What To Do When You Suspect Academic Misconduct


Colorado State University has a policy for instructors to follow when they suspect academic misconduct. Consistency in following this policy upholds the professional obligations of all faculty and instructors, instills confidence in the grading process, and creates an atmosphere of trust between students and their teachers.

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These are the basics for instructors who suspect academic misconduct. Included are excerpts of University policies published in the CSU General Catalog, Graduate Bulletin, and Faculty Manual.

Your First Step: Make Arrangements to Meet With Your Student

CSU Policy: If a faculty member has evidence that a student has engaged in an act of academic misconduct, the faculty member will notify the student of the concern and make an appointment to discuss the allegations with the student. The student will be given the opportunity to give his or her position on the matter.

For help preparing for this kind of appointment, please see our guide:

Talking with Students Suspected of Academic Misconduct

Your Next Step: Exercise One of Three Instructor Options

Your Options Are:

Instructors can ask that SRC determine responsibility for alleged academic misconduct on behalf of CSU.

You may want to do this for serious cases or particularly complicated cases, those involving several people, or with students with whom you have a mentoring or supervisory role. You may also choose this option if you are unsure of the strength of the evidence.

Instructors can impose a grading penalty based on the meeting with the student, and that action will become part of the student conduct process.

If the student does not admit to the misconduct, the evidence must reach a "preponderance" - defined as "more likely than not." Instructors then either send information about the case to the Student Resolution Center for documentation purposes only, or:

Instructors can send information to the Student Resolution Center and request a hearing to determine if additional University sanctions shall be imposed.

Additional University sanctions should always be considered for serious and repeated offenses. (See Academic Misconduct: What are the Consequences?)

CSU Policy:

If the student admits to engaging in academic misconduct or if the faculty member judges that the preponderance of evidence supports the allegation of academic misconduct, the faculty member may then assign an academic penalty. (See What Grading Penalties May I Impose?)

The course instructor shall notify the student in writing of the infraction and the academic penalty to be imposed. A copy of this notification shall be sent to the Student Resolution Center.

If the student disputes the decision of the faculty member regarding alleged academic misconduct, he or she may request a Hearing from the Student Resolution Center.

Information about potential violations can be submitted using the Academic Misconduct Incident Report Form.

Don't Forget: Students Have Options, Too

Students have the right to request a hearing by SRC regardless of the option chosen by the instructor. Students and instructors have the right to appeal decisions made by SRC to the University Discipline Panel, but grading penalties cannot be appealed if the decision of responsibility is upheld.

When Grades are Due before an Instructor/Student Meeting

CSU Policy:

If, after making reasonable efforts, the faculty member is unable to contact the student, or collect all relevant evidence before final course grades are assigned, he or she shall either:

Student Resolution Center Hearing Outcomes

CSU Policy:

A Hearing will be conducted at the Student Resolution Center to determine whether a preponderance of evidence exists in support of the allegations of academic misconduct.

If a University Hearing Officer finds insufficient evidence or clears the student of the charges, the faculty member will determine a grade based on academic performance and without reflection of the academic misconduct charge and change any previously assigned grade accordingly.

If a University Hearing Officer finds the student culpable, the Hearing Officer may impose additional University disciplinary sanctions.

In a case of a serious incident or repeat offense of academic misconduct that is upheld through a Hearing, the Hearing Officer and the faculty member shall decide whether the student's transcript will be marked with a notation of "AM," which will be explained on the student's transcript as a "finding of Academic Misconduct."

A notation of "AM" will be made on the students' transcript only if the Hearing Officer and the faculty member agree that this penalty should be imposed.

Grades marked on the student's transcript with the designation "AM" will not be eligible for the Repeat/Delete Policy.