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Academic Honor System




The members of the Belmont University community seek to provide students a high-quality education while encouraging in the entire community a sense of ethics, social responsibility and interdependence. We believe that trust is a vital part of this enterprise and that self-discipline and responsibility to one another are also essential elements. We also believe that any instance of dishonesty is a violation of the values of the Belmont University community. Therefore, the Belmont University Academic Honor System aims to cultivate a community based on trust, academic honesty and social responsibility that:

  • Ensures that students, faculty, staff and administrators understand that the responsibility for upholding integrity at Belmont University lies with them;
  • Ensures that all members of the Belmont University community understand that all forms of dishonesty represent a profound violation of the values of the Belmont University community;
  • Clarifies what constitutes academic dishonesty and defines standards of behavior expected of all members of our community;
  • Promotes an environment at Belmont University where integrity is expected and respected and where dishonesty is not tolerated;
  • Defines a statement of expectations at Belmont University regarding behavior, as well as a mechanism for a consistent and reasonable adjudication process for violations of our community.


Pledge:
"In affirmation of the Belmont University Statement of Values, I pledge that I will not give or receive aid during examinations; I will not give or receive false or impermissible aid in course work, in the preparation of reports, or in any other type of work that is to be used by the instructor as the basis of my grade; I will not engage in any form of academic fraud. Furthermore, I will uphold my responsibility to see to it that others abide by the spirit and letter of this Honor Pledge."


Affirmation of Academic Integrity:
The Belmont community is committed to personal integrity and academic honesty as the foundation of university life and the cornerstone of a premier educational experience. Our community believes trust among its members is essential for both scholarship and effective interactions and operations of the university. As members of the Belmont community, students, faculty, staff and administrators are all responsible for ensuring that their experiences will be free of behaviors that compromise these commitments. In order to uphold academic integrity, the university has adopted an Academic Honor System. Students and faculty will work together to establish the optimal conditions for academic work of the highest integrity.


Standards for Academic Integrity:   Generally, academic fraud and dishonesty include, but are not limited to the following categories: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, multiple submissions, obtaining unfair advantage, aiding and abetting and unauthorized access to academic or administrative systems.

Cheating: Using unauthorized notes, aids or information on an examination; altering a graded work prior to its return to a faculty member, allowing another person to do one's own work and submitting it for grading.
Fabrication: Inventing or falsifying information, data or citation; presenting data gathered outside of acceptable professorial guidelines; failing to provide an accurate account of how information, data or citations were gathered; altering documents affecting academic records; forging signatures or authorizing false information on an official academic document, grade, letter, form, ID card or any other university document.
Plagiarism: Submitting material that in part or whole is not one's own work; submitting one's own work without properly attributing the correct sources of its content.
Multiple Submissions: Submitting identical papers or course work for credit in more than one course without prior permission of the instructor.
Obtaining Unfair Advantage:
       -  gaining or providing access to examination materials prior to the time authorized by an instructor;
       -  stealing, defacing or destroying library or research materials which can deprive others of their use;
       -  unauthorized collaboration on an academic assignment;
       -  retaining, possessing or circulating previously used examination materials without the instructor's permission;
       -  obstructing or interfering with another student's academic work; or
       -  engaging in any activity designed to obtain an unfair advantage over another student in the same course.
Aiding and Abetting: Providing material, information or other assistance that violates the above Standards for Academic Integrity; providing false information in connection with any inquiry regarding academic integrity.
Unauthorized Access: Viewing or altering in any way computer records, modifying computer programs or systems, releasing or distributing information gathered via unauthorized access or in any way interfering with the use or availability of computer systems/information.


