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 University Policy Manual
 California State University, Sacramento
Policy Title: Academic Honesty Policy and Procedures

Policy Administrator: Vice President for Student Affairs
Authority: PM90-94, PM 04-01, FS 04-71 
Effective Date: January 15, 2004
Updated: February 16, 2005
Index Cross References: Plagiarism, Cheating, Academic Sanctions 
Policy File Number:


  • General Principles

The principles of truth and honesty are recognized as fundamental to a community of scholars and teachers. California State University, Sacramento (hereafter referred to as Sacramento State) expects that both faculty and students will honor these principles, and in so doing, will protect the integrity of academic work and student grades. Sacramento State is a publicly-assisted institution legislatively empowered to certify competence and accomplishment in general and discrete categories of knowledge. The President and faculty of Sacramento State are therefore obligated not only to the world at large but also to California to guarantee that substantive knowledge is actually acquired and the ability to acquire it is actually demonstrated by those to whom they assign grades and whom they recommend for degrees. Academic dishonesty defrauds all those who depend upon the integrity of the University, its courses and its degrees. This fraud is accomplished to the extent that faculty, students or campus employees knowingly or unwittingly allow academic dishonesty to work its deception.

  • Responsibilities of Students and Faculty

In order to prevent the integrity of learning from being compromised by acts of academic dishonesty, Sacramento State has assigned the following responsibilities to students and faculty.

Student Responsibilities

    • Understanding the rules that preserve academic honesty and abiding by them at all times. This includes learning and following the particular rules associated with specific classes, exams, and course assignments. Ignorance of these rules is not a defense to a charge of academic dishonesty.

    • Understanding what cheating and plagiarism are and taking steps to avoid them. Students are expected to do this whether working individually or as part of a group.

    • Not taking credit for academic work that is not their own.

    • Not knowingly encouraging or making possible cheating by others.

    • Knowing the policies and procedures regarding academic honesty as specified in this document.
    • Exercising their option, if so inclined, to inform the faculty member or the Student Conduct Officer of alleged cheating.

    Faculty Responsibilities

    • Grading and evaluating academic work in a fair, consistent, and unprejudiced manner. This means following the grading guidelines set forth in both university policy and the course syllabus.

    • Ensuring that students are aware that relevant academic honesty policies exist and that the consequences of violating those policies will vary with the seriousness of the offense.

    • To the best of their ability, designing and conducting class examinations and assignments in a way that will minimize the possibilities of academic dishonesty.

    • Serving as a resource in matters associated with policies developed by faculty, departments and colleges relating to cheating.

Responsibilities of the Student Conduct Officer

  • Managing and deciding cases of alleged violation of the academic honesty policy where administrative sanctions are proposed.

  • Serving as a resource for faculty, staff and students on matters of academic honesty and this policy.

  • Ensuring the publication and distribution of this policy and procedures to the campus community.

  • Serving as a resource in matters associated with policies developed by faculty, departments and colleges relating to cheating.
  • Definitions of Academic Dishonesty


Cheating. At Sacramento State, cheating is the act of obtaining or attempting to obtain credit for academic work through the use of any dishonest, deceptive, or fraudulent means. Cheating at Sacramento State includes but is not limited to:
    • Copying, in part or in whole, from another’s test or other evaluation instrument.
    • Using crib notes, "cheat sheets," or any other device, including electronic devices not permitted by the instructor as an aid in writing an examination.
    • Submitting work previously graded in another course unless doing so has been approved by the course instructor or by department policy.
    • Submitting work simultaneously presented in more than one course, unless doing so has been approved by the respective course instructors or by the department policies of the respective departments.
    • Altering or interfering with grading or grading instructions.
    • Sitting for an examination by a surrogate, or as a surrogate.
    • Any other act committed by a student in the course of his or her academic work that defrauds or misrepresents, including aiding or abetting in any of the actions defined above.


Plagiarism. Plagiarism, as a form of cheating, is the use of distinctive ideas or works belonging to another person without providing adequate acknowledgement of that person’s contribution. Regardless of the means of appropriation, incorporation of another’s work into one’s own requires adequate identification and acknowledgement. Plagiarism is doubly unethical because it deprives the author of rightful credit and gives credit to someone who has not earned it. Acknowledgement is not necessary when the material used is common knowledge. Plagiarism at Sacramento State includes but is not limited to:
    • The act of incorporating into one’s own work the ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, or parts thereof, or the specific substance of another’s work without giving appropriate credit thereby representing the product as entirely one's own. Examples include not only word-for-word copying, but also the "mosaic" (i.e., interspersing a few of one’s own words while, in essence, copying another’s work), the paraphrase (i.e., rewriting another’s work while still using the other’s fundamental idea or theory); fabrication (i.e., inventing or counterfeiting sources), ghost-writing (i.e., submitting another’s work as one’s own) and failure to include quotation marks on material that is otherwise acknowledged; and
    • Representing as one’s own another’s artistic or scholarly works such as musical compositions, computer programs, photographs, paintings, drawing, sculptures, or similar works.

