This page attempts to respond to concerns most frequently raised by parents of students that have been accused of academic misconduct. Parents may also want to review the section of the website with resources for Students.
In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Aggie Honor System Staff cannot discuss the details of your child's record of academic misconduct without written permission from your child, and preferably with the student present.
However, the Director of the Aggie Honor System Office would be willing to answer any questions you might have about our procedures, student rights, and the consequences of various sanctions.
The rules associated with academic misconduct are built around an academic process used at many peer universities. While it draws on some aspects of court of law in processes and terminology, such as requiring evidence to find a student in violation of the Honor Code, it does not have the weight of law or the same requirements on proof.
The test for a student to be found responsible for academic misconduct is "preponderance of the evidence." This translates to a 51% certainty that the violation occurred based on the evidence presented. This does not mean that the instructor or Honor Council must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the student committed academic misconduct or explain every detail of how it was executed and why.
Students may include a Personal Advisor when meeting with AHSO Case Managers or when participating in an Honor Council investigation or hearing to help them through the process. The Personal Advisor may be anyone, a family member, friend of the family, or individual here at the university, such as an academic advisor or supportive instructor. The Personal Advisor is not permitted to address the Aggie Honor System Office Director, Case Managers, or Honor Council members as the student's representative. Rather the role is to be emotionally supportive to students, recognizing that it can be a stressful situation, and help students not overlook mentioning something important to their case.
One of the first questions a parent often asks is whether their child will be "kicked out of school" if found in violation of the Honor Code. While some schools do use a model of immediate, automatic expulsion regardless of the severity of the violation, Texas A&M University does not. At Texas A&M, we recognize that students may not fully understand the expectations placed on them by instructors and can make mistakes in their decision-making. This does not excuse the violation or ignore that it happened but instead focuses on education and remediation to prevent future problems.
Depending on the premeditation and flagrancy of the violation and the truthfulness of the student upon discovery of the violation, there are a range of sanctions that can be applied. Details on the different possible sanctions can be found at aggiehonor.tamu.edu/rulesandprocedures/sanctions.aspx. Often, a first unintentional or accidental violation will result in a "0" score on the particular assignment in question or a course grade reduction. Sometimes a student will also be required to attend a month-long remediation course on academic integrity.
However, in cases where the violation is seen as particularly serious or concerning because of the course objectives or premeditation associated with the violation, such as extensive plagiarizing in a senior level, writing-intensive course or falsifying attendance for a kinesiology class, an instructor or the Honor Council may assign a sanction of an F* (which puts a permanent F on the student's transcript and places the student on Honor Violation Probation). More on Honor Violation Probation can be found at aggiehonor.tamu.edu/students/probation.aspx.
While suspension, dismissal, or expulsion are available as possible sanctions that can be applied by the Honor Council, they are generally not applied for a first violation unless the violation is particularly egregious. These sanctions are more likely to be applied when a case involves repeated episodes of academic misconduct.
If a student feels that he or she has truly done nothing wrong and there is no evidence supporting the violation, that the sanction is not consistent with the violation, or that there is additional evidence that needs to be considered, the student can appeal the finding of responsibility or the sanction. The allowable reasons for appeals are limited and do not include inconveniences or secondary effects of the sanction, such as preventing one from graduating on schedule because of the need to retake a course. More information on appeals can be found in the section for Student resources at aggiehonor.tamu.edu/students/appeals.aspx.