Expectations: 
Student Expectations: All students are required to acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Academic Honor System and are expected to follow the Standards of Academic Integrity, unless freedoms are expressed by the instructor. 
Students are responsible for obtaining from their instructor an explanation of the freedom they may exercise in collaboration with other students or in use of outside sources, including:
    -   Assignments that permit students to discuss the assignment or to collaborate;
    -   all limitations placed on take-home examinations, including use of class or outside materials or discussion with classmates;
    -   use of examinations or other materials from previous sections of the class; and
    -   use of Internet resources, including proper attributions.
In the event that a student does not obtain a clear explanation of the application of the Academic Honor System from an instructor in any class, the student must assume that the Standards of Academic Integrity apply and will follow the strictest interpretation with respect to the class and alleged violation. 
Faculty Expectations: The faculty will manifest confidence in the integrity of Belmont students. Faculty will also make reasonable attempts to define academic procedures that create an atmosphere of support for the Academic Honor System. These may include, but are not limited to:
    -   Giving clear directions or instructions concerning course requirements, especially directions involving collaborative course work; 
    -   Maintaining the security and integrity of exams; 
    -   Giving students an adequate and equitable time period to complete required exams or course work;
    -   Taking practical measures during the exam period to create an atmosphere of mutual trust;
    -   Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of tutors working with Belmont programs, including the Writing Center, the Peer Tutoring program within classes and any other program using peer or faculty tutors.


Definitions:
Incident. The term "incident" refers to the violation of the Academic Honor System.
Community Conduct Form. The "Community Conduct Form" acts as official university notice for the student and begins the disciplinary process.  Forms are available in the Office of the Dean of Students.
Student Response.  At the time of notification or within 3 working days of notification, a student is required to make an official response to the alleged violations.  Students have two options:  A student may choose to:
     -    ACCEPT responsibility for the violations outlined on the Community Conduct Form
     -    NOT accept responsibility for the violations outlined on the Community Conduct FormIf a student fails to respond, the adjudication process may proceed without a student response to the alleged violations.
Faculty Administrator.  The term "administrator" means any person authorized to conduct an inquiry/conference to determine whether a student has violated any university commitments or policies.  The Faculty Senate has authorized faculty members with the right to act as the administrator for any violations of our Standards of Academic Integrity. 
Honor Court.  Faculty members may choose to refer the incident to the Honor Court.  The Honor Court is comprised of student members and an Honor Court Faculty Advisor.  The students must have at least sophomore status with an overall GPA of 3.0.  The court will be advised by the Coordinator of Judicial Services.
Honor Court Faculty Advisor. The Faculty Appointment Committee appoints a faculty member from each college to serve a three-year term on the Court.  Faculty Advisors serve as advisors to the Court as non-voting members during inquiries and conferences. 
Filer. During an Honor Court conference/inquiry, the faculty member who referred the case to the Honor Court is identified as the Filer. 
Inquiry.  The term "inquiry" is a mechanism for adjudicating an incident, when the student contests the allegations and does not take responsibility for his or her alleged misconduct.
Conference.  The term "conference" is a mechanism for adjudicating an incident when the student takes responsibility for his or her actions.
Preponderance of Evidence. "Preponderance of evidence" means that the information, as a whole, shows that the fact(s) supports the conclusion that it is "more likely than not" that the student engaged in the alleged incident. 


Confronting Violations:  The Belmont University Academic Honor System is designed to assist in upholding the commitments inherent in our Community Commitments and the Affirmation of Academic Integrity, emphasizing to all members of the university community the value of integrity within an educational community.  Any member of the university community may confront a violation of the Honor Pledge if s/he believes there is information to support such a report.
Faculty. If a faculty member believes or has been informed of a violation of the Academic Honor System has occurred s/he should:
    -   Complete a Community Conduct Form, notify the student of the alleged violation, and set up a meeting with the student, in person if possible. 
    -   Refer to Adjudication Section
Student or Staff Member. If a student or staff member believes a violation of the Academic Honor System has occurred s/he should:
    -   Urge the person to admit the violation to the appropriate faculty or staff member.
    -   Contact the faculty member in whose class the alleged violation occurred to inform the faculty member. 
    -   Contact the Office of the Dean of Students for violations that occur at other academic programs, such as Convocation. 