  • Instructor Evaluation and Reporting of Cases of Academic Dishonesty

When a faculty member responsible for a course has reason to believe, and has evidence to substantiate that the behavior of a student or students amounts to cheating as defined above, the faculty member shall take the following steps:

  1. Arrange a meeting with the student and at that time advise the student of the allegations and make him or her aware of the supporting evidence and the probable consequences. Any classroom confrontation should be as discreet as possible. If, as a result of this meeting, the instructor believes that the student's response is insufficient to offset the charge of academic dishonesty to the extent that he or she may be excused, the instructor will inform the student of the sanctions to be assigned or recommended in accordance with Section V below. All notes and discussions between the student and the faculty member will be kept confidential except as may be relevant in subsequent disciplinary proceedings or any subsequent legal actions. Faculty members should not discuss specific charges of cheating, plagiarism, or any other violations of university policy involving specific individuals in the classroom before other members of the class. Faculty may find it necessary to discuss cases of academic dishonesty among themselves, with their department chair or designee, as well as with appropriate staff or administrators or both, but they must also recognize that a student’s reputation is at stake and be discreet.

  2. In all cases report the infraction and the action taken to the Student Conduct Officer in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs in writing. The written report should contain at a minimum the following information: student name and ID number, description of the incident, summary of the action taken by the faculty member, and photocopies of any relevant documentation supporting the charge of academic dishonesty (e.g., in a plagiarism case, copies of the student’s paper and source materials from which the student allegedly plagiarized)

  3. The Student Conduct Officer may use this information to determine whether the incident is an isolated one or reflects an established pattern of behavior on the student’s part, and to determine the nature of any administrative sanctions, if deemed appropriate. The information contained in the report shall be kept confidential, unless disclosure of the information is requested or authorized by the student, is required by law, or is relevant in any subsequent disciplinary proceedings or any subsequent legal actions.
    • The instructor may impose the recommended penalty and make the report called for in Section IV.B above without a meeting when a student fails to attend a scheduled meeting called for in section IV.A above to discuss the alleged dishonesty, or when the apparent dishonesty is detected only near the end of the semester and the instructor makes a good-faith effort to contact the student but is unable to do so. In either case, the student’s right to appeal is preserved.
  • Sanctions

The instructor of record in a course where academic dishonesty is alleged to have occurred and the Office of Student Affairs shall have exclusive jurisdiction of the trial of charges of academic dishonesty that may give rise to academic and administrative sanctions under this policy.

Academic and/or administrative sanctions may be imposed as a consequence of cheating. Academic sanctions are defined as actions related to coursework and grades taken to punish cheating and are the province of the instructor. Administrative sanctions may alter a student’s status on campus and are assigned by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. The imposition of one type of sanction shall not preclude the additional imposition of the other.

  • Academic Sanctions
    • Faculty Responsibilities. The instructor in a course is responsible for determining the kind of academic sanction to be applied to students involved in incidents of cheating. Such sanctions shall be proportional to the offense against academic honesty that has occurred. Usually a form of "grade modification" will be employed. Before sanctions may be assigned, the instructor must have support for the charge of academic dishonesty in the form of personal observation, or documentation, or the testimony of a reliable witness, or any combination of them. A student may receive:
      • An oral reprimand.
      • Reduction in an assigned grade.
      • A referral for administrative sanctions. An instructor may choose to refer a student to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for disciplinary action in lieu of any academic sanction or in addition to the academic sanction the faculty member has imposed.

    In all cases a student may also be referred for counseling but cannot be required to seek counseling.

Faculty Discretion to assign Academic Sanctions. An instructor may assign a failing grade or a grade less than a failing grade to any assignment on which cheating has occurred or to performance in the course as a whole as an academic sanction for cheating so long as the assigned sanction is not grossly disproportionate to the offense and therefore arbitrary. Instructors are advised to adjust the relative severity of the sanction to their estimation of the relative gravity of the offense in the particular case before them. In cases of grave offense such as those offenses specified in Sections III.A.5 & III.A.6 above, for example, or in cases of extensive or repeated plagiarism the instructor is advised to add an express recommendation to his or her routine report of cheating that the Office of Student Affairs also apply administrative sanctions. An instructor may of course recommend administrative sanctions in any case in which the recommendation seems warranted.

