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CUNY’s Policy on Academic Integrity

Academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York. Penalties for academic dishonesty include academic sanctions, such as failing or otherwise reduced grades, and/or disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or expulsion.

Academic integrity is at the core of a college or university education. Faculty assign essays, exams, quizzes, projects, and so on both to extend the learning done in the classroom and as a means of assessing that learning. When students violate the academic integrity policy (i.e., “cheat”), they are committing an act of theft that can cause real harm to themselves and others including, but not limited to, their classmates, their faculty, and the caregivers who may be funding their education. Academic dishonesty confers an unfair advantage over others, which undermines educational equity and fairness. Students who cheat place their college’s accreditation and their own future prospects in jeopardy.

I. Definitions and Examples of Academic Dishonesty.

1.1 Cheating is the unauthorized use or attempted use of material, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise.

Example of cheating include:

  • Copying from another student or allowing others to copy work submitted for credit or a grade. This includes uploading work or submitting class assignments or exams to third party platforms and websites beyond those assigned for the class, such as commercial homework aggregators, without the proper authorization of a professor.

  • Unauthorized collaboration on assignments or examinations.

  • Taking an examination or completing an assignment for another person or asking or allowing someone else to take an examination or complete an assignment for you, including exams taken on a home computer.

  • Allowing others to research and write your assigned papers or other assignments, including using commercial term paper services.

  • Submitting someone else’s work as your own, including, but not limited to, material obtained in whole or in part from commercial study or homework help websites, or content generated or altered by digital paraphrasing tools.

  • Fabricating and/or falsifying data (in whole or in part).

  • Giving assistance to acts of academic misconduct/dishonesty.

  • Altering a response on a previously graded exam or assignment and then attempting to return it for more credit or a higher grade without permission from the instructor.

  • Submitting substantial portions of a paper or assignment to more than one course for credit without permission from each instructor.

  • Unauthorized use during an examination of notes, prepared answers, or any electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, smart watches, or other technologies to copy, retrieve, or send information.

1.2. Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writing as your own.

Examples of plagiarism include:

  • Copying another person’s actual words or images without the use of quotation marks and footnotes attributing the words to their source.

  • Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging the source.

  • Failing to acknowledge collaborators on homework and laboratory assignments.

  • Internet plagiarism, including submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the internet without citing the source, or “cutting & pasting” from various sources without proper attribution.

1.3. Obtaining Unfair Advantage is any action taken by a student that gives that student an unfair advantage in his/her academic work over another student, or an action taken by a student through which a student attempts to gain an unfair advantage in his or her academic work over another student.

Examples of obtaining unfair advantage include:

  • Stealing, reproducing, circulating or otherwise gaining advance access to examination materials.

  • Depriving other students of access to library materials by stealing, destroying, defacing, or concealing them.

  • Retaining, using or circulating examination materials which clearly indicate that they should be returned at the end of the exam.

  • Intentionally obstructing or interfering with another student’s work.

1.4. Falsification of Records and Official Documents

Examples of falsification include:

  • Forging signatures of authorization.

  • Falsifying information on an official academic record.

  • Falsifying information on an official document such as a grade report, letter of permission, drop/add form, ID card, or other college document.

  • Falsifying medical documentation that has a bearing on campus access or the excuse of absences or missed examinations and assignments.

2. Methods for Promoting Academic Integrity

2.1. The CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity, and, if applicable, the college’s procedures for implementing the Policy, shall be posted to each college’s website with a link provided in the Learning Management System (LMS) shell. It is recommended that the link also be included in each course syllabus. Orientation sessions for all new faculty (full- and part-time) and students shall incorporate a discussion of academic integrity.

2.2. All college catalogs, student handbooks, faculty handbooks, and college websites shall include the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and, if applicable, college procedures implementing the policy and the consequences of not adhering to the Policy.

2.3. Each college shall subscribe to an electronic plagiarism detection service and shall notify students of the fact that such a service is available for use by the faculty.  Colleges shall make faculty aware of the availability of such services and faculty should inform students of their use.

3. Reporting

3.1. Each college’s president shall appoint an Academic Integrity Officer in consultation with the elected faculty governance leader. The Academic Integrity Officer shall serve as the initial contact person with faculty members when they report incidents of suspected academic dishonesty. The Academic Integrity Officer may be the college’s Student Conduct Officer, another student affairs official, an academic affairs official, or a tenured faculty member. Additional duties of the Academic Integrity Officer are described in Sections 4.1., 4.2.1., 4.2.2., 4.3 and 4.4.

3.2. A faculty member who suspects that a student has committed a violation of the CUNY Academic Integrity Policy shall review with the student the facts and circumstances of the suspected violation whenever feasible. Thereafter, a faculty member who concludes that there has been an incident of academic dishonesty sufficient to affect the student’s final course grade shall report such incident on a Faculty Report Form in substantially the same format as the sample annexed to this Policy and shall submit the Form to the college’s Academic Integrity Officer, copying his/her Department Chair.  Each college shall use a uniform form throughout the college, which shall contain, at a minimum, the name of the instructor, the name of the student, the course name and number, the date of the incident, an explanation of the incident and the instructor’s contact information. All instances of academic dishonesty that are reported to the Academic Integrity Officer shall be recorded for documentation and tracking purposes.

3.3. The Academic Integrity Officer shall update the Faculty Report Form after a suspected incident has been resolved to reflect that resolution. Unless the resolution exonerates the student, as described in Section 4.4, the Academic Integrity Officer of each college shall place the Form in a confidential academic integrity file created for each student alleged to have violated the Academic Integrity Policy and shall retain each Form for the purposes of identifying repeat offenders, gathering data, and assessing and reviewing policies.  Unless they exonerate the student, written decisions on academic integrity matters after adjudication also shall be placed in the student’s academic integrity file. The Academic Integrity Officer shall be responsible for maintaining students’ academic integrity files.