Faculty Adjudication Process:  Faculty members may adjudicate violation of the Academic Honor System through the following process
      I. Confront student and complete the Community Conduct Form.
      II.  Arrange a meeting with student to issue the Community Conduct Form, discuss the alleged violations and obtain student's response.
      III. Ask the student to respond to the allegations.  Students may choose to accept responsibility (skip to V) or deny responsibility.
      IV. If the student denies responsibility, you may choose to refer the case to the Honor Court for a formal inquiry.  Or a faculty member may choose to adjudicate the case, see below for inquiry procedures:

  1. Faculty members are encouraged to schedule another meeting for a scheduled inquiry, unless the student chooses to forgo a subsequent meeting and proceed immediately with the inquiry.
  2. During a scheduled inquiry, students are permitted to have others at the inquiry to speak on his/her behalf.  This participation is limited to faculty, staff, and student members of the university community and those individuals must be named to the faculty member at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.
  3. Faculty members may also bring others to the inquiry to offer information pertinent to the incident or may have another member of the university community to witness the inquiry.
  4. During the inquiry, all documentation/materials related to the incident will be reviewed.  Additionally, faculty members may wish to outline and define the standards of Academic Integrity, refer to the course syllabus, review correspondence or other paperwork pertinent to determining responsibility for the alleged violation.
  5. Faculty member will determine if the student is responsible for the violation based upon preponderance of evidence.

      V. If the student is found responsible, the faulty member will render the appropriate sanctions (See Sanctions.)  If the student is not responsible, state findings on Community Conduct Form.
      VI. Faculty members will communicate his or her decision verbally and in a follow-up letter (templates available from the Coordinator of Judicial Services) that states the sanctions render and the appeal process.
      VII. All documentation (including a copy of all correspondence, a completed Community Conduct Form, the faculty member's summary of the incident, copies of assignments and any other materials used to determine responsibility and response) must be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students to be maintained in the student's file. 


Honor Court Adjudication Process:  Faculty members may refer a violation of the Academic Honor System to the Honor Court.  The Honor Court process will follow the process outlined below:
     I. Faculty members will contact the Coordinator of Judicial Services to refer the case to the Honor Court.  All documentation of the incident and Community Conduct Form should be completed and sent to the Coordinator of Judicial Services.
     II. The Coordinator of Judicial Services will contact the student for an Information Session (see Disciplinary Process: Definitions.)
     III. During the Honor Court process, a student is entitled to certain rights and may utilize these rights, if so chooses.

  1. A student shall receive notification of Honor Court date, time, and location in writing, which includes email, at least 48 hours in advance of the conference/inquiry.
  2. A student reserves the right to an advisor that is a member of the university community during any part of the process; however, no representation by an attorney (regardless of university community membership) is permitted.
  3.  During a scheduled Honor Court, students are permitted to have others at the inquiry to speak on his/her behalf.  This participation is limited to faculty, staff, and student members of the university community and those individuals must be named to the Coordinator of Judicial Services at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.
  4. The Honor Court's decision will be communicated verbally, if possible, but will always be communicated in writing within a reasonable period of time. 

     IV. Honor Court Conference/Inquiry Requirements:  The Honor Court must have at least three students and one faculty advisor.  In the event that fewer than three members and one faculty are present, the Honor Court conference/inquiry shall be rescheduled.  The Honor Court conference/inquiry will be recorded and the recording will be placed in the student's disciplinary file. 
     V. Honor Court Conference/Inquiry Outline:

  1. Opening Statement of Honor Court:  Introduction of Honor Court and Faculty Advisor, reading of the Community Conduct Form, and identifying others present at the conference/inquiry (i.e. Filer, see definitions.) 
  2. Opening Statement of Student:  Student shall have the opportunity to respond to the alleged violations. 
  3. Questions may be asked by Honor Court and Faculty Advisor throughout the student's statements.  Additionally, the Honor Court and Faculty Advisor may pose questions to the filer during the student's statements.
  4. Filer Response:  The filer may issue a response to the student's opening statement and give his/her account of the incident.
  5. Questions may be asked by Honor Court and Faculty Advisor throughout the filer's response.  Additionally, the Honor Court and Faculty Advisor may pose questions to the student during the filer's statements.
  6. Other individuals may be invited to provide statements.
  7. Closing Statement of Filer and Student
  8.  Closing Statement of Honor Court

     VI. Communication of decision:  If the student is found responsible, the Honor Court will make every effort to inform the student verbally of the decision and sanctions rendered.  The Coordinator of Judicial Services, in conjunction with the Faculty Advisor, will produce a judicial outcome letter.  The judicial outcome letter will state the decision of the Honor Court and outline the sanctions rendered, if found responsible.  The Coordinator of Judicial Services will contact the student to pick up the judicial outcome letter within a reasonable time after the Honor Court conference/inquiry. 