    • Faculty Discretion in Cases That Fall Short of Cheating. Cases involving the careless or inept handling of quoted material but which fall short of the definitions of the acts of cheating as defined in Sections III.A and III.B of this policy may be dealt with at the discretion of the faculty member concerned. Section III.A (7) is also sufficiently undefined to require an instructor’s interpretation.
  • Grade Reporting. In cases where an academic sanction for cheating has been referred to the Office of Student Affairs for review (see below), the academic calendar may require the instructor to submit a course grade before the review is complete. In such cases, the instructor shall, by contacting the Registrar’s Office, submit an RD (Report Delayed) grade for the student until the review has been concluded and the effect of the sanction, if any, on the student’s course grade can be determined.
  • Administrative Sanctions
    • As stipulated in the California Code of Regulations, Section 41301, cheating or plagiarism in connection with an academic program at a campus may warrant expulsion, suspension, probation or a lesser sanction. Administrative action involving academic dishonesty at Sacramento State is the responsibility of the Student Conduct Officer in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. Any administrative action taken by the Student Conduct Officer must be in accordance with the procedures set forth in Executive Order No. 970, Student Conduct Procedures for the California State University.
    • The Student Conduct Officer shall consider administrative action as a result of the following:
      • Request from the faculty for the consideration of an administrative sanction in a particular case
      • Repeated cheating and those cases specified in sections III.A.5 & III.A.6 above that are brought to his or her attention by the faculty, students or staff or by the review of reports filed in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
      • The Student Conduct Officer shall notify the appropriate faculty both when administrative action is contemplated and after it has been taken.
  • Student Rights

Nothing in this policy is intended to deny students who come within its scope appropriate due process, including the right to be informed of the charges, the nature of the evidence supporting the charges, and the right to have a meeting with the faculty member, the Student Conduct Officer, or other decision-maker, at which time statements and evidence on behalf of the student may be submitted. The student also has the right to a determination of the facts of the case based on a preponderance of the evidence presented. Nor is anything in this policy intended to deny the right to appeal, through appropriate University channels, any decision resulting from such a meeting. In the case where an appeal is made alleging that the grade-sanction was not proportional to the offense and therefore arbitrary, the appeal is governed by the grade appeal process.

  • Due Process Review

    A student charged with cheating may request that Student Affairs conduct an informal review to determine if due process was denied by the instructor when deciding that cheating occurred. This request shall be made no later than the end of the semester following the semester in which the challenged finding was made. If it is determined that due process has not been denied, the instructor’s decision shall be final.

    If Student Affairs finds on review that due process was denied because:

    • The instructor’s decision that cheating  occurred was not based on a preponderance of the evidence before the instructor, or
    • The instructor failed to provide the student with informal notice of the charges and a hearing.

Student Affairs shall return the matter to the instructor and direct that the question of whether cheating occurred be reconsidered by him or her in light of the preponderance of the evidence after informal notice and a hearing have been given to the student.

  • Right to a Hearing in the Case of Administrative Sanctions

When an administrative sanction is being considered, Executive Order 970, Student Disciplinary Procedures for the California State University, stipulates that a student shall be entitled to a hearing to determine whether violations of conduct and conduct-related regulations have occurred.

  • Findings

    • Findings by the Instructor. The instructor’s determination that cheating has occurred shall be final when made after informal notice and hearing and supported by a preponderance of the evidence before him or her. This decision shall govern the question of whether cheating has occurred when that question arises in any subsequent matter before any board, tribunal or committee of the university or one of its units except as noted in the following paragraphs.

    An exception to this rule shall apply when the Office of Student Affairs decides whether to apply university sanctions in a case of cheating. In such cases, the Office of Student Affairs shall be governed by Executive Order 970 and campus policy consistent with it.

    • Findings by the Hearing Officer. The finding by a hearing officer, after a formal hearing, that cheating did or did not occur in a particular case shall be final and binding on the parties to that case. It shall also be binding on any other campus tribunal, boardor committee when deciding a claim that depends, in whole or in part, on whether cheating occurred.


  • Revision of Instructor’s Findings in Rare Cases

    Conceivably in the course of one of its investigations the Office of Student Affairs may discover evidence that would exonerate a student charged with academic dishonesty or mitigate the severity of an academic sanction imposed for the offense. In that case the Office of Student Affairs shall invite the instructor assigning an academic sanction to reconsider in light of this evidence his or her conclusion that the student cheated or that the academic sanction is proportional to the offense. The instructor shall reconsider his or her conclusion or sanction in light of the additional evidence before him or her and decide whether to: (a) reach a different conclusion as to the existence of academic dishonesty; (b) impose a less severe academic sanction; or (c) maintain the conclusion reached or the sanction imposed previously.

  • Threats

Any threats against a member of the faculty, staff and/or students as a consequence of implementing this policy on Academic Honesty shall be cause for disciplinary action under Section 41301, Title 5, California Code of Regulations, in addition to liability under civil and criminal law.

  • Distribution of Information

This policy shall be published in its entirety on the university’s web site. Copies of this policy shall also be available for consultation in every department office and for distribution in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. General information regarding this policy and locations where copies can be obtained shall be published in the Schedule of Classes for each semester and in the University Catalog.

Publication of this policy and its distribution shall be the responsibility of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

The Vice President for Student Affairs shall submit to the Faculty Senate and the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) annually a statistical report of the number and type of cases of academic and actions taken. This report shall reflect the reports submitted by faculty in the discharge of their responsibility as specified in section IV.B above.

  • Supersession

This policy shall supersede the following University policies: (1)Academic Dishonesty Procedures, Policy File Number: UMA 00150.htm. and (2) Plagiarism, Ref: PM 90-04, Policy File Number: UMP 14150. Department policies must be consistent with this policy.


Approved by Alexander Gonzalez, President

October 2, 2008