If You Encounter Academic Misconduct
The following are steps to take if you suspect a student has committed academic misconduct according to the campus’s definitions:
- Document your reasons for concluding that an act of misconduct occurred (the evidence).
- Consult with the Instructor of Record. The Instructor of Record may want to manage the issue personally; although the Instructor of Record may choose to delegate further steps to the GSI, the Instructor of Record is officially responsible for addressing the possible misconduct.
- The Instructor of Record may decide to impose a proportionate sanction for the infraction — for example, for a small plagiarism infraction, have the student resubmit an assignment for reduced credit; for a more serious infraction, receive reduced credit or a zero on an exam or paper; or for an egregious infraction, receive a reduced or failing final grade in the course.
- The Instructor of Record or the GSI should download the Faculty Disposition for Academic Dishonesty form (pdf) . The form is very brief and straightforward.
- Either the GSI or the Instructor of Record or both should speak with the student to help the student understand the charge and to get a sense of the student’s perspective. Avoid inflammatory terms such as “cheat” or “theft.” Show the student the evidence and the Code of Conduct section that was violated (academic violations are identified in Section V and Appendix II), and give the student an opportunity to agree or disagree with the allegation. Discuss any sanctions that the instructor will impose.
- Sometimes an instructor may prefer not to deal with the student directly. In that case, the instructor can collect the documentation and send it to the Center for Student Conduct, and the Center for Student Conduct will take responsibility to conduct an investigation and work with the student.
Reporting to the Center for Student Conduct involves filling out and submitting an online Incident Report. The report form will ask for details about the incident and uploading of the Faculty Disposition for Academic Dishonesty form (pdf), along with the evidence of the violation. Whether the student has signed the Faculty Disposition form or not, it is to be sent to the Center for Student Conduct along with the Incident Report.
Detailed instructions appear at Reporting an Incident.
If the instructor chooses not to deal with the student directly, or if the student does not accept the allegation of academic misconduct, the Incident Report should still be filed with the Center for Student Conduct. The Center for Student Conduct may then carry out an investigation and speak with the student.
It is important for instructors to report cases of academic misconduct to the Center for Student Conduct.
- The Center for Student Conduct helps educate students about the function and value of academic integrity.
- The Center for Student Conduct serves as the central recordkeeping site on campus for reports of student academic misconduct. The purpose of this central recordkeeping system is to flag any future violations of the Code of Student Conduct by the same student. It can also serve as a check against a student repeatedly engaging in dishonest activities in multiple departments.
If instructors are not sure about filing a report or what information to include, they are encouraged to contact the Center for Student Conduct to discuss the conduct process and available options.
Sometimes instructors are reluctant to report incidents of academic misconduct because they are concerned about entering something negative on a student’s permanent record or transcript. But the conduct process makes it unlikely that a single academic violation will incur a permanent record-entry.
The student may be issued a “non-reportable warning” notifying them that any future violations will result in more serious sanctions. The warning is non-reportable in the sense that although Student Conduct keeps track of the violation, it does not create a conduct record for the student based on a single violation.
For more serious violations, or for repeat non-egregious violations, Student Conduct issues a “reportable warning,” which means that the student now has a conduct record. The Center for Student Conduct may impose other sanctions appropriate to the violations, detailed in Section VI of the Code of Conduct.
A conduct record is not the transcript of the student’s grades. Violations of the code of conduct are not entered on the student’s official university transcript unless at some point the student is suspended or dismissed from the university for other violations.
Incident reports and notes become part of the student record (which includes all information the university keeps about a student). Instructors should be mindful throughout the process that their notes and emails about an incident become part of the student’s record. Students have a right to see the contents of their record and to request changes to their record, including expunging of information.
Students charged with violations of the UC Berkeley Campus Code of Student Conduct have rights and procedural protections throughout the process. These include notice of the charges, presumption of innocence, and choosing not to participate, as well as the right to a hearing, an appeal, and an advisor. They also remain protected by the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which requires instructors and all University employees to keep their records — including a disposition for academic misconduct — private and confidential. You may only reveal the student’s identity and the circumstances surrounding the misconduct with other University officials who have a legitimate educational interest  in the matter.
Further information is available at the Center for Student Conduct website.
Sources: Center for Student Conduct; GSI Professional Standards and Ethics in Teaching Online Course, Module 5 (Promoting Academic Integrity). According to the University Registrar’s Disclosure of Information from Student Records policy (pdf), Legitimate Educational Interest (LEI) means:
a. The information or record is relevant and necessary to the accomplishment of some task or determination that is in support of the student’s education; and
b. The task or determination is an employment responsibility for the inquirer.