4. Procedures for Imposition of Sanctions

4.1. Determination on academic vs. disciplinary sanction.

The Academic Integrity Officer shall determine whether to seek a disciplinary sanction in addition to an academic sanction.  In making this determination, the Academic Integrity Officer shall consult with the faculty member who initiated the case and may consult with student affairs and/or academic affairs administrators as needed. Before determining which sanction(s) to seek, the Academic Integrity Officer also shall consult the student’s confidential academic integrity file, if any, to determine whether the student has been found to have previously committed a violation of the Academic Integrity Policy, the nature of the infraction, and the sanction imposed or action taken.  Prior violations include both violations at the student’s current college and violations that occurred at any other CUNY college.  In making the determination on prior violations, the Academic Integrity Officer shall determine whether the student previously attended any other CUNY college and, if so, shall request and be given access to the academic integrity file, if any, at such other CUNY college.

The Academic Integrity Officer should seek disciplinary sanctions only if (i) there is a substantial violation; (ii) the student has previously violated the Policy; or (iii) academic sanctions may not be imposed because the student has timely withdrawn from the applicable course.  Examples of substantial violations include but are not limited to: forging a grade form or a transcript; stealing an examination from a professor or a university office; having a substitute take an examination or taking an examination for someone else; having someone else write a paper for the student or writing a paper for another student; sabotaging another student’s work through actions that prevent or impede the other student from successfully completing an assignment; and violations committed by a graduate or professional student or a student who will seek professional licensure.  The college also should consider any mitigating circumstances in making this determination.

4.2. Procedures in Cases Involving Only Academic Sanctions.

4.2.1. Student Admits to the Academic Dishonesty and Does Not Contest the Academic Sanction.

If a faculty member wishes to seek only an academic sanction (i.e., a reduced grade) and students do not contest either their guilt or the particular reduced grade the faculty member has chosen, then the student shall be given the reduced grade, unless the Academic Integrity Officer decides to seek a disciplinary sanction. The reduced grade may apply to the particular assignment as to which the violation occurred or to the course grade, at the faculty member’s discretion.  A reduced grade may be an “F” or another grade that is lower than the grade that the student would have earned but for the violation. The faculty member shall inform the Academic Integrity Officer of the resolution via email and the Officer shall update the applicable Faculty Report Form to reflect that resolution.

4.2.2 Student Admits to the Academic Dishonesty but Contests the Academic Sanction.

In a case where a student admits to the alleged academic dishonesty but contests the particular academic sanction imposed, the student may appeal the academic sanction through the college’s grade appeal process.  The student shall be allowed, at a minimum, an opportunity to present a written position with supporting evidence. The committee reviewing the appeal shall issue a written decision explaining the justification for the academic sanction imposed.

4.2.3. Student Denies the Academic Dishonesty

In a case where a student denies the academic dishonesty, a fact-finding determination shall be made, at each college’s option, by an Academic Integrity Committee established by the College’s governance body or by the Student-Faculty Disciplinary Committee established under Article XV of the CUNY Bylaws. Each college’s Academic Integrity Committee shall adopt procedures for hearing cases. (If a college opts to use its Student-Faculty Disciplinary Committee for this purpose, that Committee shall use Article IX procedures.) These procedures, at a minimum, shall provide students with (i) written notice of the charges against them; (ii) the right to appear before the Committee; and (iii) the right to present witness statements and/or to call witnesses. Those procedures also shall provide the faculty member with the right to make an appearance before the Committee and/or present supporting documents. The Committee may request the testimony of any witness and may permit any such witness to be questioned by the student and by the administrator presenting the case. Academic Integrity Committees and Student-Faculty Disciplinary Committees, as applicable, shall issue written decisions and send copies of their decisions to the college’s Academic Integrity Officer. The Academic Integrity Officer may not serve on a college’s Academic Integrity Committee.

4.3.  Procedures in Cases Involving Disciplinary Sanctions.

If the college decides to seek a disciplinary sanction, the case shall be processed under Article XV of the CUNY Bylaws.  If the case is not resolved through mediation under Article XV, it shall be heard by the college’s Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee.

If the college seeks to have both a disciplinary and an academic sanction imposed, the college shall proceed first with the disciplinary proceeding and await its outcome before addressing the academic sanction. The student’s grade shall be held in abeyance by using the PEN grade established for this purpose, pending the Committee’s action.  If the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee finds that the alleged violation occurred, then the faculty member may reflect that finding in the student’s grade.  The student may appeal the finding in accordance with Article XV procedures and/or may appeal the grade imposed by the faculty member in accordance with section 4.2.2. If the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee finds that the alleged violation did not occur, then no sanction of any kind may be imposed.

Where a matter proceeds to the Faculty-Student Disciplinary Committee, the Academic Integrity Officer shall promptly report its resolution to the faculty member and file a record of the resolution in the student’s confidential academic integrity file, unless, as explained below, the suspected violation was held to be unfounded.

4.4. Required Action in Cases of No Violation

If either the Academic Integrity Committee or the Faculty- Student Disciplinary Committee finds that no violation occurred, the Academic Integrity Officer shall remove all material relating to that incident from the student’s confidential academic integrity file and destroy the material.

5. Implementation

Each college shall implement this Policy and may adopt its own more specific procedures to implement the Policy.  Colleges’ procedures must be consistent with the policy and procedures described in the Policy.

 CUNY BOT adopted a revised “Policy on Academic Integrity” on June 27, 2011, which went into effect on July 1, 2011 (6.27.2011.Cal.5.L). Amended and replaced on June 27, 2022. (6.27.2022. No. 4.F.)