Academic Honor Code

As an honor code institution that is built on trust, we are a community that is committed to fostering the development of scholars that practice integrity in all academic endeavors.

Saint Mary’s College Academic Honor Code


Saint Mary’s College expects every member of its community to promote and abide by ethical standards, both in conduct and exercise of responsibility towards other members of the community.  Academic Honesty must be demonstrated at all times to maintain the integrity of scholarship and the reputation of the College.  Academic dishonesty is a serious violation of College policy because, among other things, it undermines the bonds of trust and honesty between members of the community and betrays those who may eventually depend upon the College’s academic integrity and knowledge. 


Saint Mary’s has implemented an Academic Honor Code to serve as an expression of support for academic integrity throughout the Saint Mary’s learning community and as an administrative tool to encourage academic honesty.  The Academic Honor Code is approved by the AS Student Body, the Faculty Academic Senate, the Provost, and the President of Saint Mary’s College. 


Student Responsibility



All students, whether undergraduate or graduate, are expected to sign a pledge to follow this Academic Honor Code.  The pledge reads as follows:


As a student member of an academic community based in mutual trust and responsibility, I pledge:

  • To do my own work at all times, without giving or receiving inappropriate aid; 

  • To avoid behaviors that unfairly impede the academic progress of other members of my community; and 

  • To take reasonable and responsible action in order to uphold my community’s academic integrity. 


I.Principles of Action



All student information generated in connection with the Code and its implementation is educational records of the student(s) involved and cannot be discussed or disclosed (or re-disclosed) other than on an educational need-to-know basis or with the student(s)’s prior written and dated consent.  This principle applies to all involved parties, including any faculty, staff, other students, and all Council members.


(2)Individual Responsibility

It is the responsibility of every student and faculty member of the College community to know and practice the tenets of the Academic Honor Code. If there is confusion over the appropriateness of a particular action in light of the Code, or if a community member has recommendations about how to amend or alter the Code, those questions and suggestions should be addressed to the Academic Honor Council through the Academic Honor Code Coordinator, or to the program director or dean for adult and graduate programs. 


(3)Community Responsibility

In addition to maintaining one’s own academic integrity, each member of the academic community should strive to preserve and promote integrity among his/her peers. Thiscommunity empowers its members to take appropriate action in support of the Academic Honor Code. If a student, faculty member, staff member, or administrator suspects a violation of the Academic Honor Code, he/she should take action consistent with the Academic Honor Code Procedures described below. Additional possible actions include: 

  • Actively encouraging academic integrity among one’s peers. 

  • Using moral suasion to avert a peer’s academic dishonesty. 

  • Alerting a faculty member to suspected violations of academic integrity. 

  • Educating one another regarding the responsibilities of academic integrity. 

  • Helping a faculty member maintain an environment that is conducive to integrity. 





Violations of the Academic Honor Code include, but are not restricted to:


(1)In Examinations

     (a)Unauthorized talking during an exam;

     (b)Use of “cheat sheets” or other unauthorized course materials during an exam;

     (c)Having someone other than the student registered in the course take an exam;

     (d)Copying from another student’s work;

     (e)Giving assistance to another student without the instructor’s approval;

     (f)Gaining access to an exam prior to its administration;

     (g)Informing students in other course sections of the contents of an exam; 

     (h)Preparing answer sheets or books in advance of an exam without authorization from the instructor;

     (i)Unauthorized collaboration on a take-home exam;

     (j)Altering another person’s answers in the preparation, editing, or typing of an exam;

     (k)Bringing unauthorized materials into an exam room;

     (l)And, any other violations, which fall under the category of examinations.


