Honor Code violations increased last year

Cyrus Nuval
Staff Writer

Sarah King
Contributing Writer

Honor Code violations increased by 2.2 percent last year, according to the 2012-13 Academic and Health Affairs Annual Report for Rules and Procedures.

There were 648 honor code violations and school policy infractions reported last academic school year, compared to 620 the year before, according to the report.  Of these, 86.7 percent were alcohol and drug related infractions, and freshman accounted for almost 60 percent of the latter violations.

About 440 incidents took place on-campus, and 209 happened off-campus. The on-campus incidents increased by nearly 6 percent last year; off-campus violations decreased by the same amount.

The VCU Office of the Provost’s Honor Code labels violations of academic dishonesty as any actions that result in a student having an unfair advantage in an academic matter and include: plagiarism, cheating, facilitation, lying and stealing. School policy infractions are violations involving alcohol, drugs, physical assaults and sexual misconducts.

The Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity could not be reached for comment on the report as of press time.

The College of Humanities and Sciences recorded the most honor code violations with 125, according to the report. However, it also accounts for 60 percent of VCU’s 21,000 undergraduate students.

Ryan Cales, a University College professor, said lack of knowledge could factor into cases like plagiarism.

“My experience with student plagiarism hasn’t really fluctuated, though my discussions of it in class have certainly increased,” Cales said.  “People tend to talk and think about plagiarism in a strict way. Though, a lot of the time students seem to plagiarize unintentionally … they don’t fully understand what constitutes plagiarism.”

Following the College of Humanities and Sciences were  undergraduate students in the School of Business with 48 recorded honor code violations. Graduate students in the School of Business also committed the most honor code violations of all graduate and professional programs at VCU, with 13 violations of the 46 total.

Not every violation resulted in punishment. Students were found reponsible in 350 of the 648 reported incidents; about 40 percent of the proceeding investigations resulted in no sanctions brought against the student involved.

English major Emily Baskin said students may break the honor code because they don’t see themselves getting caught.

“I don’t think students abide by it (the Honor Code) because nobody really enforces it, and I don’t think that the faculty enforces it well at all, it’s really easy to get away with things like plagiarism and cheating,” Baskin said.

Anna Kalkus, an education major, said the decision to cheat could fall under the way a particular professor conducts their classroom.

“I think some teachers are very strict, however I do think that there are some who don’t always enforce it, although they do threaten to,” Kalkus said. “I think it’s easy to break the honor code in regard to things like plagiarism or sharing materials, but I think students are less likely to blatantly lie about something.”

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