University of California, San Diego


November 23, 2005


SUBJECT:    Cheating at UCSD

Dear UCSD Instructor,

This is a note about a serious problem at UCSD that needs your help to fix, and also contains news about some changes in what the University is doing regarding academic dishonesty.

As you probably are aware, dealing with academic dishonesty at UCSD is the responsibility of the instructor. However, sometimes some students caught cheating at UCSD are not being reported. And in the past, when instructors did report cheating, they have expressed dissatisfaction with the University response.

When instructors ignore cheating, students can just cheat again. When instructors do not report cheating and instead take action on their own by giving a lower grade, repeat cheaters are not caught. Further, if cheating is not reported, the course can be dropped or retaken (which eliminates calculation of the grade earned for dishonesty into the student's GPA) and the poor grade could potentially be petitioned away. This is not acceptable. Academic integrity is at the heart of our mission, and has practical implications as well -- no one would like to receive professional services from a person who cheated to get their degree.

The Academic Senate Committee on Educational Policy (CEP), working with the faculty, deans, provosts and administration, designed and approved a new streamlined policy on academic integrity to help fix these problems; this revised policy became effective Fall 2003. Last year CEP investigated the success of this revised policy, and found disturbing results. The revised policy had not been implemented either correctly or competently, and a tendency of instructors to opt out of the policy was noted.

As a result, a task force led by the CEP and consisting of administrators, deans, provosts, and staff, worked aggressively over the summer to completely redo the implementation of the UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship. This new system is in place now, and we urge you to make use of it. The actual UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship has not changed from 2003, but the hope is that it will now be easy for instructors to use it. Our goal is to make the system much less burdensome, so that instructors will report all cases of suspected cheating they find.

The policy itself can be found at
http://www-senate.ucsd.edu/manual/appendices/app2.htm, but in brief is as follows:

1. When you find a suspected case of cheating, report it to the new Academic Integrity Coordinator (AIC) formerly called the "Student Conduct Coordinator" (858-822-4586; email: aic@ucsd.edu) (Technically, this number is for the Acting AIC; a new AIC will be hired early in Winter 2006 so the phone number will change).

2. The AIC will report your case to the Dean of Student Affairs of the appropriate college, who will contact you to discuss the evidence, possible consequences for the student, and procedures.

3. You, of course, can meet with the student yourself to discuss the issue, but don't have to.

4. The Dean of Student Affairs will arrange to meet with the student. If the student accepts the charges, you are finished, except for assigning whatever grade you think is appropriate.

5. If the student decides to contest the charges, either you (or if you prefer, the AIC) will appear at a formal hearing where both sides of the case will be presented. The Hearing Board will decide based upon the "preponderance of the evidence".

6. Please note that throughout, only instructors have the right to bring or drop charges of academic dishonesty, and to assign the grade. The Council of Deans imposes any administrative sanction (e.g., probation or suspension).

As I said, academic integrity is at the heart of our mission as an educational institution. Students themselves can become demoralized when cheaters in their classes get away with it. Since the vast majority of students do not cheat, in my experience, students are quite happy when instructors are tough on cheating; they know cheating by others lowers their grade. Academic dishonesty is a nationwide problem and UCSD is not exempt. As instructors at UCSD, it is an important part of our job to try and stop cheating from happening, to report it when we discover it, and to deal with it firmly and fairly.

Kim Griest,
Professor of Physics
Committee on Educational Policy
UCSD Academic Senate

M. Allen
M. Appelbaum
R. Attiyeh
M. Chandler
C. Davalos
M. Fox
T. Johnston
J.B. Minster
H. Powell
E. Spriggs
J. Watson
Deans of Student Affairs
Graduate Coordinators