(2)On Papers and Class Assignments

     (a)Submitting work prepared by someone else as one’s own

     (b)Using the thesis or primary ideas of someone else, even if those ideas have been edited or paraphrased, without proper citation;

     (c)Plagiarizing words, phrases, sections, key terms, proofs, graphics, symbols, or original ideas from another       source without appropriate citation;

     (d)Receiving unauthorized assistance in preparing papers, whether from classmates, peers, family members, or other members of this or any other College community;

     (e)Collaboration within a class or across sections of a class without the consent of the instructor;

     (f)Preparing all or part of a paper for another student;

     (g)Intentional failure to cite a source that was used in preparing the paper; 

     (h)Citing sources that were not used or consulted to “pad” a bibliography; 

     (i)Citing sources out of another’s bibliography without having consulted those sources;

     (j)Reusing previous work without the consent of the current instructor; 

     (k)Providing a paper to another student for any purpose other than peer editing or review;

     (l)Using unapproved sources in preparing a paper;

     (m)Lying to an instructor to circumvent grade penalties;

     (n)Interference with access to classrooms, computers, or other academic resources.

(3)In Research

     (a)Fabricating or falsifying data in any academic exercise, including labs or fieldwork;

     (b)Using material out of context to inappropriately support one’s claims;

     (c)Sabotaging another person’s research;

     (d)Using another researcher’s ideas without proper citation;

     (e)Taking credit for someone else’s work;

     (f)Hoarding materials and/or equipment to advance one’s research at the expense of others.

(4)In the Use of Academic Resources

     (a)Destruction, theft, or unauthorized use of laboratory data, research materials (including but not limited to samples, chemicals, lab animals, printed materials, software, computer technology, audiovisual materials, etc.);

     (b)Stealing or damaging materials from the library or other College facilities; 

     (c)Not returning materials when asked to do so;

     (d)Appropriating materials needed by others such that their work is impeded;

     (e)Helping others to steal, hoard, destroy, or damage materials.

(5)In Academic Records

     (a)Changing a transcript or grade in any unauthorized way;

     (b)Forging signatures on College documents;

     (c)Willful public misrepresentation of achievements, whether academic, athletic, honorary, or extracurricular;

     (d)Falsifying letters of recommendation to or from college personnel; 

     (e)Bribing any representative of the College to gain academic advantage;

     (f)Breaking confidentiality about the proceedings of the Academic Honor Council, an Academic Review Board, or an investigative committee in the adult and graduate programs.

(6)In Community Participation

     (a)Engaging in conduct that, if found to have occurred, violates the College’s Technology Use and Whistleblower policies.


(7)Treatment of Violations defined in Sections 1 through 6

     (a)These types of conduct constitute violations of the Academic Honor Code and will be considered, if determined to have occurred, as acts of academic dishonesty. Any conduct that falsely represents one’s own performance or interferes with that of another is academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty is distinguished from academic inadvertence. The Academic Honor Council or the dean or program director for adult and graduate programs, receives and considers all reports of conduct that is alleged to be a violation of the Code and, thereafter, decides whether the alleged conduct, if determined to have occurred, constitutes academic dishonesty or academic inadvertence, which involves an act that might appear to be a violation of the Academic Honor Code, but is determined during the Review Board process not to be. In cases of academic inadvertence, no charge of academic dishonesty is made and the student is referred to the instructor for appropriate resolution.


(8)Purpose of the Academic Honor Code regarding violations defined in Sections 1-6

     (a)The Academic Honor Code is not intended to impede or inhibit the free exchange of ideas and collaborative learning which are hallmarks of a Saint Mary’s education. The College supports and encourages cooperative learning, group projects, tutoring, mentoring, or other forms of interchange of ideas among students and faculty, one of the most important benefits of academic life.

     (b)The Academic Honor Council (AHC) administers all violations of the Academic Honor Code. Members of the academic community are presumed to be familiar with the procedures outlined for determining a violation of the Academic Honor Code and, therefore, ignorance of the Code is not available as an excuse for an alleged violation of it. 



IV.Oversight and Procedure


The Academic Honor Council (AHC) oversees the procedures for the administration of the Academic Honor Code, the determination of violations, and the imposition of sanctions. 


