Major strides made in first two years

By on April 15, 2004

The Academic Integrity Board at Quinnipiac University has made extreme progress and many changes in its short two-year tenure.

Under the direction of Catherine Meriano, associate professor of occupational therapy, Academic Integrity was created after Catherine decided to “re-vamp” Quinnipiac’s previous honesty policy a few years ago.

“It took three years to write and one to get it approved,” said Meriano. “Honestly, we never thought they would agree. It shocked us all.”

However, since Meriano’s two-year term as director will be ending this year, she will not be able to reap the majority of the benefits of her successes.

It was just announced on Thursday, April 8, that Renee Gravois Lee, an associate professor in marketing and advertising, would be taking the reins from Meriano this summer.

“It’s a person who is coordinating everything. [This program] would have failed without a director,” Meriano said. “You need someone for the faculty to call and say, ‘what do I do?'”

Next year the board has reformatted the position of director. Even though there is a course load reduction of one class in the fall and two classes in the spring for the director, it is still very difficult to balance the time in and out of the classroom.

The director will now be asking more from the board members and will also focus more on educating the students.

The Academic Integrity judicial process takes place every Thursday between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

There are four steps to take in each case. The first step is to report the actual incident, by sending the complaint directly to the academic integrity email address. If it is a person’s first violation then the student can accept responsibility and the student and faculty member accusing the student can come to a joint resolution.

The consequences that a student may face if found guilty include either failing the course or the assignment in question or attending a learning center class concerning the subject of plagiarism and cheating.

However if a student does not accept responsibility, then the board reviews the case.

At a case review questions are asked of both the student and the faculty member and the evidence is looked at. Two faculty members and two students from the board hold each case review.

If there is insufficient evidence then the case must be dismissed. This semester alone there were seven cases dismissed due to these circumstances.

In a case where there is sufficient evidence the student is again given the opportunity to admit responsibility where a joint resolution may be reached. However if the student still claims innocence or the faculty member does not agree to the terms set forth by the joint resolution then the case goes to the hearing board.

Each hearing is attended by four students, two faculty members and one staff member and usually takes place outside of the school in which the student is a part of. A student may be suspended from the university for one semester and in the most extreme cases a student may be expelled.

The Academic Integrity Board has expelled one student, but Meriano said, “These are not typical cases.” A student does have the right to appeal the decision.

The appeal is made directly to the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs.

This year the board has become much more efficient at moving cases through the process at a quicker rate.

“Last year the time line [to finish a case] was horrendous. It took four to six months,” Meriano said, “This semester there were 17 cases after winter break, 10 of the cases went to a hearing and were completed by February.”

There are usually a large number of cases after finals and the majority of cases are from the College of Liberal Arts because of the fact that more papers are written in the classes that students take in that particular college.

“I think it is a problem, but I don’t think we are any worse than other schools out there,” Meriano said. “We expect to have between 70 and 80 cases, which based on our population is average. But now we track violations, which we never used to do. Finally we are addressing it.”

Meriano also said that the majority of the students are charged in 100 level courses. “Often times many freshmen see core courses as hoops they have to jump through. Everybody goes through CLA courses. I try to emphasize to students to ask questions. Sometimes it’s so hard to tell if it [a paper] is just sloppy.”

According to the Quinnipiac University academic integrity website, “integrity means upholding a code or standard of values. In its most general sense integrity also means being complete.”

Quinnipiac University is a member of the Center for Academic Integrity (CAI), which is a group of high learning institutions committed to the idea of maintaining academic integrity.

By being a member of this group, each institution is expected to maintain honesty, trust, responsibility, fairness, and respect. Violations of these values include but are not limited to plagiarism, misrepresentation, and fabrication, cheating or stealing.

“At first we had a lot of grief from professors. But we’re not trying to step into the classroom. Now, the professors that aren’t too pleased are the ones that don’t think we are strict enough. I think the students have to have an open relationship with faculty members,” Meriano said.

The Academic Integrity Board currently consists of 24 people. There are of four seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen. There is also one graduate seat. Students apply to be on the board.


About Erin Peck