The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday June 4th

New policy on cheating suggested

Although faculty members are supposed to let the honor system handle instances of cheating, a new policy has been suggested that would give them the option to do what many already do — settle the problem on their own.

In a Faculty Executive Committee meeting on Monday, Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning described the idea — called the Student Faculty Resolution Process — which would allow instructors to handle cases of cheating independently of the honor system.

The current process, which includes a trial in the Honor Court, implements a standard sanction of an “F” in the course and a one-semester suspension.

Erik Hunter, judicial programs officer, said since professors don’t have the authority to suspend students, punishments through the proposed policy would be less serious.

Professors could simply give an “F” on the exam in question or make the student apologize to the plagiarized author.

“I think more of our students would be willing to accept responsibility if they knew suspension was not in the decision-making process,” Hunter said.

Manning said faculty would only be able to use this process with first-time offenders, and both the professor and the student could still take it to the honor system if they wanted.

“Students always have an out — they can always take it to the Honor Court and face the possibility of suspension,” Manning said.

Diane Horton, chairwoman of the Committee on Student Conduct, said the policy aims to allow professors a bigger role in deciding the extent of punishment the student deserves.

“This was an attempt to meet in the middle,” Horton said to faculty members in attendance. “To formally bring you guys to the table.”

The policy will have to be approved by the student conduct committee, student government and the faculty before being implemented, Hunter said.

Another issue that was brought up for discussion is the requirement to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” in the Honor Court.

Hunter said this standard of proof is unique to the University within the UNC system — and a threshold faculty members often complain is too difficult to reach.

The faculty committee also discussed the results of the pilot study tested last semester.

A survey found Turnitin to be “moderately effective.” The University has not yet decided whether it will implement the website campuswide.

Jan Boxill, chairwoman of the committee, said Turnitin would cost about $50,000 a year — equivalent to how much one Writing Center employee would be paid. She said Turnitin would be able to handle much more student work.

Still, the debate continues on the effectiveness of the site and whether it would be practical enough for the University to use across the board.

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