Changes will allow students to reach informal resolutions with their instructors
Christine Beyleveldt // News Editor
An accusation of cheating or plagiarism can destroy any student’s academic standing. But cheating and plagiarism aren’t defined in Capilano University’s current Cheating and Plagiarism Policy in a manner that is clear to students and faculty according to Nanci Lucas, a history instructor who is also serving as the policy development officer this year.
Nor is the process of handling any incidents that arise. Under the current policy’s definitions, plagiarism is the presentation of another person’s work or ideas as one’s own without acknowledging their source, and cheating is deceit, fraud or using someone else’s work to gain an unfair advantage.
“Sometimes it’s easier to just throw out everything and start again as opposed to trying to fix things,” said Lucas. She’s been researching the best practices at other Canadian universities and drafting the new Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure for the duration of at least the full calendar year.
Currently, if a student is accused of cheating or plagiarism, they must book an appointment through counselling services in order to appeal, which she believes was a good idea when it was established in 1999, but individual roles have changed since then. Under the new policy and procedure, any appeals will need to be taken up with the dean of the student’s faculty.
Lucas disclosed that the new policy calls for collaborative sanctioning, which allows the investigator, the dean and the student accused of cheating or plagiarism to meet and mutually agree upon sanctions.
However, a formal investigation now needs to take place before any sanctions are decided upon. “So that’s brand new. I think it’s a very positive step,” said Lucas, “If a student gets caught plagiarising, sometimes it’s intentional but other times [it comes down to] not really understanding certain things, and this gives students an opportunity to say ‘Okay, I get it.” This term was also included in the updated Student Code of Conduct, which outlines acceptable behaviour and was being revised at the same times as the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy was being drafted earlier this year. Both of these policies were submitted on Apr. 18.
However, collaborative sanctioning is conditional. Instructors can reach informal resolutions with students, including assigning a grade of zero for the assignment in question or allowing the student to rewrite it. Students may also be asked to complete a workshop or assessment on cheating and plagiarism within an allotted time period. In any case, the remedy will be reported to the Office of Student Affairs, and if the student has made any other or multiple agreements with faculty members or if the infraction is considered a serious violation, it will be reported to the dean.
Students will also be able to take up any incidents with their dean if they don’t agree to the informal resolution their instructor proposes instead of having to go through the counselling department. Lucas noted that the new policy is very clear on the timeline and the dean’s role and responsibility.
“This one has been up for revision for quite some time,” Lucas also noted. The Cheating and Plagiarism Policy was last updated in August 2010. “But it does mirror a lot of the language that you find in the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy and the Student Code of Conduct Policy.” However, the policy isn’t the only one that is due for revision.
Recently, Audrey Chen was hired as a Policy and Privacy analyst and Jennifer Jamieson serves as the manager of Policy, Privacy and Governance. “We know that our academic policies and other governance policies need updating and revision, and so the University is putting resources into that for us to concentrate the research and finding out what best practices are and updating all our policies,” said Lucas
Course Outlines and Course Approval also need to be revised to align with the change in CapU’s academic direction. This includes change in the role that is responsible for approving courses and curriculums, and the introduction of Cap Core, which are the 24 breadth electives required as part of any degree program. Cap Core was approved last year and is expected to come into effect at the start of the Fall 2018 semester.