The University announced that the Graduation Honors and Dean’s List policies would be revised so that students who violate Penn’s academic integrity, student conduct or sexual violence codes would be ineligible for academic honors. The revision, however, actually allows “more students to not be penalized” when they violate Penn’s academic integrity code, according to Director of the Office of Student Conduct Julie Lyzinski Nettleton.
In early May, Provost Vincent Price and Vice Provost for Education Beth Winklestein announced that violations of the Code of Academic Integrity, the Code of Student Conduct or the Sexual Violence, Relationship Violence and Stalking Policy resulting in sanctions of probation, suspension or expulsion will be part of a student’s permanent record and thus reportable outside Penn. In addition, students will be ineligible for graduation Latin honors and Dean’s List citations regardless of their GPA standing.
Nettleton explained that these policy revisions are not something new that the University is adopting nor a new way to penalize students.
In the 1990s, the Council of Undergraduate Deans decided that the reportage standard would be different for violations of the Code of Academic Integrity versus the Code of Student Conduct. Any violations of the Code of Academic Integrity would go on a student’s permanent record and thus be reportable outside of the University whereas only violations sanctioned with a probation or higher for the Code of Student Conduct would be on a student’s permanent record and reportable outside Penn.
In 2014, the Office of Student Conduct along with the Provost’s Office, the Council of Undergraduate Deans and various other bodies decided to align the Code of Academic Integrity violation parameters with the threshold established for the Code of Student Conduct so that if a student only receives an academic warning or a reprimand, nothing goes onto the permanent record and the student is still eligible for graduation honors and Dean’s List distinction. Meanwhile, receiving a sanction of probation or higher would result in a citation on a student’s permanent record and loss of academic honors.
“It makes it so that lower level violations of the Code of Academic Integrity keep an educational only component,” Nettleton said. “The University is saying that we acknowledge that this is your first time, it’s a lower level violation and we want you to step back, think about your actions and change how you’re going to approach your academic career moving forward.”
In the 2014-2015 academic year, there were 28 warnings and 46 reprimands for violating the Code of Academic Integrity. Under the revised policy, these students will not suffer the more serious consequences.
While the Sexual Violence, Relationship Violence and Stalking Policy does not fall under the Office of Student Conduct and is instead handled by the Office of the Sexual Violence Investigative Officer, the policy revisions make it so that any violations resulting in sanctions of probation or higher for any of the University’s three codes will be reportable outside Penn and will result in loss of academic honors.
A student that receives a warning or reprimand for violating the sexual conduct code, therefore, will continue to receive academic honors and the violations will not be reportable outside Penn.
“It’s really a philosophical shift in terms of viewing the conduct process as part of the educational experience,” Nettleton said. “If a student moves forward by changing their behavior, they get to preserve what they’ve worked hard towards. Personally I think it’s great ... we believe that there are natural consequences for one’s actions and our primary goal is that consequences engage students in a learning experience which I think is at the heart of this shift in these policies.”
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