Standards for Determining Responsibility:  In contrast to the prevailing legal standard in criminal matters of "beyond a reasonable doubt" and to be consistent with comparable standards at other institutions of higher education, the faculty member, honor court or other officials identified in the Academic Honor System determine that a student is responsible for conduct when they assess that a preponderance of the evidence (see definition) supports that conclusion.


Sanctions:  Any student found in violation of our Academic Honor Code is immediately placed on Academic Probation. Academic Probation continues until the student graduates from Belmont University. 
I. Academic Probation is defined as a period of time during which any further violation of the Academic Honor Pledge puts the student's status with the University in jeopardy.  If the student is found "responsible" for another violation during the period of Academic Probation, serious consideration will be given to imposing a sanction of Suspension or Expulsion.  Additionally, some restrictions that may be placed on the student during this period of probation include, but are not limited to, representation of the University in leadership positions or on athletic teams, participation in student activities and study abroad opportunities, entrance into University residence halls or other areas of campus, or contact with another specific person(s). 
II. Faculty members may only issue one of three sanctions, which are listed below:
      i. Grade of F on the assignment
      ii. Grade of F in the course and
      iii. Grade of FX in the course.
                     1. FX means that this grade on the student's transcript will indicate that the failure of the course was due to a violation of the Academic Honor System, but may be removed by the student (see section L.)  The grade will be treated as an F for purpose of the student's grade point average.
                     2. When the sanction of an FX is rendered, it must be approved by the Provost after the allotted appeal timeframe.  The process of approval:
a. Send all documentation of incident (i.e. papers, exams, etc.), the Community Conduct Form, the Judicial Outcome Letter, and contact information of the student to the Office of the Provost.
b. The Provost will review all documentation and make a decision of modifying or upholding the sanction of FX.
c. The Office of the Provost will send a letter directly to the student about the outcome of the approval process and place a copy of that letter in the file.
d. The file will be returned to faculty member or forwarded to the Office of the Dean of Students.
III. The Honor Court has the authority to issue the above sanctions and/or may choose to render other sanctions outlined in the Disciplinary Process. 


Multiple Violations:  Any subsequent violation(s) of the Academic Honor System beyond the first is a violation of probation.  If the faculty member adjudicates a student's second violation, the student will be sanctioned based on the current incident and then be referred to the Honor Court for violation of probation.  If faculty member refers the case to the Honor Court, the Honor Court will sanction for the current incident and sanction for the violation of probation.  For a violation of probation, the Honor Court will consider rendering the sanction of suspension or expulsion.  Any decision of suspension or expulsion is a recommendation and required the approval of the Provost. 


Removal of FX:  During the student's last semester prior to graduation, he/she may have the FX petitioned to changed to an F on his/her transcript in the following manner:
I. The student must have retaken and received a passing grade in the class which the FX was given;
II. The student must have no subsequent violations of the Academic Honor System.
III. The student must propose and perform ac activity or program that promotes academic integrity on campus.  In order to coordinate this activity or program, the student must work with the Honor Court for approval and execution.  The Honor Court must certify that the activity or program has been completed in a letter to the Provost;
IV. The student must write a letter to the Provost requesting the removal of the FX.
If the student satisfactorily completes the four conditions above, the Provost will instruct the Registrar to change the FX to a grade of F on the student's transcripts. 


