Academic Integrity

This policy addresses academic integrity violations of undergraduate and graduate students. Graduate students should read inside the parenthesis below to identify the appropriate entities in charge of that step of the process.


Students, faculty, staff, and administrators of Western Carolina University (WCU) strive to achieve the highest standards of scholarship and integrity. Any violation of the Academic Integrity Policy is a serious offense because it threatens the quality of scholarship and undermines the integrity of the community. While academic in scope, any violation of this policy is by nature, a violation of the Code of Student Conduct (Code) and will be addressed as outlined in that document. If the charge occurs close to the end of an academic semester or term or in the event of the reasonable need of either party for additional time to gather information timelines may be extended at the discretion of the appropriate academic Dean.

Section 1: General

Instructors have the right to determine appropriate academic sanctions for violations of the Academic Integrity Policy within their courses, up to an including a final grade of “F” in the course in which the violation occurs.

Section 2: Definitions

  1.  Cheating – Using, or attempting to use, unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise.                              
  2.  Fabrication – Creating and/or falsifying information or citation in any academic exercise.                              
  3.  Plagiarism – Representing the words or ideas of someone else as one’s own in any academic exercise.                              
  4.  Facilitation – Helping or attempting to help someone to commit a violation of the Academic Integrity Policy in any academic exercise (e.g. allowing another person to copy information during an examination).                              

Section 3: Undergraduate and graduate academic integrity process

  1. Within five (5) business days of the instructor’s knowledge of the alleged violation of the Academic Integrity Policy, s/he will inform his/her department head (or associate Dean of the graduate school when applicable) in writing of the allegation and sanction(s).           
  2. Within ten (10) business days of the instructor’s knowledge of the alleged violation of the Academic Integrity Policy, the instructor will inform the student of the allegation, including the proposed sanction(s), in writing.  In the written notification, the instructor will inform the student of his/her right to request a meeting with the instructor.  During the meeting, the instructor shall complete the Academic Integrity Violation Faculty Resolution Form.  If the student does not submit a written request for a  meeting with the instructor within five (5) business days of receipt of the written allegation(s), the student shall be deemed to have mutually resolved the matter and shall be bound to the sanction(s) outlined by the instructor in the written allegation.  If the student does not request a meeting, the alleged violation of the Academic Integrity Policy shall not be subject to further review and/or appeal.                              
  3. Within five (5) business days of meeting with the instructor, the student shall either appeal the decision in writing to the department head or mutually resolve the matter by accepting the allegation and proposed sanction(s).  No action by the student within five (5) business days of the meeting with the instructor shall constitute a mutual resolution and waiver of the student’s rights to appeal pursuant to the Academic Integrity Policy.  If the student does not respond within five (5) business days of meeting with the instructor, the alleged violation of the Academic Integrity Policy shall not be subject to further review and/or appeal.                           
  4. Within five (5) business days of receiving a student’s written appeal, the department head must schedule a meeting with the student.  The instructor may be present during the meeting.  During the meeting, the department head shall complete the Academic Integrity Violation Department Head Resolution Form.  Only information submitted during the meeting with the student, or in the meeting between the instructor and the student, may be considered by the department head.  The evidentiary standard for making a decision shall be preponderance of the evidence.  The department head may agree or disagree with the allegation(s) of the instructor.  The department head may also approve, overturn, or modify the sanction(s) proposed by the instructor.  If the student does not attend the scheduled meeting with the department head, the matter will be heard in absentia and shall not be subject to further review and/or appeal.       
  5. Within five (5) business days of meeting with the department head, the student shall either submit a written appeal regarding the decision or mutually resolve the matter by accepting the allegation and proposed sanction(s).  The student must submit a written appeal to the academic Dean listed on the Academic Integrity Violation Department Head Resolution Form.  No action by the student within five (5) business days of the meeting with the department head shall constitute a mutual resolution and waiver of the student’s rights to appeal pursuant to the Academic Integrity Policy.  If the student does not respond within five (5) business days of meeting with the department head, the alleged violation of the Academic Integrity Policy shall not be subject to further review and/or appeal.          
  6. Within seven (7) business days of receiving a student’s written appeal, the appropriate academic Dean must schedule an Academic Integrity Board hearing with the student.  The Academic Integrity Board shall consist of a minimum of two (2) currently enrolled students and/or faculty members (with a minimum of one faculty member).  A faculty member will serve as chair of the board.  The instructor may be present during the hearing.  Only information submitted during the hearing, or in the meetings between the instructor/department head and the student, may be considered by the hearing board.  The evidentiary standard for making a decision shall be preponderance of the evidence.  The hearing board may agree or disagree with the allegation(s) of the instructor.  The hearing board may also approve, overturn, or modify the sanction(s) proposed by the instructor and/or department head.  If the student does not attend the scheduled hearing, the matter will be heard in absentia and shall not be subject to further review and/or appeal.  Within ten (10) business days of the hearing, the appropriate academic Dean shall review pertinent records and send the student written notification of the decision of the Academic Integrity Board.                              
  7. Within five (5) business days of receiving written notification of the decision of the Academic Integrity Board the student may accept the findings and sanctions of the board or submit an appeal to the designated academic Dean.  No action by the student within five (5) business days of the meeting with the department head shall constitute a mutual resolution and waiver of the student’s rights to appeal pursuant to the Academic Integrity Policy.  If the student does not respond within five (5) business days of meeting with the Academic Integrity Board, the alleged violation of the Academic Integrity Policy shall not be subject to further review and/or appeal.             
  8. If the student elects to file an appeal of the decision of the Academic Integrity Board, s/he must submit a written appeal within five (5) business days of receiving written notification of the decision of the Academic Integrity Board to the designated academic Dean.  An appeal to an academic Dean must be limited to the following grounds; 1) a violation or due process or 2) a material deviation from Substantive and Procedural Standards by the UNC Board of Governors (as set forth in the UNC Manual 700.4.1).                              
  9. If an appeal is heard by an academic Dean, s/he shall review pertinent records within ten (10) business days of receiving a valid appeal.  The academic Dean may agree or disagree with the allegation(s) of the instructor.  The academic Dean may also approve, overturn, or modify the sanction(s) proposed by the instructor, department head, and/or Academic Integrity Board.  Within five (5) days of making a decision, the academic Dean shall provide the student with a written decision.  The decision of the academic Dean shall be final.                              
  10. The student must remain enrolled in the course related to the case, and may not be permitted to withdraw from the course related to the case, until all hearing timelines, notifications, and/or appeals have been completed.                              
  11. Upon resolution of each level of the case (no matter the outcome), the instructor, department head, and academic Dean must provide the Associate Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students with all materials and documents related to the case (i.e. course syllabus, materials in violation of the Academic Integrity Policy, Instructor Resolution Form, Department Head Resolution Form, Academic Integrity Board decision letter, academic Dean decision letter, etc…).  The Division of Student Affairs shall serve as the repository for all records associated with allegations and violations associated with the Academic Integrity Policy.        

