with the student and with the department chair, determine a penalty applicable to the particular course(s) involvedóa failing grade on the project or exam, or a failing grade in the courseóand notify the student, in writing, of the penalty. The notification letter from the instructor must be sent to the student not later than five business days following the date that the course instructor meets with the student to discuss the misconduct and verbally informs the student that the decision has been made to move forward with a formal charge of academic misconduct. Upon receipt of the notification letter the student may elect either to accept the determination of the course instructor or to challenge the determination.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY VIOLATION APPEALS PROCESS

If the student elects to challenge the accusation of the course instructor or is dissatisfied with the penalty determined by the instructor, the student may appeal the decision of the instructor to the dean of the school in which the course is offered. The student will have five business days from the date he or she receives the decision of the instructor to deliver his or her objection, in writing, to the dean of the school. The studentís appeal letter should include any statement he or she cares to make regarding the charge(s) of misconduct that have been brought against the student.

The dean of the school will assemble an Appeal Committee to be drawn from members of the college community. The Appeal Committee will consider information and materials provided by the student and the instructor and schedule a hearing date to take place not later than ten business days from the date that the student delivers his/her appeal letter to the dean of the school. Additional procedural guidelines governing an appeal are contained in the college publication ďAcademic Integrity-Due Process and Student Rights,Ē available in the office of the dean of the school in which the course is offered.

Upon the completion of the hearing, the Appeal Committee will make a written recommendation to the dean. The dean will review the recommendation and communicate his or her decision to the student in writing not later than three business days following receipt of the recommendation from the Appeal Committee.

If the student is dissatisfied with the determination of the dean of the school in which the course is offered, the student will have three business days from the date the student receives the decision of the dean of the school to appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The vice president will review any and all information and materials available and may elect to interview individual(s) that he or she deems appropriate to assist in reaching a decision on whether to uphold or reverse, in whole, or in part, the decision of the dean. The vice president will communicate his/her decision to the student in a timely fashion. The decision of the vice president will be final.

In the event that the student is successful in his/her appeal, the Vice President for Academic Affairs will determine what administrative actions need be taken in an attempt to offset any actual disadvantage the student may have sustained as a consequence of the unsubstantiated charge.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITYóDUE PROCESS AND STUDENT RIGHTS

I. Due Process

Section A. Accusation and Notice

A course instructor, or any other person(s), who has reasonable cause to believe that any student has engaged in an act of academic misconduct shall have an obligation to report the same to the chair for the department in which the course is offered promptly; but in no event later than (a) two business days following the date on which the alleged misconduct is observed to have been committed, or (b) except as otherwise provided in paragraph 3 of this Section A, one business day following the date upon which sufficient evidence has been compiled that could lead one to reasonably conclude that an act of academic misconduct may have been committed.

In the event that the accuser of the student is any person other than the course instructor, then that person must present evidence of the studentís misconduct to the course instructor for the course in which the accused student is enrolled and the misconduct is believed to have transpired. Upon review of the supporting evidence provided by the accuser, the instructor shall decide whether or not to move forward with action against the student. If the instructor is persuaded by the evidence presented by the accuser the course instructor will proceed in place of the accuser and follow the procedure established for accusations brought by an instructor.

In the event that the act of academic misconduct involves the use of technology (e.g., computers, smart phones, internet), the faculty member and/or department chair will notify the Executive Director of Online Learning and Academic Technology. All course materials and online activity reports will be secured for examination by that department (ďOLATĒ). All such alleged acts involving technology will be evaluated initially through this process culminating with a final report issued by OLAT offering its opinion as to whether or not there is adequate basis to support the allegation that an act of academic misconduct has been committed. The OLAT report will be provided within ten business days from the date it was originally requested unless there are extenuating circumstances that compel an extension.

In advance of issuing a notification letter formally accusing the student, the course instructor must discuss the misconduct with both the student and the departmentís chair but shall not be required to withdraw the accusation at the request of the chair. In the event that the course instructor and the chair disagree on whether there is adequate basis for accusing the student of academic misconduct the matter will be referred to the dean of the school in which the course is offered. The dean will review the matter and make the final determination as to whether or not there is adequate basis to support the allegation that an act of academic misconduct has been committed.