(1)Council Membership

     (a)The AHC consists of a minimum of sixteen student members and six faculty members as specified below. These members share special responsibility for the dissemination and implementation of the Academic Honor Code on campus: 

          (i)6 or more students: Two students from each of the traditional undergraduate schools at the College (Economics and Business Administration, Liberal Arts, and Science). These representatives are appointed for a term of at least two years on a biannual basis by the Academic Honor Council. 

          (ii)4 or more students: One student from each program that takes special responsibility for community education on academic integrity (Advising, Athletics, Collegiate Seminar, and Composition). These representatives are appointed for a term of at least two years on a biannual basis by the Academic Honor Council. 

          (iii)6 or more students: A minimum of six students will be appointed as members-at-large. These representatives are appointed for a term of at least two years on a biannual basis by the Academic Honor Council. 

          (iv)6 or more faculty members: A minimum of six faculty members of the traditional undergraduate college. These representatives are appointed by the Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Programs for a term of two years; service may be extended by one or more years with the approval of the vice provost. 


(2)Rotation Process

(a)In order to facilitate consistency in the processes of review and policy formation, representatives are appointed using a system of rotation as needed to meet the membership requirements above.


(3)Responsibilities of the Academic Honor Council (AHC):

     (a)Responsibilities of the AHC include, but are not limited to, the following: 

          (i)To select from its membership a student Chair, or Co-Chairs, who will oversee the operations of the AHC for one year;

          (ii)To review and revise the Academic Honor Code as necessary, offering recommendations for changes to the Code to the Admissions and Academic Regulations Committee of the Educational Policies Board;

          (iii)To serve in an advisory capacity for the College community in understanding and interpreting the Code;

          (iv)To promote and maintain the Code, primarily through community education via publications, workshops, forums, and community events;

          (v)To create and facilitate a non-credit seminar on academic integrity to be taken by students who are in violation of the Code;

          (vi)To constitute Review Boards from among its membership to consider alleged violations of the Code;

          (vii)To consider requests for the removal of “XF” grades through its Chair(s) and to be a Review Board as a whole for petitions of reconsideration brought forward by the Chair(s); and,

          (viii)To provide an annual report (maintaining appropriate confidentiality) for the Educational Policies Board and the ASSMC Student Senate reviewing the AHC’s activities for the year. 


(4)Coordinator of the AHC

     (a)In addition to the members of the Academic Honor Council, there is a staff Coordinator who is part of the staff of the Office of Academic Affairs. The Coordinator’s responsibilities are: to serve as “first contact” for a party who wishes to register a concern; to maintain office hours during which community members may file concerns, seek advice, obtain written materials relevant to the Academic Honor Code; to update written materials and information as per the instructions of the AHC; to function as a “neutral party” in organizing and scheduling hearings by the AHC; to contact all involved parties and inform them of their rights and responsibilities in the process of pursuing a concern; to assign Advisors at the earliest possible time; to compile brief case inventories on concerns that are raised; and to ensure meetings and hearings of the Academic Honor Council are scheduled.

     (b)A reported student has five business days to contact the AHC Coordinator to discuss their options.  After the five-day period, the student has 24 hours to inform the AHC coordinator of their decision of whether they want to go forward with a hearing or sign a No-Contest Resolution.   If there is no contact within the specified time frame, an immediate XF grade will be assigned to the student’s academic transcript for the course in question. 


(5)Honor Review Boards

     (a)In cases when a violation of the Academic Honor Code is not handled through the channels of No-Contest Resolution, the Coordinator designates the case for review and establishes an Honor Review Board comprised of members of the AHC.   If there are two or more pending cases, the reported student is given the option to decide whether or not they want their Honor Review Boards to consist of the same AHC members.  The pending hearings are not allowed to be scheduled on the same day.  If the student chooses to not make this decision it is at the discretion of the Chair(s), to decide whether or not the Honor Review Board consists of all the same members.  

     (b)The Honor Review Board consists of up to eight members of the AHC as follows:

          (i)Five voting members comprised of four student representatives and one faculty representative who decide the sanction based on majority vote.

          (ii)One non-voting Facilitator who serves as the neutral presiding officer of the hearing.

