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Academic Policies


Policy on Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is vital to an institution of higher education. The integrity of your work ‒ that it represents your independent thought and effort and that it properly acknowledges the work of others ‒ is essential to the awarding of credit and to the development of your academic potential. As such, instances of academic dishonesty ‒ cheating, plagiarism, etc., ‒ are extremely serious academic offenses that should not be overlooked. Students should be aware and regularly cautioned that violations of academic integrity may result in suspension or expulsion from the college.

Definitions

Acts of academic dishonesty are serious offenses that should not be overlooked. Students should be regularly reminded that violations of academic integrity may result in suspension or expulsion from the college. Examples of academic dishonesty include: 

  • Cheating – intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information or study aids in an academic exercise.
  • Fabrication – intentional and unauthorized falsification, misrepresentation or invention of any data or citation in an academic exercise.
  • Plagiarism – intentionally representing the words, ideas or data of another as one’s own in any academic exercise without providing proper citation.
  • Unauthorized collaboration – instances when students submit individual academic works that are substantially similar to one another; while several students may have the same source material, the analysis, interpretation and reporting of the data must be each individual’s independent work.
  • Participation in academically dishonest activities – any action taken by a student with the intent of gaining an unfair advantage. This includes submitting previously graded work as new.
  • Facilitating academic dishonesty – intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to violate any provision of this policy.
Procedure

If an instructor can demonstrate that cheating or plagiarism has taken place, he or she will notify the student in writing, present the evidence and apply an academic penalty depending on the severity of the offense. The instructor will bear in mind that there are different degrees of academic dishonesty and assign the academic penalty he or she considers most appropriate from the options listed below: 

  1. Require that a makeup test is taken or a makeup paper is written.
  2. Reduce the grade on the paper or exam.
  3. Reduce the final grade in the course by one or more levels.
  4. Assign a grade of “F” to the exam or paper.
  5. Assign a grade of “F” for the course. 

The instructor must present the student with the Academic Grievance Policy at the time of notification so that the student will know his or her rights of appeal. The student may appeal the appropriateness of the particular academic penalty chosen by the instructor, as well as the finding of fact, through the academic grievance process. The instructor also will notify the dean of students so that a record may be maintained. If the faculty member wishes to pursue the matter as a disciplinary issue, he or she must refer the matter to the dean of students, where a conduct hearing officer may choose to impose disciplinary sanctions following procedures outlined in Article V of the Student Conduct Code (See Page 12).

Academic Grievance

A student who alleges an error or injustice in the grading process may present a formal grievance in writing to the instructor. Grading reflects careful and deliberate assessment of a student’s performance by the instructor and cannot be administratively altered.  Grade disputes are best resolved between the classroom instructor and the student with a careful review of grades and discussion of concerns.  When that is not possible, this procedure is provided to allow students an organized method to resolve their concern. 

In May of each year the Vice President of Academic Affairs shall establish an Academic Grievance Committee for the ensuing 12 months. The committee’s members shall be: an academic dean to serve as chairperson, two of three faculty members selected by the Faculty Association (one from each academic division) and two of three students (one from each academic division and having a GPA not less than 2.5) selected by Student Government. As soon as possible after establishment, the committee shall meet to formulate rules of hearing procedure for its 12-month incumbency. The academic dean shall be responsible for scheduling meetings and providing secretarial assistance. 

The word “recommendation” in this procedure shall not be constructed to mean a directive. The word “days” shall mean the business days Monday through Friday. The number of days indicated at each level is considered a maximum. All efforts should be made to expedite the process. The time limits may only be extended in extenuating circumstances by mutual agreement between the grievant and the person against whom the grievance is directed.

Grounds for a Grievance

Students may appeal the final grade of a credit-bearing course when:

  1. The student can identify a technical or mathematical error in the grade;
  2. The student can demonstrate that they have been unfairly denied a grading opportunity or held to a grading standard inconsistent with other students in the section;
  3. The student can demonstrate that the stated grading procedures listed in the course syllabus, department policy, or college policy have not been followed. 

Students dissatisfied with teaching style or methods do not have grounds for an appeal, but may file a complaint with the appropriate department chair. 

No complaint challenging a grade may be initiated later than 25 calendar days following the day grades are posted by the Records Office. If the faculty member who assigned the challenged grade is no longer employed at the institution or is not contacted within the 25-day timespan, the student may present the complaint to the department chairperson. Please note: during the summer, faculty members are unavailable after commencement and grievances might not be addressed until the faculty member returns from summer break. This still obligates the student to register their grievance within the 25-day window.

Process

If any decision or recommendation is not completed within the time limits specified, the grievance shall automatically move to the next higher level. 

1.  Student and instructor must meet within five (5) days after the grievance is reported, and attempt to settle the grievance at that meeting. The instructor shall give his or her decision to the student in writing within three (3) days after the meeting. If the grievance is not resolved at the first level, or if the instructor’s decision is not received within three (3) days, the student must contact the department chairperson for assistance. 

2.  The student may request a meeting with the department chairperson if the grievance is not resolved with the instructor. The request shall be written, stating the nature of the grievance and the desired resolution within five (5) days after the instructor’s decision. The chairperson shall confer with the instructor, getting his or her decision in writing, and meet with the student within three (3) days of receipt of the request. The chairperson shall attempt to resolve the problem and must render his or her recommendation in writing to all parties within the next three (3) days. If the chairperson is the instructor being grieved, the academic dean of the area shall hear this grievance. 

3.  If either the student or the instructor is dissatisfied with the chairperson’s recommendation, he or she may request a hearing before the Academic Grievance Committee. This request must be made to the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs in writing within three (3) days of receipt of the chair’s recommendation. The VPAA shall immediately notify the Dean of Student’s Office of the request, and shall assign an academic dean outside the grievant’s discipline to chair the case. All documentation on the case will be forwarded to the assigned to the academic dean. The academic dean shall call a meeting of the Academic Grievance Committee to be held within ten (10) days of receipt of the request. No faculty member or student from the grievant’s academic area shall sit on the hearing committee for a given case.

The Academic Grievance Committee shall review the documentation, hear all parties concerned, use any or all means to ascertain the facts and make a final recommendation concerning the grievance. Within five (5) days of the hearing’s adjournment, the chairperson of the Academic Grievance Committee shall send written recommendations to all parties present at the hearing. The Academic Grievance Committee shall be the last appeal at the Community College of Rhode Island.

Withdrawal

Students may withdraw their informal or formal complaints in writing before a hearing.

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