In the event that a decision is made to move forward with a formal accusation against a student, the course instructor will issue a notification letter to the student (courtesy copying the chair of the department and the dean of the school in which the course is offered). The notification letter from the instructor must be sent to the student not later than five business days following the date that the course instructor meets with the student to discuss the misconduct and verbally informs the student that the decision has been made to move forward with a formal charge of academic misconduct.

The notification letter sent by the course instructor to the student must include a clear explanation as to the basis for the instructorís accusation, and identify the penalty assessed by the instructor Ė which shall be either a failing grade on the project or exam, or a failing grade in the course. It shall also include, in the text of the letter, a clear statement that apprises the student of his or her right to challenge the instructorís determination, and shall also include a copy of the Academic IntegrityĖDue Process and Student Rights.

The accused student shall be deemed notified of the instructorís charges as of the date that the letter is: (a) hand-delivered by campus staff; or (b) mailed (by regular U.S. Mail) to the home address which the student provided to the college registrar in the studentís registration documents; or (c) electronically mailed to the studentís FIT email address.

The student will have five business days from the date he/she receives the notification letter from the course instructor to deliver to the dean of the school in which the course is offered a written objection and decision to appeal the instructorís determination. If the student does not take timely action to respond to the notification letter, the studentís failure to do so shall be deemed her/his acquiescence to the course instructorís charge and the penalty imposed.

Section B. The Appeal Process

Upon receipt of the studentís written objection and decision to appeal the course instructorís determination, the dean of the school in which the course is offered shall assemble a committee to review the matter, conduct a hearing and issue a recommendation.

The Appeal Committee shall consist of five members of the college community comprised of the following:

  • The dean of the school in which the course is offered. The dean shall serve as the chair of the Appeal Committee and shall preside over the appeal proceedings but shall not be permitted to vote at the conclusion of the committeeís deliberations. 
  • A teaching faculty member who is a member of the same school as the dean, but outside of the accusing instructorís department. 
  • A non-teaching/administration member of the college, selected by the dean of the school in which the course is offered. 
  • A student, selected by the dean of students, who is currently enrolled in the college and otherwise in good standing. 
  • Also included, shall be a non-voting record keeper from the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs for keeping clear and complete records of the proceedings.

Once the dean has assembled the Appeal Committee, the dean shall schedule a hearing to consider all issues of fact, review evidence and hear testimony. The hearing should commence within ten business days of the deanís receipt of the studentís written objection and decision to appeal the course instructorís determination.

At the hearing conducted by the Appeal Committee, those present shall be: 

  • The accused student, who has the right to be accompanied by an advisor and/or relevant witnesses; 
  • The course instructor, who has the right to bring relevant witnesses; and 
  • Any other person called by the chair.

At the hearing, the accused student may be accompanied by one individual of her or his choice. However, no one accompanying the student may address the Appeal Committee, respond to questions on the studentís behalf, offer argument on the studentís behalf, or otherwise participate in the proceedings other than to speak with the student. If the student is to be accompanied by someone he or she must notify the committee not less than three business days prior to the scheduled hearing date.

At the hearing, only the witness that is presently testifying is permitted to be in the hearing room. Witnesses who are waiting to be called and those witnesses that have already given testimony are not permitted to be present in the hearing room.

Should the student seeking the appeal, or the course instructor, fail to appear before the Appeal Committee on any date scheduled for the hearing, the committee shall have full authority to proceed in her/his absence.

The chair of the Appeal Committee shall preside over the hearing to ensure that: (a) the proceedings are conducted in conformance with these guidelines; (b) all student rights are observed while the appeal is being heard by the Appeal Committee; and (c) that no person threatens, intimidates, or coerces any of the participants.

The Appeal Committee is to hear all available parties to the dispute and examine all the evidence presented. The chair of the committee may solicit outside advice to assist the committee in obtaining additional information that is considered germane to reaching its finding(s).

Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the Appeal Committee shall excuse all parties, witnesses and participants that may have been involved in the hearing and convene a private session to deliberate and vote. Each of the faculty, non-faculty administrator and student member of the Committee shall have one vote to cast. The chair and the record keeper shall be present during the deliberations but shall not be permitted to cast a vote.

The Committee need not reach a unanimous decision on the sufficiency (or insufficiency) of evidence to uphold the accusation of the course instructor.

The Appeal Committeeís recommendation shall not govern the final decision of the dean. The dean may choose to accept the recommendation in whole or in part. The dean will communicate his or her decision to the student in writing not later than three business days following the date the dean receives the written recommendation of the committee.

If the student is dissatisfied with the determination of the dean of the school in which the course is offered, the student shall have three business days from the date the student receives the decision of the dean to appeal the matter to the Vice President for Academic Affairs whose review and decision shall be final. The appeal shall be in writing and it may include a supplemental written statement from the student setting forth any information the student believes the vice president should take into consideration upon appeal of the decision of the dean.

When an appeal is received by the Office of Academic Affairs, the vice president shall have broad latitude in reviewing the matter. Though conducted in an informal manner, the vice president can schedule one or more conferences with the student, instructor (and /or other accuser), and members of the Committee. The student may be accompanied by anyone of his or her choice. However, the same limitations and prior notice requirements specified for their attendance at the Appeal Committee hearing will apply to conferences with the vice president.

If an academic misconduct appeal is commenced at a point during any semester that could possibly require a number of days to conclude that would extend past the date the course is scheduled to end, at the appropriate time, the instructor will notify the Registrarís Office that the grade is unable to be assigned until the matter is fully resolved.

If an academic misconduct matter is underway during a studentís final semester and the awarding of the studentís degree is solely dependent upon the resolution of the charge, the student shall be permitted to participate in the commencement ceremony. However, no degree shall be deemed conferred unless and until (a) the student receives a favorable determination on the appeal; and (b) the student has satisfied all other requirements to receive a passing grade for the course in which the charge arose.

In the event the student receives a final ruling that he or she has not committed a breach of the collegeís standards of academic integrity, the Vice President for Academic Affairs will determine what administrative actions need be taken so as to reasonably offset any actual disadvantage the student may have sustained as a consequence of the unsubstantiated charge.

All second offense accusations are referred immediately to the Vice President for Academic Affairs for resolution. A penalty of expulsion is mandated for a finding of academic misconduct on all second offenses.

II. Student Rights

A student accused must be assumed innocent until the weight of evidence requires a conclusion to the contrary.

No student accused of committing an infraction of academic integrity may be penalized before having been afforded an opportunity to challenge the accusation(s) and appeal an instructorís determination. Accordingly, a student accused of a breach of academic integrity shall be entitled to remain in the course and continue to participate fully in meeting all course requirements until the conclusion of the studentís appeal (should that right be timely exercised by the student). 

In the alternative, a student may elect to withdraw from the course. However, an election to withdraw from the course will not extinguish the instructorís charge, should the instructor decide to pursue the imposition of the penalty. If a student who withdraws from a course is unsuccessful in his or her defense of the accusation, the student faces the penalty of receiving a failing grade for the course.

Other than the submission of the written objection to the dean of the school in which the course is offered, the student is not required to make any statement at all regarding the matter under investigation.

The student may make a voluntary statement during the course of the hearing conducted by the Appeal Committee. However, no one other than the student may make a statement on the studentís behalf.

The student has a right to present relevant evidence, supporting witnesses, and other information to the Appeal Committee.

The student has the right to be accompanied by a person of his or her choice at the hearing conducted by the Appeal Committee. However, no one accompanying the student may address the Appeal Committee, respond to questions on the studentís behalf, offer argument on the studentís behalf, or otherwise participate in the proceedings other than to speak with the student.  If the student is to be accompanied by someone he or she must notify the Committee not less than three business days prior to the scheduled hearing date.