          (iii)One non-voting Advisor per party.  Only the reported party is required to have an Advisor.  The Advisor will contact and can guide the reported party in writing a mandatory personal statement, but will not contribute to the content thereof.  At no time during the hearing will an Advisor formally represent the party in the hearing, speak on the party’s behalf, or vote during deliberation. The role of the Advisor(s) is to:

          (I)Help the respective parties understand the Academic Honor Code;

          (II)Provide confidential guidance;

          (III)Assist in preparing the respective parties for the Honor Review Board process;

          (IV)Aid the parties in understanding the decisions of the Honor Review Board;

          (V)Inform the parties of processes for petition for reconsideration.





(1)Standard Sanction: Assignment of an “XF” Grade

     (a)For violations pertaining to a course, the standard sanctions upon a student who commits a violation of the Academic Honor Code are as follows:

          (i)First Violation Standard Sanction:  Assignment of an XF grade in the course.

          (ii)Second Violation Standard Sanction:  Semester Suspension.  The standard sanction for a second violation is a semester-long suspension from the College.   Timing of the suspension is to be determined by the review board that reviews the individual case.

          (iii)Third Violation Standard Sanction:  Expulsion.   The standard sanction for a third violation is immediate expulsion from the College.  

     (b)For violations that do not pertain to a course, the sanction is determined by the Honor Review Board hearing the case.   The “XF” grade indicates failure in the course, and that the course failure was the result of a violation of the Academic Honor Code. A notation will be included in the student’s transcript indicating the meaning of the grade. For the purposes of computing grade point average and class standing, the “XF” will be treated as an “F.”

     (c)Additional restrictions from an “XF” Standard Sanction

          (i)In addition to the notation on the student’s transcript, an “XF” grade disqualifies a student from representing the College as the leader of an approved extracurricular activity or as a member of an athletic or scholarly team that is sponsored by the College. Students with “XF” grades will be eliminated from consideration for departmental or College awards and honors. No student with a standing “XF” grade may be a member of the Academic Honor Council. 

     (d)Possible Remedy for “XF”

          (i)Upon successful completion of the Integrity Seminar, an “XF” can be replaced with the grade of “F” and the removal of the “X” notation from the student’s transcript.

          (ii)Upon retaking the course and the consequent removal of an “X”, the “F” can be replaced with the grade earned.


(2)Alternative Sanctions

     (a)The existence of standard sanctions for violations that pertain to coursework does not preclude the right of the Honor Review Board to assign an alternative sanction, one that is either harsher or more lenient.  The rationale for an alternative sanction other than the standard is the nature of the offense and not the status or identity of the offender. The community member who brings forth the charge against the alleged violator may recommend a particular sanction to the Honor Review Board, but the assignment of the sanction rests with the Board.

     (b)Alternative sanctions include but are not limited to:

          (i)Reprimand by the AHC, with a letter placed in the student’s permanent file in the Registrar’s office.

          (ii)Community service requirements, either to the College or to a selected community agency consistent with the offense committed.

          (iii)Community education requirements, including participation in the development of workshops, displays, bulletin boards, testimonials, brochures, or College forums.

          (iv)Attendance of a non-credit seminar on academic integrity.

          (v)Academic or extracurricular probation.

          (vi)Loss of privileges for College leadership or athletic participation.

          (vii)Removal from the course, with alternate plans for completing it.

          (viii)Failure of the assignment.

          (ix)Failure of the course.

          (x)Modified “XF” grade, with no limitation on extracurricular activities.

          (xi)Suspension from the College at the end of the term.

          (xii)Immediate suspension from the College.

          (xiii)Expulsion from the College.

          (xiv)Withholding of a degree, even in cases where all College requirements have been met.

          (xv)Revocation of a degree already received.



VI.Suspected Violations



      (a)Any faculty member, staff member, or student who wishes to report conduct that might constitute a violation of the Code can report the conduct to the:

           (i)Relevant faculty member as defined in subsection (b), or

          (ii)Academic Honor Council Coordinator as defined in subsection (c).