Section 4: Academic integrity board

The Academic Integrity Board shall consist of a minimum of two (2) currently enrolled students and/or faculty members (with a minimum of one faculty member).  A faculty member will serve as chair of the board.  Students and faculty members serving on boards for each college will be selected by each college Dean.  The Department of Student Community Ethics and Academic Affairs will train all board members prior to their service on a hearing board.  Each academic Dean will convene hearing boards as necessary, and will determine a faculty member to serve as chair prior to a hearing.

section 5: Sanctions

The instructor, department head, Academic Integrity Board, and/or academic Dean may impose academic sanctions permitted by the institution (not to exceed receiving a grade of “F” for the course).  The instructor, department head, Academic Integrity Board, and/or academic Dean may not permanently remove the student from the course or suspend/expel the student from a program or the University.  Student behavior of the magnitude to warrant consideration for permanently removal from the course or suspension/expulsion from a program or the University must be referred to the Associate Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students. 

section 6: Habitual violations of the academic integrity policy

Upon receipt of materials associated with violations of the Academic Integrity Policy, the Associate Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students will determine if a student has previous violations of University policies.  Students with a prior record of violations, or who commit a gross and/or egregious violation of the Academic Integrity Policy, will be referred to the Associate Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students for consideration of being subject to hearing proceedings for a serious academic violation as defined by the Code of Student Conduct.  Students in this category are subject to course-related sanctions imposed by the instructor, department head, Academic Integrity Board, and/or academic Dean and University-level sanctions imposed by the Associate Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students for multiple violations of University policies.        

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