In the event the student is successful upon appeal and has continued to satisfy all requirements for the completion of the course, the student shall have the election of either: (a) having the grade associated with the alleged misconduct removed from consideration of the studentís final grade for the course; or (b) resubmitting the homework assignment, project, report, paper, or re-taking a similar examination for a grade equal in weight to the credit originally attributable at the time the studentís conduct was challenged.

ATTENDANCE POLICY

Attendance shall be taken in all classes. The general policy with regard to student attendance in any class is determined by the instructor and is announced to the class at the beginning of each semester.

In the event that a student is unable to attend a class session due to illness, accident, or some other emergency situation, he/she should contact their individual instructors directly, through phone or email, from the information in their class syllabus. Extended absences from class should be substantiated by appropriate documentation, and sent to the Dean of Students, who will notify the studentís instructors and department chair. This notification is not to be construed as an ďexcusedĒ absence for the student who will still be responsible for following up with instructors and arranging to complete missed work.

A student who believes that an instructor has (a) established an unjust attendance policy, or (b) unfairly penalized the student for absences, should abide by the grade appeal procedures.

GRADE APPEAL PROCEDURES

An appeal is an important document. Technically, it is an earnest and urgent request made to a higher authority, stating a case for reversal of a decision (such as a grade), or requesting that this authority reconsider its position on an important matter.

The purpose of the Grade Appeal Procedure is not to reassess the studentís performance required by each instructor to award a specific letter grade for a particular assignment. The appeal is only for the final grade received in a course. The Office of the Dean and the Office of Academic Affairs are concerned primarily with ensuring that the appeal process is followed appropriately and that no procedural errors have occurred.

STEP ONE:  Composing a Final Grade Appeal in Writing to the Professor 

  • A student should begin an appeal by writing to the professor of the class after the first day of the following semester but no later than the end of the fourth week of that same semester. 
  • The letter should be addressed to the professor with a copy sent to the chair of the department and to the dean of the school. This is an important step not to be overlooked, as it allows the professor to re-examine policies and procedures, and it informs the chair and the dean that there is a problem that may need their consideration. 
  • The professor should review the merit of the appeal and the studentís academic performance in the relevant course.
  • The professor should respond to the student in writing within ten (10) business days of receipt of the studentís appeal letter.
  • If the professor is no longer an FIT faculty member, the appeal should be sent directly to the department chair.

STEP TWO:  Appealing to the Department Chair

  • If, for any reason, the student is not satisfied with the professorís response, he/she can bring the matter to the department chair.
  • The formal appeal to the department chair for review should be made in writing within ten (10) business days of receiving the professorís decision.
  • A copy of the studentís initial letter of appeal and the professorís response should accompany this appeal to the department chair. 
  • The department chair will consider the merit of the appeal by assessing whether the course grade is appropriate according to the guidelines set forth in the course syllabus handed out by the professor. 
  • The department chair should respond to the student in writing within ten (10) business days of receipt of the studentís appeal letter.

STEP THREE:  Appealing to the School Dean

  • An appeal to the dean of the school is brought forward only if the student believes that the department chair has not acted in a timely or appropriate manner. 
  • The formal appeal to the school dean for review should be made in writing within ten (10) business days of receiving the department chairís decision. 
  • The school dean will only evaluate whether the appeal process has been followed properly. S/he will not evaluate the merit of the appeal, the studentís academic performance, the professorís grade, or the department chairís recommendation. 
  • The school dean should respond to the student in writing within ten (10) business days of receipt of the studentís appeal letter.

STEP FOUR:   Appealing to the Vice President for Academic Affairs 

  • An appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs is brought forward only if the student believes that the school dean has not acted in a timely or appropriate manner. 
  • The formal appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs should be made in writing within ten (10) business days of receiving the school deanís decision. 
  • The Vice President for Academic Affairs will evaluate whether the appeal process has been properly followed and that no procedural errors have occurred. He/she will not re-evaluate the merit of the appeal, the studentís academic performance, the professorís grade, or the chairís and/or deanís recommendations.
  • The Vice President for Academic Affairs should respond to the student in writing within ten (10) business days of receipt of the studentís appeal letter.
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