(2)Initial Discussion

     (a)Any faculty member, staff member or student who becomes aware of conduct that might constitute a violation of the Code can first discuss the conduct with the relevant faculty member or the suspected violator(s). This discussion might include asking the suspected violator(s) to explain the situation or confronting them with relevant information about the suspected conduct.  Possible situations are as follows: 

          (i)If the parties involved agree and resolve that no violation has occurred or that the conduct has been remedied, the alleged violation will be dismissed; or,

          (ii)If the parties involved agree that a violation has occurred, then the student can request a No-Contest Resolution or an Honor Review Board through the AHC Coordinator as defined in subsection (d); or,

          (iii)If the parties involved are unable to resolve the matter of the alleged violation, then the reporting party can refer the case for review by an Honor Review Board through the AHC Coordinator as defined in subsection (e).


(3)Meeting with the AHC Coordinator

(a)Any faculty member, staff member or student who becomes aware of conduct that might constitute a violation of the Code can report the case to the AHC Coordinator.  When a student suspected of a violation of the Code is reported to the Coordinator, the reported student has two options to resolve the issue:

(i)No-Contest Resolution as defined in subsection (d), or

(ii)Academic Honor Review Board as defined in subsection (e).

(b)Within 5 business days after the day of the initial meeting, the reported student must inform the AHC Coordinator of a decision of whether to move forward with a Review Board or sign a No-Contest Resolution. If there is no contact within the specified time frame, the case will be considered a No-Contest Resolution and an immediate XF will be given.


(4)No-Contest Resolution 

(a)The No-Contest Resolution process is an option in cases when the following five conditions are met:

(i)Neither party contests that the conduct has occurred;

(ii)The nature of the violation caused by the conduct is clear;

(iii)The violation is course-related;

(iv)Both parties agree to the standard sanction for the admitted violation; and,

(v)If it is the first violation.

(b)In No-Contest Resolution, the standard sanction of “XF” is applied. To provide fairness in its application, the AHC Coordinator is witness to the No-Contest Resolution process.


(5)Honor Review Board Process


(i)In the absence of a No-Contest Resolution, the case is referred through the AHC Coordinator to an Honor Review Board for review and determination.


(i)The AHC Coordinator informs the Chair(s) of the AHC of the need to convene an Honor Review Board. Once the Chair(s) have established the Honor Review Board for a case, the Honor Review Board will hold a hearing. The hearing is a closed and confidential meeting with the person raising the concern, the alleged violator(s), and any witnesses who have relevant information that either party wishes to include in the proceedings. Prior to the hearing, the Facilitator will provide a list of witnesses and relevant information to both the person raising the concern and the alleged violator(s). 


(i)All of the testimony and relevant information from the hearing will be kept in confidence, in accordance with the College policy and to protect the privacy of the student(s) involved under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”). Failure to maintain the confidentiality of the matters and/or the privacy of the student(s) involved will result in a separate and independent charge of Code violation. No lawyers or lawyers’ representatives (e.g. paralegals) representing the involved parties or family members of either party may be present during the hearing or the deliberations of the Honor Review Board.

(d)Multiple Alleged Violators:

(i)In the case of multiple alleged violators in closely related cases, one Honor Review Board will hear all testimony and evidence. The Facilitator has the discretion to hold one hearing for all students concerned subject to receipt of the prior written and dated consent of the student(s) involved or separate hearings for each alleged violator. Hearings will be closed to all other persons unless all parties concerned consent in writing to an open hearing. 

(e)The Hearing:

(i)The Coordinator’s office determines the time and place for the hearing, as well as its structure and flow. Each party has the opportunity to present his/her position and offer relevant information and testimony, including witnesses to support his/her respective positions.  The Honor Review Board may forward questions during any phase of the hearing with the permission of the Facilitator.

