Penn's Center for Community Standards and Accountability — formerly known as the Office of Student Conduct — released its annual disciplinary report, which indicates that academic integrity and student conduct violation cases have gotten closer to pre-pandemic levels.
The annual disciplinary report shows a sharp decline in Code of Academic Integrity and Code of Student Conduct violations from the 2020-2021 academic year. During that year, while almost all classes were being taught virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an influx of cheating and academic integrity violations.
Data for the 2021-2022 academic year shows a 43% decrease in academic integrity violations and a 45% decrease in student conduct violations when compared to the 2020-2021 academic year.
The academic integrity violations included in the disciplinary report highlighted cheating and plagiarism. While there was a 35% increase in plagiarism cases in the 2021-2022 academic year, the office investigated 121 cases of cheating — a 45% decline — after returning to in-person instruction.
While there was a decrease in total conduct and academic violations from the 2020-2021 academic year, the data remained relatively consistent with years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There was a very high spike in conduct violations specifically because of [COVID-19],” Center for Community Standards and Accountability Executive Director Julie Nettleton said about the report.
Student conduct violations primarily consisted of COVID-19-related violations, leading to an unusually high number of offenses in the 2020-2021 academic year. However, the 2021-2022 academic year saw an increase in disorderly conduct, rising from six to 103 cases.
The Center for Community Standards and Accountability's rebranding was approved on Aug. 1, and came as a result of a change to the center’s methods of dealing with Code of Academic Integrity and Code of Student Conduct violations.
Nettleton described the rebranding as necessary to fit the many changes the office has undergone in recent years, transitioning from a retributive disciplinary system — a response to misconduct using punishment — to a more restorative disciplinary system. The new method is intended “to promote healing, accountability, and community building,” according to the Restorative Practices @ Penn website.
Pablo Miguel Cerdera, the associate director of Restorative Practices @ Penn — a branch of the Center for Community Standards and Accountability that deals with student violations using restorative practices — expressed hope to resolve as many disciplinary issues as possible and prevent harm in the community through a restorative philosophy.
“The restorative philosophy, which emphasizes self-determination, community accountability, and a focus on healing is a core part of the overall philosophy of CSA,” Cerdera wrote to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
While Nettleton said student violations were resolved primarily through restorative practices, academic integrity and student conduct violations were also resolved using sanctions, including signed agreements and warnings. Nettleton added that the center's team is hopeful about the rebranding changes.
“I think our team feels good about these changes in terms of how they are engaging students differently and impacting students differently and we feel part of a solution and not just a reaction to a problem and that's an exciting place to be,” Nettleton said.