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Integrity Committee Will Recommend Ad Board Sanctions Review

By Madeline R. Conway, Crimson Staff Writer

The Academic Integrity Committee has agreed to recommend a review of the disciplinary sanctions handed down by the College’s Administrative Board, with plans to bring the recommendation to the Faculty Council sometime in March, according to Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris.

The recommendation comes amidst discussion of potential reform of the College’s process of adjudicating academic dishonesty cases, a key part of a larger proposal for the College’s first-ever honor code.

If implemented as outlined in a mid-January draft, the honor code would establish an “honor board” to hear academic integrity cases, with half of the seats on the board occupied by students and the other half occupied by faculty members and administrators.

Ad Board Secretary John “Jay” L. Ellison said in an interview last week that such a review would be likely because of the honor board discussion.

“I would guess that any discussion of changes, alterations, additions to any of the processes covering academic integrity or disciplinary [action] should make us stop and take a look at the sanctions and see if they’re appropriate, if they’re appropriate in every case, do we need more nuances, do we need more options, what’s working, what’s not,” Ellison said.

The Ad Board, the College’s primary disciplinary body, currently hears several types of disciplinary cases, including alleged academic integrity violations and peer dispute complaints.

When adjudicating a case, the Ad Board has several sanctioning options, according to its website. Those options include scratching a case; taking no action; “admonish[ing]” a student for his or her actions; putting a student on probation; and requiring the student to temporarily withdraw from the College. In extreme cases, the Ad Board may also recommend that the Faculty Council dismiss or expel a student from the College.

Harris wrote in an email Tuesday that what will happen with the sanctions review following the Academic Integrity Committee’s recommendation is “unknown.” He did not go into greater detail about who would review the sanctions or whether such a review would address the sanctions handed down in all cases or just those involving academic integrity.

According to Ellison, the Ad Board’s sanctions have been reviewed with some regularity in the past. In 2009, the Committee to Review the Administrative Board—which was chaired by now-Interim Dean of the College Donald H. Pfister—wrote a report that called for, among other points, an expansion of the Ad Board’s possible disciplinary sanctions in academic dishonesty cases. In spring 2010, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences ratified some of the Committee’s proposed changes, approving two new sanctions that could be handed down in academic dishonesty cases.

More recently, the Ad Board process came under increased scrutiny last academic year with the fallout of the Government 1310 cheating scandal, Harvard’s largest cheating investigation in recent memory. Roughly 125 students were accused of plagiarizing or inappropriately collaborating on a final take-home exam in the case, and roughly 70 were required to temporarily withdraw from the College as a result.

—Staff writer Steven S. Lee contributed to the reporting of this article.

—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.

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