Academic Honor Council FAQ


The reputation of Saint Mary's College and its programs depends on a collective commitment to academic integrity.  Faculty, students and staff members of our community pride themselves in valuing honesty and respecting the individual work of others.The undergraduate Academic Honor Code (AHC) asks students, faculty, and staff members to pledge to uphold the College's standards of integrity.

Violations of the honor code are reported because:

  1. Centralized reporting is necessary for fair and impartial administration of the code. 

  2. To facilitate proper record-keeping to ensure that repeat offenses will not be overlooked.


Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs


What if I witness another student cheating?

  • Contact a member of the AHC or the AHC Coordinator for a confidential conversation.


What if I am suspected of academic dishonesty?

If you are suspected of academic dishonesty, the instructor is obligated to investigate the matter and discuss it with the you.

  • If you deny responsibility and the professor believes there was no academic misconduct, then the matter ends.
  • If the you admit the violation then you may agree to no-contest resolution that results in the standard sanction (the "XF" grade). Both parties must agree that a violation occurred and that the "XF" is an appropriate sanction. Contact the Coordinator of the Academic Honor Council (AHC) in the Office of Academic Affairs. The Coordinator will meet with you to witness the agreement and to assist you in discussing the process for removing the X.
  • If you deny the misconduct but the instructor retains their suspicion, or if both parties do not agree to the "XF" sanction, then the instructor will refer the matter to the AHC . 


Where do I find the AHC or the coordinator?

  • The Academic Honor Council Coordinator can be found in Fillippi Administrative Building Suite 134 (Academic Success Office) and can be reached at 925-631-8273.
  • The Coordinator will arrange a confidential meeting for you with the AHC Intern and an assigned AHC Student Advisor, to discuss what your options are and what the review board process entails.


What is FERPA?

FERPA stands for the “Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.” You might also hear it referred to as the “Buckley Amendment.” This law protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA applies to all schools that received funds through an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education, and thus most colleges and universities are covered by FERPA. Learn more


What happens in the Academic Honor Review Process?

  • If you are contesting the report, you may request a fair and unbiased AHC review board.   The coordinator will then schedule this hearing.
  • The Academic Honor Council Review Board (consisting of students and faculty) will review the facts of the matter in the presence of both you and the reporting instructor, and then engage in a private  and thorough deliberation process after you leave the meeting to decide whether or not a violation more than likely occurred, and if so, what the the sanctioning will be. 


What will the penalty be?

  • The standard sanction for a violation of the academic honor code is an "XF" grade for the course involved. The "XF" grade indicates a failure of the course, and an "X" signifies a violation of the Academic Honor Code.  An "X" 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.
  • Students may later petition for a removal of the "X" (leaving the "F") contingent upon successful completion of the AHC Integrity Seminar.
  • Alternative sanctions may be imposed by the AHC depending upon the nature and circumstances of the violation.
  • Although students generally are not removed from the College for first-time violations, the standard sanction for a second violation is suspension from the College, and a third violation results in expulsion.  When referring a case to the AHC, a faculty member may recommend that a harsher or more lenient sanction be imposed; the final decision, however, rests with the AHC.

For more detailed descriptions of the procedures, please consult the Student Handbook.


Should I keep going to class if I am reported?

  • If you have requested a Review Board, continue to attend class until the matter gets resolved.


What happens to my grade in the meantime?

  • Until the matter is decided by the AHC, it is not appropriate to assign a grade. If it is necessary to submit grades before the process is completed, then you should submit an "I" (Incomplete) until the matter is resolved.


Who else will know that I've been reported?

  • Only the reporting faculty, the AHC Coordinator and the AHC members reviewing your case will know about your situation.  If you receive an XF grade, the College Registrar will have a record, however, once an X is removed from a transcript, it is gone forever.   Furthermore, the AHC members and staff have a strict code of confidentiality that must be adhered to at all times or disciplinary action is taken against that party.