Responding to cases of academic dishonesty

Cases involving allegations of academic dishonesty can be difficult for all parties concerned.  With the participation of the Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS), the process of adjudicating such allegations is handled with respect for the interests of everyone involved.

When faced with the possibility that a Columbia University undergraduate student has engaged in an act of academic dishonesty, faculty and instructors should:

  1. report the instance of misconduct to the disciplinary process by contacting SCCS  at 212-854-6872 or
  2. engage the student in a discussion about the material in question and inform them that the matter has been referred for disciplinary review.

Faculty and instructors will be asked to provide a brief written account of their concerns and to include any available evidence. The student will then be contacted by SCCS and instructed to meet with his/her advising dean.  A meeting will also be arranged with the hearing officers from SCCS, who will make a determination as to whether the student violated University policy. The hearing officers also consider the gravity of the offense and the circumstances of the individual student before determining whether a disciplinary sanction should be issued. While instructors do not participate in the hearing process, they will be informed of its outcome.

If the SCCS finds a student responsible for academic misconduct, faculty should then select an appropriate academic sanction. For example, instructors can choose to lower the grade for the relevant piece of work, lower the final grade for the course, or fail the student for the course. In such situations, it is vitally important that the student understands the academic sanction and why it is appropriate given the nature of the dishonesty.  If you choose to impose a sanction, please make sure to inform the student about it.

If you elect not to refer an instance of academic dishonesty to SCCS, please nonetheless inform the student’s school if you choose to impose an academic sanction or if you have other concerns about the student. Because cases involving academic dishonesty may be indicators of other concerns, informing the school makes it possible for the student’s advising dean to assist by making any relevant referrals or interventions.