5.6 How are Major Offences dealt with?
I've just received a letter from an Academic Integrity Committee saying I have been accused of violating the academic integrity policy and that I have to meet with someone about it. I'm scared and don't really understand what's going on!
It sounds like you are suspected of having committed a major academic offence. An offence is considered major if you have already had a prior offence OR if the assignment in question is worth more than 25% of the total course grade or if it is a final exam.
Major Offences are dealt with by the Dean (or Dean's representative) of the Faculty in which the course is offered. Most Faculties have an Academic Integrity Committee that represents the Dean in dealing with academic misconduct. You will be asked to meet with two or more members of the Academic Integrity Committee. The letter or email that you received will include all the information that the course instructor provided to support the allegation of misconduct. Read this material carefully. Always respond to the letter or email to indicate that you have received the information and that you will meet with the committee at the appointed time.
What will happen at the meeting?
At the meeting, you are allowed to bring an advisor (who could be a friend, a parent or someone else that you trust). Always inform the committee that you are bringing someone and who it is. At the meeting, you will be given the chance to tell your side of the story—what happened, why it happened, and so on—anything that you feel is relevant to the case. For example, you may explain whether or not you believe you are guilty and your explanation of what happened. You may be asked questions to help clarify the situation. The committee members will respond to your statement, possibly to explain the problem in greater detail or to elaborate on why you were brought to the committee. You may ask questions and elaborate on the details further. Once the discussion is finished, you will be able to leave.
The committee will review all of the details of the case and the evidence (including all relevant information on the assignment in question, writing samples, and records from meetings with you, as well as records of any past incidences of academic dishonesty), in order to come to a decision on whether there is reasonable evidence that you committed an offence and what sanction, if any, will be imposed.
Occasionally, a committee will determine that no offence was committed and the case will be dismissed. However, most instructors do not send cases to the Academic Integrity Committee unless they are quite certain that an offence was committed. If there is any doubt, professors may meet with you prior to sending the case to the committee in order to determine the facts of the case.