‘Good faith’ not good enough for academic honesty policy


The Sunflower

Students have Wichita State’s academic honesty policy read at them several times through the course of their academic careers. Few have a complete understanding of how it functions in the university and how it is implemented.

This past week, SGA passed a resolution addressing their support for revisions to the academic honesty with the goal of shedding light on the shortcomings of this policy, hoping to encourage student input.

Mandy Hambleton, Assistant Vice President of Student Advocacy, Intervention, and Accountability, is spearheading the revision process.

“A commitment to academic integrity is vital to ensuring that the value of a WSU degree has meaning and is granted with the confidence of knowing that the student independently and ethically fulfilled the learning objectives set forth by their academic program,” Hambelton said. “The current policy lacks clarity.”

Senators Hannah Fernandes, M.D. Joad and Aleyah Murray conducted an informal survey through Facebook to gauge student awareness and understanding of the policy. The results found that most students are unsure of the process in whichacademic honesty is enforced. Many said they were only informed of the policy through the brief definition that is required to be included on class syllabi.

“Most said something like, ‘My teachers mention it on the first day,’” Murray said. “It’s the same in every class. They hear it on the first day, and then over and over again in every class, and they stop paying attention to it because it’s just the same statement in every syllabus.”

Legislative Director Marilyn Morton criticized the vague language of the policy.

“It doesn’t provide guidelines,” Morton said. “Terms aren’t explained. For example, cheating is mentioned, but not defined as to what that means.”

While individual departments may have universal policies that are upheld by faculty members within that department, there is currently no universal policy in place across campus for how academic dishonestly is handled and reported.

The policy currently states that “if a faculty member alleges a violation of the university’s standard of academic honesty, but imposes no academic sanction, no official follow-up is required. The faculty member should discuss her or his concern with the student and may also provide an opportunity for the student to redo the assignment or retake the examination.”

For more severe action, the policy states “when a faculty member has reasonable good faith belief that a student or students have committed academic misconduct, that faculty member has the sole discretion to give the student an “F” on the assignment/test on which the student[s] committed academic misconduct or an “F” for the entire course.”

The lack of a universal reporting policy in combination with a lack of a central record keeping system leads to students being able to commit academic dishonesty in various forms across different departments without being progressively held accountable for their misconduct.

Students are encouraged to contribute to the plan’s revisions.

“It is imperative that the student body supports the policy and that the student voice is heard in the revision process,” Hambleton said.