Appeal Request Process:  Any first-level response can be appealed by a student or faculty member, provided that one or more of the reasons for appeal listed in (Section I below) is relevant to the case.
I. Appellate Review Officer:  The Associate Dean of Student (or designee) will review all Appeal Requests for the Academic Honor System. 
II. Appeal Requests

  1. A written request, Appeal Review Request Form, should be completed and submitted to the Coordinator of Judicial Services within 72 hours of the date the student receives the written response indicating responsibility and sanctions.  The Appeal Review Request Form is available in the Office of the Dean of Students during regular working hours of 8am to 4:30pm.
  2. The request should state the reason(s) for appeal (see III below) and the supporting facts.  In order for an appeal to be considered valid, the student must explain how his or her reasons for appealing have the potential to change the original finding by the faculty member or Honor Court.
  3. An Appellate Officer will review the written request, Appeal Review Request Form and any accompanying information, of the student and can decide whether or not to grant an appellate review. 
  4. After evaluating the Appeal Review Request Form and any accompanying information, a student will be notified in writing whether or not their request was granted.
  5. If the Appellate Officer refuses to grant an Appeal Review based on the criteria in Section III, then the original response and any sanctions will stand.
  6. If the appeal is granted, an Academic Honor System Appeals Board will be formed to review the case (see IV.)

III. Appeal considerations are limited to:

  • Evidence that appropriate procedures were not followed which may have a bearing on the initial response.
  • New information that was not available at the time of the original inquiry/conference which may have a bearing on the initial response.
  • Evidence of bias that may have a bearing on the initial response.

IV. Appeals Board and Process:

  1. The Appeals Board will be formed from the existing members of the Honor Court and Faculty Advisors, but those individuals must have no knowledge of the case.  The Appeals Board will consist of at least three students and one Faculty Advisor.  A student, normally the Chief Justice, will preside and facilitate the conference/inquiry. 
  2. Student or faculty member will be notified of the time, date, and location of the Appeals Board meeting.
  3. During the meeting, the original documentation will be reviewed, the recording of the original adjudication conference/inquiry will be reviewed (if available,) and the student or faculty member will be permitted to present his/her reasons for appeal, as long as the reasons are relevant.  The Chief Justice has the authority to determine the relevance of information.  Throughout the meeting, the board members may ask any questions of the student or faculty member they believe to be relevant to the appeal.  The student or faculty member is allowed an additional opportunity to present any further information deemed pertinent to the appeal.  The conclusion of the board meeting will end with closing statements from student or faculty and the Appeals Board.
  4. The Appeals Board will make every effort to inform the student verbally of the decision.  The Coordinator of Judicial Services, in conjunction with the Faculty Advisor, will produce an appeal outcome letter.

V. Appeal Outcome:  The Appeals Board may not increase the sanctions of the original decision, not may it remand the incident to the original decision entity.  Any decision rendered by the Appeals Board is subject to the review and approval of the Provost.  The Provost will receive all documentation and may wish to speak with the members of the Appeal Board. The decision of the Provost is final.


Documentation:   Upon completion of the adjudication process, it is expected that all documented violation and paperwork be forwarded to the Office of the Dean of Students.  Furthermore; 
i. All written documentation related to the incident will be placed in the student's disciplinary file.
ii. A student's disciplinary file(s) and record(s) will be maintained in the Office of the Dean of Students.
iii. All disciplinary files and records will be retained for ten years.


Confidentiality:  Decisions of conferences/inquiries are confidential and become a part of the student's educational records and are, therefore, subject to federal regulations set forth in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1972. Honor Court members must not comment on any aspect of the incident or decision with anyone other than the faculty advisers, Coordinator of Judicial Services or - in the case of appeal - with the Provost.

Should anyone involved in the Academic Honor System adjudication process be asked for information s/he should be aware of his/her duty to refuse comment and instead should refer the question to the Provost for an official statement. Members of the Honor Court or Appeals Board found to be in violation of this policy will be subject to university disciplinary action. Such disclosure of information is not only in violation of university policy but also federal statutes.


Contact Information
:  If you would like more information about the Academic Honor System, please contact the Coordinator of Judicial Services at 615-460-6407 or email studentconduct@belmont.edu.  Judicial Services is a department in the Dean of Student's Office. 

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