by David Mair, Staff Writer

The Associated Students of Pacific Lutheran University voted on a new Academic Integrity Policy Nov. 4. The new policy, Senate Resolution Three, passed 20-1. The vote was held during the weekly ASPLU meeting in the Anderson University Center.

Before the new policy is put into effect, it will go to the Faculty Agenda. With the current Academic Integrity Policy, professors have two choices when it comes to instances of academic dishonesty. They can either let it slide, or report the student. It would go on their permanent record forever.

“For teachers, the frustration with that policy was that there was no middle ground,” said senior Tess Sawatzki, an at-large senator.

Regardless of the severity of the student’s infraction, if a teacher wrote up a student it appeared on his or her record as a major infraction. To solve this problem, the Campus Life Committee worked alongside a lawyer for the past year to rewrite the Academic Integrity Policy.
The Campus Life Committee is composed of six faculty members, who, according to the PLU website, “consider in a coordinative fashion matters pertaining to the academic and social aspects of university life.”

The new policy would have two types of infractions: major and minor.

An example of a major infraction would be a student plagiarizing a paper in its entirety.

A minor infraction would be a student doing a citation incorrectly or forgetting a citation altogether.

When a professor writes up a student for a major infraction, it still goes on his or her permanent record as before. If the teacher writes the student up for a minor infraction, the student is given a learning opportunity.

The opportunity is for the student to attend an educational meeting that helps the student understand what they did wrong and how they can do better next time.

At the end of the student’s time at PLU, if he or she only has one minor infraction, he or she can have it expunged. All a student has to do is remember to request it to be expunged. In the event a student incurs two minor infractions, it turns into a major infraction, which cannot be expunged.

“There has been a lot of excitement among students around the learning opportunity,” Sawatzki said. “But students have expressed concerns with messing up in two different topics.”

Teachers in each field will have their own way of citing students for infractions. This means that even if a student receives a minor infraction in math as well as English, those two still turn into a major infraction.

A recurring question brought up at forums discussing the policy was exactly who looks at permanent records. Graduate schools and prospective employers must request to see a student’s integrity record, infractions do not automatically show up.

A council of PLU faculty will meet tonight, Nov. 14, to vote and decide whether or not the new infraction policy will become a permanent change.
Our neighbor, University of Puget Sound, has a similar lenient policy. According to the UPS website, when a student incurs an infraction for the first time, the consequences are left to the teacher.

Though, when it’s a student’s second time it goes to a hearing board, where the board impose a consequence.
It will go on a student’s record if the hearing board makes that decision.

A recent article from the New York Times shows that the issue of plagiarism goes beyond the collegiate level.

The New York Times reported that Montana Sen. John Walsh had his degree revoked from the Army War College on Oct. 10 because he had copied large sections of a paper he wrote in 2007.

To find out more about PLU’s integrity policy, visit the website here.

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