By Raegan Turner | Staff Writer
The Baylor University Office of Academic Integrity recently released the Fall 2018 Honor Council Report. These documents include all of the academic integrity transgressions and hazing violations committed during the Fall 2018 semester. In accordance with university requirements, all reported information is published every semester.
Director of the office of academic integrity, Linda Cates, informs and upholds these academic policies. Some of Cates’ duties include assisting faculty and students, conducting educational seminars about academic integrity and maintaining records of all honor code violations at Baylor. In response to the recently released report, Cates urged students to refrain from dishonorable academic conduct despite the allure of breaking the rules.
“Many students find themselves tempted to commit Honor Code violations when they are tired, stressed, behind in their work and sometimes when they do not believe the course or assignment is important.” Cates said. “It is very important to avoid the situations that lead to temptation. That is important to learn now, while the penalties for misconduct are not as serious as they will be later in life and in careers. No one is immune to temptation given the right circumstances. Successful students and professionals will avoid the temptation altogether.”
Students are required to sign a document promising to uphold the Honor Code in order to attend classes. Despite this, several professors last semester had to reinforce the code with serious consequences. The cases dealing with the most frequent infraction, plagiarism, resulted in no credit on the particular assignment or failure in the course itself.
In regard to academic offenses, there were 86 reported violations of the Honor Code last semester. A little more than three-quarters of these cases were handled by faculty and the remainder were settled in Honor Council hearings. Fourteen of the cases are still pending and are to be either resolved by faculty, proceed to Honor Council hearings or are currently under review by the council.
Grace Aquino, a graduate research assistant, has been teaching Intro-Environmental Analysis (ENV1101) at Baylor for three years. Though she has not personally seen plagiarism or cheating in her own classroom, some of her fellow teaching assistants discovered an online site with questions and answers that were identical to past course quizzes. They were then required to flag the source, rewrite the questions and discuss dishonest conduct with their students.
In addition to that incident, the pervasiveness of academic offenses in one environmental health course resulted in the employment of Aquino and other graduate students to assist professors during quiz and test taking in order to deter potential cheating. Despite this action, Aquino does not think it is, nor will be enough to curb academic dishonesty as a whole.
“I expect this to be only a partial solution. Really, it will take a cultural and mental shift on behalf of the students, who ultimately are cheating themselves out of a good work ethic growing as learners.” Aquino said.
Information about the revisions and updates of the honor code policy and infractions against it were not the only updated section of the report. Another fraternity name was added to the list of hazing cases reported. The fraternity Delta Tau Delta was recorded as having committed an unspecified violation during the Fall 2018 semester.
A complete definition of what hazing is may be found in Baylor’s Student Code of Conduct, though some examples provided include paddling, unapproved quests and forcing someone to dress conspicuously and in poor-taste. Despite multiple inquiries, members of Delta Tau Delta were unavailable for comment on the circumstances of the matter.