(f)Deliberation and Decision:

(i)Upon hearing all arguments, the Honor Review Board meets privately to deliberate and make its decision. A valid decision constitutes a simple majority arriving at a common conclusion as to whether or not a violation has “more than likely” occurred. In the event of a split or tied vote, the case will be referred to the full body of the AHC for deliberation and decision. Within 48 hours of the close of deliberations, the Student Advisors and/or Facilitator of the Honor Review Board informs both parties about the decision and sanction, either through written notification or in person, depending upon the request of the parties involved. Notwithstanding this notice requirement, failure to inform both parties of the decision and sanction within 48 hours does not constitute an irregularity or reason to petition for reconsideration.

(g)Removal of an Honor Review Board Member:

(i)Any member of the Honor Review Board who has a conflict of interest or bias or whose participation would give rise to the appearance of bias or conflict of interest must recue him or herself from the deliberation and decision process. If during the hearing or the deliberations the Facilitator detects a bias that may interfere with the impartial consideration of information by any voting member of the Honor Review Board and that may significantly affect the outcome of the Honor Review Board’s decision, the Facilitator must remove that representative from the Honor Review Board and the hearing immediately. The hearings and deliberations will continue with the remaining members. 

(h)Ad Hoc Honor Review Boards:

(i)In the event that a hearing is necessary outside of the confines of the regular academic calendar (in the summer or over Christmas break, for example), then the Academic Vice Provost may convene a special ad hoc Honor Review Board consisting of two students and one faculty member. If possible, those representatives should be current or former members of the Academic Honor Council, but the Academic Vice Provost may exercise the right to appoint other representatives as necessary. 


(6)Petition for Reconsideration

(a)Grounds for Reconsideration:

(i)The decision of an Honor Review Board is pending appeal, with possible reconsideration (whether it is the product of a regular or ad hoc Honor Review Board), and will be reported to the Academic Honor Council as well as to the Registrar’s office. If the case is not subject to reconsideration, then the decision is final.  The decision may be reconsidered for an appeal if:

(I)New important information can be offered for consideration; or

(II)One or more parties can provide information that supports an allegation of failure to follow procedure that directly affected the decision of the Review Board; or

(III)The sanction applied goes beyond the standard sanction. 


(i)If the reported party chooses to submit a request for reconsideration, that person has five business days beginning the date after the day of Review Board’s decision to turn in a written request to the coordinator.  School holiday breaks do not count as business days (as defined in the student handbook).  Requests not submitted within the designated time frame will be rejected.

(ii)Any petition for reconsideration of a decision by the Honor Review Board is filed with the AHC Coordinator, who informs the Chair(s) of the Academic Honor Council. The Chair(s) determine whether or not the information and reasons offered support the request for reconsideration (based on the above criteria). If the Chair(s) deem that the information offered is sufficient to support reconsideration of the case, then it is brought before the full body of the Academic Honor Council for an Appeal Hearing.

(iii)The Chair(s) facilitate the Appeal Hearing in which the original case, the Honor Review Board’s original decision, and the stated grounds for the petition to the AHC are heard. The AHC may, in its sole discretion, rely on existing written information or call for new information and/or testimony as needed to allow a full and fair consideration of the petition.

(iv)An initial majority vote of the present AHC will determine if the Honor Review Board’s decision should be overturned.  If the AHC upholds the decision of the Honor Review Board, then the case will be closed.

(v)If the Honor Review Board’s previous decision is overturned, a second majority vote will determine if a standard sanction applies.

(vi)If a standard sanction does not apply, a third majority vote will determine the modified sanction.

(vii)The Chair(s) will be excluded from voting and will only vote in the case of a tie. In either situation, the decision of the Academic Honor Council is final and cannot be reconsidered.





(1)Cooperative Treatment of the Honor Code

Saint Mary’s, through its designated officers, faculty and/or employees, is solely charged with and responsible for interpreting and applying the Academic Honor Code. In exercising that responsibility, the College chooses to give students a distinct and significant role in designing the Code, hearing cases, recommending sanctions, and educating the campus community about the importance of academic integrity. This student participation, however, in no way prevents Saint Mary’s from exercising its sole discretion, without prior notice, in interpreting, implementing and/or amending these policies and procedures.